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Interview to José Luis Ortiz Nuevo. Festival Carmen Amaya de Barcelona

Artistic director of the Festival "Carmen Amaya"
and the company of "Tablao del Carmen"
October 2011 - Barcelona
October 23, 2011
Interview: Pablo San Nicasio Ramos

Always deeply involved in the flamenco cause, one year ago José Luis Ortiz Nuevo set out on a new project, the responsibility of being artistic director of the Festival Carmen Amaya, whose second edition is being held the end of this month of October.  Two intense days of dance to pay tribute to one of the most universal Catalonians of all history.

II Festival Carmen Amaya en Barcelona

And this year with the added feature of the important role played by the company of the Tablao de Carmen.
Yes, last year just a few sequences were included of the artists at the tablao in the introduction of the programmed shows, nothing more.  This year it’s a whole day, an original work of their own.  It’s a very nice thing they’re trying to do to keep Carmen Amaya current, she is the history of flamenco dance.

On the 28th, it’s the show “El Ritmo de las Olas”.

This is a work we hope will take on a life of its own, and have continuity beyond this festival.  It’s been in rehearsal for some time now, so that’s the goal.

The artistic concept is based on something Carmen once said, that she had been born by the sea and her first contact with rhythm was hearing the pounding of the waves, their continuous breaking on the shore.  That was her first notion of rhythm, something that profoundly influenced her.

For this reason there is the recurring sound of the ocean, and the four dancers on stage adopt parts that correspond to the basic elements of nature.  Three male dancers who are air, earth and water, and one female who is fire.

José Luis Ortiz Nuevo - Foto: Ana Palma

I would suppose the latter is a clear reference to Carmen Amaya.
Exactly.  There is a double intent, but never falling into gratuitous imitation of Carmen Amaya’s dancing.

There’s flamenco and there’s choreography, they offer a flamenco version of Ravel’s Bolero, a master work in the history of music that Carmen Amaya danced in the 1940’s, in Spain as well as in France, and which dovetails nicely with the Spanish dance tradition, the bolero school, etc…

One number mixes tango and bulerías… Between one thing and another, I think it’s a show that never loses interest at any point, all the performers are making a big effort to please.

Is the entire cast made up of people from the tablao?
For the most part yes, except for David Paniagua, a Seville dancer who lives in Madrid who is coming on a temporary basis, and guitarist Antonio Rey who is the musical director.

He also works with Farruquito who comes the following day.  Is the idea to program dance only?
I think so, and dance deserves as much.  This festival has an austere program, just two days, the organization isn’t looking to strike it rich.  Their desire above all else is to remember and honor Carmen Amaya.  One of the people in charge of the Tablao de Carmen has close ties with Carmen Amaya, and that also counts, to keep the flame alive in memory of this great woman.

A few days after the event you’re invited to participate on a panel “Flamenco and Communication Media” at the Congreso Internacional de Flamenco de Sevilla.  In light of the fact that there is going to be a “Libro Blanco” to gather conclusions, do you have anything prepared, any minimal objectives to present there?
Well, actually, I’m going just like I go to other meetings like this, there’ve been many.  This isn’t the first flamenco encounter in the history of the world, needless to say.  I’ll tell what I know as a promoter, but mostly as flamenco investigator.  My most recent work is an investigation of Andalusian music that predates flamenco.  Music of a very high quality, with connections to mainstream learned music.  I’m investigating in Mexico City and, well, I hope to speak about this.

I’m not particularly fond of these conventions and congresses.  The important thing is that flamenco enjoy good health and that’s it.  Above and beyond all kinds of political meetings or associations like this one.

II Festival Carmen Amaya - Barcelona