ANTONIO CANALES, FLAMENCO DANCER. INTERVIEW
“If I stop dancing, I lose my balance”
Silvia Calado. Jerez, March 2013
Translation: Joseph Kopec
Dancing is Antonio Canales’ life. Now he’s one hundred percent sure of it. He also knows that age is no reason to set it aside. And that a certain stage of dancing corresponds to each stage of life. The one the bailaor is now experiencing, after losing his balance and regaining it, is so sparkling that he describes it as “another of the best moments” in his career. Just last year he did over a hundred performances. On the one hand, there are his collaborations with young choreographers. And on the other, his own projects. He is rolling on the foreign market with 'Bolero', a production premiered in Bogotá and presented in Japan. The artist would like to bring it to Spain, but his country’s current situation seems to impede it. A subject which pains him so much that he has decided to cover his TV set with a Manila shawl and stop watching the news. And to dance. Next comes 'Profecía', a micro-show which he intends to take to alternative venues in order to connect with the young audience... now that his five senses are once again in his life: in dancing.
Could we say that Antonio Canales began a new stage?
Unbelievable. It’s been like being born again. Suddenly, I delved into baile and dancing, because it’s the catalyst of my life. I think my most bitter and absurd moments over the past few years were when I tried to stop dancing. I was confused; you can dance at every age as long as you are excited about doing so, as long as that’s your vehicle of expression. Each age has its moment and that’s beautiful. No, because I get unbearable, I’m not used to it and I lose my balance. When I got back to dancing, last year I did a hundred and three galas.
A hundred and three galas?
I’ve participated with today’s young choreographers: Estévez & Paños, Rubén Olmo and the Nuevo Ballet Español. Each of them has his own way and has used me in a certain way. I wanted to see myself in Rubén’s classicism in 'Miroterráneo' and in 'Ignacio Sánchez Mejías' by the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía, which meant playing a very Andalusian role, much the way I am. Next, the madness of Estévez & Paños, the contemporary, the way of sticking in the times, of discerning myself as a fieldworker for hire and above all, of dancing with nothing up my sleeve. On the other hand, I’m in 'El amor brujo' by Rojas and Rodríguez. This work is an odyssey, like a music video by Robbie Williams or a film by Spielberg. And all of this made me enjoy myself a great deal.
And at the same time, you have projects of your own, don’t you?
I spent two weeks in Colombia; we inaugurated the 5th Bogotá Dance Festival. And with the production from there, I made 'Bolero', a tribute to the great bolero maestros. To Cuban José Pepe Sánchez with 'Borrasca', to Nelson Pinedo, to all those little boleros from the early 20th century until Ravel’s great 'Bolero', the bolero par excellence, which I dedicated to the victims of the tsunami in Sendai and Fukushima.
What was that experience like in Japan?
I was at the hardest-hit spots in Japan with the Red Cross. It was really flabbergasting; I remember sending a letter to Flamenco-world.com, '400K of pain'. There, they decided for me to create something for the National Theater of Tokyo, with dancers from here and with dancing from there and a wonderful singer from the south. People say that, after the one in Béjart, you have to see it. I feel very flattered because the maestro’s bolero has been very important to me. And it’s being bought non-stop, now for Ecuador, Panama, then we’re going to Hong Kong... I don’t know; a revolution’s been created.
And in Spain?
I’d like to ask politicians from here when my children will be able to see it in their country. I’ll have to take them to a foreign country for them to see it. What’s happening to me is like what happened to Antonio Gades; first his shows triumphed abroad and then he came back here and everybody wanted to see them. Spain is like that. It’s a shame. The Ballet Nacional de España has now gone to Japan and has taken my choreography 'Grito'. And I’m in a choreography which won the Giraldillo at Seville’s Bienal and in another one nominated for the Max Awards.
Can we say that you’re at a new best moment?
Yes, I’m at my best moment again, like the wine from here (we’re at the San Ginés Sherry Winery). I’m living for dance, at my little country house with my little dog. I’m away a lot, but I suffer when I see how hard things are here. People are starting to deprive themselves of things which fill the soul: culture, the pleasures of being human, what makes you excited to live. If cinema, literature, painting and music are taken away from us people... what are we? I don’t put on the news anymore; I have a Manila shawl covering the TV set. I look at it and I love it. All they do is talk about how politicians steal from each other. And when are they going to talk about social matters? We’re being threatened with pain. Fear is power.
What new projects do you have in the works?
All of this has led me to something that I’m going to call 'Profecía', a monologue in which I sing, dance and everything, with three performers: actor, singer and guitarist. I do a self-portrait of an Andalusian character, from his youth to his death on stage. I’m in a room and I speak about disappointment. Life is one disappointment after another. We’re going to take it to alternative venues, since I want to make flamenco go into those places again, to draw flamenco up to a different type of more modern audience. So I’m bubbling over and happy, thank God, in good health and with my five senses for dancing.