La Otra Orilla opens the 2013 Danse Danse season with HomoBLABLAtus. Led by the forceful Myriam Allard, the work explores the language of flamenco and the flamenco of language with sharp, playful wit. Allard, moving with almost mechanical precision, is outstanding.
The evolution of HomoBLABLAtus is brief. With head and torso bent, Allard opens with the stiff robotic movements of a wind-up doll; unwinding, she stands straight to face the audience. To the accompanying vocals of Hedi Graja, she then lunges into a routine of fiery footwork and twisting arms: a powerful blend of emotion and automation.
Throughout the performance, footwork and sound work compete for space and, at times, it feels a little tight on stage. At one point, Graja assumes the roll of a talk show host, bellowing out tips on how to be a better conversationalist. While Allard obediently acts out his words, Aurélie Brunelle and Miguel Medina act up, causing so much commotion that the set seems to vibrate.
For the most part, however, the overlap of movement and sound is harmonious (although rarely is it placid). With the addition of video, the vocabulary of HomoBLABLAtus becomes richer still, as Allard enters into a passionate duet with a projected Antonio Arrebola, accompanied by the voiceover of Catherine Allard and Frédéric Blanchette. Both couples rail against each other, hurling insults this way and that. Eventually, Allard (Myriam) puts out the fire and joins Arrebola on screen – a somewhat disappointing end to a masterful showdown. I was hoping for blood.
Of course, the real battle in flamenco is between head and heart, transmitted to the hands and feet. Sparring and collaborating at one and the same time, Allard’s seem to speak a language all their own, and one that does not translate fluently- to the page at least.
Go and see them while you can.
HomoBLABLAtus, La Otra Orilla, Danse Danse, Place des Arts, to January 26