Flamenco 27 – Breaking the mold

This week we’re moving back a little to take a look at the careers so far of two artists who have been willing to assume change and new challenges, looking for new paths and byways for Flamenco to explore.
We’re going to have a more detailed look at the work of the great Cantaora Mayte Martín (who we have already seen singing a Vidalita in our post on Cantes de Ida y Vuelta 3) and that of Belén Maya the Bailaora: two brave women who, with an open mind and no little talent, have challenged and pushed the limits of traditional Flamenco.

María Teresa Martín Cadierno was born in Barcelona in 1965 is a composer and Flamenco Cantaora as well as a singer of Boleros. Despite very early success on the Flamenco circuit, she didn’t release her first album Muy Frágil, in which she mixed traditional Flamenco with self penned numbers, until 1994. There was a lot going on in the Spanish music scene in the late seventies and the eighties and it was hard for new Flamenco artists to even get a look in. Here is a recording from the album – a beautiful Alegría called Navega Sola:

She recorded her second album, “Free Boleros”, alongside the legendary jazz pianist Tete Montoliu in 1996. That same year she won the Ciudad de Barcelona Music Award. Here they are with their Flamenco / Jazz reading of the traditional Bolero “Usted”:

In 2000 she released her second Flamenco album, “Querencias”, based on the music used in her first show with the Bailaora Belén Maya with whom she formed a company. Here she is singing “Ten Cuidao” from that album:

In 2003 she got together with the Cuban singer and dancer Omara Portuondo to record her fourth album, Tiempo de Amar, in which she mixed Boleros and self penned numbers, finally recording songs that she had been singing live for years. Here she is in a clip from 1998 singing the Bolero “Procuro Olvidarte” in a fine Bulería version that was included on this album:

Mayte had won the Lámpara Minera in 1987 at the age of only 22 but had to wait until the first decade of this century to start getting the mainstream recognition she so richly deserves. In 2003 she premièred the show Flamenco de Cámara with Belén Maya. A show and tour celebrating her thirty years as professional singer, “Mis 30 Años de Amor al Arte”, was successful throughout 2005 and 2006. Here she is in a much later clip, accompanied by Juan Ramón Caro, singing a Guajira, reminding us of just how well she sings the Flamenco palos and just why she was so deserving of the Lámpara Minera:

In 2007, together with the pianist sisters Katia y Marielle Labèque, she presented her new project which included traditional popular Spanish songs that had been collected by Federico García Lorca, as well as pieces composed by Joaquín Rodrigo, Manuel de Falla, Enrique Granados, Paco de Lucía and Carlos Gardel, all of which had formed part of her repertoire. In 2008 they released a selection on the album De Fuego y Agua:

And here are a couple of examples of the more recent work of this great Cantaora who is never afraid to experiment with Flamenco style and form, exploring new paths within this art form that is both strict and all embracing at the same time.

From 2008 “Por la mar chica del puerto”:

And here, in a concert from October this year, she is singing Lole y Manuel’s Bulería “Un Cuento Para Mi Niño”:

Belén Maya was born in New York in 1966 while her parents the Bailaores Carmen Mora and Mario Maya were on a tour of the United States. She started her training as a child with maestros such as Paco Fernández, María Magdalena, Goyo Montero, Rosa Naranjo, Carmen Cortés and Paco Romero in the Madrid dance studio Amor de Dios.
She has worked extensively with the Cantaora Mayte Martín. Here they are together in a clip from their 2005 show “Mayte Martín & Belén Maya”.

She made her debut at the Madrid Tablao Zambra and went on to perform at the Café de Chinitas and the Corral de La Pacheca. She also spent a period dancing professionally in Seville at a number of Tablaos, working under her father in the Compañía Andaluza de Danza. She has danced with many of the greats as well as performing as Primera Bailaora in both her father’s and Carmen Cortés’ dance companies. Here she is dancing Tangos in a performance in Sofia from 2007:

She continued her training in Italy, Germany and England, studying Classical and Contemporary Dance as well as Hindu Dance, all of which have led to her being an exceptional Bailaora seemingly effortlessly combining tradition and classical forms with modern expressiveness and contemporary aesthetics. It has often been said that when you watch her dance you really have no idea what is going to happen next.
Here is a clip from her experimental work “Bailes Alegres para Personas Tristes” (Happy Dances for Sad People):

And here she is in an excerpt from the show “Tres” performed earlier this year in Nimes:

It is Belen’s silhouette that you can see on the poster for Carlos Saura’s “Flamenco”. As well as performing, Belén teaches dance. She is one of the teachers at the Festival de Jérez. Here, to end, is another clip from one of her performances with Mayte Martín:

One Response to Flamenco 27 – Breaking the mold

  1. Pingback: The Flamenco Series « Casa Maki

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