Sunday, November 18, 2007

Flamenco Dance Today: Part II

The first part of the Flamenco series is here. Continuing...

Andres Marin says he went back to dancing to recover his father's name, four years after quitting. Ever since then, circumstances lead to one thing and then another "little by little": teaching, working abroad, a tablao in Japan, Seville's 1992 and 2000 editions of the Bienal, Trilogía... a nascent company. The dancer from Granada claims to have freed himself along the way from the Andrés Marín Sr. connection and opted for a "very personal line, very me, because of my way of seeing it and of conceiving it".

When asked if he represents the flamenco of the future he says, “you can't really pigeon-hole dancing in present, past and future. That's absurd. But it's true that the future is more open to certain things, there are more possibilities of movement and expression.” He hopes the future will be synonymous with freedom of expression, “something which exists all too little nowadays. What you can't do is paint in the year 2000 with motifs from the year 500, because that can only go wrong. You have to paint about today and see things as they are now. Trying not to destroy, but rather cherish, caress. In order to dance flamenco you don't have to wear a polkadot scarf, you don't have to be a non-gypsy trying to be a gypsy because that makes you a vulgar puppet. Every individual does his things and you have to respect them.” He says that is his approach or way of thinking.

When asked how he sees himself as a dancer he says,” I dance the way I feel. I like cante a lot, I like music, I like the combination. But I don't like flashy junk. And I don't like phoniness either. Express yourself as you are, but don't try to fool people. I like dance that comes from the gut, that hurts. I like real dancing. and that doesn't mean to dance better or worse than anyone, but to dance being true to who you are. For me that merits more respect. I don't know what I contribute. I dance to the music, I think about it a lot, I'm concerned about the poetic verses. Each year that goes by I like minimalist things better... less is more. There was a time that I had to fill in every little spot. There wasn't a single empty moment.”

In terms of dress and costume he feels like flamenco is on the commercial upswing, it's abusing its commercial appeal. “And the fact is, when you create art, with good intentions, from within, with an honest artistic concept, exploring, that's going to cause a stir for sure, but it will never put food on the table. I prefer that to getting up on stage to jump around.” He refuses to jump through the commercial hoops. Each year he sees it more clearly, before, he might have considered it at a given time, but not any more. When he was young, he used to say, okay, "why is that guy up there, while me or someone else who dances better, isn't? Circumstances, because he knows people, because he has friends, he's involved in the politics... All kinds of things we have no control over. Once you've got your name people come knocking, but it's hard to make a name.”

When asked about innovation he says, “the only way to innovate within flamenco is by being personal. The personal way of innovating is by being yourself. You don't have to invent anything, you have to dance as you are, you have to paint yourself as you are, you have to walk the way the you are... A lot people think this or that because you dance modern... I don't dance modern, that's just what people think. I probably dance more old-style than a lot of people, because I get everything from what already came before. Things aren't done just to be copied.”

In terms of technique, he thinks it is important for big spaces, in order to have control of the body, ”so you don't fall down on stage or stick your finger in your eye, and to not be repetitious or reiterative. But technique is at the service of art. And you realize more and more that technique is only worth what it's worth. You can't forget that. And more so for those of us who have to continue studying because new people are coming up who dance very well. What I see is that people are very afraid when it comes time to express themselves... monkey see, monkey do. You go to Holland, to New York, to Stockholm... you walk down the street and you can't believe it because people have another personality and a kind of courage. And you see someone in the street with the most outrageous hat in the world. Or look at Prince, who's really got class, but they see that over here and people laugh because they haven't got any respect, they're ignorant. But not only the flamencos, but people in general, the collective. Most of the people who go to the Bienal de Flamenco haven't got a clue. And I'm sure that in Seville's plaza which years ago was a hotbed of flamenco, reduced now to a show-window for alternative lifestyles, a place where this artist who harmonizes with the space-time continuum can fit right in) I can start playing palmas and you can be sure that everyone will join in. And that's the least of it, the thing is they'll start talking to you about flamenco and teach you something too. People have no guts. Always worried about what others will think. That's how I see it.”

When asked what elements foreign to flamenco he is in favor of he says, “I incorporate a viola. I like everything which is added. People come around with their "but...but...", but if you don't have the courage to do things, then you complain and get embittered. It depends on how you put the instruments in, how they sound, the thrust. It's either well-done or poorly-done. It depends on who's doing it and how they do it. I'm open to everything. I see flamenco in everything, I can't separate it from anything. I don't separate art from anything. Michael Jackson is just as flamenco as the most flamenco person over here. Because I view flamenco as a kind of energy, I don't see flamenco as a style. The other stuff I see as a copy. Flamenco is a way of being and feeling for me. As far as I'm concerned the others aren't flamenco, they're people who study flamenco, and they're the ones who make it, but they get there backwards... that's the bad news about this.”

He is not very tolerant of the kind of dancing of jumping around and crowd-pleasing. To do a movement which is preconceived to please the audience, that's the worst thing to him. He says it doesn't reach him. “You shouldn't notice the movement, it has to be just the right moment. You can't be premeditating the air. Preconceiving the little tricks, that's phony.” He likes serious dance, straightforward dance and more so “when it's those things that are done by people who did them without thinking, and there you are thinking it all out. Because the beauty is in the unevenness, the virtue is in the necessity. All the rest is academic, plastic, pretty, you sell it and make money... and there's never any problem because everyone says "ole".”

The theater, that's his place and as far as a dance, what he likes best is seguiriya, and tangos. Soleá por bulería is where he feels the best rhythmically. He also likes to sing a lot because tangos are more femenine than masculine, he says, so it is more difficult for a man to dance than a woman. “Because that's where you can see if he's gay. The nice thing is to dance tangos like an old lady, but still being masculine, without losing yourself. And the difficult thing. In seguiriya you're dancing the song, and if anyone dares to say anything you pull your gun on them, it's too personal. And there aren't too many dancers who dance seguiriya. They dance it, yes, but who really communicates in seguiriyas... It's one thing to dance, and another to communicate. We all dance. It's very difficult to get yourself together, mark out a dance, and make it hurt... “

He says personality is most important, trying not to be a carbon copy so that we can all be different and we can have fun watching each other. “I might get things from watching a video of Greek dancing... dancing is dancing. When we start getting away from each other, we're on the wrong track. You can't dance like you're in an army barracks. Dancing isn't military... classical yes, flamenco no. You have to adapt it to a rhythm, and a taste.”

When asked what his perception of audiences is, he offers an interesting response, “I like the way flamenco comes across abroad, because it's received with innocence. Here it's received with a desire to understand and be know-it-alls... and that isn't knowing. You need only to watch television at any hour of the day... it's all garbage. Culturally, Andalusia is cow manure. And the ones over forty, worse, unless they've had a very good education, but halfway through, they weren't allowed to study. What people really like is the soap operas, telegarbage. Come on man. Right. At this stage of the game, we're not that stupid. Well, and the young people... There are some that are okay, but others, they're more conservative than my father.”

When asked if he were to set forth a professional challenge, what would it be, he answers with an inspiring artist statement, ”I haven't accomplished everything, but that's a bit much. Whatever comes my way, I'm going to take care of it. I went back to dancing because my parents quit dancing and for me it was a great satisfaction to put a little lustre back into his name. The challenge is to work with all my dignity. But there's a lot of envy if you don't go where they want. I live in my own world, and I think it's better that way. I understand people, but people don't understand me. That's good because I'm left to do my own thing. I know what the film's about, but I don't get involved in the film... because I don't feel like it. I've got my own movie, my short.”

Taken from an interview done by Candela Olivo
Translation: Estela Zatania

It is clear that Flamenco is changing but I find what seems to be happening very inspiring in its bravery and honesty. I have really appreciated meeting flamenco dance and taking the time to research the art form, that this paper has provided. Rhythm oriented footwork, like what is done in flamenco is not something I spend much time doing. It has been difficult and interesting. I find I have been incorporating elements that are more rhythmic into my modern dance choreography and that is very interesting. I will continue to learn flamenco, it has definitely had an impact on how I dance and choreograph.

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