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Aida Gomez brings flamenco fire to Istanbul

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 2/21/2010 12:00:00 AM | CENK ERDEM

Renowned Spanish flamenco dancer Aida Gomez will perform in Istanbul on Tuesday. Turning the old epic story of Carmen into a dance fest full of energy and love, Gomez will be accompanied by the unforgettable original compositions of Bizet and music composed by Jose Antonio Rodriguez for her only

Aida Gomez, one of the greatest female flamenco dancers, will perform in Istanbul on Tuesday at the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall.

Gomez and her dance company turn the old epic story of Carmen into a dance fest full of energy and love. Her show “Carmen” is accompanied by the unforgettable original compositions of Georges Bizet and music composed exclusively for her by Jose Antonio Rodriguez.

Gomez started dancing when she was 7 and has since been honored in Spain as “Dancer of the Year” many times. After she established her own company, the Spanish Ministry of Culture made her the youngest-ever artistic director of the Spanish National Ballet. By 2001 she had founded her own production company and rehearsed for a role in the famous movie Salomé, directed by Carlos Saura.

In 2004 she was awarded the National Dance Prize and went on to participate in a special homage to the late Antonio Gades at the Teatro de la Zarzuela. She was also named "Woman of the Year" by Glamour magazine. In 2008 the Madrid Municipality awarded her the prestigious Grand Culture Award. She is currently touring the world with her shows "Carmen," directed by Emilio Sagi, and a traditional Spanish dance performance "Permiteme Bailarte.”

“I started my dance education going through all types of dancing but I discovered myself feeling freedom only with flamenco. It liberates your inner feelings on the stage and gives you strength. I guess flamenco gives more space for self-expression,” said Gomez.

Speaking about her career and her passion for flamenco, Gomez said flamenco gave her the opportunity to express her emotions to the fullest. “Other types of dance and ballet have strict borders and don’t have much space for self-expression. But when it comes to flamenco, you find so many ways to show your deeper feelings, even on the stage.” she said.

When asked if she had times when she felt like it was crowded with so many dancers together, she said the company was a kind of extended family. Gomez said her version of Carmen was mostly under female control and she had been sensitive about picking very strong female figures who could be both feminine and powerful at the same time. Throughout auditions, her most crucial criteria was to gather strong female dancers who are confident about themselves.

“Flamenco encourages us to get what we want. It gives you power and gives you strength to demand what you want in a very confident way with all your body language,” she said, adding that being a woman herself, she cared about being independent and strong.

[HH] Carmen as a role model

When asked what she had in common with Carmen as a role model, Gomez said she liked the character’s strength and attitude. “She is confident about her freedom. When we get back to the very initial story of Carmen, in that period, we see a revolution in the description of the female figure’s social role. During that time, although there was repression of the female gender identity, she was described in a revolutionary way.” she said.

Gomez will perform “Carmen” on Feb. 23 at Istanbul’s Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall and she is already familiar with the Turkish audience. Talking about her Turkey visits, she said she has been to Istanbul, Ankara and Bodrum before by invitation from Pasion Turca.

“I know Turkish people not only from Pasion Turca but also from the Turkish audience, so I feel very close to them. The way they expresstheir emotions resembles Spanish people, so I guess I am going to feel like home again in Istanbul,” she said.

Apart from flamenco, she said she was into ethnic and authentic styles, too. “I am so lucky that I travel around the world and discover new people and different forms of art and dance in different countries. Especially, Japanese and Indian styles impress me very much, I love their authenticity,” Gomez said.

She said she has worked with Carlos Saura on twoprojects and is interested in movies. “I really enjoyed working with him. I feel so lucky meeting and working with him, and I would love to work with him again,” she said.

Speaking about discipline, Aida Gomez said you had to work hard. ”I work at least 10 hours a day, and it’s been like that for more than 30 years,” Gomez said.

As far as her plans for after her performance in Istanbul are concerned, Gomez said: “I go on touring the world with my dance company and performing ‘Carmen.’ We will  present the traditional Spanish dance ‘Permiteme Bailarte’ as part of our new show all around the world. We are also working on some projects with Pasion Turca to present some oriental elements with Flamenco.”

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