There’s a new twist to this flamenco dance

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There’s a new twist to this flamenco dance

Joaquin Cortes once said, “I am anti-critic; one shouldn’t dance for the critics but for the people and for oneself.” The flamenco dancer has garnered both praise and criticism for his modern interpretation of the traditional dance from the Andalusia region.
On one hand, Cortes has expanded the audience for flamenco, bringing it to countries such as Korea. He’ll be performing at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts from June 24 to 28.
On the other, Cortes has mutated flamenco, often using modern music. Critics have even derided Cortes’ mode of dancing barechested. But when his performance, never mind his body, is beautiful enough to get the attention of Georgio Armani, who now designs his costumes, and to land Cortes invitations around the world, the critics barely seem relevant.
In Korea, Portugal, Iceland, England and Greece, Cortes will be performing “Live,” which was recorded for DVD in London last year at the Royal Albert Hall. One Spanish critic called the show “as powerful as a religious experience.” This year, Cortes will also be unveiling a new show, “De Amor y Odio,” to be performed in Italy, Russia, Portugal, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
“Live” matches Cortes’ solo dancing with live music composed by Jesus Bola, Diego Carrasco, Juan Parrilla and Cortes. More then a dozen musicians will be on stage performing a mixture of classical music, Arabic, Sephardic, Jewish, Afro-Cuban, jazz, gospel and flamenco. And as the music is live, the audience just might be privy to a jam session.
Of Gypsy blood, Cortes was born in Cordoba in 1969, where he fell under the inspiration of his uncle, a flamenco dancer. At the age of 12, he moved to Madrid and enrolled in dance schools. He joined the Spanish National Ballet when he was 15, where he was fortunate enough to grow under the guidance of the director, Maria de Avila.
When he left the National Ballet, he began collaborating with different companies as a performer and choreographer. In 1992, he created his own company, the Joaquin Cortes Flamenco Ballet, which toured the world with the show “Cibayi.”
His next creation, “Gypsy Passion,” opened in 1995 and was shown internationally and at bull rings all over Spain. In 1996, he became the first Spanish dancer to perform at the Radio City Music Hall with his own show.
In 1999, he began an artistic collaboration with the choreographer Debbie Allen, with whom he participated in the 71st Academy Awards ceremony.
Meanwhile, as the criticism rolled in, he responded during an interview in 2001, “I believe that everyone who is revolutionary will always create a polemic... We have, in a certain sense, opened up flamenco to the whole world and this is something I’m proud of, first as a Gypsy, and then as someone who loves flamenco culture.”

by Joe Yong-hee

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