Flamenco entrevistas »

Interview with Daniel Navarro, dancer

On June 20th the show "Cálida Hondura" debuted within the program La Noche Blanca...
July 11, 2010
Text and photos: Rafael Manjavacas

On June 20th the show “Cálida Hondura” debuted within the program La Noche Blanca del Flamenco, a show of Cordoban dancer Daniel Navarro with the participation of other young dancers of his generation such as Pedro Córdoba, Pol Vaquero and dancers Mercedes de Córdoba, Mara Martínez and Lorena Franco, and choreography by Daniel himself, as well as his teacher Javier Latorre.  A high-quality group not only in dance, but also in singing, with people like Antonio Campos, Guadiana and José Ángle Carmona, and music by guitarist Juan Requena with the collaboration of Vicente Amigo.

“Cálida Hondura” went on to be presented at the Teatro de la Latina where it remained for two weeks during which time we were able to chat with Daniel Navarro and Pedro Córdoba about the show.

What is “Cálida Hondura”?
It’s a kiss that we send to the poets of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, poets who, in their day, gave a nod to flamenco dance.  With such a clear synopsis, it was easy to bring the show to the audience.  It’s about what they lived, via different flamenco formats, whether it was a café cantante, or a tribute to Matilde Corral, or Encarnación López “La Argentinita”.  The unusual thing about the show, is it deals with the discipline of dance itself, not flamenco as such.  So many Spanish poets as well as foreigners, at one time or another, had the chance to experience flamenco dance and devote their writing to this art of ours.

What was the debut like in Córdoba?
Very good, within the important framework of the second Noche Blance del Flamenco, and all my colleagues working with me, tremendous satisfaction to work shoulder to shoulder.  The debut was great…of course working in our favor was the fact that we were in Córdoba and had the support of our relatives and friends.  It was good for us to have that premiere performance, as well as the one at the Feria de Palma, in order to put the finishing touches before coming to Madrid and having such great success.

Had you worked in Madrid before?
Actually, yes, we’ve been to a lot of places, with the company Animalario, with Javier Latorre as choreographer at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, with Antonio Canales at the Teatro de Madrid, with Javier Barón…all of us have been to Madrid many times, in a wide variety of productions and companies.
Not only your name, already important in flamenco, but also the music director and the cast are a guarantee of quality.
Juan Requena created the music, he’s a fabulous guitarist, and it’s the perfect complement for dance for this kind of show, and I’m grateful to Vicente Amigo for the words and music to the poem of Rogelio Buendía, “Mujer Andaluza”, first of all because it’s Vicente, and second, because he’s a friend of mine, we’ve been working a long time with him, and he’s never before given music to anyone for dance, except to the Ballet Nacional on his record “Poeta”.  He knows our work well, mine and Pedro Córdoba’s, we’ve been working four years with him, and that makes me feel much stronger, having people in the company of such high quality, I’m in charge of the group, but I’m very pleased with everyone’s work.  For my first project, with the responsibility of a company of my own, soloist and first dancers, I decided not to take any chances and got the best people.

You’ve won important prizes which put your name in circulation, but the effect is somewhat limited.
That was without even having the intention, I won without trying, unfortunately it works to a certain extent, it’s a pity, most of the programmers and people who move flamenco go to this kind of event, and they’re a disaster and a disgrace, I’m grateful to those who believed in me enough to give me the prizes, but not even 3% of the people there are, sign up for the contests.  For that reason I don’t place any value on them.  The Desplante prize from La Unión brings the possibility of working in 7 or 8 theaters, but it’s up to us to clear the way for people who come after us.

Two years ago I was helping out at the Concurso Nacional, doing the first selection of the videos sent by people with a good future.  These are prizes held by Paco de Lucía, Mario Maya, Vicente Amigo…just think, nowadays they’ve lost a lot of prestige, and we have to get it back somehow.  Since 1989 until now, it’s degenerated a lot, the best people don’t sign up.  I  remember seeing Rocío Molina, Pol Vaquero, Juan Ogalla…not one of them made it past the first level, they weren’t even conceded ten seconds.
At Córdoba you won the “Mario Maya” prize…did you ever actually work with him?  Who are your maestros?
I had classes with Mario, but never worked with him.  My main mentor is Javier Latorre, since I was very young, he gave us the information we needed to follow the right path, the necessary preparation and discipline so that each one could develop in his or her own way.  He put things in their place, we worked very hard at the conservatory, and went on to do various things, but in the end you have to learn “in the street”, the people on stage with you, getting down to the nitty-gritty, seeing for yourself the different options, the way people dance, that’s how you become a dancer, or a person.

Geographically it’s also hard to make a name, Córdoba is limited and it’s a problem making the jump to Sevilla or Jerez, much less Madrid.
In actual fact, the reverse has been true for me.  After winning the Córdoba contest, it was in Sevilla where they rolled out the red carpet with a wide range of possibilities.  Córdoba has been slower in that sense, it’s very hard to make a name in your own hometown.  Many people ask why I was inactive for two years, but that was when I was working the most, you can’t stop dancing…I did things with Chano Domínguez, Vicente Amigo, we were with Canales, the best companies, always laying down the anchor in order to be able to deal with this new challenge.

The support of the Córdoba municipal government is important, at least as far as this project is concerned.
This work is sponsored by the town hall and the Noche Blanca, and produced by La Caja del Agua, who are in charge of everything.  With this show we also support Córdoba as cultural capital of the world in 2016, because I think it’s only fitting.

And Pedro Córdoba…but you’re from Barcelona…how many times have people asked about that?
Hundreds, but I’ve got a stock answer: “I’m Pedro, I lived seven years in Seville, I’m from Barcelona, I support the Real Madrid team and my name is Pedro Córdoba”.  My mother is from Córdoba, and also my grandparents, that’s where the last name comes from.

What’s your role in this work?
Dani asked me to do one of the pieces, and to be by his side for whatever might be needed, as if he were my brother, who also happens to be called Dani…supporting him at all times. 

Right now you’re just one step behind Daniel Navarro, in the sense that you participate in companies, tour with other performers, also with Vicente Amgio…it’s not an easy bridge to cross.
A bridge that seems small, but is actually tremendous.  I’ve seen what Dani has gone through, over a year working just to begin putting the show together and with the people who support him.  But it’s not easy at all, aside from the actual work, and without financial support, you also need moral support, it’s really not an easy bridge to cross.

Both you and Daniel have recorded DVDs.
Yes, with Pedro Córdoba there’s an unusual project to record good dancers, and we really like it a lot.  I was also in a video clip of Vicente’s with Roque Baños for Carlos Saura…we did the sound of the feet and complementary things.

“Cálida Hondura”, under the auspices of the producer La Caja del Agua, is planning a tour of France, China, Japan, Cuba… It is hoped the show may be seen by the greatest possible number of flamenco fans throughout the world.