Arenal is choreography by Nacho Duato, inspired by songs of María del Mar Bonet. In this ballet, the choreographer’s purpose has been to show the uninhibited cheerfulness of the Mediterranean personality contrasting with the everyday struggle of life.
Duato makes this contrast very obvious. On the one hand, there is the dancing of a groupof men and women motivated by the pure joyfulness of music. Its jubilation is reflected in the clear movements of the dancers -pas de deux, pas de trois, pas de quatre- to Greek songs translated into Catalonian and Majorcan ones by María del Mar Bonet.
On the other hand, one woman dancer stands apart, dancing alone to four songs which are performed a capella. These songs are of a realistic content and seem to arise from an agonizing outcry of the heart. The dancer’s movements are nearer to the ground than those of the others. This is to express the influence of the land. Colour, choreography, movement, everything is undeniably Mediterranean.
Nacho Duato had worked before with María del Mar Bonet in another ballet: Jardí Tancat. “Her music constitutes an important source of inspiration for my work”, says the choreographer. “Later, while I was listening to her record Gavines i Dragons, the idea of Arenal immediately occurred to me. At once, I began to consider the possibility of María del Mar Bonet joining us to give a live performance of her songs”. Duato sees Arenal as an extension of his first work, Jardí Tancat, “though it is more vital, livelier, and more faithful to the inner rhythm of the songs themselves, without abandoning the worlds of people and of work”.
I have always known that my songs were born with rhythm, but I only became really aware of it the day Nacho Duato danced to them. When I saw the first choreography,Jardí Tancat, I was really excited. He had given them another life. They were independent, and at the same time, still mine. Yet they had acquired a new palpitation. They had taken a different road.
There is something in Arenal that has always fascinated me: the treatment of the Majorcan work songs which I sing a capella. These are songs which form part of our earliest Majorcan tradition, but which are no longer sung where they come from or what they were created for, that is work in the fields. There are hardly any places in Majorca where work in the country is still the same as forty or fifty years ago. However, when Nacho used the songs for his choreographies he gave them back this role of unique pieces, as if they were precious stones.
While Jardí Tancat, was so full of life, in Arenal I have been discovering an inner passion each time I sing with them. I will never tire of repeating that these choreographies of Nacho Duato are one of the most precious artistic gifts I have ever received. I believe they belong to that type of thing which goes hand in hand with the most deeply felt emotions and is hard to explain in words.
Thank you, Nacho. María del Mar Bonet