Dancing with Picasso

Josué Ullate warms up for International Dance Day with performance in front of 'Guernica'

Ullate dances in front of Picasso's 'Guernica.'

The Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid was the scene of a warm-up event for International Dance Day earlier this week, when Josué Ullate performed Quiebro in front of Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica.

The piece, created by Ullate’s father, Víctor Ullate, was inspired by a song written by late flamenco singer Enrique Morente, and opened Asaltos de la Danza (Dance attacks), a series of events to be held around International Dance Day on April 29, organized by ballet dancer Margaret Jova.

It has taken Jova more than a year of talks to get permission for Ullate to perform in front of Guernica. The Reina Sofia Museum first turned down the request, putting the protection of one of the world’s most famous works of art first. But it relented when Picasso’s family gave their support to the project. That said, this is one performance that is unlikely to be repeated.

It took more than a year of talks to get permission for Ullate to perform in front of ‘Guernica’

A specially created, sprung dance floor was installed in the gallery where Guernica hangs that had previously been used by the Merce Cunningham company a few years ago.

Ullate first performed Quiebro last year at the gala for the prestigious Positano Prize, which is awarded to promising young dancers, as well as leading figures on the world dance scene.

Víctor Ullate, who has been one of the leading figures in Spanish dance for the last two decades, oversaw the setting for his son’s performance, which was acclaimed by critics.

Ullate’s choreography for Quiebro was a distillation of his style, instantly recognizable for its combination of Spanish elements with modern ballet.

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