Flamenco star to bring his passion to Seoul

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Flamenco star to bring his passion to Seoul

It’s more than the gypsy blood coursing through Joaquin Cortes that has brought him world fame as a flamenco dancer.
Mr. Cortes, born in Cordoba, Spain, in 1969, moved to Madrid and joined the Spanish National Ballet when he was 15. Under the tutelage of Maria de Avila, the director of the National Ballet, he became a lead dancer, performing in venues such as the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and the Kremlin’s Congress Palace in Moscow.
While he was training and performing the classics, he was also perfecting his other passion, flamenco dancing, which he learned from his uncle. When Mr. Cortes parted ways with the National Ballet, he collaborated with different companies, often drawing on traditional Spanish dance forms.
One day, he met a theater director, who asked if he had his own theater. Mr. Cortes responded with an audacious “yes,” and was booked a weeklong spot at the Champs Elysees Theater in Paris.
In two weeks, he scrambled to find performers, and thus the Joaquin Cortes Flamenco Ballet was “created out of nothing,” as he affectionately likes to say. It was a bold move, but Mr. Cortes, who will be performing at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts on June 24 to 28, is known for bold moves.
As he dances the flamenco, he calls on elements from ballet and modern music. When the Joaquin Cortes Flamenco Ballet launched, it was revolutionary, smacking of a rebellion against purists. It was neither ballet nor flamenco. And he danced with a bare torso and long, flowing hair, drawing on a gypsy tradition of dancing bare-chested with wraps around their waist.
Some people said what he was doing was not flamenco anymore. Others lauded him for becoming a cultural ambassador for Spain. The public clamored for more.
Giorgio Armani designed the wardrobe for Mr. Cortes’ second creation, “Gypsy Passion,” which opened in 1995. More than 5,000 people attended his performance at the Forum of Milan.
By the time he presented his next show, “Soul,” in 2000, Mr. Cortes had performed at the Radio City Music Hall in New York and the Universal Amphitheatre of Los Angeles and starred in the movie “Gitano,” directed by Manuel Palacios. Mr. Cortes’ latest show is “Live,” staged with 20 musicians.
In an interview with the Toronto Sun, he said, “Things have to change all the time in the world, and art changes all the time. Being from the new generation, I am taking the art one more step.”
With Mr. Cortes performing, it promises to be a very passionate show. The BBC once described him as “the sexiest Spanish icon since Antonio Banderas.” He’s garnered headlines not only for his dancing skills, but his romances with supermodel Naomi Campbell and Hollywood actress Mira Sorvino.
Mr. Cortes will be bringing “Live” to Korea. Sejong holds more than 3,000, and organizers are expecting the show to sell out quickly. Tickets go on sale Monday.
Jung Mi-rae, a Korean jazz dancer who has traveled to Spain to see him perform, worked for more than two years to help bring him here, with the help of CreamArt. She says, “He deeply believes in the modern world and bringing dance to today’s audience.”


by Joe Yong-hee

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