La MaMa Presents The NYC Return Of Noche Flamenca's ANTIGONA
Noche Flamenca, the renowned company founded and led by Artistic Director Martín Santangelo and dancer Soledad Barrio, performs its celebrated dance-theater work Antígona, March 19 - April 5 at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre.
This visually and aurally arresting adaptation of Sophocles' Antigone, which made its New York premiere in 2015, was declared a New York Times Critics' Pick by Laura Collins-Hughes, who wrote that "a haunting, distant classicism coexists with sweaty, unmediated corporeality in this dance drama." Apollinaire Scherr wrote in The Financial Times that Noche Flamenca "has created a powerful marriage of Greek tragedy and flamenco," and Joan Acocella, in The New Yorker, pronounced, "Never, until I saw Santangelo's ensemble, their heels stamping, their arms cutting through the air, had I seen a chorus whose physical force could support the fate-heavy songs that Sophocles wrote for his plays."
The impetus to create a flamenco interpretation of Antigone began when Martín Santangelo encountered the Living Theatre's production of the classic play and was struck by the battle between an individual, disenfranchised woman and the authority of the patriarchal state. The idea resurfaced in 2010, when judge Baltasar Garzon was suspended from the Spanish court for his efforts to publicly honor those who fought against Franco, allowing families to bury their relatives previously left in mass graves. This breach of democracy struck Santangelo as similar to the conflict in Antigone, confirming his belief that the story remains relevant today. At its heart, the story of Antigone resonates with the roots of flamenco, which is based not in any one culture or region, but on the strength of family. Antigone's story is her humanity and her quest to bury her brother, regardless of the circumstances.
Honoring the Greek tradition of sung poetry and musical accompaniment, Santangelo studied the poetry of Sophocles, then translated and re-wrote the text into lyrics. In collaboration with Barrio, he began the development process for Antígona in 2012, working with the company for five weeks in Spain. Together with company members Eugenio Iglesias and Salva de María, Santangelo created vocal interpretations, wrote lyrics to enhance the emotional impact of the story, and composed the musical accompaniment from which the choreography was developed. For the creation of Antígona, Santangelo and the company collaborated with legendary experimental theater director Lee Breuer and visual artist Mary Frank. The work made its world premiere at the Meany Center for the Performing Arts in Seattle October 2014 at the Meany Center for the Performing Arts.
The themes in Antígona include catharsis, authoritarianism, repression, loss, the strength of family, and female empowerment-topics at the heart of flamenco, too, and experiences with which Barrio, who was recently profiled by New Yorker dance critic Jennifer Homans, is intimately familiar. Her mother's family lived through the dictatorship of Franco's Spain, surviving desperate hunger and civil war, yet proved themselves to be stronger than their male counterparts. Barrio grew up with all of this in her blood and as one of the most powerful artists living today, in any genre, is ideally positioned to embody all of this in her performance. Antigone was the first female heroine written for the stage. She was not afraid to show her strength, her pain, and her passion, all attributes that form the foundation of flamenco.
In addition to Barrio in the title role, Antígona features Emilio Florido as Master of Ceremonies; Antonio Granjero as Haemon; Manuel Gago as Creonte; Carmina Cortes as Tiresias; Marina Elana as Ismene/Chorus; Robert Wilson as Eteocles/Hades; Pablo Fraile as Polyneices/Chorus; and Aqeela Ali, Phoebe Mar, Laura Peralta, and Rebeca Tomás as members of the chorus. The musicians are guitarists Eugenio Iglesias and Salva de María and percussionist David "Chupete" Rodriguez.
Antígona is conceived, adapted, and directed by Martín Santangelo and features choreography by Soledad Barrio and Martín Santangelo and additional choreography by Isabel Bayón. Lee Breuer served as consulting director, and Gabriela Goldin Garcia as artistic consultant. The music and vocal arrangements are by Eugenio Iglesias, Salva de María, and Martín Santangelo, with lyrics adapted and written by Santangelo. The production design is S. Benjamin Farrar, the costume design is by Soledad Barrio, and the mask artisan is Sydney Moffat. The mask design is based on the work of Mary Frank. Antígona was produced by Sharon Levy/Dovetail Productions, Inc.