Sara Baras |
It was said of you in recent news that
you're the “female flamenco figure for the masses”.
Do you believe it's necessary for flamenco to reach the general
public? Do you think it's even a responsibility that you all
I'm glad you asked me that question because the day they
said that was at a press conference and, sincerely, I think
they were doing it to insult me, to bother me. And how do
I explain to this gentleman or this lady that if I have the
chance to do big flamenco, it's better for me? If they're
telling me that I'm capable of putting together a choreography
to display where thousands of people fit, thanks very much.
I've been doing that since I was a little girl in a room dancing
Besides, I don't think Paco de Lucía plays either
better or worse because there are a thousand people or ten
thousand people; he plays equally well, but he's reaching
more people. I know that the thing about the great masses
bothers some flamencos. Hang on, there's flamenco for everyone.
I know how to distinguish a choreography for a flamenco peña
from a choreography for a theater like this one (the Lope
de Vega in Madrid). I know how to distinguish; I know which
way it has to go. The more people who come to the theater,
the more people who like flamenco and the more people who
are devoted, even better. I take it as a compliment; I have
never considered it an insult, even if it is said with that
intention. Glory be.
Nor is it a new phenomenon. When La Niña de
los Peines used to perform here in Madrid, the police even
had to come in...
I lived near Camarón
when I was a little girl, and who says now that he didn't
use to sing well? They can't say it, because he had a music
box in his throat. And look at how many people used to go
and see Camarón. I don't understand it. Normally, even
in interviews, I think things over a great deal. I try not
to pick on anybody, not to insult anybody, not to create any
controversy; I try just to be in the dancing and the happiness
that flamenco gives me. I don't want anything else. And lately,
I feel sorry because there aren't so many of us who are in
this and... my God, let's unite and take flamenco all over
the world which, thanks to Carmen Amaya, Paco de Lucía,
Camarón, artists as great as them, we have the doors
open to. Well no, if you triumph, they come out right away
with pure flamenco... but, what pure flamenco? Pure, Rancapino.
He's sung for me through seguiriyas in a show for the masses,
he and I alone, in the Maestranza Theater in Seville packed
with people. Pure is in his way of life.
Do you think your colleagues see you from a distance?
There's a bit of everything. There are colleagues who I've
known of course for many years and we've shared lovely times
when we were nobody, when we used to see an artist in the
festivals in the south, which was incredible. And I have a
very good relationship with most of them. But afterwards yes,
afterwards there are other colleagues that I don't and I feel
that there must be something wrong in their life, in their
personality. There was a poster in my brother's room, I don't
know if I'm very pretentious to say this, which said: “Three
billion flies eat poop; they can't be wrong”. There
are many people, many maestros, many people who help me, very
professional people, very important people, there are a lot
of full theaters, a lot of reviews from all over the world...
and I'm not going to sell myself out, because I don't need
to either, but how can they come again and criticize the same
thing? To dress up like Matilde Coral, there's Matilde
Coral, who I adore with all due respect; but she was for
another age. If another age comes now and there are others
of us, let us be. We're not doing anything bad; we're working
with all due respect. What a shame.
Do you know how happy you are when you go into a studio with
a bunch of artists and create a show and premiere it and do
four hundred shows and create a stable company? Above all,
you have to tell yourself that you must have something to
take a company all over the world for seven years, to work
non-stop... and without acting the fool. I try to give what
my maestros have taught me, beginning with my mother, continuing
with Ciro, Manolete, Güito, Merche Esmeralda, Antonio
Canales... with them all. And I have the privilege of working
at what I like, and on top of it, of having recognition such
as the National Dance Prize. I couldn't believe it. And I
thought it was good for flamenco. Just like the Príncipe
de Asturias (Award) for Paco
de Lucía; I was with him when he was notified of
it. And that's a proud thing for flamenco. We have to unite.
There aren't so many of us; let's think a little and help
each other out. There are really old things that still survive
in flamenco and I don't know how the artists used to deal
with it before. There's a gala, ten flamencos are gathered
and the problem comes up: who opens? Who closes? The only
thing that needs to happen is for you to like this, to be
a flamenco lover, for your breath to be taken away when you
see a flamenco moment...
Do you remember any of those moments?
do they want to crush the one who's succeeding? I don't
Carrasco, speaking of purity, I'm an absolute fan of hers.
I saw Manuela in New York last year and when the curtain was
drawn and I saw her alone up there, she hadn't even begun
to dance, and my God, who criticizes her? She was a supernatural
power, a very pretty woman, grasping her vest and gazing with
those eyes... It's a shame there are young people who don't
even go far enough to admit that and go on about so much nonsense
and things that are so trifling. And Rancapino sings a malagueña
and I burst out in tears, he can sing it for you right here,
'cause he's always so well dressed and so clean, in a huge
theater or in a small theater... And it's so true that it's
what young people should defend. Why do they want to crush
the one who's succeeding? I don't understand it. Well if things
are going great for José Mercé, things are going
great for Diego el Cigala, and I won't even tell you about
the maestro - Paco de Lucía -... well, glory be. They're
doing their job, they have vigor, they're rehearsing, they're
working, they're traveling. My God, how can we detract from
I applaud what each person does; they must know why. When
the curtain is raised, my company is impeccable and it fills
me with pride. What keeps them going? Their own work. What
is the greatest subsidy we have? The public. And the respect
and affection that people treat me with; I wouldn't change
that for anything. And that might be what I like the most.
That mixed with you suddenly realizing you can do very pretty
things, besides with culture, with people: a show to collect
money for cancer, a
workshop for children with Down Syndrome... thousands
of things like that. And am I going to stop and think that
this guy or that one doesn't like how I dance through soleá?
But yes, respect for the greats can't be forgotten, but nor
that they've given us the freedom to move ahead. When I see
a girl, I try to help her; if she's very good, it brings me
joy. I don't think that she's going to take my job away from
me; I already have mine. You have to push her, give to her,
help her to see, to listen... because that's the only way
for flamenco to keep on climbing.
And how do you view the upcoming generation?
there's a time when who you've gone to bed with matters
more than how many hours you've been rehearsing"
The people dance very well... that's why I started off by
speaking about respect. It might be because of how we're living
in this country right now. You turn on the TV and the word
respect has never existed before; it seems to influence everybody.
It seems as if there's a time when who you've gone to bed
with matters more than how many hours you've been rehearsing.
And flamencos must watch TV like everybody. I don't think
those pure critics don't have a TV (laughter). Look, but there
are very good people. There's Raúl Fernández
in our company. They're like young hopes and I see that they
have the interest, the desire and the faculties. And what
you have to do is open your eyes, soak up everything the maestros
have done and see everything that's out there; not just flamenco,
but everything. People learn from what they see and we have
to be serious, very good and enjoy our art, which is the truest
one there is in the world.
Are you already working on your next project?
I'm going half crazy because ‘Mariana Pineda’...
When I did ‘Sueños’, I thought it was the
most beautiful thing. ‘Juana la Loca’ came and
it was so special to me, it was so successful that I thought
I couldn't go beyond it. Next came ‘Mariana Pineda’
and I now believe that I've set my sights very high. Sometimes
I think about doing a show with a storyline, sometimes I think
about doing it without a storyline and there I am, seeking.
The agenda's full; it's incredible. The company is very well-prepared,
but there are times when you say uuufff. The year 2005 is
packed. I normally like to do a premiere every two years,
but since ‘Sueños’ has been repeated this
year, since the people wanted it, well I don't think until
the end of next year... And there I am half crazy.
Well, but it must be good for you to slow down a
Yes, you have to slow down a little, but imagine, this year
we've had a week's vacation and it was the week of the Jimena
Music Festival. We went there and I was able to see Paco de
Lucía's concert, Serrat's, Pasión Vega's...
and it was something very lovely. You happen to be on vacation
and there's a flamenco concert and otherwise you couldn't
see it. Besides, it's different for you, because you don't
even have to take a nap to be strong at night. I can be tired
and it doesn't matter; I'm sitting there enjoying myself.
Instead of getting away from it all and going to the beach,
I went there to see what Paco was doing and to take notice
of, oh, those lights he has... because I am a thief! (laughter)