Internationally celebrated flamenco guitarist José Luis Rodriguez and dancer Niurca Marquez are going to be performing in Miami Beach on Saturday, with an aim to re-introduce some of the classic inheritance back into the dance, in a 21st century setting. We asked both artists about what their interpretation means, and the genesis of this particular performance.
Your performance is entitled Nu Flamenco? But isn’t flamenco all about tradition?
José Luis Rodriguez: That’s exactly right. But this is no longer the case in Spain, where I come from. Flamenco there is turning into spectacle. Flamenco is becoming Cirque de Soleil. Traditionally flamenco is a conversation among the singers, the dancers, and the musicians. Now dancers have taken charge. The idea of an ensemble is broken. The form has been polished and polished until it lost its honesty.
What we want to accomplish with our “Nu Flamenco” is a return to the heart of the tradition, to the ensemble. Niurca and I have worked closely to find the bare essentials, the rhythmic bones, of flamenco. And although we will have no singers performing with us on Saturday, we will have their ghosts. Along with my guitar compositions, we will be presenting echoes of the voices of many of the greats of flamenco who are no longer living.
Why do you think flamenco in all its forms manages to have such a hold of so many people?
Flamenco was born in the corner of Spain where five distinct cultures mixed together. Within the tradition one can hear the rhythms of Africa, of the Catholic Church, of peasant songs older than Spain itself. All this and more. That along with a nearly ferocious need for self-expression gave birth to flamenco. Show me any music that explores what it means to be happy or to be sad. Flamenco will always go deeper.
You were a child protégée as a guitarist in Spain, no?
My first toy — I was only a few months old — was a guitar. I have always been with my guitar. I was 14 when I gave my first professional concert in Spain. Since then, thanks to their generosity, I have been privileged to perform with most of the elders of flamenco. I was honored to be musical director and composer at the New Flamenco Ballet of Andalucía alongside Cristina Hoyas.
Niurca, you are Miami-born. Yet you found your way to flamenco…
Like many little Cuban girls in Miami, I was taken to classes in Spanish dancing. That was my introduction, but by age 17, I knew flamenco would be my life. I found the only university program in the United States — it was in New Mexico — where one could study the form full-time.
Some years later, thanks to support from Tigertail Productions, I was attending a two-week flamenco intensive in the California Redwoods. It was there that José Luis and I began working together.
You and Jose Luis are not only artistic collaborators; you are also a married couple. The intimacy of your partnership must color your work?
Some of our most inspired moments come in the kitchen. We cook together and we both keep creative notebooks there as well. “Wait,” one of us says to the other while we are chopping onions. “Let me jolt down what has just come to me before I forget.”
Nu Flamenco, with guitarist José Luis Rodriguez and dancer Niurca Marguez (presented by Tigertail Productions), perform on Saturday at 8:30 p.m., at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. General Admission is $30, Student/Senior $20, Artist (at box office) $20, VIP $50; 305-324-4337; tigertail.org.