Review OPFIKON (1)

Monday, 30th November 2009 (from the Zürcher Unterländer)

Opfikon little theatre organisors take on an experiement, and are overrun with enthusiasm.

Rusticality meets warm-bloodedness

Bettina Castaño doesn't only dance flamenco to flamenco music. She also dances to the tones from Appenzell. (Photo: Leo Wyden)

'In an era of globalisation, people are increasingly on the search for tradition' said Rolf Baumgartner, head of the little theatre in Mettlen. It was not long after announcing that we would present the flamenco dancer Bettina Castaño together with the Alder Buebe, that the performance was sold out. We were truely overrun!'

Adults from different generations will meet for a extraordinary concert this Satuday, and will experience how flamenco and Appenzell converge. The Alder Buebe – Walter Alder on the dulcimer, Michael Bösch on the violin, Milli Valotti on the accordion and Köbi Schiess on Bass – play carefree, and from the first tone on, the mysterious connection between the rustical Appenzell music and the spanish rhythm is to be felt.

She always has her instrument with her

Castaño uses her body as an instrument – her hammering feet move at such a breath-takig speed, that one could imagine that she has more than two. Her hands clap to the beat, and castanettes are also in use. Every movement radiates vitality, elegance and strength. Castaño's facial expression shows concentration and dedication. Castaño comes from Appenzell and has lived in spanish Sevilla for 25 years, where flamenco groups from all over the world meet. This is how new ideas arise, and productions are worked on.

'Flamenco is a melting pot of different cultures and has a long and interesting history' explains the artist. 'Influences from the Indian culture for example, are also part of it' The art in Bettina Castaño's work can be seen in that she mixes different styles, without losing their identity.

Twelve years ago, Castaño presented the Alder Buebe with the idea of working together. The rustical Appenzell formation had always been open to new musical influences, and the preparation began. 'I choose the music and work on the choreography. After that, an awful lot of practice is necessary', describes the dancer. 'Each year I dance through a few pairs of shoes!' she laughs.

Confusing, but inspiring

A highlight of the concert with the Alder Buebe is when they roll the coins around a bowl (a musical tradition in Appenzell) and Castaño dances to this. A sound pattern is produced that cannot be placed. You don't know whether the melody creates homesickness, or wanderlust. The audience listen, sing, clap, and gladly let themselves be taken on a 'confusing' musical journey.

Audience members Valentina Pinto and Reto Dräger are inspired. They had heard many style mixes before, but never something like this. 'The combination of both of these musical worlds moved me' said the 22 year old Pinto, who dances flamenco herself. 'This evening I got to know the Appenzell as if for the first time'. The artists left the stage to an enthusiastic standing ovation.

"Sensing the music frees the dancing muse."

Bettina Castaño