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Of strings and steps

The dancer was recently in the city for a performance and chatted with CS about flamenco, his love for dance and more:

The way we live
I am born and brought up in the southern part of Spain. Here, flamenco is the way people live. It isn’t just a form of dance or music; it is our lifestyle. It is the way we laugh, cry, express feelings and emotions. If anyone asks me when I learned flamenco, I reply I don’t know. I was born into flamenco and like no one remembers when they first spoke, I don’t remember when I learnt it. It’s in my blood! (smiles)

Passion perfect
I have been performing for the last 20 years now and I just can’t get enough of it. The rhythm, the music and the urge to express emotions make me work hard every time. After every show, I start afresh and see what I can add new to the performance. When I am on stage, it’s not just me emoting my emotions, even my musicians are and I have to have a sync with them.

Many influences
Not many know that flamenco is influenced by many traditions, like India, Arab, Portugal and other countries that came to Spain for different reasons. I recently collaborated with Pandit Chitresh Das, one of the greatest Kathak artists and I realised how similar it was to my dance form. Having said that, I come from a very traditional background and I’m very particular about the way it is showcased.

Authenticity matters
I have travelled the world. It saddens me to see people selling anything and everything under the name of flamenco. They not only spoil the art form but also take away its charm. But then again, even if some people are also getting to know about the dance form and getting interested in it, it’s good. Many times, what starts as a month’s course in flamenco makes the person visit Spain specially to learn it. It has both sides to it.

Dream come true
I was 14 year old in 1983, when Carmen released. While travelling to my school, I would pass a theatre and I would see Spanish choreographer and dancer Antonio Gades standing tall in a very flamenco way. Since then I have admired the man and looked upto him. As life went on, I joined his group and trained under him. But there came a day when he and I stood facing each other on the same stage for a performance.

It was a dream come true. I still have goosebumps when I think about it. 

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