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Flash Flashback 2, 3-30: Lola Liberated
At the National Ballet of Spain, Exit Greco

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 1998, 2005 The Dance Insider

(Editor's Note: To celebrate its fifth anniversary of being online, the Dance Insider is revisiting its Flash Review Archives. This article originally appeared in the Dance Insider's Summer 1998 debut print issue.)

Lola Greco had just been betrayed by her husband, ordered their children stabbed to death, poisoned his fiancee, been denied by her nanny, and descended into hell. The City Center audience was in terrified thrall watching Greco enact Jose Granero's flamenco "Medea" with the National Ballet of Spain. "Medea is a spirit," says Greco, who doesn't perform the role so much as she channels it.

Greco, who moans and cries onstage, has been known to emerge from a performance bleeding, her back aching from pounding the floor -- a necessity, she says, to communicate feelings sincerely to an audience and cues audibly to colleagues. If Greco chews scenery, Medea devours her. Meeting a visitor in her dressing room after the City Center show earlier this year, all she could muster was, "I can't talk."

Before NBS's spring tour was over, reality in the form of dance company politics would further test Greco. Despite being the company's only marquee figure, with a week remaining on the tour Greco was sent back to Madrid by the company's new director, Aida Gomez. A one paragraph dismissal note accused her of insubordination, after an incident in which, witnesses say, Greco was the victim, being verbally abused by another dancer during a performance. She was removed from a performance after this incident, sources say. An article in the New York Times quoting Greco's comments about Gomez did not help. (Gomez did not respond to requests for comment.)

Greco sounds like a burden has been lifted from her small but strong shoulders. "It's like a liberation!" she says. She was signed by Joaquin Cortes for his "Pasion Gitana." Marco Berriel created a solo for Greco and a duet for Greco and Berriel inspired by songs Federico Garcia Lorca wrote for Spanish vaudeville. Berriel is not worried about Greco. "Spanish National Ballet was a little bit like death for her," he explains. "An artist can't stay doing the same things, otherwise she doesn't grow up, she gets bored."

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