Antonio Gades became a legend all over the world with his works extending from the dance adaptation of Prosper Merimee’s “Carmen” to the famous “Bloody Wedding” by Federico García Lorca. He keeps his legacy with a foundation he founded shortly before he died in 2004.
The Antonio Gades Group that has been working under the art directorship of Stella Arauzo, who danced with Gades for years, will meet the art lovers in Istanbul at the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall on Feb. 20.
The Carmen show will turn into an enthusiastic and loving dance feast with the Antonio Gades Group from Spain.
In an interview, Antonio Gades Dance company director Eugenia Eiriz replied to questions.
Prosper Merimee’s famous Carmen character now meets with Flamenco after the Carmen opera with the compositions of Bizet, so how do you comment on this new adaptation?
I think that passion feeling evoked by Flamenco, complies with the story and personality of “Carmen.” The strong expression created by the dancing language of the company strengthens Carmen’s nature as well. Misery and drama, which lie under the roots of Flamenco, match up very well with the end of this story. Carmen risk her life for her love and knows no limits. She challenges the life. This situation suits to challenging and rebelling aspects of Flamenco.
What would you say for the Carmen adaptation of Antonio Gades Company?
The company has been staging “Carmen” since it was first established and manages to captivate the audiences of all ages. Moreover, Carmen is one of the adaptations which help broaden the vision of the world and recognize Flamenco. It attracts a cultivated audience that loves theater and ballet as well as entertaining them with its choreography, music and costumes, offering a visual feast.
Gade’s Flamenco exposition to an opera, which became a legend with the compositions of Bizet, is the output of a very reformist perspective, isn’t it?
We must bear in mind that this version of “Carmen” was made in 1983. Antonio Gades and Carlos Saura combined Flamenco music for the first time ever with a ballet performance with opera extracts. Gades used to adore Flamenco as an authentic way of expression and reflection of the Andalusian people. For this reason, he wanted to demonstrate Flamenco in its own tradition. He put a singer and a guitarist in this adaptation cleverly. This scheme has been repeated many times but yes, what was done in 1983 was a real revolution.
What other versions of “Carmen” do you like the most?
There are many. French choreographer and dancer Roland Petit’s approach is very powerful but I have to confess that I personally enjoy the Spanish versions much more.
Is it “love” that makes Carmen so brave?
Exactly! Carmen is a woman who shows courage for her love. Especially when you think about a woman in Seville in the 1830’s, who works as a laborer in a tobacco factory and has no limits when it comes to love, you can feel that this was a big courage example for that time.
What makes Carmen so attractive?
Eugenia Eiriz: Carmen’s struggle is very much a matter of today, not only for woman but also for all humankind in many parts of the world. Her courage, challenging and limitless attitude makes her very attractive.
Could you please talk a little bit about your company which keeps Gades’ legendary spirit alive on stage and carries his legacy to new generations?
The whole aim of Antonio Gades Company is to eternize Gades’ attitude with all Spanish dances. The popularity of Flamenco is indisputable but Gades used to respect to the roots of Flamenco and its historical past. He never moves away from the traditional Flamenco in his choreographies. What we do is to keep not only Gades alive but also this Flamenco tradition.
The company has been keeping Gades’ spirit alive on stage. How do you describe his love for Flamenco?
The Antonio Gades company Flamenco eternizes not only his approach to Flamenco but also his passion for all Spanish dances. Gades used to love Flamenco very much and he was not only enjoying this popular dance but also having great respect to this tradition.
How do you define Gades’ dancing language?
Gades used to say, “Dance is not hidden in steps, but between two steps.” It is very important for us to make dancers realize that dance is life itself and they have to feel it. When you aim to reflect life with all experiences, good, bad, intellectual knowledge and depth, your creativity increases as well. What makes Gades’ dancing language so rich is philosophy.
What is the secret of Gades’ being a legend all around the world? What used to inspire Gades?
Gades used to know that Flamenco was the authentic reflection of Andalusian people and used to get his inspiration from people. Despite, he created a new language on stage and he never changed the original spirit of Flamenco, which is undoubtedly not easy.
Flamenco has a very great aesthetic. How was Gades’ approach toward it?
Every movement, every rhythm, every song has a reason and meaning in Flamenco. If you do not take them into consideration, everything gets all balled up and you underrate the value of the dance. Gades used to care about “ethic before aesthetic” principle a lot. He learned this from his teacher Pilar Lopez when he was just a small kid.
What kind of an experience is this show for the audience?
Everybody knows that Carmen is a strong and passionate woman. In this sense, the audience realizes that, as well as Antonio Gades and Carlos Saura did, it really suits the powerful nature of Flamenco. Except for some happy stories, there is always pain and drama when it comes to love. These universal feelings make people come together. Whether it is Carmen or Blood Wedding, everybody who searches for love or believes in love and suffers from love, finds something from oneself.