Joaquín Cortés, at the Hotel Puente Romano. :: JOSELE-LANZA
Venue. Hotel Puente Romano.
Dates. 25th and 26th July.
He is probably the most universal Spanish dancer of all time, but he seems friendly and attentive. Obedient to the requests of the photographer and solicitous in answering each and every question. He could do with more appreciation from the press in his own country, but says that the affection of his audiences cures all wounds. With his latest show, ‘Gitano’, which premiered in Barcelona in May, he returns to the fray. The applause from the public and the critics precedes this spectacle, which fuses the most orthodox flamenco with classical ballet and contemporary dance. This latest offering from Joaquín Cortés can be seen at the tennis courts of the Hotel Puente Romano in Marbella on the 25th and 26th July.
–‘Gitano’ has only been on tour since May 2nd, but have you calculated yet how much weight you have lost by doing this two-hour show?
–I lose a lot, but I eat well and I put it back on again quickly. It is easy to lose two litres through perspiration because when I go on stage I give myself completely to what I’m doing. I’m not the type of dancer who limits himself.
–Why the name ‘Gitano’ for a show which is a fusion of orthodox flamenco with other types of dance such as classical ballet and contemporary?
–The name came about because I am a gypsy, a universal gypsy since years ago the European Parliament made me an ambassador for the Roma people, and to a certain extent the show is what I am. In the first part I go back to my roots, to my most flamenco part, and in the second I use and reflect what I have learned on my travels round the world and my contact with other cultures; I express my style. These days in Spanish dance and in flamenco there is a before and an after with regard to the arrival of Joaquín Cortés. It has changed the history of dance in Spain. All the companies, although they don’t come out and say so, want to imitate the success of Joaquín Cortés and the change that it brought about.
–Is it coincidence that your new show has the same name as the film by Manuel Palacio in which you played your first leading role?
–It honestly has nothing to do with the film. It turned out like that because I found myself wanting to show my essence. I am a gypsy.
–The Italian designer Giorgio Armani, a great friend of yours, is responsible for the costumes in ‘Gitano’. Who approached whom?
–I think it was something mutual that came about many years ago. I am a great admirer of his work, of what he does; I love his elegance. He saw me dance, he was impressed and a friendship was born at the same time as a collaboration.
–The way things are, with people having less money to spend and a sky-high rate of IVA on culture, is it worth taking a super-production like this round the provinces?
–It’s complicated. But I am a generous person and what I want to do is give different Spanish towns the chance to see me perform live. My market is worldwide. I work more abroad, so I come here very little, increasingly so. Modesty aside, there aren’t many cultural ambassadors like us; only two or three cross borders, none of the others do. Most go to Latin America and come back, they are not known elsewhere. At least I, together with Julio Iglesias and Plácido Domingo, can go to any international market and people know who I am.
–Some years ago I asked you how many pairs of shoes you had worn out, dancing round the world, and you said many, but I always wondered what is your best story about your dancing shoes. Will you tell me that now?
–(Laughing) Yes, I have worn out a great many pairs because of the force with which I dance... and there are a lot of stories, but there is one good one, about what happened to me at Radio City Music Hall (New York), where I danced for 35 minutes with a nail in the heel, making my foot bleed.
–I would have loved to have seen what you did...
Performers are taught that the audience must never know what is happening to them, so there I was, with the nail stuck in the heel, dancing. When I took my shoe off, my foot was pouring with blood.
–How many days did it take to recover from that?
–It wasn’t long. My feet have been getting harder ever since I was a child. I remember when I was little, when I was dancing for 12 hours a day, from 10 o’clock in the morning till 10 at night, when I went home with my feet bleeding my mother used to make me a bowl of boiling water with sea salt and vinegar in it, to help them recover. My feet have got tougher and tougher and now they are bombproof.
–Where is flamenco most appreciated, in Spain or elsewhere?
–Elsewhere, very much so. Especially because they respect you more. I have just been recognised as one of the ten best dancers in history, and I am the only Spaniard on the list, featuring alongside Rudolf Nureyev and Martha Graham, in other words the dancing greats who are not even alive now. I am alive and active, but here the media don’t appreciate you although the public does. On an international level I am a living legend everywhere, but in my own country I’m just like everyone else.
–So do you not read the critics in the press any more?
–I don’t read them, but sometimes people read them to me. But for me, honestly, I don’t care about the critics because the only thing that is important is the public. I believe the greatest recognition is to see, as I have seen, 1,000 or 15,000 or 60,000 people applauding for half an hour. I don’t think that many people can be wrong. Nevertheless, sometimes a writer can make a mistake by focusing more on you as a public personality and not on your work. I don’t believe a critic is intelligent and the public is stupid.
–You seem to have done most things: film, advertising, even that legendary videoclip of Mecano. Is there anything that you haven’t done but would like to? Television, for instance?
–I have been often asked to do TV series in different countries, but my agenda made it impossible. If something interesting comes up I’ll do it; I’m open to everything.