Lo Real/Le Réel/The Reel at Edinburgh festival review – Israel Galván’s dance of despair

[From The Guardian]

ca1e5024-9c72-458e-8385-d05a6720bc13-2060x1236Festival theatre, Edinburgh
You can feel the force of the anger in the flamenco dancer and choreographer’s fragmented show about the Gypsy victims of the Nazis.

Among the incalculable horrors of the Holocaust, one of the less well-known facts is that up to half a million Gypsies were among those persecuted and killed. It’s a tragedy that flamenco choreographer Israel Galván has long wanted to address on stage, but also one for which he feared dance might be inadequate. If Lo Real is partly about ethnic cleansing, it’s also partly about the artist’s despair of making sense of it.

On a starkly lit stage, Galván and his cast – two female dancers and a dozen singers and musicians – have the look of a displaced Gypsy community pitched between suffering and survival. Specific references to the work’s historical context are minimal: Galván raises his arm in a Nazi salute, then lets it fall into a flamenco curve; a woman dances between iron rails, as if tracing the train route to her death. There’s old movie footage of a Gypsy dancing for uniformed Nazis. And when the live dancers also perform traditional flamenco, the fact that they are accompanied by references to adverts for bleach and pest control underlines the point that even if the Nazis saw the Gypsies as exotic entertainment, they also considered them vermin.

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