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Both the public and the critics enthusiastically welcomed the premiere of Centenario Antonio Ruiz Soler at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. The Andalusian city honoured one of the dancers and choreographers that have most influenced the evolution of Spanish dance in the 20th century, but who has not had the acknowledgement he deserves since his death in 2006. To distinguish the work done by the Ballet Nacional de España to highlight the figure of Antonio el Bailarín on his centenary, the City Council awarded us the Giraldillo Ciudad de Sevilla de la Bienal de Flamenco, the city’s top prize.

The director of the Ballet Nacional de España, Rubén Olmo, received the award on behalf of the company on the stage of the Teatro de la Maestranza. The mayor of the city, Juan Espadas, accompanied by the Delegate of Urban Habitat, Culture and Tourism of Seville City Council, Antonio Muñoz, presented him with the Giraldillo award during the rehearsal of the show Centenario Antonio Ruiz Soler.

The premiere took place at the Teatro de la Maestranza on 15 April, and it featured the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla, conducted by Manuel Coves, and soprano Carmen Solís. The theatre had to schedule two additional performances in order to comply with the measures included in the report on risk assessment issued by the Delegación Territorial de Salud y Familia de la Junta de Andalucía (Andalusian Health Authorities) in Seville one day before the premiere. As seating capacity was cut down from 1,800 to 500, in order to comply with one and a half metres safety distance between viewers, it was necessary to give four performances in all, from 15 to 18 April, so that all the people who had bought the tickets could enjoy the show. According to Juan Luis Pavón in the El Correo de Andalucía newspaper, they managed to “materialize, at the worst moment possible, an artistic challenge that was actually a cultural event”.

The show Centenario Antonio Ruiz included three choreographies by Antonio Ruiz Soler that represent the height of his talent in three different styles: escuela bolera, stylised flamenco and stylised folklore: Sonatas, Zapateado and Fantasía galaica. It also included the period Antonio and Rosario spent in Hollywood, with the pas a deux Vito de gracia. In addition to choreographies created by Antonio, the Ballet Nacional de España also performed Carlos Vilán’s version of Asturias by Albéniz, titled Leyenda, and the premiere of Estampas flamencas, in which Rubén Olmo and Miguel Ángel Corbacho presented their version of the flamenco palos Antonio used to include in his shows: Martinete, Zorongo, Taranto and Caracoles, following the style and aesthetics of Antonio Ruiz Soler’s flamenco in the 1950s and 60s.

“I’d have liked to thank Antonio el Bailarín for his legacy, for everything he’s left us”, said Rubén Olmo after the premiere. “He is a unique, universal genius. He took Spanish dance to a level we can never thank him enough for”.

Regarding the artistic quality of the show, “this show is as if the Prado Museum revealed a painting by Velázquez that had been kept in their storeroom for fifty years", Marta Carrasco wrote in the ABC Sevilla newspaper. For his part, Manuel Martín Martín, critic of El Mundo Andalucía newspaper published: "Rubén Olmo has presented an extraordinary work, so much so that we left the auditorium at Paseo de Colón with the feeling of having attended a great dance performance, [...] with top level soloists".

Thank you, Seville!