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Mundo profesional

osé Durand Florez:
'Ritmo Negro del Perú'
jose durand 3_edited.jpg

En los primeros minutos de la entrevista habla sobre José Durand y 'Ritmo Negro del Perú'

The first serious attempt to stage Negroid folklore as a theatrical show dates back to 1956 and was the result of the initiative and effort of Dr. José Durand Florez. In its beginnings, to the 'Trio los Morenos', integrated by Humberto Samamé, Lito Gonzales and Ricardo Ramírez, who interpreted Negroid airs, he added the participation of the guitarist Roberto Arce and the popular singer Juan Criado, renaming this group with the name of 'La cuadrilla morena de Pancho Fierro'. Taking this group as a base, he began to recruit any brown man with any ability, whether as a singer, dancer or instrumentalist of Peruvian Negro airs. Durand penetrated all the alleys of Lima and La Victoria. He managed to be invited to select encerronas and jaranas. He got a guitarist here, he got a singer there, he convinced a zapateador there. They spread the word to relatives and amateur friends and began rehearsals in Durand's own apartment. Each one contributed what he knew, they worked with ardor and when the thing began to take shape, they took the rehearsals to the Municipal Theater of Lima. An acceptable program could be structured thanks to the advice of personalities like Rosita Alarco, Toño Pinilla and other society people; thanks to the knowledge of don Porfirio Vásquez; to the long artistic experience of Juan Criado; to the compositions and arrangements of Samuel Márquez; to the instructions of the mother of the Soto brothers; to the quality of the veteran Mendoza Reyes; to Juan Mejía Baca, Rosa Graña, Manuel Cuadros, José María Arguedas and some others who really knew their stuff. Durand invested in this new venture of his company, 'Estampas de Pancho Fierro', up to the last cent. Alberto Terry was in charge of the scenery and Marcos Kaplansky of the administration.

Durand received wide support from the press, but due to the anonymity of his cast, about forty people, and the unusual nature of the show, he wanted to ensure the box office with a renowned and prestigious figure and so he got the participation of Chabuca Granda as a special performance. The opening night arrived and when the curtain rose at the Teatro Municipal de Lima, before the astonished eyes of 1,200 spectators who filled the hall, a two-hour show was presented, in a series of songs and dances of ours that were almost unknown to Peruvians of this generation. The ovations followed one after the other from the opening "Ritmo de quijadas"; the version of "Son de los Diablos" was dazzling; the cane field stamp with the staging of the panalivio "A la Molina"; the scene of "La Chacra", with décimas, cockfighting and contrapunto of Creole zapateo; the 'Serenata en el callejón' and its climax of marinera and resbalosa; the scene of the 'Toro-mata', a grotesque dramatic scene in memory of the black bullfighters of Lima. It was a display of images that, in retrospective vision, transported the spectator to the Lima of a century ago. After the success of the first performances, Chabuca declined to remain in the cast, no matter how 'very special' her participation was (later, in January 1957, Durand would pay her a well-deserved tribute in the Plaza de Acho with a full house*).

*Nicomedes participates in this tribute with the Pancho Fierro Company, although he is not yet a member of it. This event, held on Thursday, January 17, 1957, can be considered as the beginning of his professional career.

After the favorable impact of the first presentations and without the specialized critics being able to pronounce themselves in a didactic way, since they also did not know our folklore, it was the audience itself who would be in charge of drawing conclusions. The opinion of the spectator was developing in parallel to adverse circumstances within the company that in the end would put an end to the show: the artists that in the rehearsals formed a dark brotherhood, began to separate into groups and dismiss each other: cañetanos, chancayanos, chinchanos, limeños... Indiscipline began inside and outside of the stage. Whoever was able to get the most out of his act, and he would stay on stage for a long time. To all this, Dr. Durand had disagreements with such valuable elements as Porfirio Vásquez and Juan Criado, who left the company. Under these circumstances, rehearsals of new prints for the following season began.

Audio by Nicomedes on Estampas de Pancho Fierro. 1970

Foto de:

Sobre la evolución del poema Ritmos negros del Perú, compuesto originalmente para presentar el espectáculo, ver descripción en el vídeo de youtube

At the beginning of 1957 a short season was announced, which began at the Municipal Theater of Lima from May 11 to 15. After several performances in the Plaza de Acho and theaters, it was transferred to the Municipal Theater of Arequipa, where two performances were given. They returned to Lima and traveled by air to Chile, performing on June 12 under the name 'Ritmo Negro del Perú'. Four performances at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago, three performances at Radio Corporación and two final performances at the Caupolicán on June 18 and 19. The new program began the same as the previous one with 'Ritmo de Quijadas' (for this stage design Terry painted the jaws with a green compound that reacted phosphorescently to the effect of the 'black light', a technique that was premiered in Lima; with the hall turned off and the black players dressed in dark, when the curtain was lifted, the audience saw and heard eight phosphorescent jaws floating on stage). The 'Son de los diablos' followed (he was inspired by watercolors for the costumes and instrumentation; there were ten devils and one older devil). Both numbers had gained from a year's worth of work. But instead of the following painting 'Una escena en la chacra' with Porfirio and Juan Criado, now followed 'El cainuco', a meaningless picture. Gabriel Alvarado did not go to Chile either, who created 'Toro-mata' in his role as a black bullfighter. The zapateo counterpoint that caused a sensation in Lima was transformed into the 'Ciempiés'. And finally, the panalivio 'A la Molina' performed by Juan Criado was replaced by 'La Navidad Negra' (Black Christmas), a scene that was disambiguated by the absence of scenery, confused by the fragmented nature of its folkloric documentation and disorienting for being a deficient adaptation of the 'Hatajo de Negritos' from El Carmen (Chincha). The show went unnoticed by the Chilean public and so after the debut, the silence of the Chilean specialized critics lasted until the farewell of the new company. Everything had gone downhill since the presentation of the show in 1956. Once these commitments were fulfilled, they returned to Peru and José Durand dissolved his company.

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