The National Ballet of Spain presents “The Beautiful Otero” at the Teatro de la Zarzuela

The Beautiful Otero

The National Ballet of Spain will premiere The Beautiful Otero of the 7 al 18 July in the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid. This dramatic ballet, created and directed by Ruben Olmo, tells the intense life of one of the most famous and influential dancers of the late 19th century, Carolina Otero. World famous Spanish artist, his name is known all over the world, but whose history remains hidden from many. A woman from a Galician village who invented herself from a tragic event in her childhood. With Carmen de Merimée as a guide, used men to advance her artistic career and was admired by kings across Europe, Although the only love in whose arms he fell was that of the game. The Beautiful Otero is a reflection on abuse, the ambition, the success, the inability to love and loneliness.

The director of the National Ballet of Spain, Ruben Olmo, I had been with the idea of ​​creating a choreography about Bella Otero for many years, attracted by the fact that one of the most famous women of her time outside of a town in Pontevedra. But until he was appointed director in 2019 He did not find the opportunity he was waiting for to be able to do it as he imagined, like a large format show, both for the number of dancers and for the deployment of costumes.

“The spirit of the last two programs that we have premiered was to enjoy Spanish dance in all its styles. Instead, now I have put dance at the service of the plot to achieve the fusion that would allow me to tell the life of a surprising woman, using from folklore to contemporary dance, the stylized and flamenco ", explains Rubén Olmo. "It is a very emotional and also dramatic show, because it tells the story of a woman who reaches the top and ends up alone and forgotten ".

The person in charge of the dramaturgy has been Gregor Acuna-Pohl, regular collaborator of the choreographer Johan Inger. The actor, dance director and playwright has tried to distill the essence of the historical character to the maximum without losing the highlights of his biography, leaving out the anecdotal. “The most important thing for me was to show a person with a lot of magnetism, charisma and strength ", affects. After researching Carolina Otero in books, press clippings, audiovisual material and files, selected the most representative moments of his life that could be expressed through dance.

"By writing an argument about such a complex life, obviously we have to simplify. But we are not making a value judgment on what is right or wrong; we just try to be true to reality, while making it attractive to the viewer. Dance must excite rather than make judgments. I have tried to stick to the historical character and make it an interesting ballet for the public. After, let each one draw their conclusions about the character ", Add.

Two artists for a Bella Otero

The argument of The Beautiful Otero passes through different periods of Carolina Otero's life, so Rubén Olmo chose to play the main character at different ages to Patricia guerrero Y Maribel gallardo. “I invited Patricia Guerrero to the National Ballet of Spain because she is a dancer who gives off great strength on stage. He was part of my company and I directed it at the Andalusian Flamenco Ballet. It has the same magnetism that made Bella Otero great. Today she is one of the most relevant figures of the most avant-garde flamenco and it is a pride to be able to count on her ", explains Rubén Olmo. "As well as the former prima ballerina of the Spanish National Ballet, Maribel gallardo. Besides dancer, she is a wonderful actress, that has brought many characters to the scene, and he always commits himself to the maximum with all the projects that I propose to him ".

According to Patricia Guerrero, Bella Otero is a complex character due to the fact that she lives various conflicts that make her a dramatic hieroglyph. "She was a woman with a lot of character, a lot of self-confidence and a brutal survival instinct. He enhanced his charisma and sensuality like no one else to achieve success ". The Granada-born artist aims to bring every detail to the dance to make the public understand this woman she admires, above all for their safety and their ability to enchant, aspects in which you have clung to get under your skin. "La Bella Otero it is a hard work in its background, but it is dynamic, funny, fresh, and with a color and energy that will make us all enjoy, on and off stage ".

Maribel gallardo, who plays Bella Otero in her maturity, defines the character as a transgressive woman before a macho society, and recognizes that in all women there is something of the Bella Otero. For the repeater teacher and choreographer, who has danced with the National Ballet of Spain roles of prima ballerina as Medea O La Celestina, this character is a great motivation and a great challenge for having to face the language of a choreographer with whom I had not worked as a dancer until now, Ruben Olmo, and to achieve the physical form that every dancer requires to go on stage again.

Music and costumes

In the same way that the choreography fuses different styles of dance, the music of The Beautiful Otero integrates compositions of various forms and composers into the symphonic score. The composer and conductor Manuel Busto has coordinated the creation of the score, in which they have participated Alejandro Cruz Benavides Y Augustine Diassera. further, guitarists have collaborated with flamenco compositions Diego Losada, Victor Marquez, Enrique Bermúdez Y Pau Vallet; and the group Strange people has set the scene that takes place in Galicia with his particular psychedelic Celtic rock. Fragments of the opera have also been inserted in the work Carmen, Bizet, and the zarzuela Last year for water, of Chueca and Valverde.

"My main challenge when developing the arrangements and orchestrations was not to lose an iota of freshness and original personality., but they will be inserted as a natural part of the work ", explains Manuel Busto. The final result "is a music without prejudices in its conception and that does not renounce anything".

The Community of Madrid Orchestra (BARREL) will perform the score live at the Teatro de la Zarzuela under the direction of Manuel Busto. The original music has also been recorded by the students of the Barenboim-Said Foundation to be used in the functions of other theaters where a live orchestra is not available, as well as in rehearsals.

The designer Yaiza Pinillos has drawn the near 200 designs that require scenes from The Beautiful Otero, set in very different places and situations. The Canarian creator has used multiple sources of inspiration and research, from the photographs of José Ortiz Echagüe to the paintings of Zuloaga, Manet, Ramon Casas, Boldini or José Cardona. There is also no shortage of reworkings of Jacques Doucet and Balenciaga models, and even contemporary couturiers like Issey Miyake or Alexander McQueen who, passed through the Belle Époque filter, offer amazing results.

The centerpiece of the protagonist's wardrobe is the Byzantine-style beaded gown that Bella Otero wears in one of her most iconic portraits., signed by Reutlinger. ”I am especially proud of that design because it is a reworking of that well-known image of Otero that I think we have been able to enrich through a look that, more than emulating it, evokes her, adding effects that enrich the staging and that reflect the essence of an era ".

One of the challenges of the designer has been to combine the narrative character of the costumes with the danceability and the ease of switching between scenes., also complicated by the characterization of the characters, who wear wigs, beards, mustaches and hats to faithfully represent the time in which the story unfolds.

Scenography and lighting

The challenge for the set designer Eduardo Moreno In his first job for the National Ballet of Spain, he has been to promote the rhythm in the succession of scenes because the dramaturgy of the work requires great agility when going through many moments in the life of Bella Otero. Its design vertebrates the space through a great architectural element, a dome, that frames the whole show and hosts the different scenes, differentiated by some simple ones that identify the time and place. It also meets the requirement that the production can easily rotate through different theaters., to adapt to the itinerant vocation of the National Ballet of Spain.

Meanwhile, Juan Gómez-Cornejo, National Theater Award, I had the difficult task of wrapping Bella Otero with light. "The light must accompany, clothe, help and, if this would be possible, caress those dancers and dancers so that the story reaches the stalls with the greatest clarity and the same emotion with which it was created ". Lighting travels through the character's story to help recreate the places and situations they lived through, from rural Galicia reminiscent of Goya's black paintings to the Portuguese countryside illuminated by the full moon or the bright lights of theaters and casinos.

After its premiere in Madrid, the National Ballet of Spain will represent The Beautiful Otero the days 26 Y 27 May 2022 at Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. Before, as the closing of the season 2020/2021, will participate the 7 August at the Santander International Festival, With the program Invocation. This year, in an unusual way, there will be three occasions in which the National Ballet of Spain will perform in Madrid. After the absolute premiere of La Bella Otero, are scheduled Centennial Antonio Ruiz Soler at Teatro Real of the 13 al 16 October, e Invocation, at Teatro de la Zarzuela, of the 10 al 22 from December.

About the National Ballet of Spain

The National Ballet of Spain (BNE) is the benchmark public company of Spanish dance since it was founded in 1978 under the name of Spanish National Ballet, with Antonio Gades as first director. It is part of the production units of the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM), under the Ministry of Culture and Sports. The purpose of the BNE is focused on preserving, disseminate and transmit the rich Spanish choreographic heritage, collecting its stylistic plurality and traditions, represented by their different forms: academic, stylized, folklore, bowling and flamenco. Likewise, works to facilitate the approach to new audiences and promote their national and international projection within a framework of full artistic and creative autonomy.

Ruben Olmo, director of the National Ballet of Spain

Ruben Olmo, National Dance Award 2015, has joined the National Ballet of Spain in September 2019 with the intention of working for the preservation, the dissemination and mobility of the traditional repertoire of Spanish Dance, also incorporating new creations and opening the doors to the avant-garde and experimentation. This is his second stage at the BNE, company was part of it as a dancer between 1998 Y 2002.

Since 2011 He served as director of the Andalusian Flamenco Ballet, Institution dependent on the Junta de Andalucía, with which he premiered his own productions such as Cry for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías O The death of a minotaur. Previously, formed his own company, for which he created shows like Once upon a time, Belmonte, Poe's temptations, Hours with you, Naturally flamenco Y Navigator Dialog. He has also collaborated as a choreographer or dancer with leading figures of Spanish Dance such as Aída Gómez, Antonio Najarro, Eva Yerbabuena, Victor Ullate, Antonio Canales, Rafael Amargo, Isabel Bayón and Rafaela Carrasco.