After last week’s trip through time in the company of the castanets we’re coming back up to date this week with a look at two of the brightest talents on the current Flamenco scene. As well as sharing enormous and exciting talent they share a name: Rocío. Rocío is a common girl’s name in Andalusia. There is an annual pilgrimage, known as El Rocío, to the shrine of Nuestra Señora del Rocío in Almonte in Huelva. The Sevillanas that are sung and danced along the way are known as Sevillanas Rocieras. So, maybe it isn’t so surprising that they share a name. What is surprising is how much both have achieved whilst still in their mid-twenties. We hope you enjoy this post, in which we will try to explain just why we are so excited by these artists – by what they have done so far and by the prospect of further treasures to come.
The Bailaora Rocío Molina was born in Malaga in 1984 and at the age of three she was already dancing. She started professional training at this tender age and by 2002 (at the age of 18) had graduated from the Royal Conservatory in Madrid with First Class Honours.
In 2001 she had already joined María Pagés’ company and had toured the show Cuatro Estaciones in Italy, Japan, Canada and the USA, dancing at the Gala Andalucía at the City Center in New York. The year after she graduated she was back in the States dancing solo at the Flamenco Festival USA.
She premièred her first solo show, Entre Paredes at the Teatro Principal in Vitoria in 2005 and then toured it around Andalusia. The same year she took part in the inaugural Malaga en Flamenco Festival and was chosen by the Andalusian Agency for the Development of Flamenco to star in a production they were producing for the occasion. This production evolved into El Eterno Retorno (The Eternal Return) based on the writings of Nietzsche and performed in the company of, among others, Pasión Vega. The show was presented at the Jerez Festival in 2006 to the same critical and popular acclaim it has since enjoyed everywhere it has been performed.
Here is an example of zapateado and incredible spatial awareness from Rocío. To do what she does in such a confined space is really quite remarkable. The second part of this clip is her very personal and original take on the traditional Guajira:
In 2006 as well as guesting in Antonio Canales’ production “Bohemio”, she took part in “Turquesa como el Limón” with the Bailaora Laura Rozalén in Madrid, danced in Dorantes’ new production and was lead solo dancer at the Seville Biennial Festival with the legendary Cantaora Carmen Linares in the production Andalucía, el Flamenco y la Humanidad directed by Mario Maya. A busy year!
Here she is in a clip from that year:
2007 was hardly less busy. She danced at the official presentation of the Cantaor, Miguel Poveda’s new recording in both Madrid and Barcelona as well as being the only dancer to be accompanied by our beloved Chano Lobato in the tribute paid to this great Cantaor at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville.
Over the years she has won a hatful of prizes and was named Best New Dancer in the 2006 Flamenco de Hoy Awards. She is widely considered to be the best Bailaora Malaga has produced for decades (some even say for more than a hundred years). One of her latest shows, Almario, received the following praise from the noted critic Estela Zatania: “an almost perfect show in which this young malagueña leads with the force of her intelligence, creativity and absolute courage and which marks the start of a new era in Flamenco women’s dancing.” What really draws people to Rocío is the way she manages to combine a sort of ingenuity and freshness with real strength and character and the way she can take elements from different sources and make them her own, creating her own inimitable and deeply personal style.
Here, to end, are two clips. The first is from her latest show “Vinática” which was premièred in Seville earlier this year. In this clip she is charting the development of a dancer from the first awkward steps of a young child to the fully fledged force and maturity of an experienced Bailaora:
And here we have a good, old-fashioned Bulería from the Barcelona 2010 Flamenco Festival:
The Cantaora Rocío Márquez was born in Huelva in 1985. She started singing as a toddler and at the age of nine began her formal training with classes at the Peña Flamenca in Huelva. At the same age she sang in public for the first time and won a prize for Fandangos at the Festival organised in Huelva. She was also studying piano at the local Conservatory, finally reaching Grade Four.
Here she is singing a Fandango:
At the age of 11, she took part in a TV talent show and won third prize and a few months later she won first prize in a national Radio talent show. This success spurred her on to widen her repertoire and she entered the Radio talent show the next year, promptly winning first prize again.
This led to a host of TV appearances and a high profile on the kiddie talent show circuit which could have caused her to burn out by the age of sixteen, a sad fate that so often seems to await child prodigies. So, instead of staying on this dangerous treadmill, she moved with her family to Seville and got down to the serious business of studying her art and preparing for a proper career in Flamenco.
Here she is singing a Tango Flamenco:
In Seville she carried on with her regular education as well as studying Cante Flamenco. She received a grant from the Cristina Heeren Foundation, receiving classes from José de la Tomasa and Paco Taranto. She also found time to get an HND in Education and is a qualified Music Teacher. She then went on to finish her BA in Music at the same University, specialising in Flamenco. She currently combines her career with a teaching position at the same foundation that awarded her the grant.
Rocío has played to packed houses all over the country and was instrumental in the successful campaign to have Flamenco recognised by the UN as a World Heritage Treasure. She has taken part in and won many competitions: too many to list. But it is worth mentioning that at the age of only 22 she won the Lámpara Minera at the Festival de Cante de las Minas in La Unión in two categories: Tarantas and Mineras – both of which are actually very difficult palos to sing well. There is no higher accolade in the Flamenco world than the Lámpara Minera.
In fact, one of Rocío’s real strengths is the way she can sing all, or at least most, of the traditional palos with superb technique and feeling. We have had a Fandango and some Tangos, let’s listen to some Alegrías:
Rocío’s latest CD contains this little treasure – Jorge Manrique’s poem Recuerda el Alma Dormida, where she fuses her Flamenco roots with a strong Arab influence and instrumentation: