Cortés, bailaor. Interview
“I think flamenco,
like dance in general,
is going through a rough patch, and there's a
lack of quality around”
Silvia Calado. Madrid, August 2004
Translation: Gary Cook
Photos: Daniel Muñoz
Cortés is proud to be “an innovator creating
a new artistic movement based on fusion”. And the fact
is that the dancer and choreographer from Córdoba considers
blending styles “the way to get flamenco worldwide acceptance
and recognition.” And he should know. ‘Pasión
Gitana’ is the most widely-seen Spanish show in the
world, and the critically-acclaimed ‘Live’ is
headed the same way, with a packed schedule of shows programmed
from here to who knows when. At the same time, he's branching
out in another direction, taking on the role of director and
patron to promising newcomers. He just founded the Gitana
Cortés Company, launched with the show ‘De amor
y odio’. A view to ending his career as a dancer also
motivated this project: “I have to start to think about
retirement now, and about making way for youngsters.”
with 'De amor y de odio' poster |
What goals did you set yourself as director and producer
of projects such as the Gitana Cortés Company?
Gitana Cortés is a company which was conceived with
the aim of showcasing our country's promising newcomers. I
feel obliged to help younger generations, because in my day
nobody helped me out. My intention is for this company to
gain worldwide recognition, to travel all over the world and
for great figures to emerge from it - figures who will go
on to represent Spain around the globe.
Why did you decide to make a commitment to promoting
Like I already said, I feel an obligation to do so. I have
to start to think about retirement now, and about making way
for youngsters. But I want to offer them a chance to take
their talent around the world as part of this dance company.
Right now, there's no company in Spain that travels around
the world and represents our country. I feel very proud that,
thank God, things are going so well for me that I can afford
to do so.
How would you define the artistic concept of the
Gitana Cortés Company?
The show we're doing now, ‘De amor y odio’ (Of
love and hate), already premièred in Milan, Rome, Kiev,
Moscow, Lisbon and Oporto, is a reflection of the world we're
living in: wars, starvation, hatred, chaos, stress, sex just
for the sake of it... where there's almost no room for love,
but it's out there somewhere. In this production, following
my trend as an artist, I play with the fusion of styles. Classical,
contemporary and flamenco dance are mixed together. It's a
superproduction that almost adopts the style of the large-scale
musicals, with mobile screens, projection of images, harnesses
which suspend the dancers in mid-air... And, as always, the
wardrobe is by my great friend Giorgio Armani - for the last
ten years I asked him to do the costume for every show.
What position does flamenco hold here? How does it
relate to the other languages you use?
is the starting point because it's something that runs
in my veins, but my professional training goes beyond
It's a fusion of styles, like what I did for the last five
years. I was an innovator creating a new artistic movement
based on fusion. Of course, flamenco is the starting point
because it's something that runs in my veins, but my professional
training goes beyond flamenco and that's clear in my productions.
How do you think these other languages are causing
flamenco to evolve?
Through fusion I found a way to get flamenco worldwide acceptance
and recognition. I broke down the boundaries and took flamenco
to parts of the world where nobody ever dreamed of taking
it before. And there are many others, not just in the world
of dance, but also in music, who are doing likewise.
How do you rate the current flamenco dance scene?
I think flamenco, like dance in general, is going through
a rough patch, and there's a lack of quality around.
What position does flamenco occupy on the international
Right now it's the only thing people know about outside of
Spain. There's no other dance company in Spain with international
How would you weigh up the long-running 'Live' tour?
It's been a hard tour, but it allowed me to visit countries
I never performed in, and we're still getting bookings in.
It's strange, but I still don’t know when it'll end.
Are you working on any new projects with a leading
I just finished producing and directing a new company and
spent a year preparing ‘De amor y odio’ - give
me a break! Right now all my effort is concentrated on this
new company, and I'm still busy with the show ‘Live’
- the tour goes on and in September I present it in New York.
Right now I really have no time.
Lastly, a thought for Antonio
Gades. What did he mean to you and to your generation
I can't speak for the others, but I can tell you that I felt
a deep sense of loss - well, I know it was a great loss for
Spain. A great artist just left us, a hard worker and a fighter
if there ever was one, and the only one to carry flamenco
over to the scenic arts. I think he left behind a great legacy
for the new generations: his work and, for me, his masterpiece,
his most fully-rounded work, ‘Bodas de Sangre’.