For the first time in Egypt, Flamenco Republic by the María Pagés Dance Company will take the stage at the Cairo Opera House this week before they travel to Alexandria.
Pagés is considered one of the greatest innovators in contemporary flamenco. Her shows have become famous because of her artistic accomplishments and her courageous search for new forms to express the deep truth of flamenco. Now at the summit of her artistic career, the bailaora (flamenco dancer) and choreographer from Seville has established for herself an outstanding place on the international dance scene. Pagés combines the use of the basic codes of flamenco and a thorough investigation within and beyond its traditional boundaries, thus reaching beyond cultural differences while remaining faithful to its original spirit.
Pagés believes that cultural exchanges represent a major tool to encourage a better understanding between human beings and has always been ready to take risks to prove it.
“I think that art is one of the few things which unites people, Pagés told reporters in a 2002 interview. “Confronted by that moment of union, nobody stops to think about the differences, only about all the things they have in common. Your feelings take control, it s part of being human. I ve met people in Israel, Israelis, who told me that in spite of the differences between them, they re able to share a work of art or a creation with Palestinians, through music and dance. It s like a ray of hope to hear that art can unite people.
The bailaora, and her “endless arms have performed around the world putting her theory of cultural exchange to the test.
“Flamenco is one of the clear examples that uniting cultures, or religions, she goes on to explain, “can create a common voice. We could say that even though there are differences in flamenco, gypsies and payos (non-gypsies) share the same thing and create the same thing. And it s our culture and our aesthetics. There are Arabs, there are Jews, and there are so many cultures who have passed through Andalusia … And a language has sprung up from all that common ground. It s true that flamenco is one of the clear examples that uniting cultures, races or religions can create something in common, something to be shared.
Flamenco embodies a complex musical and cultural tradition. Although considered part of the culture of Spain in general, flamenco actually originates from one region -Andalusia. However, other areas, mainly Extremadura and Murcia, have contributed to the development of several flamenco musical forms, and a great number of renowned flamenco artists have been born in other territories of the state. The roots of flamenco are not precisely known, but it is generally acknowledged that flamenco grew out of the unique interplay of native Andalusian, Islamic, Sephardic, and Gypsy cultures that existed in Andalusia prior to and after the Reconquest. Latin American and especially Cuban influences have also been important in shaping several flamenco musical forms. It has truly emerged as an artistic expression of cultural symbiosis.
Pagés started her professional career in the company of Antonio Gades, performing in Carmen and Bodas de Sangre two landmarks of flamenco dance taken to the cinema by Carlos Saura. In 1990 she established her own company and in 1999 she began a new project based in the Boulevard Theater of Torrelodones (Madrid). She has received numerous awards and distinctions for her artistic accomplishments, among them the National Choreography Award ADE 1996, the National Dance Award 2002, Leone Massine Award 2004 and many other distinctions in flamenco festivals. She was selected to offer the Cultural Gala for the opening of the recent Iberoamerican Heads of States and Government Summit in Salamanca.
Flamenco Republic first premiered in New York about 6 years ago. As Pagés’ official website describes, Flamenco Republic is “a state of mind, an imaginary country ruled by the laws of flamenco. It represents our internal landscape, an intimate space for feelings and emotions.
Flamenco Republic will be staged at the Cairo Opera House’s Main Hall on Sept. 5 and 6, followed by a performance at the Sayid Darwish Theater in Alex on Sept. 8.