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.
and why did El Güito begin dancing?
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.
I hear that back then you received several important prizes
and distinctions, isn't that so?
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.
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.
do you remember that era?
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
The decade of the sixties was the golden age for
baile, and for flamenco in general.
what was a young dancer like yourself trying for back then?
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.
that era, what were your plans for the future, and with whom
did you develop them?
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.
then came the summer festivals.
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.
you also had your own company for many years, didn't you?
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.
Sara Baras, what other dancers have passed through your company
in recent years?
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.
last one I remember is Maripaz Lucena
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.
male flamenco dancing seems to be going through a period of
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.
what do you think about guitar and cante?
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.
you think that young people today are in too much of a hurry
to shoot to stardom on their own?
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.
do your instincts tell you all this is leading?
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.
dance has also been soleá, isn't that right?
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.
is your opinion about the level shown by participants at Cordoba's
National Flamenco Contest?
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.
it's been a pleasure meeting you.