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We begin 2021 with the excitement of keeping at work and the hope of performing again in theatres worldwide. We are focused on the production and rehearsal of two new shows we are premiering in Seville y Madrid. The first one will be in April on the occasion of Antonio Ruiz Soler’s centenary, one of the most versatile dancers in the history of Spanish dance. In July, we will present La Bella Otero, a Rubén Olmo choreography about the famous Spanish artist of the Belle Époque. We are also touring Invocación in different Spanish cities. This show includes escuela bolera, stylised dance, and flamenco.

The director of the Ballet Nacional de España, Rubén Olmo, wanted to honour Antonio Ruiz Soler, better known as Antonio el Bailarín, in the 100th anniversary of his birth. In his opinion, the former director of Ballet Nacional de España (1980-1983), renewed the dancing style and elevated Spanish dance in addition to being the most versatile dancer, choreographer, and director in history. “He had a command of all the disciplines and staged wonderful folklore, stylised dance, escuela bolera and flamenco shows. Antonio was unique”, he stated.

To honour this great artist, who died in 1996, he has included key pieces of Antonio’s career together with new creations inspired by his style in the Centenario Antonio Ruiz Soler programme. So audiences attending the performances on 15 and 16 April at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville will see the full version of the escuela bolera show Sonatas with music by Padre Soler, which was premiered in 1982. The Ballet Nacional de España cast will also perform, accompanied by the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla, conducted by Manuel Coves, the solo Zapateado de Sarasate and the folklore choreography Fantasía galaica, with music by Ernesto Halffter.

This programme, which is devoted to one of the artists who have most influenced the evolution of Spanish dance, will also present four new pieces titled Estampas flamencas. Rubén Olmo and his assistant director Miguel Ángel Corbacho penned these choreographies that comprise traditional early flamenco styles like zorongo, martinete, caracoles and sevillanas. The programme is rounded off with the solo Leyenda, created by Carlos Vilán in 2016 for the musical composition Asturias by Isaac Albéniz, a piece that was regularly included in the repertoire of the ballets Antonio Ruiz Soler directed.

The last premiere in the 2020/2021 season is Rubén Olmo’s most ambitious production to date as director of the Ballet Nacional de España. The Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid will host the performances of La Bella Otero from 7 to 18 July. La Bella Otero is a narrative ballet about the life of one of the most famous Spanish women in the late 19th century, Carolina Otero. Written by Gregor Acuña-Pohl, with music by Manuel Busto, Agustín Diassera, Alejandro Cruz Benavides, Diego Losada, Pau Vallet, Víctor Márquez, Rubén Díez and the band Rarefolk, it includes stylised dance, flamenco, contemporary dance, and folklore.

The title role will be performed by guest artist Patricia Guerrero, one of the most relevant figures of avant-garde flamenco, and repetiteur mistress and former BNE first artist Maribel Gallardo. In Rubén Olmo’s words: “It’s going to be a very moving, emotive and dramatic show because it tells the story of a woman who invents her origins to reach the top but ends up alone and forgotten”.

In addition to these two world premieres, we will continue to perform Invocación, which was first put on at the Festival de Jerez in March 2020, across Spain. Designed by Rubén Olmo as an overview of Spanish dance, it includes flamenco, escuela bolera and stylised dance pieces. The first part is made up of Rubén Olmo’s Jauleña and Invocación bolera, both with music by Manuel Busto, plus Eterna Iberia, by Antonio Najarro, with music by Manuel Moreno Buendía. Invocación pays tribute to dancer and choreographer Mario Maya with De lo flamenco. Despite his being one of the most innovative creators of Spanish dance and a leading flamenco teatro andaluz figure, none of his works had been included in the repertoire of the Ballet Nacional de España until now. Our production of De lo flamenco includes creations by Isabel Bayón, Rafaela Carrasco and Manolo Marín in addition to Mario Maya’s choreographies.

The Invocación tour kicks off on 23 and 24 January at the Teatro Mira de Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid). Then, on  12, 13 and 14 February we’ll be at the Centre Cultural Terrassa, an engagement that had to be put off several times due to Covid-19 restrictions. On 16 May we’ll present it to the audience at the Fundación Baluarte in Pamplona, and we hope to confirm tours to other cities shortly.