‘El Águila Flamenca’ is returning to the stage. After an artistic hiatus of nearly six years, the United States is gearing up to welcome Joaquín Cortés. The dancer will tour through Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
‘The Nureyev of flamenco’ has a clear goal, he wants to return to the stage because he wants audiences to enjoy his show as much as the opportunity to instill the wonderful world of culture in everyone. “Looking forward to returning to the stage, looking forward to coming back here to America,” the Spaniard affirms.
Joaquín Pedraja Reyes – his given name – the genius of the performing arts, gifted us with a memorable photo shoot in Miami and spoke exclusively to HOLA! USA about how he is preparing to once again conquer his fans and seduce new generations with his unmatched talent.
‘The universal Gypsy’, ‘the light-footed New Yorker’, ‘the Moscow swan’, ‘the Italian seducer’, or simply ‘the Spanish gentleman’, still maintains that ‘essence’ – name of his current tour – that characterizes him so much in his four decades of professional career: the dream of a child who wants to dance, and the now adult who works to be better every day.
“I think we always learn something. Every day we wake up learning something new and that is the greatness of life. That is, we have to continue discovering, we have to continue learning”. - Joaquín Cortés -
In his most rewarding role, the flamenco dancer talks about his role as a father, and takes us on an exciting journey sharing great anecdotes from his artistic life. From that fashion icon to the immense artist who merges with pop culture in America, Joaquín has captured the attention of great personalities like Michael Jackson and Giorgio Armani. There is nothing he has not accomplished, and no country has resisted the charms of the Cordovan-born artist.
He has circled the globe on multiple occasions and shattered paradigms with just his presence on stages around the world. With his characteristic humor, Cortés jokes that Julio Iglesias was always the first Spaniard to reach the remotest corners of the planet, and though he tried to surpass him, the singer had many years of advantage. The truth is that both are the most international artists from their ‘motherland’ - Spain.
Do not miss this wonderful interview with one of the most important figures of our time, a delightful conversation in which Joaquín demonstrated admirable humility, unique professionalism, and his contagious love for the performing arts, within the framework of an intimate photoshoot surrounded by the love of his children, Romeo and Leone, as well as that of his partner, Mónica Moreno.
“I am in a plethoric moment, eager to dance and connect with the U.S. public after so long, and at the same time with the new generations.” - Joaquín Cortés
We have a wonderful show called ‘Esencia,’ which lasts nearly two hours of pure dance and music. There are 17 live musicians with all kinds of instruments, guitars, violin, double bass, cello, and piano. We have a band, and the band alone is amazing because it is based on original music that we create ourselves. This blend is the fusion I created 30 years ago, which is now trending worldwide. It’s a cultural fusion where all kinds of music are mixed with the foundation of flamenco roots, which is my culture as I am a gypsy, and flamenco originates from the gypsies.
In dance, we do the same; we speak different languages with the foundation of flamenco but mix in classical dance, contemporary dance, modern dance – a bit of everything, a mix. It’s a grand musical with dancers, with a marvelous French contemporary dancer, Nicolás, and a collaboration with my cousin Nazaret (Reyes), who dances flamenco as a ‘bailadora’. The show lasts two hours without interruption.
Yes, ‘Esencia’ is somewhat based on my story, this year marks 40 years of my career, traveling the world. Never better said, and my return to the United States, my return to America, to the American continent, with a lot of desire, with a lot of excitement. After these pandemic years when we couldn’t dance and release our album, I now return with a lot of desire. I return to America with great enthusiasm.
I know that people really like my way of seeing dance and music, my show, because I really put value on quality. I like to give the audience the maximum quality and provide quality in everything, in lights, sounds, musicians, artists, quality in everything.
“We are cultures; we are music and dance; it’s about educating people through the art of culture.” - Joaquín Cortés -
I have had a very long career, thank God. Being on stage, I get emotional because it’s my life; it’s what I’ve been doing all my life, and it’s the center of my life. Regardless of having my children, my family, everyone, when I’m on stage, I feel like I’m in my room, like when a child enters his room, enters his imaginary world, enters that world that suddenly says ‘I am here, in my room, in my room, I can be me, I can bare my soul, I can feel free, I can play’.
In that sense, when I’m on stage in front of an audience, I feel like that, as if I were in my room... I feel happy and eager to return to the stage, to become one with the audience, to communicate with them, to embark on this journey, as I like to say, and to feel these emotions, this world, this passion... because, in the end, the world is our space, full of passions, fire, I don’t know... it is a very sacrificed life, as they say; but it is not sacrificed for me, I feel at ease, I feel comfortable when I am there.
We are cultures; we are music and dance; it’s about educating people through the art of culture. In short, it’s a wonderful world that I don’t know how long I will continue to be a part of, but I still have it in me, I’m like a child who is given a new toy and suddenly wants to play. I feel happy.
“I have brought culture to the world through my dance, through music. So, we want the new generations to suddenly discover art as well, the world of art is wonderful”. - Joaquín Cortés –
We have to make sure that the new generations continue to love music, continue to love dance, especially dance because they love music but dance, and especially flamenco, which is our Gypsy culture, is already a universal culture. Flamenco is no longer just for Gypsies; flamenco is now universal because people all over the world get emotional about it.
What do we want to achieve? What is my role in this world today, after so many years of traveling and being a cultural ambassador for the European Parliament and all? I have brought culture to the world through my dance, through music.
So, we want the new generations to also discover art; the world of art is wonderful. And we have to do, as I say, in every country, the most important thing in a country is education, the foundation of countries is education and culture. So, we bring culture and we want it to continue to be important for that new generation.
“Every day we wake up learning something new. And that is the greatness of life. In other words, we have to keep discovering, we have to keep learning.” - Joaquín Cortés –
I have a process, I don’t know if it’s typical or atypical, but normally when I’m going to create a show, I’m in a cafe. I drink a lot of coffee, so I’m having coffee in a bar and suddenly I say, ‘can you give me a pen?’ Then, I start writing everything on a napkin, I write a sentence, I write down an idea, and suddenly, on that idea that I write on a napkin, I then create a story around that idea, from the moment it was born in a cafe, drinking coffee, and from there I then go to a studio, a set or a warehouse.
Musicians, dancers are chosen and I start to shape the creative process and capture it in what will be the new show, a new spectacle. Then I start the process. Normally, the dancers create choreography over music that is already made ... I don’t do that; I do the process simultaneously. I create the music, which I also create with my musicians, and I create the soundtrack at the same time as the choreography. So, all choreographic movements have more musicality because they are created at the same time, unlike when you create based on pre-existing music.
“Michael Jackson was an amazing dancer. I had the fortune to perform with him in Monte Carlo. He was in love, and fascinated with dance. And when he saw me dance, the first thing he said was that he wanted me to choreograph some flamenco steps for him because he loved my dancing. So, I choreographed several flamenco poses for him, which he later used in a music video.” - Joaquín Cortés –
From a very young age, I was in love with fashion, just like I was with music. I remember when I was 17, I went to perform at the Spoleto Festival in Italy... the great designers discovered me and started becoming fans. Suddenly, Valentino comes along, sees me perform in Rome, at the Teatro Olimpico, and the first thing he does, when I open the dressing room door to greet him, he recites a poem to me. The Italian Valentino. I say, ‘wait’, I close the door again like in a movie scene. And it was Valentino reciting a poem because he had gone crazy watching me dance. He already wanted to dress me up.
Suddenly I go to do a fashion show, a fashion event in Piazza Navona in Rome, where Giorgio Armani was, Domenico and Dolce Gabbana, who are Domenico and Stefano, from Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi was there, Gianni Versace, who is no longer with us, I’m talking about many years ago. And then I came out with my bare torso, in a pair of jeans pants and danced flamenco and closed the gala. In the fashion show, all the top models were there, Mónica Bellucci, the actress, and many others were walking the runway. We’re talking about over 30 years ago, if not a bit more. So, I closed the gala with my dance, and suddenly, everyone saw me dance and everyone wanted to dress me. Everyone was dying to dress Joaquín Cortés; this is quite something, but it’s real.
At that time, I chose Giorgio Armani because I thought that for my wild dance, being elegantly dressed by Armani would be a good fusion. I think I made the right choice because he created a wonderful wardrobe for the entire company, and we even came here to Radio City Music Hall in New York. We went to many countries, and it was a tremendous success, that’s when I started collaborating with great designers.
Apart from Giorgio Armani, Domenico and Stefano, Dolce & Gabbana dressed me. Narciso Rodríguez, Paul Smith, the English designer, Jean Paul Gaultier, who made a marvelous costume for my work ‘Mi Soledad,’ and many designers who wanted to dress me, but I couldn’t wear them all at once; I had to decide.
I am still connected to the world of fashion, and I love it. In fact, I am invited to many fashion shows in Paris, Milan, London, New York. And I will continue to be involved in the world of fashion because I love it, and I believe that a great work, a great choreography, and great musicians must be well-dressed, in line with the quality.
“Suddenly Valentino comes, sees me perform... in Rome, at the Olympic Theater, and the first thing he does when I open the dressing room door to greet me is recite a poem.” - Joaquín Cortés –
My great masterpiece has been my children. I mean, when you say, you have set up eight, ten shows in your life, in fact, one of my shows is the most seen Spanish show in the world and after 30 years it continues to be, which is ‘Pasión Gitana’. But when they ask me what is your work, I always say, obviously, the gift God has given me, which is having these wonderful children.
When Romeo, my first son, was born, I went crazy because I understood many things about my parents. I left my home very young, at the age of 12, to travel the world. I had a very strong relationship with my mother; it was as if the umbilical cord had never been cut. So, when my first child was born, it was like having light in my eyes again, if you understand what I mean. Because when my mother passed away, the light in my eyes went out, I sank, and I went through a very tough time.
It was when Romeo was born that I rediscovered that I had light again, that I saw life differently, it gave me a strong boost. Too bad then the pandemic came and since I was stopped then, I return now again to the stages with great excitement, because I shine again, but above all because God has given me this gift of having these wonderful children.
Many parents are frustrated, saying, ‘Oh, I couldn’t become a doctor, but my child has to become a doctor because I want them to be a doctor.’ Maybe the child wants to be a soccer player, so it doesn’t make sense. I will support them in everything. If they want to dance, they will undoubtedly have the best support in the world because I will know how to guide them, talk to my friends who are great teachers, great educators to teach them.
But if my child wants to be a doctor, I have to support them. I have to give them the opportunity to discover their dreams. Do you want to be a doctor? Well, you will be a doctor, and I will help you. Do you want to be a dancer? You will be a dancer, and I will help you. Do you want to be an athlete? An athlete. I believe it’s the best approach because, look, when I was a child, I was fortunate that when I decided to dance, my parents didn’t say no; on the contrary, they supported me. And that has given me a lot of life.
That would be great! You know why? Because I have been traveling the world for 40 years, not just once, but many times over. I find it funny that Julio Iglesias has turned 80 now, and we have done shows together. They always used to say that Julio Iglesias seemed like the first Spaniard to reach everywhere in the world. And it was true, until I came along. I have a great anecdote...I also send greetings to Julio, because we have done some really good things together. I have arrived in places and countries like Wellington, New Zealand, and they told me, you are the second Spaniard to arrive here.
What do you mean the second Spaniard? Who is the first? Julio Iglesias, they told me. Okay! I would go to the other side of the world; I was in Kazakhstan. Congratulations! they came to welcome me at the airport with flowers, congratulations! you are the second Spaniard ... the second Spaniard? wouldn’t it be? let me guess who is the first to arrive here, Julio Iglesias! (Laughs)
So, I always used to say, “Well, Julio Iglesias is over 20 years older than me, but it’s quite a coincidence that he is the Spaniard who always went everywhere. There is no other. I’m speaking in general about Spaniards because Spanish singers came here to the Latin American and Central American markets, but you wouldn’t see them suddenly in Russia, you wouldn’t see them in Japan, you wouldn’t see them in China. I have always traveled to all these countries while dancing, but the only one who arrived before me was Julio, always. So, I have this thing with Julio; he has beaten me to almost every place. I could never surpass him, and I used to laugh a lot about that.
Executive Editorial Director: Nagidmy Márquez
Production: Alonso Collantes / Pedro Zurita
Fashion Editor: Chiara Primatesta
Photos: Jesus Cordero
Fashion Stylist: Irma Martínez
Makeup/Hair: Jaime Harper
Stylist Assistant: Silvania Riascos
Video: Enrique Flores
Video Editing: Daniel Neira