Interview {José Merino}

Flamenco Bites is a team effort.

Without each other to bounce ideas off I know (this is Renae here) that Flamenco Bites wouldn't be the website it is today.

The person I get to work with on this website is a pretty cool guy who has had a fascinating career and I thought it would be fun to do an interview so you can get to know him too.

How did you start dancing?

Well, I really started dancing because of my sister. When I was 8 years old my mother would pick me up from an after school painting class and then we would go to pick up my sister at her dance school. One day I was watching the class through the door and as I was later told by my first teacher, I started to move with the rhythm of the music. The teacher invited me in to the class, and this I remember quite well, that I had never before seen a class only for girls. From then I continued going regularly to class with my sister. After one year at age 10, I presented to the Real Conservatorio de Danza de Madrid and graduated at age 16 in danza española and flamenco and then immediately started working as a dancer.

What was your first job as a dancer?

My first experience was with Jose Granero at Ballet de Madrid. I auditioned for the company at age 16 since my teachers had counselled me that I should know how the audition process works. I had very good luck and was brought in to the company as an occasional student. However, I actually debuted with another company in Cannes. The company of Luisillo, dancing a choreography called 'La Trilla'.

You have danced with many of the modern auteurs of flamenco, who has had the greatest influence on you?

I think my biggest influence in my early work were all but if there is someone who I have to stress it is Antonio Canales and Jose Granero. I started very young with them, Canales taught me a lot about flamenco just by looking at dance daily and I saw the first (why not say so) flamenco orchestras with El Viejín, Ramon Jimenez and Montse Cortes for example. From José Granero I learned the effort and work that dance requires.

What do you think is one of the main mistakes people make when studying flamenco?

Well, I think that one of most common cases is the copy of the great figures of flamenco. It is normal when a student is studying idols you have to learn and admire them always, but I think there comes a time that as in all the arts you have to get to be able to develop your own art. Not all bodies, and feelings, when dancing are equal. I think each person has to study himself and develop as an artist.

When did you come to that conclusion for yourself?

There comes a time in life that each person, intellectual and artist, decides it is time to do something you believe in. I guess in that there is an exact date. In my case after working with many people and having had the opportunity to have danced on different disciplines I arrived at that conclusion.

And now what projects are you working on?

Right now I'm spending my time in Madrid developing my school for dance which is a challenge but very rewarding.  Since receiving a grant with Pepa Sanz we created a company Girasol Flamenco and we are currently developing new work. We previously assembled a show called Párrafos which was presented in last November in Madrid with music from Paco Cruz, Diego El Negro, Raul Guerra and Karo Sampela. The work we create through Girasol Flamenco is risky because it is not traditional flamenco but rather a contemporary flamenco in which many diverse styles come together. Of course I am also working with you on Flamenco Bites and this for me is something special because we have the ability to help people learn and appreciate flamenco dance all over the world.

Finally, how do you see the current situation of dance in Madrid? 

As we know, Spain is in a difficult situation across all jobs as the country is in recession. It is true that all the cuts have greatly affected subsidies and theatres, this is the downside. It affects many artists and many companies, but to my way of thinking, it is also true that it makes it necessary for minds to wake up and be more creative both artistically and in terms of enterprise. It is my personal way to see the possibility in the times we live. Also, we know that art is not like working in a big company bank and that the majority of artists have never had a monthly salary or paid vacations and are used to living that way, at least that is the way I see it.


Do you have any questions for José? Ask them in the comments below!

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