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  • Chris O'Rourke

Dublin Dance Festival 2022: Fallen From Heaven (Caída Del Cielo)

Rocío Molina in Fallen From Heaven (Caída Del Cielo). Image by Simone Fratini


Flamenco and rock. Bound to make for a great collaboration someday. Two minutes into Fallen From Heaven (Caída Del Cielo), you're pretty certain this won't be it. Like an amateur support act at an open mike night at Fibbers, musicians mangle their rock credibility. Delivering a low level Eurovision entry awash in a sea of pink. It's off key dissonance suggesting two songs being played at once. Yet no sooner had they stopped pretending they're rockstars than Eduardo Trassierra (Guitar), Kiko Peña (Song, Electric Base), José Manuel Ramos “Oruco” (Percussion, Hand-clapping and Beat), and Pablo Martín Jones (Percussion, Electronics) reveal themselves as formidable musicians. Still, luxuriating in moments of sublime toque (guitar) and cante (singing), and some delightful innovations, that their rock aspirations might make a sudden reappearance often sends a shudder down your spine. Spoiler alert, or public health warning, they do. Thankfully though, only briefly.

Rocío Molina in Fallen From Heaven (Caída Del Cielo). Image Pablo Guidali.

Flamenco and theatre, however, make for a much more satisfying relationship. Though, initially, things don't improve much with the arrival of Spanish flamenco legend, Rocío Molina, wrapped in a white dress painting itself to the contours of her body. Motionless above her dress' voluminous trail, Molina stands like a decoration on a wedding cake. Showing the exhibitionist framing and durational intensity of a performance artist. Not for the last time will Fallen From Heaven drag its heavenly heels. As she tilts her body at exaggerated angles, like a street performer, some things immediately become clear. Costuming is critical to Fallen From Heaven, and designer Cecilia Molano serves up a masterclass. That Molina's movements are about more than steps, and are built from a physically demanding precision. That Molina is a Flamenco superstar and a consummate artist. That the stage is her world, she it's queen, with baile (dance) just one of her expressive vehicles of choice. So long as it can keep up.

Rocío Molina in Fallen From Heaven (Caída Del Cielo), Image by Simone Fratini

Thunderous claps, slaps, clicks and clacks follow as palmos meets palms meets thighs and hips, establishing rapid, blood pulsing rhythms setting feet afire. Coupled with sequences on the floor; sliding, twisting, shaping, shifting. Even changing costumes, Molina knows how to capture the eye with some sublime cante sung under an overwhelming moon, the lunar cycle a recurring and defining motif. Alone, with full band, or playing off duets or solos, Molina weaves a tapestry of routines that transform bolero, a bathrobe, a broomstick, and blood soaked dress into visions of womanhood after her own design. For Molina is Goddess, Mother Nature, femme fatale, witch. She is desire, danger, dream and nightmare. The male musicians complicating representations; is she performing with them, or for them? A playful bondage costume cranks up the humour and the sexual insights, courtesy of a perfectly placed packet of crisps. A brilliant pole routine suggests a phallic broom. All the while Molina prowls the stage like a boxer.

Rocío Molina in Fallen From Heaven (Caída Del Cielo). Image Pablo Guidali.

Molina's standout moments are like no one elses. Her blood soaked dress a touch of performative genius as an overhead camera watches her trace the stage with red. Blood at once menstrual, virginal, violent, and speaking to victims of violence. Yet even accepting that this level of intensity is hard to sustain, there's often a feeling of hanging around too long, of coasting a little. As the end nears, like one drink too many, the band's rock aspirations return. Sounding like a Led Zeppelin tribute band imitating a Led Zeppelin tribute band, with dancing looking tired. If the fun flower big finish is a nice way to send everyone home, it has the added bonus of making the experience feel a little more powerful than it really was. Even so, there are moments in Fallen From Heaven you're never likely to forget. For Molina doesn't just shine, she astonishes.

Fallen From Heaven (Caída Del Cielo), by Rocío Molina, presented by Dublin Dance Festival and The Abbey Theatre, runs at The Abbey Theatre until May 25.

For more information, vist Dublin Dance Festival 2022 or The Abbey Theatre


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