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Miguel Ángel Corbacho’s stylised Spanish dance and flamenco choreography for Rimsky-Korsakov’s music will be included in the BNE repertoire.

Last April, with borders and theatres closed and artists and audiences in lockdown, we had to cancel our participation at the Dance Open Festival and thought we would not be able to travel to St. Petersburg this year. Even so, we kept on rehearsing and planning our journey until we were eventually able to announce that dance has overcome the difficulties, which were not over when lockdown ended. On 16 December we are taking part in the Dance Open Ballet Festival Gala, to be held at Oktyabrsky Big Concert Hall in St. Petersburg (Russia). This event, which is attended by the most prestigious companies and artists in the world, is eagerly expected in this city and tickets are usually sold out within a few hours. 

Rubén Olmo, director of the Ballet Nacional de España, commissioned his assistant director, Miguel Ángel Corbacho, to create a choreography that symbolised cultural exchange without losing sight of Spanish roots. The dancer and choreographer chose the two last movements of Capricho español, Op. 34: Escena y canto gitano, and Fandango asturiano. The Russian musician Rimsky-Korsakov, who was born not far from St. Petersburg, composed this score inspired by the Spanish melodies he discovered during his journeys as a navy officer of the Russian Imperial Navy in the 19th century.

The result is a very powerful choreography full of dynamism and complexity that reflects Miguel Ángel Corbacho’s particular view of stylised dance and flamenco while at the same time capturing what the Ballet Nacional de España label represents on the stage. A suite divided in four sections that bring together stylisation with castanets, flamenco notes and the richness of Spanish dance in a bata de cola skirt.

The fluid performance of the principal dancers, first artists and soloists of the Ballet Nacional de España manage to touch the audience with the complex group movements and the symmetries performed at a vertiginous pace. “It’s a spectacular, energetic piece that conveys the purity of Spanish dance as well as new modes. The dancers chosen will represent the Ballet Nacional de España in St. Petersburg wonderfully”, Rubén Olmo said.

The music by Rimsky-Korsakov to be used for this gala was recorded by the Joven Orquesta Nacional de España, conducted by Josep Vicent, at the Auditorio y Palacio de Congresos de Zaragoza in 2005. The costumes for the female dancers were designed by Yaiza Pinillos for the ballet Zaguán, while the men’s come from Ballet Nacional de España’s costume collection. Lighting design is by Eduardo Solís. Capricho español will become part of the Ballet Nacional de España repertoire to be performed in future tours.

As the festival’s organisers say: “Winter stars shine brighter than spring ones and are more clearly visible against the backdrop of a cold sky. We decided to overcome the vicissitudes of the period following the lockdown we have all endured -organisers, artists, and audiences- and give ourselves a dance holiday. This Dance Open Gala is especially unexpected and welcomed”.