Taiwan has seen a wide variety of flamenco performances in the past two decades, mostly imported, though there are local devotees, with many great names — or their descendants and heirs — trodding the boards: Ballet Teatro Espanol de Rafael Aguilar, Jose Greco Flamenco Dance Company, El Hiyo, and Ballet Flamenco Eva Yerbabuena.
However, it is probably safe to say that it has never seen the likes of Bosque Ardora, which will be performed at the National Theater this weekend as part of the Taiwan International Festival of Arts by the Rocia Molina Company.
Lithe, sinuous, spiraling bodies? Check. Staccato footwork? Check. Flamenco guitarists and singers on stage? Check.
Clicking castanets? No. Images of bulls or bullfights? No. Lots of long, sweeping, flounced skirts? Not really.
Forest setting? Yes. Greek mythology? Yes. Trombonists and a drummer? Yes.
The 33-year-old Rocia Molina has been acclaimed as a flamenco great almost as long as she has been criticized for bastardizing or destroying traditional flamenco style.
Her parents started her in flamenco and ballet when she was three and she has said that she started choreographing her own dances when she was just seven. By the time she had graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Dance in Madrid at 17 she was already performing professionally.
She choreographed her first major work at 22, Entre paredes (Among the Walls) and four years later the Spanish Ministry of Culture awarded her the National Award for Dance for “her contribution to the renewal of flamenco and for her versatility and strength as a performer.”
Molina’s 2014 creation, Bosque Ardora, was coproduced by Biennale de la danse de Lyon and the Theatre National de Chaillot in Paris, the leading venue for contemporary dance in France and where she is an artistic associate.
She drew on Greek mythology for the storyline, which explores primal human desires and fantasies — mating, hunting and seeking territory — in a forest setting, and where in turns Molina is a goddess, a hunter, the prey, a seductress and a victim.
Her two male companions, Eduardo Guerrero and Fernando Jimenez, take turns as prey, willing victims, rivals or aggressors.
The choreography incorporates several dance techniques beyond the traditional realm, for while Molina has said she considers herself primarily a flamenco dancer, she told the Guardian’s Judith Mackrell in October 2014 that she is interested in the world outside “the normal flamenco box.”
A show based on Greek mythology is not such a stretch, considering that some of her previous works have been inspired by everything from Nietzsche’s writings to Flemish master Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s The Tower of Babel to the work of German-Korean hip-hop dancer/choreographer Honji Wang.
Molina’s musicians include Eduardo Trassierra on guitar, Pablo Martin Jones on drums, Jose Vicente Ortega and Agustin Orozco on trombone and singer Jose Javier Guerrero Hernandez along with Maria Karolina Gonzalez Martinez for the traditional role of “Palmas y Compas” or clapping and foot stamping.
Bosque Ardora runs 90 minutes with no intermission. There will be a post-performance discussion in the National Theater lobby after Sunday’s matinee.