This month I have been presenting a new and wonderfully creative show at the Buxton International Festival, ‘Los Nacimientos’, an interdisciplinary music, dance and theatre piece with music by Tom Randle and texts by Pablo Neruda. Los Nacimientos means literally, the births, and the title of the work comes from one of Neruda’s own poems. Although the title fits many of the themes explored within the poetry, it is also a name that fits the concept and the production process very aptly.
What is ‘Los Nacimientos’ and how did it come about? It began life as a cycle of five songs which I performed for the first time back in 2008. But Tom Randle always felt it needed expanding, and was waiting for an idea which would bring it more fullness… and that’s where dotdotdot dance come in. A company of three amazingly creative and talented flamenco dancers, their work inspired him to tap in further to the words of Neruda and to add solo dance movements suggested by the passionate latin rhythms which he senses in the words and themes of the poems. From this powerful and distinctive music we have developed a 60 minute piece which leads the audience seamlessly through each of the seven songs and four dance ‘capitulos’ (chapters), with some unconventional sprinklings of Neruda’s poems woven into the mix. In this show you’ll hear 21st century lyric song that is powerful, beautiful, touching and evocative, you’ll hear solo piano music (played skilfully by John Reid) that demands incredibly sensitivity and also virtuosity, and on a visual level you’ll see inventive and thrilling flamenco-infused choreography performed with incredible beauty and precision.
When this group of artists gathered to begin shaping the overall piece, no one knew for sure what would emerge. We all exchanged ideas, we offered suggestions, and we tried to adhere to some kind of agreed structure and scale. We played with soundscapes – the sound of fabric dragging on the floor evokes the ocean. We explored visual parallels – the flamenco manton (shawl) can be both bird-like and wave-like. And a piano improvisation on a single chord mimics the tremolo of a flamenco guitar. Each performer in Los Nacimientos, including the composer himself, has brought his or her own feelings about Neruda’s words into the creation of this work, and the offering of each idea, each sentiment, each intention, has birthed something wholly original and artistic.
After many months of discussions, meetings and workshops, and after an intensive two week rehearsal period at a quirky studio in South-East London, we have given birth to this work which honours creativity, which nurtures free thinking, and which inspires imagination, just as Neruda has done for us, and for millions of others. The words from his poem ‘Nace’ have been a continuous motto in my mind from the start: “Abre las alas, nace el fuego…”! Wings open, fire is born…
This promotional video from our open dress rehearsal gives a tiny flavour of the piece. Plans are underway to present Los Nacimientos in festivals in 2018 and beyond… watch this space!