Taiwan audiences will get a chance this week to view the first full-length flamenco dance drama performed in the country. Teresa Barja (the flamenco stage name of choreographer and Soochow University theater professor Catherine Diamond) has adapted The House of Bernarda Alba (La Casa de Bernarda Alba) by Spanish dramatist and poet Federico Garcia Lorca into The Daughters of Bernarda Alba (白納德的女兒), a four-act performance set to traditional flamenco songs.
The House of Bernarda Alba was completed in June of 1936, just two months before Lorca, 38, was shot by Nationalist troops at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Set in Andalusia, the original play centers around the five daughters of the title character who struggle to break free of the oppressive social mores rigidly upheld by their widowed mother. While adapting the play, Barja cut the number of daughters down to three, in part to give the audience a chance to get to know the women as individuals.
"One important thing was to give them all very distinguishable characteristics so they are not these anonymous three girls," says Barja.
The lead dancers in the drama - Beta Chen (陳雅惠), Jessie Wang (王思穎), Luisa Lu (呂姿儀), Lucia Huang (黃惠汝), Sandra Tsai (蔡明娟) and Paco Lin (林志遠) - have all trained in Spain and are some of the most experienced flamenco dancers in Taiwan. They contributed to the choreography of the drama, drawing from their individual training in different flamenco forms to create their solos. The diversity of movements and depth of emotions expressed through the dances will surprise those who think of flamenco as just a sexy lady in a tight dress with a rose clenched between her teeth.
What: The Daughters of Bernarda Alba (白納德的女兒)
Where: Crown Theater (皇冠劇場), 50, Ln 120, Dunhua N Rd, Taipei City (台北市敦化北路120巷50號). Call (02) 2521-5680 for more information
When: Tomorrow at 7pm and Sunday at 2pm and 7pm
Tickets: NT$500, available at the door
On the Net: www.mirasol.com.tw
On Page 16 of tomorrow's Taipei Times, staff reporter Catherine Shu talks to Barja and the cast of The Daughters of Bernarda Alba about the challenges they faced while adapting a play by one of world literature's most-renowned prose artists into a performance that relies solely on movement, gesture and traditional flamenco music.