ARTIST: María Benítez, di­rec­tor ,Fl amenco’s Next Gen­er­a­tion; di­rec­tor ,I nsti­tute for Span­ish Arts; co-founder ,M aría Benítez Teatro Fla­menco PA­LOS: Taranto and Sigu­iriya

Pasatiempo - - PASA REVIEWS -

Taran­tos have an ex­pres­sive rhythm for my char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity. It’s in a four-count. The song is beau­ti­ful; it’s very pro­found. You can sink your teeth into the rhythm. We brought the great Gypsy artist Mario Maya to New York when he was in his late eight­ies. He set pieces on our com­pany. We fig­ured that he must have watched a lot of Cyd Charisse, be­cause he had me start the taranto with my foot on a chair. I like the way he moved. He had an in­ter­est­ing per­sonal style. He made his danc­ing look spon­ta­neous even though it was chore­ographed down to the fin­ger snap.”

One of the most in­tense pa­los, the sigu­iriya, is a Benítez trade­mark. “I lived my en­tire life in the sigu­iriya — the anger, sex­u­al­ity, brute force, del­i­cacy, earth­i­ness, el­e­gance. I let the mu­sic and song carry me away. I don’t do ter­ri­bly well with the light co­quet­tish pa­los. I like the black, pro­found num­bers.

“I put fla­menco on the New Mexico map. I built an au­di­ence. You can’t de­pend on the sum­mer sea­son to ex­ist, though. You have got to tour. The pop­u­la­tion triples in the sum­mer, but what hap­pens the other nine months? I don’t know how all the groups here are go­ing to sur­vive. It’s go­ing to be tough. It’s a test­ing time.”

Her Fla­menco’s Next Gen­er­a­tion com­pany was be­gun with a group of eight- to ten-year-olds who au­di­tioned to be in a per­form­ing branch of Benítez’s In­sti­tute for Span­ish Arts, where they were study­ing. Ten girls signed up, and 14 years later, half of the girls are still per­form­ing, sev­eral of them (in­clud­ing Emmy Grimm and Miquela Wiegel) pro­fes­sion­ally. They all grew up to­gether. But Benítez is fo­cused on the fu­ture. “I don’t know about men­tor­ship. I just want to keep the dance go­ing.”

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