Israël Galvàn learned to walk, talk, and dance flamenco at the same time. He was born in Seville, the son of dancers José Galvàn and Eugenia de la Reyes.
Israël Galvàn learned to walk, talk, and dance flamenco at the same time, for he was born in Seville, the son of dancers José Galvàn and Eugenia de la Reyes. Flamenco is his family legacy, a secular tradition, the native soil in which he roots his quest as an inventive artist for whom each new production reflects another stage of life. He was 25 when he created his first personal work, in 1998: Mira! Los zapatos rojos. Since then, Israël Galvàn has energized flamenco dancing with new codes, elevating it and pushing it around, opening it to other traditions, as well as other themes that inspire him. And there isn’t anything he won’t allow himself to take on, including The Book of Revelation of John of Patmos (La Fin de l’état des choses, 2017) and the extermination of the gypsies by the Nazis (Lo réal/Le reel/The Real, 2012). He playfully titled his 2016 opus Fla.co.men, delivering a show in which he makes light of masculinity and femininity, tramples on gold coins and furiously showers them over the stage, and spars on guitar and in song with his fellow performers, all incredible soloists whom it would be too long to list.
As a dancer deeply connected to the earth and the air, he is without equal when it comes to suddenly capturing stillness and silence, evoking the stripped-down intensity of the “zapeteado” and the “palmas,” creating music with his body, a telluric line from which he brings forth fears and dreams simply by making his hands alight. With him, flamenco is a dance of memory and the present.
For forty years, Israël Galvàn has performed solos in the tablaos, the flamenco academies, sometimes in the open air, on the greatest international stages and even in the leading venues of contemporary art, such as the Calder Foundation in New York. Lately, he has also been dancing with artists from other horizons. With Akram Khan, he danced Torobaka (2014), a duet full of reciprocal attention and astonishment. In La Fiesta, which blends Byzantine polyphonies, cante jondo, Arab-Andalusian songs, and onomatopoeias, he shares the stage with a motley little troupe, including a Japanese dancer trained in butoh and a maternal Gypsy in red Clarks. In the summer of 2017, in the Cour d’Honneur of the Palais des Papes at the Festival d’Avignon, he put his status as a star on the line, dancing between devastated chairs and dubiously sturdy tables streaming and rumbling with shells and stones. The spirit of the Goya of the Black Paintings hung over this intimate party reminiscent of the many post-show gatherings Galvàn has witnessed, full of excess, role-switching, laughter, and tragedy.
Honored with numerous international prizes, including the New York Dance and Performance Award, better known as a Bessie, and recognized as an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, this dancer of solitudes, as he is so aptly described by the title of Georges Didi-Huberman’s book Le Danseur des Solitudes (Éditions de Minuit), tirelessly celebrates and reinvents the joy of being together through flamenco and his untranslatable, stately “duende.”