Bartabas & Andrés Marín: Golgota at Sadler’s Wells
The artistic lovechild of renowned French horse trainer Bartabas and contemporary flamenco dancer Andrés Marín, Golgota is a slow and haunting procession of equine dressage and flamenco artistry that pays homage to the religious ceremony of Seville’s Holy Week.
Religious symbolism is the core focus here and from the outset the audience is bathed in it. Bartabas does away with a cohesive plot in favour of focusing upon the artistic imagery of Spanish Renaissance painter El Greco with his three white-ruffed musicians performing the piercing music of Tomás Luis de Victoria to accompany a series of haunting scenes of man, horse and dwarf in a spiritual dance.
Flamenco dancer Marín spends much of his time dramatically emphasising his steps due to the rubber chips laid across the stage floor that rob the tapping sound that is the trademark of the dance – indeed, much of the performance is centred on the absence of sound. Marín relishes the silence of the stage, using it to add weight to his movements with the whip of the stick in his hand that he uses to tap on the skull of a horse. In the latter half he returns to a more traditional flamenco style using a wooden board and throne-like chair to tap out his rhythms.
Along for the performance are Bartabas’ four equine companions, which he rides, at one point wearing the tall, pointed capirote, set alight at its top to add to the strange, cobbled-together imagery of the show. The exquisite training of the horses is in no doubt and is demonstrated by their precise dressage dance steps that Marín mimics in one particularly outstanding scene, but in truth even this is not enough to lift the performance from its drawling pace.
Music that at first accentuates begins to drone, and the imagery itself falls prey to the burden of artistic invention, becoming overly pompous and predictable past the opening scenes. The horses themselves, whilst expertly trained, do not add significantly to the performance, and, by the time its overly dramatic conclusion comes to bear, Golgota feels like the confused melting pot that it really is.
Bartabas & Andrés Marín: Golgota is on at Sadler’s Wells from 14th until 21st March 2016. Book your tickets here.
Watch a clip from the show here: