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It was a '90s thing, when Catalan dance companies blossomed and Europe gave them a warm, open-armed welcome. Cesc Gelabert, Àngels Margarit, Mal Pelo and Jordi Cortés were born under the influence of Pina Bausch and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. And we shouldn’t forget the La Fura dels Baus company and stage director Calixto Bieito – radicals and rebels who were able to move audiences forward, and today are some of the best stage artists in the world. They were all raised and trained in Barcelona 25 years ago. But what happened next? Practically nothing. Until new dance, physical theatre and performance companies started to take risks. These are the ones to follow.
Nobody knew a thing about Marcos Morau six years ago, when he was an usher at Mercat de les Flors, Barcelona’s principal house of dance. Then he brought 'Russia' to the stage with his troupe, La Veronal, and the rocket took off. Since then La Veronal hasn’t rested, touring in Oslo, Copenhagen, Paris, Madrid, London, and more, premiering most of his shows in Barcelona, and even performing at the opening night of Barcelona’s big summer arts festival, the Grec, in 2015. Morau tells stories, with Kieslowski Decalog in mind, through movement and text that is written by company playwright Pablo Gisbert. Morau and La Veronal are the natural heirs of Roger Bernat and La Fura dels Baus’s company, General Electrica. Their energy is similar, and their performance styles are closer to Forsythe than to Pina Bausch. ‘I get bored of everything,’ Morau says. ‘I try to constantly change stimuli. It’s not something premeditated – rather a necessity – but this constant search for new sources is what sparks our imagination, which we then work on from both the dramatic and movement aspect to give the piece the rhythm and energy we’re seeking and consider essential.’
El Conde de Torrefiel
Pablo Gisbert has a parallel project, El Conde de Torrefiel, a theatre company creating the most exciting performances in the city. They have performed at the Kunst festival (Brussels), Temporada Alta (Girona), in Manchester and Paris – irreverent shows with impossible titles such as 'Escenas para una conversación después del visionado de una película de Michael Haneke' ('Scenes for a conversation after the screening of a Michael Haneke film').
Agrupación Señor Serrano
Alex Serrano’s theatre company creates original productions based on stories drawn from contemporary times. They use the richness of innovative and vintage tools to extend the boundaries of their art. They’ve taken works such as 'A House in Asia' and 'Brickman Brando Bubble Boom' to New York, São Paulo and Paris, and in 2015, they won the Venice Biennale Silver Lion award.