From the time I became interested in flamenco I've been curious about the artists. Their lives.  And flamenco's role.  Hence the interviews on this site.  Because I figure you're likely interested as well. So, today we have the first installment of interviews with Mercedes Ruíz.  La primera entrevista con Mercedes Ruíz.

She talks about how being a mother has changed her dancing, and her life, what it's like to work with her husband.  She talks about when she first knew that she wanted to dedicate her life to flamenco.  She shares some thoughts on frustration.  And, yes, even she encounters this feeling.

And this is just the beginning.  We had fun conversing over Skype and decided to do it again very soon.  Despite a few technical difficulties; I could see her, but she couldn't see me.  If anyone is a Skype expert and has some insights on why this is, feel free to share...  No video here today, but there are some audio clips.  Please excuse the poor sound quality.  And if you can't stand poor sound quality, don't listen, just read.

Throughout the month we'll be getting into the nitty-gritty.  So stick around for more interviews soon.

And onto today's interview...

Mercedes has a beautiful two-year old daughter.  Pastora.  I still remember when she came to class last year and danced in her own little baby way, moving her little hands.  Oh my goodness.  So first I wanted to know how becoming a mother had affected her dancing.

Mi principal motivación es ella ... She is my main motivation

¿Cómo ha cambiado tu baile después de haber sido madre? Primero te cambia la vida completamente.  Pues todo después se refleja en el escenario.  Se refleja en la persona.  Se refleja bailando porque una es lo que baila una es lo que es.  No hay trampa.  Entonces me lo ha cambiado todo yo creo.  Que ahora primero mi principal motivación es ella.  Ella es la que realmente me hace bailar, la que realmente me hace disfrutar de todo un poco más.

How did your dancing change after becoming a mother? First it changes your life completely.  Afterward everything is reflected on stage.   It is reflected in the individual.  It is reflected when dancing because one thing is what you dance, one is what is.  There's no cheating.  So, it changed everything for me I think.   Now my main motivation is her.  She is truly what makes me dance, what really causes me to enjoy everything a little bit more.

On how being a mother has changed her baile - Click here to listen

For those of you who don't know, Mercedes's husband is guitaristSantiago Lara.  If you don't know him, you need to.

Él es mi mano derecha ... He is my right hand

Santiago Lara
Santiago Lara

¿Cómo es colaborar con tu esposo? La verdad es que es muy bien porque nosotros empezamos a trabajar antes de ser novios, no?  Y siempre hemos tenido como el mismo lenguaje, no?  El musical y yo dancistico.  Pero los dos hemos tenido el mismo lenguaje.  Entonces realmente es súper fácil trabajar.  Yo no puedo decir lo contrario.  Es muy fácil trabajar con él.  Y vamos estoy muy acostumbrada y si no estuviera él me costaría mucho trabajo.  Es algo que él es mi mano derecha y él me entiende perfectamente en un escenario.  Entonces es súper fácil.

What is it like collaborating with your husband? The truth is it's great because we began working together before becoming a couple.  And we've always spoken the same language.  He music and me dance.  But both of us had the same language.  So really it's completely easy working together.  I can't say otherwise.  And I'm used to it, and if he weren't here it would be so hard for me.   It's like he is my right hand and he understands me perfectly on stage.  So it's super easy.

Tú escuchas un tema suyo y haces algo o él ve tu baile o lo hacéis juntos? Depende.  Depende de la coreografía.  Depende de lo que quiera.  Hay veces que yo he montado temas suyo.  Y hay veces que yo he sacado la coreografía y luego el ha puesto la música.  Depende del espectáculo y depende de lo que en este momento querramos.

Do you listen to one of his compositions first or does he compose based on your dancing or do you do it together? It depends.  It depends on the choreography.  It depends upon what we want.  At times I've put something together based on his compositions.  And at times I've created a choreography then he later put music to it.  It depends on the show and it depends upon what we want in that moment.

Pero realmente yo quería ser solista ... But really I wanted to be a soloist

Siempre querías tener tu propía compañía? Claro.  Yo tenía muy claro ya desde ya realmente con 12 años, como 13 años que ya dije que me quería dedicar a esto.  Pero tuve me claro, yo quería ser solista.  Me encontraba mucha zancadilla, no como se dice aquí, muchos problemas.  Pero realmente era lo que quería.  Primero lo que pasa es que tiene que empezar pues uno aprendiendo, no?  Y en las compañias aprendí muchísimo.  De Adrian Galia, de Yerbabuena, de Andrés Marin.  Aprendí muchísimo.  Pero realmente yo quería ser solista.

Did you always want to have your own company? Of course.  Honestly I knew this very clearly from the time I was twelve or thirteen years old and I said that I wanted to dedicate myself to this.  But I was very clear, I wanted to be a soloist.  I encountered lots of obstacles, lots of problems.  But it was truly what I wanted.  What happens first it that you have to start by learning, right?  And being in companies I learned so much.  From Adrian Galia, from Yerbabuena, from Andrés Marin.  I learned so much.  But really I wanted to be a soloist.

Y todo el mundo puede bailar.  Todo el mundo. ... And everyone in the world can dance.  Everyone.

No se si te pasa.  A nosotras alumnas, como el flamenco es muy difícil nos frustramos mucho.  Pero algunas veces tú te frustras? Sí, hombre.  Claro todo el mundo.  Pero yo lo que digo es que con paciencia y con trabajo al final todo sale.  Todo.  Y todo el mundo puede bailar.  Todo el mundo.

I don't know if this happens to you.  To us, the students, as flamenco is so difficult, we often get frustrated.  Does this ever happen to you? Of course.  Of course, everyone.  In my opinion with patience and work everything will come out in the end.  Everything.  And everyone in the world can dance.  Everyone.

Todo el mundo puede bailar - Click here to listen

Me levanto, desayuno, como, ceno, bailo. ... I get up, I eat breakfast, I eat lunch, I eat dinner, I dance.

Hablando de este tema.  Yo creo que el baile te puede servir en otras partes de la vida.  ¿Cómo te sirve el baile en tu vida? Es que es mi manera de expresarme.  Es que el baile forma parte de mi vida.  Como me levanto, desayuno, como, ceno, bailo.  ¿Sabes?  Forma parte de mi existencia, de mi forma de vivir.

Speaking of this.  I believe that dancing can help you in other facets of your life.  How does dancing help you in your life?It's how I express myself.  It's that dancing is part of my life.  It's like I get up, I eat breakfast, I eat lunch, I eat dinner, I dance.  You know?  It forms part of my existence, my way of living.

Es mi manera de expresarme - Click here to listen

To avoid inundating you with too much information at once, I've broken this interview into parts.  Tune in tomorrow for more.  We talk about how Mercedes got started and how she began touring at six years old!  And she tells us a the very strange thing that she absolutely must do before going on stage each time.  Honestly, this will make you chuckle for sure...  

Here I am chuckling upon hearing it

Translating really gets me, though most of you already know this.  When I understand what someone is saying but I don't qutie know how to convey it in those just right words for others.  I have sooooo much respect for professional translators.  The talent they have.  Their ability to convey correct meaning, get the nuances, and make it sound good and natural.  Thank you translators for allowing me to take a poke at it.  I learn so much through this process.  As always, trying my best, aiming at least to give you the gist.

Now,perhaps you have a question for Mercedes?  Feel free to submit it below in the comments.  As I mentioned, we'll be doing more interviews in the coming weeks, so tell me what you want to know!  Como siempre, other comments are also welcome.  You can leave them below. I'd love to know what you think.

Déjame saber que piensas abajo.  ¿O tal vez tienes una pregunta para Mercedes?  Déjala aquí en los comentarios.

If you want to know more right now, perhaps you'll enjoy reading this.

And if you want to come to Spain to study with her this fall, we'd love to have you.  Click here for the details.