El bolero saltarín (the Jumping Bolero) is the new single from Lizbeth Román and the Duendes Invisibles. The track features on the first album, La otra ruta live at New York, which was recorded over a series of concerts in NY in 2016 and restored and mastered by Néstor Salomón. BristoLatino Editor-in-Chief, Rebecca Wilson, caught up with Román to discuss the new track and its inspirational accompanying video.
This song, interspersed with moments of sarcasm, is an invitation to dance alone. Why not? It’s the perfect time to reassert this message: as an island, as an individual, let’s dance alone to the bolero that touches us all.
Esta canción, que es intervenida de a momentos por un tono sarcástico, es una invitación a bailar sola ¿Por qué no? Es un buen momento para re proponer eso… como isla, como individuo, bailemos solos el bolero que nos toca.
The song, Bolero Saltarín, features Enrique ‘El Perú’ Chávez on creative percussion, Ariel Robles on bass and Andrés ‘Kino’ Cruz on the congas. “It narrates a typical bolero tale of love, separation, contemplation, serenity and nostalgia” Román explains. The twist is in the video, as these emotions are experienced through the eyes of a young girl, played by Sarah Dalilah Cruz Ortiz. Why did she choose a child as the video’s protagonist? “Because children are not afraid to dance alone, nor are they afraid to be free… often adults are”, she explained.
So what is the video about? “Two distinct realities meet in the dreamlike setting of a Caribbean hurricane island”, Román details, “the quotidian- the house, the neighbourhood; and the concert- played alongside imaginary others in a space full of abandoned furniture.” The real and the fantastical intersect in the world of a young girl who dreams of love. Her careful movements and trance-like performance of adult romance, coupled with the minimal pastel set, give the video a warm and buoyant feel.
As she leads us through the Puerto Rican landscape recently struck by Hurricane María, the girl shows there is positivity and the space to dream through the enactment of her island fantasy amidst the rubble. The neighbourhood remains a playground and the musicians on percussion play in a space full of abandoned objects, which seem to have a rhythm alongside the congas which sound.
The video was made collaboratively. Conceptualised and directed by Román, Eric Rojas took charge of the filming and editing and acted as Director of Photography.
Once again Lizbeth, a lover of the theatrical, plays with what she describes as “parallel stories of the symbolic and the subtextual”. The wind is a calming, freeing sensation in this song, shown in the breeze which blows through the singer’s hair, sounds the wind chime and leads us from scene to scene. This bolero transforms images of destruction, showing the tranquil strength of Puerto Rico. The weathered paint contrasts Román’s voice, which is as strong and soothing as the sea which stretches out behind the protagonist in a vast blue which meets an equally sunny sky. The sand raked up and scattered through the protagonist’s fingers feeds the earth as the corn feeds the chickens; life goes on.
Seguimos al paso…, released as a prologue to Bolero saltarín, officially resumes their musical project after the destruction of Hurricane María, and features Román in the same location. It is hopeful and quietly memorial as Román removes the debris and safely hangs plants. Warm chords sound (the beginnings of Bolero Saltarín) and the clip ends with the artist packing up her guitar and walking on.
La crisis no ha dejado de estar presente, el post-huracán todavía no acaba, tristemente la corrupción y las dinámicas coloniales lo permean todo. Pero los artistas trabajamos, creamos y proponemos, desde las ruinas y desde el escombro. Creo que el arte es una herramienta y un camino hacia otro proyecto de país, otro proyecto de mundo.
Román’s Duendes Invisibles works are threaded with distinctive visual motifs: sombreros; duendes; the classic microphone; a mysterious musician with a sombrero obscuring his eyes; decolonised, often abandoned spaces. Although unseen, Lizbeth is present in Bolero saltarín through her signature red sombrero resting on her guitar, her unassuming coffee mug found in a few shots and the cowboy boots worn by the protagonist. She is an artist with a mission and a style. “The crisis is still present”, Román explains, “the post-hurricane phase is not over and sadly corruption and colonial dynamics permeate everything here. But us artists continue to work; creating and proposing new ideas from the ruins and the debris. I believe art is a tool and a way towards a new national and global project.”