• Yumi La Blanca

Listening to your driving force: ‘Move' featuring Israel Galván

Staying at home, I suppose many of us have developed a sedative habit of binge consumption of online contents of whatever forms. Me too… it’s difficult to resist… but if we can’t help it, let’s (at least sometimes) delve into something motivating. Watching is a passive activity, but we can possibly transform it into a driving energy to survive the isolation.


‘Move’ is a documentary series of five episodes that focus on distinctive dancers from different disciplines and countries. When I learnt that one of the featured dancers is Israel Galván, representing Spain, I gave in and signed into Netflix that I’d avoided for a long time.


From frustration to determination

(When he was still a traditional bailaor)


Israel Galván was literally born into flamenco. As the son of José Galván and Eugenia de los Reyes, both legendary flamenco dancers based in Seville, he was expected to pursue his professional career in traditional flamenco dancing from his childhood. It wasn't, however, his dream. He wanted to be free from such given restrictions.


Denying the promised path, he instead decided to invent his own dancing language that nobody even tried to understand at first. He chose to listen to his internal urge, not his parents or friends or critics. He started to dance as if from his organs rather than showing off traditional flamenco forms which he used to be able to articulate perfectly.


What amazes us here is his determination, concentration, mental strength with which he wasn't, or tried not to be, disturbed by heavy criticism. Since then, as most flamenco fans know, he’s produced many unique and avantgarde performances worldwide.


His artistry wins

(Israel as we now know)


Following his inner purpose, he’s become such a dancer to live the moment on stage, driven by his internal energy. This ‘living the moment’ attitude is often associated with a gypsy lifestyle and also with flamenco, but it’s not equal to temporal pleasure-seeking. Rather, it’s strongly related to the awareness of unavoidable death. When having this in our mind, we can’t help thinking how we’d like to spend our limited timescale, or more ideally, to live fully. With such sincerity and stoicism, Israel has been pursuing his own winding road, more challenging and rewarding than going a paved career safeguarded by someone else.


By not listening to others, contradictingly, he could open up to more possibilities, think differently and produce original pieces in flamenco history. Though he didn’t set out to please others, his artistry now entertains wide audiences, including his conservative flamenco parents. Israel Galván was born into the shell of un bailaor flamenco, broke out of it, then was reborn as un bailaor libre.


Finding a positive drive during lockdown

The second lockdown has mentally hit some of us harder than the first. I myself feel more vulnerable, probably just like you, and tend to fall into a negative spiral especially when having abundant time to be overwhelmed by a stream of thought, past memories, worries for the future.


If it’s difficult to stop this flow of thought and emotions, why not use this tendency positively. Watching random things could be fun, but we can also choose to engage in uplifting, educational contents to stimulate our mind. Watching this documentary of Israel Galván, for example, would help us not only to understand the art of the dancer but also to find a clue to ‘move’ forward in positive directions.


This series features other inspiring dancers too, including UK-based Akram Kahn. I’d recommend watching all the episodes if you’re a dance enthusiast, but be careful not to be caught in the Netflix trap of binge watching (I’m giving this warning to myself too).


Move (Israel Galván appears in the third episode)

https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81013100


My past post partly discussing Israel Galván and Niño de Elche:

https://www.baile-plus.com/post/barcelona-in-our-heart-sónar-flamenco-alerta-roja