Sunday, August 14, 2005

Bull Friendly Acrobatics

Reuters Video: "Bull Friendly Acrobatics"

It is the land of wine in Spain where green vineyards welcome visitors to Rincon de Soto, a small village set in the province of La Rioja. It is August, bullfight and fiesta season, but this year there is also entertainment for those who don't like to see bulls dying.

Outside the improvised bullring young men dressing in white, stretch before the hard work. They are about to face 400 kilograms bulls with no other defense than their bodies.

"Respect, not fear because I enjoy it, because I like it since I was a child. If I was scared to be in front of a bull I wouldn't do it because then, the bull will hit you. Of course you have certain feelings before going there (the arena) but it is not fear," says Jose Santander who has been practicing the bull jump (Recorte in Spanish) for four years now.

In fact, as Santander says, as the beginning of the show approaches, they look nervous, some of them are praying.

The Bullring is packed, spectators are waiting, and the first bull is in the ring. From that moment and with six bulls in total, the acrobatic young men spend the entire afternoon sparing the animals' lives, leaping over their heads as they approach, above the horns, swerving in front of the bull in a kind of risky familiarity with the animal and tremendous self-confidence, especially in their legs, while their companions prepare a nervous dance to attract the animal's attention and get ready for their 'flying bullfight'.

Spectators clap and dance as they finish the show. Bulls leave the bullring dragged back to the pigsty by friendly cows. They are going to die later but not in public.

"I like more the fact that the bull enters the bullring, makes people happy and then leave the ring alive. It is more logic that the bull being killed," says Manolo Torreoz who says he never attends bullfights because of the great pain that it represents for bulls.

French bull jumper David Casarin, a former bullfighter, agrees with Torreoz.

"It is an art that I like very much because it is a free body work with the bull and that is a demonstration of respect and love for the bull. It is a sensation different than bullfighting with a cape," says Casarin who came to participate in this show from his hometown of Mont-Marsan in southern France. The afternoon is over and happy spectators leave the bull ring, ready to continue with the fiesta.

The recortadores bullfight is an ancient tradition practiced today in Spain by many young men who like the bull's art but prefer to have fun without killing the animals.

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