On the wall of her studio Mercedes has a photo of herself with Marco Flores when they were young.  I wish you could see it.   In the interview that follows Marco mentions how they danced together when they were starting out.  They still do.

You'll also find out about how Marco grew up with flamenco in his family, how he began his career, and about his process of creation.  He even shares some direct tips for us as students, though bits of advice can be found in all of his responses.

I originally posted it in 2011 and repost it today after watching snippets of his latest espectáculo from the 2014 Jerez Festival.  Oh how I want to see that show!  Further down you'll see a video of him dancing solo por siguiriyas.

March 2, 2011 - Jerez de la Frontera

I was attending the Festival de Jerez.  There Marco and I chatted about his life as a flamenco dancer ... 

"¡Tengo ganas de bailar!"

"I want to dance!"

This is the first thing he said to me with great yearning before we even left the studio.

Marco had just finished giving a week-long workshop in Sevilla before coming to Jerez and prior to that a two-week workshop in Madrid.  He was incredibly anxious to start creating again.  No wonder his shows are so fabulous.

This interview took place after class one day at a cafe in Jerez on la Calle Porvera, Marco drinking a tonic water, I a café.  It was a bit chilly in the afternoon outside in the shade.  After a bit of catching up, we began our interview:

Creating

You collaborate with other a lot of other artists as well as doing projects on your own; do you prefer one over the other? I like both creating on my own, like in the show I just did with the four girls, and collaborating with others. Collaboration with others serves as a growing experience for me. And I really enjoy being directed.  Oh I love this. When I am working with others I love it when they set a piece for me; I really like being able to interpret other people's pieces.

Tú te colaboras con muchos otros artistas y haces tus propias obras. ¿Prefieres uno más que el otro? A mi me gustan los dos, crear yo sólo, como en el último show con las 4 chicas y la colaboración con otros. El colaborar con otros me hace crecer.  Y a mi me encanta estar dirigido.  !Me encanta!  Cuando trabajo con otros me encanta que me dirigan.  Me gusta interpretar la coreografía de otros.

How do you go about choreographing?  Do you prefer to listen to the music first or come up with your ideas and then add the music? I prefer visualizing a piece in my mind, coming up with it on my own then showing it to the guitarist and having him play something that works with it.  Then I always make adjustments during the process.  Normally the final product ends up being completely different from my original idea, something I could have never imagined.  Sometimes I am given the music first, and I choreograph something to go with it, but I prefer doing it the other way around.

¿Cuál es tu proceso de hacer una coreografía?  ¿Prefieres escuchar la música primero o crear tus ideas y luego añadir la música?Prefiero visualizar la obra en mi mente, crearlo y luego enseñarlo al guitarrista y que él toque algo que vaya bien. Luego siempre ajusto, como parte del proceso.  Normalmente el producto final resulta en ser totalmente diferente que mi idea original, algo que nunca habría yo imaginado.  A veces me dan la música primero pero lo prefiero al revés.

Performing

Do you have any rituals you go through before performing? Not really.  Sometimes I'll have a toast with whisky with the other performers.  I also like to spend time with the musicians and the other people I'm performing with before-hand, to have a good time together and feel comfortable with one another.

¿Tienes algún costumbre antes de actuar?No.  A veces tomo un chupito de whisky con mis compañeros en forma de brindis. También a mi me gusta pasar tiempo con los músicos y con la gente con quien actuo antés para llevarlo bien. Para pasarlo bien y sentirnos cómodos.

Do you perform set choreographies only, or do you improvise as well? When I'm dancing flamenco even in the choreography, I like to set aside various places for improvisation, with flamenco that is.

¿Aparte de la coreografía, improvisas también?Cuando estoy bailando flamenco aún que sea una coreografía, a mi me gusta dejar unos espacios para la improvisación, con el flamenco.

Beginning

Why did you start dancing? I grew up with flamenco in my family.  My parents are big aficionados, so there was always flamenco at home.  My brother is a dancer.  I actually started playing guitar because when I was seven my dad had me start taking guitar lessons.  But I wanted to dance.  I began studying officially in 1998 at 16 years old when I came to this festival, the Festival de Jerez to study with Antonio Canales.  After the workshop I went back to Arcos and didn't take an official class again until the next festival.  Back at home I spent tons of time looking at videos of people dancing, watching them over and over again and copying.  Any time there was flamenco on, I would record it, Manuela Carrasco, Sara Baras...  I've always loved Sara Baras, I learned a lot from her; hers was the first company I danced professionally in.  I took a lot of workshops with Javier LaTorre, and I also learned a lot working with people like Mercedes Ruíz.  A couple of years after that first workshop with Canales I came back to Jerez to study long-term; I got a late start compared to my peers.  Most people my age had already been through dance conservatory.  I had to catch up, so I enrolled in a school here in Jerez.

That must have been a hard situation to have been in. Yes, it was but I wanted to be a dancer, so I had to do it. Plus, I think because of my age I didn't care so much about what others would think.  If I were to try to do it now I don't think I could.¿Por qué empezaste a bailar?Crecía con el flamenco en la familia.  Mis padres son grandes aficionados entonces siempre había flamenco en mi casa.  Mi hermando es bailaor.  Realmente yo empezaba tocando la guitarra porque cuando tenia 7 años mi padre me apuntó para clases de guitarra.  Pero quería bailar.  Empecé a estudiar oficialmente en 1998 a los 16 años.  Vine aquí a este festival, el Festival de Jerez para estudiar con Antonio Canales.  Después del cursillo volví a Arcos y no tomaba otra clase hasta el sigüiente festival.  En casa pasaba un montón de tiempo mirando videos de la gente bailando, mirandoles miles de veces y copiandoles.  En cuanto ponía flamenco, lo grababa, Manuela Carrasco, Sara Baras...  Siempre me encantaba la Sara Baras.  Aprendí mucho de ella.  Fue su compañia la primera en que bailaba profesionalmente.  Tomaba muchos cursillos con Javier LaTorre y también aprendía mucho trabajando con compañeros como Mercedes Ruíz.  Dos años después del primer cursillo con Canales venía a Jerez a estudiar. Empecé tarde comparando con mis compañeros.  La otra gente de mi edad ya habían pasado por el conservatorio de baile.  Tenía que ponerme al nivel de ellos así que apunté en una escuela aquí en Jerez.

Esto tiene que haber sido una situación difícil. Sí, lo era pero yo quería bailar así que lo tenía que hacer.  Y por la edad que tenía no me importaba tanto lo que pensaba lo demás.  Si fuera ahora con la edad que tengo, no creo que lo pudiera hacer.

Some advice for YOU

What advice to you have for someone learning flamenco? Take with a lot of people.  In the beginning it makes sense to study with one person but then it is a good idea to dance with many different people.

¿Tienes algún consejo para alguien aprendiendo el flamenco?Estudiar con muchas diferentes personas.  En el principio tiene sentido estudiar con una sola persona pero después es buena idea bailar con muchas para ir conociendo a diferentes estilos.

I'm not kidding you,

Marco is one of the sweetest teachers I've ever studied with.  If he's ever anywhere near you, take from him!  Or even if he's not.

Marco y Laura
Marco y Laura

I have a lot to thank this guy for.  Aside from being an insanely good teacher, Marco helped make it possible for me to travel to Spain that year. Were it not for his letter of recommendation, I'm not sure I would have received the RACC grant to study in Jerez.  Gracias Marco por eso, por tu arte, por las buenas clases y por ser una gran inspiración y persona. I'm sending lots and lots of besos to him.

beso - kiss

And, really, I have to thank Ricardo too.  You know I'll spend my life thanking Ricardo for so many things.  He and Marco used to dance together, and naturally, Ricardo is the one who first told me to take from him.  "Te tienes que estudiar con Marco Flores y Manuel Liñan," that's what Ricardo told me.  "You have to study with Marco Flores and Manuel Liñan."  Naturally, I followed his advice.

Like to read what famous flamencos have to say?

Read more interviews like this one.

¿Qué piensas tú?  What do you think?

What do you think?   I'd love to know your stories about Marco Flores.  Have you taken from him?  Have you seen him perform live?  Do tell.  Please leave a comment here.  Déja un comentario.

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