Republica blog

REPUBLICA in Granada

We had a good idea of the overall structure of the piece at this point, but there was a whole middle section to work out, the theme of which was ‘The Pact of Silence’ or ‘Dancing is Forbidden’. We arrived on ‘El día de las Cruces’ (the day of The Cross), and were told that the Albaycín, where we were staying, would be impossible to reach by taxi due to the crowds. This turned to be untrue; it was quiet. Locals explained it had been traditionally a big night out, but this year the council had banned late night music and dancing. LA FIESTA WAS so OVER.


We started rehearsals the following day – we were the only folk making our way to work at 9am. I had arranged to meet up with Rubem Dantas. He had worked with the flamenco legends Camarón de la Isla and Paco de Lucía. the first percussionist to include cajón in the flamenco repertoire. I had met him a couple of years earlier and knew of his eccentricities but felt he was the best person to instruct us on fusing flamenco with new ideas.

Getting him to turn up at 10am was impossible, after lunch, maybe.

He turned up at 3pm saying he would be back an hour later, and turned up at 5pm. But in the 2 hours we spent together he helped us develop an entirely new section, a piece where performers are searching for a complex flamenco rhythm in total silence – perfect! His explanation of the role of
silence in feeling and music-making was inspiring.

On our last day there, I met up with Carmen and Oscar, dear friends of mine, and I was handed a present – Oscar’s first documentary film, an interview with an anarchist involved in the Second Republic of Spain who had remained exiled in France since the 40’s. Oscar was another, like many on the losing side of the Civil War who had been forced to kept his anarchist politics quiet, not out of fear, just out of pure frustration and rage. Lola Rueda who is collaborating with us on Republica had already explained this was the tendency.

We finished the writing on our penultimate rehearsal day, and on our last day even managed a run-through of the whole piece as it stands. Productive this Pact of Silence…

Juan Carlos Otero

Catch Republica on 3 June at 7.30pm.