Aurélien Bory is a versatile artist keen on exploring the convergence of disciplines in the performing arts. Theatre, circus, dance, music and visual arts merged in the long and varied repertory of his Toulouse-based company Compagnie 111. A frequent visitor to the Mime Festival (this is his seventh production presented here), Bory’s main interest resides in space. He claims that it is always in his curiosity about the possibilities of space in theatre that he finds inspiration for his works. On this occasion, it was the exploration of an inner space that led him to create What’s Become of You?. Some twenty years ago, he met Stépahnie Fuster when she was about to leave behind her life in Toulouse in order to go to Seville to learn flamenco. When, ten years later she came back transformed in a talented flamenco dancer and asked him for a new piece, he decided to tell the story of her emotional journey. 

Both Fuster and Bory consider themselves outsiders to flamenco. Fuster hardly had any background knowledge of it when she moved to Seville, and Bory had never approached it before Fuster made him her request. This sense of looking at flamenco with fresh eyes or taking it out of its original context dominates their artistic collaboration.

Conceived, designed and directed by Bory and choreographed and danced by Fuster, What has become of You? dissects the well-known elements of the art form and exposes them in a creative new way. The percussive sound of the feet, the subtle expressiveness of the arms, the colorful dynamism of the costume, the heartbreaking pitch of the voice and the propelling rhythm of the guitar, take on a different connotation. Used with the opposite quality, from an alternative angle or for a different purpose, they show a wide range of options for the artistic development of flamenco vocabulary and theatricality. 

The production has a small-scale format that propitiates an emotional impact similar to the one it portrays. Fuster dances alone on the stage with only the accompaniment of singer Alberto García and guitarist and composer José Sanchez. The music is quiet and the set is sober, with a central dancing floor and an open cubicle that allows different spatial arrays. With these minimalist elements, the work relies mostly on the use of highly evocative imagery. Images of loss and discovery, of death and perseverance evoke the difficult process of becoming. The choreography alternates phases of incessant movement with moments of slow motion, suggesting the uncertainties of the tough, lonely passage. The transitions in silence and/or stillness highlight the energy invested in the process, by contrast. Paradoxically, a transformation that involves loss and renunciation is depicted with tenderness. An ambiguous tone that oscillates between humour and tragedy allows a sympathetic response to this intimate version of the emotional experience of becoming a flamenco dancer.