He parades across the dusty Vinaro bullring, chest puffed and back arched staring straight ahead into the eyes of a half tonne bull, ready to charge. With a flick of the wrist, Valencian local José Félix deftly moves a pink muleta as he hollers, “Toro! Toro!” and the 500-strong crowd look on in eager silence.
But instead of going in for the kill, the matador springs into action, leaping over the bull and into the air with the grace of a prima ballerina, the bull’s horns barely grazing his crisp white shirt.
Welcome to bullfighting – but not as you know it. The Arte y Emoción company, headed by toreros Javi González “Viza”, taunt, tease and perform elaborate acrobatics with the bulls they fight – but no animals are harmed in the making of this sport.
And this clash, held on August 23, was a cause for celebration like no other. The first Valencian Community since COVID-19 outbreak and the last ever challenge for Niebla, a bull who has fought for over ten years and uncontested star of the show.
Over 500 spectators rose from their seats to applaud Niebla in a moment organised described as “eternal”.
He will now be put out to pasture and enjoy the last of his days being cared for on a Valencian farm.
“Bulls matter,” said Javi González. “This is a hobby for life.”