We had already spent many happy holidays here before coming to retire on the island in 2015, so we already knew about Lanzarote’s vibrant arts scene that delivers to tourists, ´new residents´ and its indigenous people. The scene offers everything from pottery to poetry readings to rock and roll, dance to drumming and music of all genres: folk-lore, jazz, folk, classical and pop.
We have seen ´concerts´ held on street corners, with four musicians playing to twenty people, and somehow evoking Paul Simon in Central Park. We have heard local poets reading their own words in the town squares in beautiful sunshine in Teguise and we have heard The Tenerife Symphony Orchestra in the incredible theatre that is actually an underground cave in a lava tube at Jameos Del Agua.
Many, many of these events are ¨free until full´, although of course the major concerts are priced and ticketed. We are out up to a dozen times a month attending an arts event of one kind or another. It might be an exhibition opening at the glorious Lanzarote Art Gallery, or it might be a small guided tour conducted by Claudie, one of the island’s most loved artist, taking us through her gallery home in Orzola, at the Northern tip of the island.
Actually Claudie could probably open a second gallery at our house, on the Southern tip of the island, as we have bought so many small items that now adorn our home.
Of course, the island itself, is a work of art with its sunlit homes all in white, their doors and shutters either blue or green, and interesting modern architecture like that of the Cabildo, (the government houses) often lit by colourful floodlighting at night to celebrate various events. And then there is the surrounding landscape, painted as if of God’s Grandeur, the tops of the palm trees like splashes of green against the blue skies and the sea dappled with gold as the sun drops diamonds down the coast.
And so much of that art work seems to have been inspired by the late Cesar Manrique, still holding the island enthralled thirty years after his death in a road traffic accident.
It is his name and his designs that help attract big name stars and celebrities to the island. You might haves seen our reports on these pages of the performance of Manrique The Musical earlier this year. With talk of it soon becoming a film and perhaps an album this would raise even higher the prominence of Lanzarote’s art offer.
The fact that it was premiered in Manrique’s own creation, that magnificent theatre in the caves alluded to earlier, even highlighted what a masterpiece of creation that venue is. The lighting and the scenery adapted easily to show all aspects of Manrique’s life on the island and his times in New York and Paris.
This incredible theatre also recently hosted An Evening With John Mallovich as he read from his ´autobiography´, which actually was the biography of a German serial kiler. This was a night of delusion and distraction complete with a symphony orchestra and two excellent sopranos. The six hundred seater theare was full to the bring, reflecting the fact that Malkovich is a global star who als has a niche following. He had, in fact fiorst fallen in love with the island on a vist twenty years ago whne he was show rfound what was then still this very new theatre. He pledged then that he would play here one day, and twenty years later, play here he did. He played with convention, he played with our minds, he played with genre,…but most of all he played with passion and held this vast arean spellbound.
Not all venues are quite as grand, not even all Manrique-designed venues are quite as grand, but his wonderful three storied, multi-roomed gallery and workshop at Cic El Almacen in Arrecife is home to smaller visual exhibitions and more intimate concerts. For instance on October we will be at this venue, also known as The Warehouse, to hear musicians Nicolás Buenaventura and Marta Gómez deliver a concert called Giving Birth. This is promised to be a an eight minute performance describing the epic of a birth. A singer and a storyteller. will tell of creation; the vital need for music, for stories, for words. We are told it will be an encounter with words that touch, words that embrace and give us the desire to live; words that allow you to be born and reborn; that allow us to decide to come to this world and inhabit it.
The following month, November, we will be at the ballet.
Nights at the ballet were rare events for us when we lived in England before coming here to Lanzarote eight years ago. We saw the Matthew Bourne production of Swan Lake at The Lowry Theatre in Salford, and the incredible Alvin Ailley American Dance Theatre group for the USA, perform at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford. Both those completely changed my preconceptions of what ballet is all about, and through them I came to enjoy the narrative and the incredible talents of the dancers, all set to beautiful music.
And now, for the second time in eight years, we have the opportunity to watch The International Ballet Company , an acclaimed company made up of soloists from Moldova, Ukraine and Italy among other countries, invites us, as part of its autumn tour, to enjoy one of Tchaikovsky’s most emblematic works, “The Nutcracker”.
This is a tale that informs us that Christmas is a big party at Clara’s house, and all the children receive a gift. She gives Clara, her beloved godfather, a beautiful Nutcracker doll. When the whole family sleeps, Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, after defeating the Mouse King’s army, will travel through distant lands, have fun with magical snowflakes and sweets from different countries that will dance for them. This is an unforgettable night, full of adventures and beautiful characters. Maybe it’s a dream?
The International Ballet Company is a young company that has entered the international classical dance scene with a bang, characterized by refined technique and excellent dramatic interpretation that give life to the best-known choreographies and scores of classical ballet.
Soloists: Cristina Terentiev and Alexandru Balan.
The ballet will be performed in the centre of Arrecife at The Victor Gopa El Salinero Teatro, named after a favourite Canary Island poet, of who a statue was unveiled In Las Brenas a few years ago, by its sculptor Cyntia Matis. You will see many other examples of her work on the island.
Look, too, at the many sculptures that reflect the land´s relationship with the sea, and others that reflect writers like The Pulizer prize winner Saramego, who exiled himself to the island many years ago.
In fact that reminds me to say that a fun way to follow your art on Lanzarote would be simply to make a note, mentally, of all the statues you see on your walkabouts. Artists and artisans alike are immortalised in statuesque form. Those statues down at the look out point of Salinas de Janubio (the salt fields near Playa Blanca) are a great case in point, and you can soon form a potted history of the arts on the island.
Of course, the arts and culture offer is not always writ large: it is often found almost in microscopic form in everyday life of the island. It might be tempting to think the folk lore musicians and dancers are at the Teguise Market every Sunday morning just as a tourist attraction to tempt tourists to linger and spend more money. That theory, though, is belied by the smiles on the faces of the performers as they engage with the market goers and even bring them into the dance itself. They are sharing their local pride, their history, the island´s history, through song and dance and timple music.
The Timple is a small ukelele-like instrument, six stringed, and capable of gently underpinning a melody or creating a driving rhythm. It is a much loved instrument and we have several maestros players living and performing here on th island.
In fact, in the next Teguise town square along from the market there is a wonderful Timple Museum which tells of the history and explains the creative process of designing the instrument. The museum holds frequent professional concerts in a small thearte arena and ad hoc al fresco ´jam sessions´ in the courtyard.
You may be thinking that this is all very well but where are you able to find information about these things.
Well, you are currently reading these pages on Lanzarote Information but a quick search through this small-subscription led newsletter will lead you to our editor´s What´s On Listings, which are as comprehensive as any on the island.
Of course, it is worth also doing a belt and braces check at the official ticket distribution site of ecoentradas.com
Some of the supermarkets carry glossy English language tourist periodicals which carry listings too, but its worth keeping your eyes out for pamphlets and fliers left for free at the till points of petrol stations, and of course the local Tourist Information offices are always a great source of detail.
Most ticket reservations are on-line, which is both a help and a hindrance. Sadly gone are the days when you could go to the theatre a couple of weeks in advance to buy a concert ticket.
Lanzarote Information carry not only Miguel’s listings but also related articles. My own daily sidetracks and detours daily blog offers a comprehensive news, interviews, preview and reviews arts service.
So, we’re here to help, but the best advice I can offer all you culture vultures is to just follow your art,….because on Lanzarote you will find it wherever you go.