Tamara Rojo and María Pagés take centre stage at the Inaugural Gala of the Spanish Presidency

María Pagés

 Two dances for Europe and a fade-out in blue.

The Swedish delegation arrived accompanied by the Nordic weather and hours earlier Madrid woke up under snow.  From early in the morning the city had been swathed in blue in readiness for the handover of the baton of the European Presidency, which Spain will hold for the next six months. As dusk fell, Madrid was lit up in Community blue and the passion for Europe it shares with the rest of the continent’s citizens began to take hold.

The main stage for the official inauguration of the Spanish Presidency was that noble temple of culture, the Teatro Real, with the King and Queen of Spain and the Prince and Princess of Asturias once again in attendance. After José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero had been sworn in as president, the venerable stage was prepared to receive the elegance and beauty of two ‘grandes dames’ of dance, Tamara Rojo and María Pagés. And the choreography of their Spanish and European dance became universal.

The evening began with the ethnic and organic movement of the dancer from Seville, raising flamenco dance to the highest level of cultural expression. Her ‘Sol Soleá’ gave way to the sophisticated and atmospheric movement of the dancer who is now the principal dancer of the London Royal Ballet, who, with hands and feet, quoted Bizet and Petit, by performing the opera ‘Carmen’ along with Lienz Chang, principal dancer of the Cuba National Ballet.
European anthem and sky.

The midpoint of the recital was framed between a flamenco percussion piece and ‘Seguiriya de la amargura’ from the María Pagés Company, which was another display of beauty and bare emotion. And then Tamara Rojo appeared along with the dancer, Romel Frómeta, to certify, dancing ‘Don Quijote’ by Marius Petipa, that, even if it appeared godlike, that beauty was flesh and bone.

The emotional temperature of the Teatro Real rose in degrees from the stalls and, outside, the city awaited an even more exciting finale. The Spanish National Choir performed the first few notes of the European anthem and, on stage, Tamaro Rojo and María Pagés combined their dance forms to turn something diverse and contrary into a single way of understanding art and life. And it is the European spirit which gives them essence and meaning, since that is how they christened the choreography which they devised especially for the occasion: ‘Europe’.

Once the gala had ended, thousands of blue balloons were released into the Madrid sky; a sky which, more than ever, was a mirror of the European firmament.

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