Three hundred years ago in the southern region of Spain, a coming together of many cultures brought to life a new style of music, singing and dance called flamenco. Although Andalusia was the home of this budding art form, it was influenced by rhythms and traditions from around the world by way of traveling artists passing through the area. Spanish, Greek, Roman and Arab flavors all contributed to the development of what is known today as Spain’s national treasure.
Next week, the Suzanne Dellal Center will host the fourth annual Madridanza festival, offering a taste of the newest evolutions of the melting pot that is flamenco.
When Yair Vardi, director of the Suzanne Dellal Center, initiated Madridanza, he hoped that it would become a staple event on the annual cultural calendar. He had no idea, however, what immense popularity the festival would foster. In the past three years, Madridanza has brought a completely foreign ambience to the tree-lined courtyards of the center. The combination of talented musicians with passionate dancers that flamenco brings seems to have struck a chord with Israeli audiences, making Madridanza the peak of the summer program.
In the words of Vardi, “The source of the beauty of flamenco, whose origin is in southern Spain, is its ability to combine cultural influences of the Spanish, Gypsy, Muslim and even Jewish peoples into one perfect creation.”
This year, Vardi reached out to two artists whose work, he felt, represent the most cutting-edge, up-to-date flamenco to emerge from modern Spain. Manuel Linan and Eduardo Guerrero have a lot in common.
Both hail from Andalusia, the home of traditional flamenco. Both men began dancing at age six. While Linan began his professional career dancing with flamenco greats Carmen Cortes and Merche Esmerelda, Guerrero performed with Aida Gomez (who performed last year as part of Madridanza) and Eva Yerbabuena. Today, Linan and Guerrero are considered two of the hottest flamenco dancers in the world.
During his premiere visit to Israel, Linan will present Sinergia. In this dance piece, Linan attempted to capture the many flamenco artists that have touched his life over the years. The creation is a collage of small moments such as smiles, conversations, translated into movement. Linan will be joined on stage by a guitarist and two singers.
Linan recently received the prestigious Escenicas Artes Award and magazine Flamenco Hoy’s first Critic’s Choice Award for best performance.
Guerrero has visited Israel before; however, he was then a dancer in another artist’s company.
This summer, Guerrero will enjoy his first engagement in Israel as an independent choreographer. In 2011, Guerrero struck out on his own to create De Dolores, a solo performance, which he went on the present around the world. For the past several years, he has created several shows, including Zambra and Alegrias. Return is an ode to the flamenco tradition that won Guerrero’s heart as a young boy. To the basics, Guerrero adds in splashes of his personal style, which is drawn from modern music and contemporary Spanish dance.
Sinergia and Return will each be presented twice during the course of the festival.
Brothers Guy and Roy Zu-Aretz will perform the closing event in this year’s Madridanza program. Entitled “Ladino Songs and Prayers from Home,” the evening is a melodic biography of the Zu-Aretz family, from Spain to Israel. Song, prayers and stories are woven together to create a musical love letter to a forgotten side of Spain. Many may recognize Guy Zu-Aretz from the television show Survivor. In 2012, the Zu-Aretz brothers released the album Ladino Songs and Prayers from Home.
Earlier this year, they celebrated their 100th performance.
Madridanza is a co-production of the Suzanne Dellal Center and the Municipality of Madrid.
Madridanza will take place from July 28 through August 1. For tickets, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il.