“It will be like being with family”
Farruquito may make its regional debut in the UAE this week, but for the flamenco sensation, the shows will feel right at home.
The Spanish dancer will perform on the Dubai Opera stage Thursday and Friday with a show embodying a three-decade career steeped in tradition.
The opportunity to share his story in the Arab world, he says The National, will mark an extremely satisfactory achievement.
“It’s something that has been on my mind, and the band members, that when we come to Dubai, we will see a lot of cultural connections,” he says.
“Flamenco originates from the south of Spain and although it has fortunately spread all over the world, this link with the south of Spain remains and this region is historically and culturally close to the Arab world. Playing in Dubai will make you feel like family.
This enthusiasm was accompanied by a request requiring a second performance at the Dubai Opera.
Art of communicating
By the time he arrives in the United Arab Emirates, Farruquito – born Juan Fernandez – will be a well-oiled machine, as the shows follow an extensive Spanish tour.
With the pandemic putting an end to most international tours in Spain, he explains how a local flamenco artist has helped revive the cultural sector in the face of the pandemic.
It’s also good, says Farruquito, that flamenco has never really been translated on Zoom. “It was an emotionally very difficult time for me because flamenco without an audience is becoming a sport, not an art,” he says.
“We need the feedback and the energy of the crowd. When you don’t receive this, your mind starts to think negative thoughts and you wonder if they are not related to work. This is because flamenco is communication and without the audience it’s like talking to a wall.
Farruquito, 39, continues a conversation that began over a century ago.
Born in Seville to flamenco artists, singer El Moreno and dancer La Farruca, he is also the grandson of El Farruco, considered one of the greatest dancers of this art form.
It was with his grandfather that Farruquito made his debut at age 5 in the Broadway neighborhood of New York, before taking flight in the documentary. Flamenco.
Released in 1995 and directed by Carlos Sauras (The Caza), the film features electrifying scenes where Farruquito confronts El Farruco, symbolizing the passing of the torch from master to student.
Retaining the flowing grace and tradition of gypsy culture, Farruquito added a theatrical touch to his work that allowed him to sell Broadway shows in Tokyo.
A bit like jazz
While denying suggestions that he was modernizing flamenco to make it suitable for a mass audience, Farruquito is excited about the perspectives that a global audience brings to art.
“It doesn’t have to be one thing or the other, modern or classical flamenco, it’s about being in this moment and delivering something with all your heart. That’s when the audience feels the connection, ”he says.
“What I feel on stage, from joy to sadness, the audience receives. This is what I always aim for, to share this reality and this truth of the moment.
More than a dazzling technicality of footwork and voice, it’s this visceral quality that Farruquito says is at the heart of flamenco’s growing appeal.
“You don’t have to go to this show in Dubai, for example, with a preconceived expectation or looking for a certain thing,” he says.
“In a way, it’s similar to jazz music. There is a certain structure in the show, but there is flexibility in that if I’m inspired by something during the show, I can explore that aspect a bit more.
“Although it all unfolds together, he does it in a very real way and in the moment. This is where the magic lies for me.
As for the future of flamenco, Farruquito is convinced that this art form will grow without losing its integrity.
“It’s gaining momentum and now I see some aspects of it being stylized, like when people say that this particular piece has a ‘flamenco style’, and that’s a normal process,” he says.
“Flamenco doesn’t have to be a long time ago or echo what is happening today or tomorrow. Its essence is persevering if it is done with conviction. Audiences don’t always have to understand it because if they feel it, then it’s real flamenco.
Farruquito performs on September 30 and October 1 at the Dubai Opera. The show starts at 8 p.m. tickets from 250 Dh to dubaiopera.com
Update: September 28, 2021, 3:47 a.m.