María Pagés brings contemporary flamenco to Australia

'Yo, Carmen'. Photo by David Ruano.

It was Nobel Prize winner for Literature José Saramago who said, “Neither the sky nor the earth rest unchanged after María Pagés has danced.” He is not alone in his wild praise of Pagés, who is hugely acclaimed around the world. Pagés is at the vanguard of contemporary flamenco and is coming to Melbourne in March with her acclaimed work, Yo, Carmen (I, Carmen), a radical reimagining of the Carmen story.

'Yo, Carmen'. Photo by David Ruano.

‘Yo, Carmen’. Photo by David Ruano.

Flamenco, the traditional dance arising from the folkloric music traditions of southern Spain,”is the genuine expression of creative contemporaneity in Spain’ says Pagés. UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Flamenco under Pagés is not only heritage but also a contemporary artform. “For us, flamenco is an organic art because different languages and disciplines take part in it. In this sense, the dance is heart and energy.”

In Yo, Carmen, Pagés is reclaiming the narrative of Carmen using a feminist tone. For her, the traditional Carmen derived from a story by French writer Prosper Mérimée is not the spirit of the women of Spain. Many of Pagés’ friends are called Carmen, so for her, Carmen is an everywoman. Yo, Carmen is created in collaboration with her husband, dramaturg El Arbi El Harti.

“Our collaboration starts at home,” says Pagés. “Everything we do starts in the kitchen. We love to create projects while cooking. Therefore, the direction, dramaturgy, choreography, lyrics and musical composition are always born in the kitchen while measuring flavours and spices, and extracting from the latter what is best for the senses. Therefore, our collaboration is, above all, a process of love.”

'Yo, Carmen'. Photo by David Ruano.

‘Yo, Carmen’. Photo by David Ruano.

Pagés and her company have been invited to perform on some of the world’s most prestigious stages, including Radio City Music Hall, Sadler ́s Wells, Théâtre National de Chaillot (Paris), the Kremlin Palace, Hong Kong Cutural Centre, Teatro Beaux Arts (Brussels), Auditorio Parco della Musica in Rome and Komische Oper in Berlin. Pagés herself found fame as a guest artist with Michael Flatley’s Riverdance. Pagés says she is currently working on “a version of Antigone for a classical ballet that will be premiered in July in a Roman theatre, and a project about Borders – the greatest enigma of the stability of the future of our humanity.”

Arts Centre Melbourne and Arts Projects Australia present Yo, Carmen from 11 – 12 March 2019,
 at Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall
. Tickets are now on sale at artscentremelbourne.com.au. For more information about María Pagés Compañía, visit www.mariapages.com/en.

By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.

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