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Uploaded by : Valerie Gladstone | 05/24/09

Flamenco dancer Isabel Bayon opens ‘Door’ to her soul
By Valerie Gladstone / Dance | Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | | Arts & Culture

The voice of famed flamenco singer Terremoto pierces the darkness, telling a tale of lost love that comes to life in the movements of bewitching dancer Isabel Bayon.

The spotlight finds her center stage, striking a regal pose in a sexy, close-fitting black dress. As the show, “La Puerta Abierta” (“The Open Door”), proceeds, Bayon conveys feelings from lust to sorrow, slowly gathering force until she reaches a climax that brings the crowd to its feet.

After the prize-winning production’s 2006 premiere at the renowned Flamenco Biennial in Seville, Spain, and a European tour, Bayon and Terremoto will perform “La Puerta Abierta” Friday as part of the 10th annual Flamenco Festival at Emerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre, which continues Saturday and Sunday with Madrid’s Noche Flamenco.

“I wanted to present Isabel with Terremoto because they are major artists who have an unusually intense rapport with one another,” said Miguel Marin, who is co-producing Flamenco Festival 2009 with local presenter World Music/CRASHarts.

Each show demands Bayon’s total absorption.

“Whenever I go on stage, I have to strip myself bare to transmit my feelings and to move the public,” she said from Madrid. “It is both extremely difficult and wonderfully magical.”

To be effective, flamenco requires total emotional commitment. Its roots lie in the suffering of Jews, Moors and Gypsies persecuted by the Spanish government in the 15th century. Living in Andalusia, the country’s southern Mediterranean region, they went into hiding, developing their own music and dance.

Performers are expected to develop a distinct approach, which is usually heavily influenced by their birthplace.

Bayon, who was born and raised in Seville, the heart of flamenco, embodies the style of her hometown. A natural, she began her studies at the age of 5 at the most important local school, which is directed by the legendary dancer Matilde Coral.

“Even before I took classes, I danced from intuition,” she said. “It was a way of playing. I am not sure I chose flamenco or flamenco chose me.”

In “La Puerta Abierta,” Bayon takes far greater care with details than flamenco dancers from other Andalusian towns. She even designed the set, which resembles a performer’s abode. She uses the back area of the stage, which is set off by a door, to change dresses, earrings and hairstyles to reflect the mood she wants to convey.

Whether performing the joyful alegrias or the sorrowful martinete, she moves fluidly and clearly, giving spectators the opportunity to observe the nuances and subtleties of her arm, head and hip movements. They indicate the meaning behind each movement as surely as actors’ facial expressions.

“The door represents the struggle between the internal and external mind,” Bayon said. “No matter how often I dance, it is difficult for me to expose myself since I am a naturally introverted person. That’s why I conceived this show. Performing with Terremoto, I feel at home. He inspires me. We establish a dialogue, and I open my soul.”

The 10th annual Flamenco Festival, with Isabel Bayon (Friday) and Noche Flamenco (Saturday and Sunday) at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. Tickets: $40-65; 800-233-3123.

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