“Death is looking at me/ from the towers of Córdoba.’’ Those lines from Federico García Lorca could be the epigraph to “Rosa, metal y ceniza,’’ the show from Cordoban bailaora Olga Pericet that concluded World Music/CRASHarts’ weekend Flamenco Festival Sunday at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. Pericet has explained her title - “Rose, Metal and Ash’’ - as a journey from femininity to strength and rhythm, and then finally renewal and transformation. But this was a show that didn’t readily give up its secrets.
Like Rafaela Carrasco, who opened the festival on Friday, Pericet is an explorer and an exponent of flamenco fusion. Carrasco’s “Vamos al tiroteo’’ addressed gender roles; she put her men in the traditional bata de cola - the traditional flamenco dress with train - for one number and often danced in pants herself. “Rosa, metal y ceniza’’ was more of a mystery play, a piece of avant-garde theater with chiaroscuro lighting and a movement style that encompassed moments of ballet and modern. Its signature sequence might have been the one where Pericet moved toward one of her singers and put her head on his shoulder. Then she backed off slightly, and just as she was about to start dancing, a man darted on from the wings, picked her up, and dashed offstage with her.
Much has been made of Pericet’s small stature, but she’s beautifully proportioned, and she reads tall. Although she can burn the floor with speed, she looked most herself when she was hopping and stamping, as if trying to plant seeds deep in the earth. She danced as much for her musicians as she did for the audience; they offered cries of encouragement, and she responded in flirtatious kind with an inviting hand or a jutting hip.
The progression from “rosa’’ to “metal’’ to “ceniza’’ was far from clear, even as the string curtains that formed the set rose and fell. “Ceniza’’ did come into focus when Pericet, in her first and only bata de cola of the evening, a tight black one with tiny gray polka dots, performed “La sombra de la ceniza’’ (“The Shadow of the Ash’’) with a man in a long black coat. They might have been evil sorcerer Rothbart and black swan Odile, or Death and the Maiden. When she shed him, she picked up the train of her dress and exploded into fireworks, dropping the train, kicking it about athletically, booting it back into her hand. And when the musicians departed and only one singer was left, she circled him like Salome circling John the Baptist. When at last she had the darkened stage to herself, she sank to the floor, a Persephone of rebirth.
Jeffrey Gantz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.