Manolo Marín
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GALA DE ANDALUCÍA. FLAMENCO FESTIVAL USA 2006. SPECIAL FEATURE

Every flavor

Silvia Calado. Madrid, January 2006
Translation: Joseph Kopec

Andalusia is getting ready to devote the best of its flamenco to outside audiences. With the coordination of maestro Manolo Marín, a special gala is being prepared with which Flamenco Festival USA and Flamenco Festival London 2006 will delight their crowds in New York, Washington and London. Manolo Marín, Merche Esmeralda, Javier Barón, Rafael Campallo, Adela Campallo and the other members of the ‘group’ took advantage of their trip to Madrid for the presentation of the bill by squeezing in an afternoon rehearsal at Amor de Dios. Before the mirror, they looked zestful, energetic, devoted... And the thing is that the entire crew coincides in their satisfaction of taking part in this gala, since as Merche Esmeralda points out, “for someone who's an enthusiast and sees flamenco in all these variants with so many different flavors, it's a wonder: you see the before, the present and the future”.


Manolo Marín coordinates the rehearsal at Madrid's Amor de Dios
(Photo: Daniel Muñoz)

As Manolo Marín has conceived, “it's a flamenco gala in which each artist, since they're all figures, do their performance. I try to coordinate them in such a way so that it's not bumpy, so that the changes and transitions aren't noticed, everything that really cools things off. I just want it to be continuous, to flow, to have nice lighting and to give it unity so that it turns out as a show, not a festival”. Although each bailaor will have his turn, the opening and closing will bring them together on stage. “They start off through martinete, each one doing a bit lit up by an overhead spotlight. And they finish off with a classical grand finale in which everyone does their little dance through bulerías. They do their own thing because I don't want it to come off as a ballet. Choreographically, I don't take part”. Manolo Marín himself will have his piece: “Since I don't want to get really tired, I dance tientos which turn into tangos when Merche Esmeralda comes out. It'll be a really happy thing, really flavorful. We can't compare with the young people, who have so much technique and so much strength”. And it's not criticism, but just the contrary: “I'm in favor of technique, women the same as men, men the same as women, fusions... but may that special something, that flavor not be lost”.

Merche Esmeralda, who will also dance through soleá, is very excited about this gathering of styles and generations. “I think this coming together of artists of different styles and generations should be done more often. Flamenco is an artform that's alive, but which has roots and sources we've drawn on. And we're now a sort of influence young people can draw on. We enjoy watching how such young people do flamenco now, how they contribute and we can savor it”. But she's not only thinking of herself, but also the audience. “For someone who's an enthusiast and sees flamenco in all these variants with so many different flavors, it's a wonder: you see the before, the present and the nearest future”.


Manolo Marín and Merche Esmeralda rehearsing 2006
Flamenco Festival USA's Gala de Andalucía (Photo: Daniel Muñoz)

Speaking of youths. While Manolo Marín and Merche Esmeralda go with the flow of the guitar, the box drum and Jesús Méndez's voice, Rafael Campallo and Adela Campallo reveal what their respective pieces will consist of. Individually, he will dance through alegrías and she through seguiriyas. Together, a dance for two which they want to give a special touch to and for which they're looking for recorded music among authors such as Juan Carlos Romero, Niño de Pura... Rafael explains that “we want to give it like a more old-time touch, with the pair more tight-knit, for it to be like a dialogue between the two and a dialogue with the audience, not each separately with the audience”. Adela elaborates that the number will begin “with a more feminine first part, until he joins in and then it's more upbeat, with a more festive finale. It's going to have a bit of everything, rising little by little, till it lifts up the baile. We're trying to seek diagonals and nicer things for it to be a true duet”. She speaks, moreover, of the special feeling there is between brother and sister: “We've been dancing together since we were little kids. As soon as we look at each other, we understand one another. And that's so even though we're completely different dancing; we have two different trademarks”.


Manolo Marín and Jesús Méndez, al cante
(Photo: Daniel Muñoz)
 
   

But if the Sevillian bailaora is to highlight something about this project, it's the “pride, and of the greats, because you learn about everything with people like Manolo, Merche, Javier, Soledad, my brother... It's a pleasure”. Agreeing with her is Javier Barón, another of the gala's main stars. The Sevillian bailaor, who will dance soleá through bulerías solo, comments that “besides having your company and your creations, you like to take part in galas like this”. He doesn't hide his satisfaction to be participating in this show, which he will carry out at the same time he is preparing the revival of his acclaimed show, ‘Dime’: “I'm excited about taking part in this festival for the first time and conversing with colleagues like Rafael Campallo, who I've already worked with in ‘Por aquí te quiero ver’, and with Manolo Marín I've also collaborated on some choreographies”.

And the thing is that most of them are old acquaintances, students, maestros, colleagues and mutual admirers. The ones who are premiering by forming a duo are the most veteran ones, Merche Esmeralda and Manolo Marín, whose turn it is to provide the mastery... and not only as far as flamenco is concerned. They also know how to teach lessons about life. The Sevillian bailaora confesses that “I retired from dancing three years ago but I savored this again, and since we always have that itch, I scratched. And the thing is I'm tremendously excited because they're things I like doing, I'm lively, I contribute my style and what I want now is to enjoy baile; nothing that causes me any trouble. I prefer to savor it and enjoy my colleagues, the young people who say so many things to me, the cantaores, the guitarists, the clappers who we laugh so much with. I want to be happy with this”.

Flamenco Festival USA & Flamenco Festival London 2006
Gala de Andalucía

Wednesday, February 15th
Benefit Concert for World Music Institute
Merche Esmeralda, Manolo Marín, Javier Barón, Rafael Campallo
New York City Center

Friday, February 17th
Gala Flamenca de Andalucía (Andalusia Flamenco Gala)
Merche Esmeralda, Manolo Marín, Javier Barón, Rafael Campallo
Lisner Auditorium
Washington

Monday, February 20th
Gala de Andalucía: Merche Esmeralda, Manolo Marín, Javier Barón, Rafael Campallo & Adela Campallo
Sadler’s Wells
London

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