Serrano 'El Güito'
“Not many people can
stay at the top for forty years”
Eduardo Serrano “El Güito” is currently one of dancers
who has been professionally active for the longest period,
and after more than forty years performing he continues to
be at the forefront heading a company. A new show “Mis recuerdos”,
dedicated to his maestra, the prestigious Pilar López, who
trained some of flamenco's greatest dancers, is proof of what
he's capable of. Says Güito: “Pilar López was my maestra and
one of the best dancers Spain has ever had – and since she's
an older lady, she's received many tributes, but none of us
who were trained by her ever did anything before, so I want
to dedicate this show to her” . The premiere performance is
slated for May in Madrid and is made up of a journey through
the various flamenco forms: “soleá, seguiriya, martinete,
bulería, farruca, tangos, taranto, una dinastía de todos los
bailes” explains the dancer from Madrid who owes his nickname
to his sister. “My sister was very blonde and we were only
two years apart in age…when we were very small she used
to say to my mother 'mamá, qué negüito es' ['he's so black
mama'], and my mother would say “yes dear, he has the face
of a güito”, and that's how it started and the they began
to call me Güito”. Now this name is one of the most important
stars of men's flamenco dance.
did Pilar López represent in your training?
-Me, Antonio Gades, Mario Maya… She taught us all. For us
she was everything, she prepared us and trained us superbly,
how to rehearse, how to study… And she drew out each one's
personality, she gave us leeway but always controlling, and
I think she was the best choreographer there has been, and
for training men, there's no one better.
You must also have to have a special
talent for teaching in addition to dancing…
What Pilar had was the ability to look at 20 dancers and know
who could make it, and who couldn't. She had that vision because
she took me when I was only fourteen. Nowadays, when we give
classes, we consult with the guitarist or the singer, “look
at that one on the left, isn't she good?” You notice
when there's something different, something you're born with.
What do you try instill in your
Above all, to study hard and well, that dance is always the
footwork, but you must put everything in the right place,
the feet just so, the arms properly held, and the head is
very important, the shoulders, that's what I think is missing
|“Dance is always the
footwork, but you must put everything in the right place,
the feet just so, the arms properly held…”
Does your new show include your
If I took it out they'd kill me! Yes, in the end I do farruca
too, a seguiriya with Mary Paz Lucena, and I dance bulerías
The soleá for which you
are so well-known, overshadows your interpretation of other
dances, doesn't that bother you?
No, because they've always talked about my soleá, well,
they also talk about the seguiriya, the farruca, but mostly
the soleá, but it's a good thing, because having a
personal specialty is very hard, it's more than dancing everything
well, there's always going to be one dance that stands out
from the rest, because you feel it, you more or less dominate
it, that's important. Carmen Amaya danced with a bata de cola,
and people think she only danced like a man, but she came
out with a bata five meters long and danced brilliantly por
soleá, and she danced to orchestra, but what does everyone
remember her for? The alegrías she did dressed as a
man, and that's what she's known for, probably because she's
got a lot going in that dance.
|“To have you own personal
specialty is very difficult, more than dancing everything
You've got a long career behind
you. There are people who would retire sooner, but artists
like you or Manolete continue to be at the cutting-edge, keeping
the level high. What's the secret to maintaining a company
and continuing to dance for so many years?
– The secret is you have to like it, because I've never know
how to do anything in life except dance, and I still like
the traveling, taking the company, that whole atmosphere,
everyone going to dinner after work, talking, having a good
time, because if not, life is sad for us. Then too, not everyone
can be a star for forty years, because the audience gets tired
of them, just think of some people who were at the top of
the heap five years ago, and now they've come down a bit,
and they're only 30, 35, 40 years old.
Why do you think that is, is it
that they don't pace themselves well?
– Because some of them maybe danced flamenco really well,
and then they went and did Greek tragedies and all sorts of
contemporary nonsense, and they've lost the style they had
dancing…a time comes when they go dippy.
But you've also done theatrical
– Yes, but always based on flamenco. I did García Lorca's
“El Amargo”…things, but always based on my style of dance,
that doesn't mean I don't like to do new things, because if
I hadn't, I wouldn't be able to still be dancing, but it's
important not to lose your personality, and some people have
lost it after getting balled up in those projects.
| “…they went and did Greek
tragedies and all sorts of contemporary nonsense, and
they've lost the style they had dancing”
What do you think about the new
generation wanting to overhaul flamenco?
I think it's fine, as long as it's good, that's fantastic.
The music is great now, because there are great musicians
and they make a certain type of music, that's the aspect of
flamenco that has evolved the most, but that doesn't mean
you should bring out a violin, a cajón, a flute, and
the whole time keep on with those instruments. However, for
a special moment in a specific dance it can be very nice,
but if you have it for the hour and a half of a recital, it
all starts sounding the same.
In any case, you're open to including
other instruments, because you've already done it…
Yes, but for certain dances. I would never stick a violin
or flute in my soleá, it would ruin it. But I did put
violin and flute in a farruca. Why? Because the music went
Pilar López had favorite
students such as Gades or yourself. Do you have any preferred
Many women dancers who went on to become famous studied with
me, such as Beatriz Martín, whom I took on when she
was very young and was with me four or five years. María
Vivó, Luisillo's daughter, Manuela Heredia… I had
more bailaoras than bailaores, it's funny, but that's how
it's been. There have been a few men, but it's very difficult
for them to catch my style, they get bored and start banging
away with their own thing, it's a shame but…..
It's very difficult to have personality
It's in the way you move your arms, the posture, everything…but
that's because we had good preparation.
Did Mario Maya also create his
It was the Pilar López school, because none of us were
like each other in any way.
Do many people make that kind
Well, Trio Madrid that was Mario Maya, Carmen Mora and myself,
was the beginning of an era because nothing like that had
ever been done before in a flamenco tablao, as if it were
a theater, with lighting and such….and we've done it in
theaters, but that group was fantastic, just like Matilde
Coral, Rafael el Negro and Farruco…and now they're reviving
a lot of things we used to do, the number with the chairs
that Mario Maya and I did, now everyone does it.
it's more difficult to put so many stars together.
No way, we're too expensive [laughter].
It's a shame.
Yes, because there was a time when I was in Torres Bermejas
and Camarón was there, and Pansequito and the Trío
Madrid, and a cuadro flamenco as well. In those days it was
a cuadro flamenco of really good men and women dancers. That
would be impossible now, I mean, maybe in a very large venue,
but in a tablao, impossible.
Have tablaos declined?
Nothing. There's nothing any more…not now. There are two
places I like which are Las Carboneras and Patas, but to go
to a tablao, not any more.
Are young people missing out on
that learning experience?
The thing is, you used to learn how to dance in the tablao,
because it was day in and day out, and now they don't work
that much…used to be any dancer had to have been in a tablao
three years, and then they were ready to follow any path they
difficult to catch my style, they get bored and start
banging away with their own thing, it's a shame but….”
Why are you considered the most
emblematic Madrid dancer? Has there been a limited number
of flamenco dancers from Madrid?
There've been some. There was a family called los Pelaos,
which was Faíco and all those people, El Gato who danced
in the old style and was really good, but real bailaores here,
no. I was lucky enought that when I was with Pilar they gave
me that prize in Paris and I became famous very early on,
when I was 16. In Andalusia they liked my way of dancing very
much, but when I appear at the Bienal they go crazy, knowing
that I'm from Madrid, it's a little different, they don't
get it. But then I go to Jerez, Cádiz…I don't know
why, but they never cared that I was from Madrid.
There have always been more dancers
That's where the raw material is, but here in Madrid, or in
Barcelona or Zaragoza, it's the minority. The salt of the
earth, they come out of the woodwork in Andalusia, singers,
dancers, guitarists, everything.
|“I would never stick a violin
or flute in my soleá, it would ruin it”
And what made you decide to become
a dancer? Was there anyone in your family?
No, in my family there wasn't anyone, but ever since I was
small I liked to dance, and my mother showed me how to move.
I was three or four years old when they started to call me
for films they were making back then, and when I was five
or ten my mother took me to a dance school. I was with Antonio
Marín when Pilar López came to see me at the
school. I did an audition and she liked it a lot.
You've always been a big flamenco
fan, you also sing sometimes…
When I was with Pilar I sang and danced bulerías, and
afterwards I continued. The critics here in Madrid don't like
me to sing and dance at the same time, because they see me
as a very serious dancer, but audiences love it, and I'm going
to do it in this show as well.
Sonia Martínez Pariente
More information: 'Mis
Recuerdos' a Pilar López