El Güito
Biography, discography, Real Audio and readers' comments.

Live video :
Manolete and El Gito
Bienal 2000. Sevilla. España

Real Video

"I started when I was four. At that time a type of cinema was fashionable that you might call 'folkloric' and that began to attract my attention"

Fernando González-Caballos

Eduardo Serrano Iglesias, El Güito, is still the master of soleares. Taking advantage of his stay in Mont-de-Marsan where he has been giving a dance course, we had a talk with him about his career and the present state of flamenco dance. These were his impressions.

How and why did El Güito begin dancing?

I started when I was four. At that time a type of cinema was fashionable that you might call 'folkloric' and that began to attract my attention. That's how I started taking classes with Antonio Marín until the age of fourteen, at which time Pilar López took me into her company and I began to dance professionally. So you see, it happened almost without my realizing it. I was just a kid who liked to dance for the sake of dancing, nothing else.

Nevertheless, I hear that back then you received several important prizes and distinctions, isn't that so?

Yes, that's right. At 16 I received the Sarah Bernhardt award from the Theater of the Nations in Paris. It was a very important prize which singled me out as the best dancer of the year.

And after that?

Well, the fact is, after receiving that prize I left Pilar López and started to work in tablaos. I remember that back then I also worked a lot with Manuela Vargas, until finally I started making my own little groups. That was actually my beginning.

Photo: Paco Sánchez

How do you remember that era?

Oh wow... what do you think? For me those days were the best I ever had. Just think, at that time artists like Antonio Mairena, Caracol, Terremoto, Sernita, Chano Lobato, La Perla and even Camarón himself were singing for dancing. Those men and women worked with the likes of Manuela Carrasco, Farruco, Rafael el Negro, Antonio Gades, Matilde Coral, Mario Maya… The decade of the sixties was the golden age for baile, and for flamenco in general.

Just what was a young dancer like yourself trying for back then?

Just think! When I was with Pilar López there were dancers in the company such as Farruco, Mario Maya, Curro Vélez, so I spent the whole time watching them. Afterwards, I would go to my dressing-room and try to do the things that had most attracted my attention, but in my own way. As long as I was the youngest one, I tried to learn from all the others. What happens is then, you have to create your own personality, because if not, it's worthless.

During that era, what were your plans for the future, and with whom did you develop them?

Things were different then, and of course we were working to make money, but we only wanted money to go have another fiesta. During those years I started working at Torres Bermejas with the Trío Madrid. Besides them, Mario Maya, Carmen Mora and me were also there, as well as Pansequito and Camarón. Over at Canasteros you had Farruco and Manuela Carrasco. In other words, you could really take your pick, there was such a wide range of artists that flamenco-lovers would make the rounds from one place to another, non-stop. Mind you, there were something like eleven or twelve tablaos in Madrid at that time, in addition to a good number of nightclubs which also tended to feature a flamenco cuadro.

And then came the summer festivals.

Exactly. The Potaje Gitano de Utrera appeared, and then all the rest followed. I remember that the Mairena festival was one of the best, but there were many. I believe there were over a hundred festivals a one point throughout Andalucía. But they were always the same big drag, from ten o'clock at night, until seven in the morning. No one can take that. In my opinion they ought to divide the festival between several days so as not to bring all the artists at once. Nowadays a show shouldn't exceed two hours so that the audience goes away contented. No matter how much someone likes flamenco, most of the festivals are far too long, the people get bored, they wander over to the bar for a drink, and that background chatter that gets started seems to me like a lack of respect and consideration towards the artists... it's terrible.

But you also had your own company for many years, didn't you?

Yes indeed. After the tablao period I started mounting my first companies. As of now I've had my own company for more than 15 years, and we work a great deal outside of Spain. I remember that one of the best tours I had in recent years was the one in 1997. With that group we had a date in Paris which was very successful. In addition to my dancers we had invited artists: Carmen Linares and Sara Baras. In fact it was after that tour when Sara started to become famous.

Besides Sara Baras, what other dancers have passed through your company in recent years?

Almost everyone I think. From Beatriz Martín, María Vivó, Belén Fernández, Belén Maya, etc... In actual fact, all of them came to learn for a time, and almost everyone stayed to dance in the company.

The last one I remember is Maripaz Lucena

That's correct. That girl started dancing with me and was with the group until only recently. Now she's going to go to Japan for six months, which is why I'm taking Belén Fernández again. But the same thing happened with the men dancers. Dancers such as Joselito Romero, Alfonso Losa, Domingo Ortega and many others, especially from Madrid, not only passed through my dance school, but also, later on, the company.

Nevertheless, male flamenco dancing seems to be going through a period of experimentation.

Well, I think we're experiencing a very strong period in dance. Nowadays women dance the same as men, but it's because everyone is wrapped up with the footwork. Nobody cares about the arms, the head, the aesthetic and everything else is based on strength and counter-rhythms. And if you notice, they all look like each other. Whereas in my day, each one had his own personality.

And what do you think about guitar and cante?

Certainly it's the guitar which has advanced most in recent years. Cante has become somewhat..., you don't see stars like Terremoto, Chocolate, Mairena, El Sordera. Before you could listen to one of them and without looking, know exactly who it was. Today there's not a one who sings with an individual personality.

Do you think that young people today are in too much of a hurry to shoot to stardom on their own?

Definitely. Today everyone wants to be a star without having taken the time to make a career for themselves. And it's in every sector, whether dance, guitar, or singing.

Where do your instincts tell you all this is leading?

Obviously everything is going to have to return to its normal state. Dance will once again take its time to express what is being danced. So that if you're dancing seguiriyas, it has to be seguiriyas, and if you dance soleá, it has to be done the way it has to be done. Not how it is today, that everything is danced the same, por bulerías.

Your dance has also been soleá, isn't that right?

No. It's true that everyone knows me for my way of dancing soleá, but I've also done things in all the other forms, and I've even done classical.

What is your opinion about the level shown by participants at Cordoba's National Flamenco Contest?

I wasn't there for the whole contest, but I did see the show of the winners, and the truth is, the level was a little low. For example, Manolo Sanlúcar really got upset, and with good reason, because that boy wasn't up to that kind of prize. Nevertheless, the girl who won the dance prize for soleá, Hiniesta Cortés, danced very well and I think she deserved it. Although in dance they also awarded some prizes that the less said the better. It's not that the people who won didn't deserve it, but a lot of people who danced much better got left out. And I have nothing to say about the cante because I don't even want to give an opinion.

Maestro... it's been a pleasure meeting you.

Thank you.

Translation: Estela Zatania


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