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Interview with Carmen Cortés: When Flamenco Meets New Yorkers

By Joanna Law (People's Daily Online)

09:19, March 20, 2012

Flamenco is known of its powerful, energetic dance and music. This unique Spanish culture has been widely gaining its recognition around the world. Early this March, a Flamenco Festival was held in Manhattan, New York. This annual event was not only a showcase for Spanish culture outside of Spain but also “a vital point of encounter between the American public and Spanish artists”. The festival highlighted various acclaimed Flamenco artists who flew to New York just for this event. Amongthem was Carmen Cortés, one of the most well-knownFlamencodancers. People’s Daily Online USA had an interview with her in New York.

It was a cool and quietSaturday late morning. The hustle and bustle of city life outside of the New York City Centre had not fully awoken yet. But the quietness on the street contrasted sharply with the loud, thunderous sound that came from one studio in the City Centre. The rhythmic noise was the sound of hand clapping and foot stomping from Cortés and her 20 students. She was giving a Flamencomaster class. They danced with decisive steps that almost pounded the floor and shook the whole building.Everybody who knows about Flamenco dance would be captivated by Cortés’vigorous and expressive, yet beautiful and sinuous body movements.

“Carmen is a master in this,” said one of her students Carmen. “She is a real gypsy. She was born with it.It takes a lotof time for us [to be able to dance] like her.” Flamencodance is extraordinarily spirited and passionate, and it made her feel confident about herself, she added. “[When dancing] flamenco, you can take [things that are troubling you] all out. And leave [them] there on the floor.”

Another student Linda said Cortés is “electric firing and very dynamic.”Linda was fascinated by Flamenco’s energetic movements and compared the dance with martial arts. “I study Latin dance, not Flamenco. But I am starting to appreciate Flamenco now.”

Now 53, Cortés has been exposed to dancing ever since when she was young. Her parents, both a highly recognized Flamenco guitarist and singer, introduced her to the Flamenco world. Theyinfluenced her deeply in the arts of the Spanish tradition and in becoming an artist. Having grown up in Barcelona, where the all-time famous Flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya was born, she began to self-taught the dance by following Amaya’s rock, direct style.

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