She says that she fell in love with dancing at the age of three, from the high chair, watching her sister. Yoel Vargas (19 years old), raised in Tarragona, has won the prestigious Desplante award this summer as the best male flamenco dancer at the International Festival of Cante de las Minas de la Unión. He before him won other awards. A dancer with the soul of a choreographer, he lives in Madrid, because his body asked him to, and he is in the company of Manuel Liñán. He maintains ties with Tarragona and Barcelona, where he has trained as a professional. The appointment is in the Cordobés, on the Rambla, in the morning, before the tablao explodes in the afternoon. When he is not on tour, the tablaos are his “laboratory”.
What does the Desplante mean?
It has come thanks to all the people who have contributed their grain of sand during my career and my training. I feel grateful.
A highly desired prize?
When you decide to present yourself, you prepare a lot, you have to believe in yourself, but above all you need a lot of help. I have achieved it thanks to my team: Enrique el Extremeño and Miguel Ortega on cante; Ñoño Santiago on guitar and José Cortés el Indio to the beat. That they did a custom job for me has been brutal.
Does the bailaor always work in a team?
An artist always has many people behind him, from the shoemaker who has put the nails in the boot to the fathers and mothers or the teachers who taught you.
Why do you define yourself as a bailaor and choreographer?
Being a dancer you own your dance, that’s why I consider myself a choreographer. By working in a tablao, on a day-to-day basis, I am constantly creating. A tablao is improvisation, it is the purest way of seeing flamenco. Here I improvise and take new things that come from an idea or a rhythmic and plastic concept. I have many concerns as a creator, I love working with different genres of music.
“Easy” to make a place
“There are a lot of tablaos, which are my laboratory, there is space for everyone”
How would you like to take advantage of your soul as a choreographer?
Now I am happy dancing and creating my little projects. The goal is not to stop dancing and creating. My happiness is being dance and thinking about dancing. I don’t set a goal.
Do you feel part of a new generation of bailaores?
In Spain there is a great quarry. Flamenco evolves and every time the young people come out more prepared, with more technique, and sooner. There are more facilities, in the past learning a dance step cost your life. Now learning is very easy, we can do whatever we want with the internet. But there are also some highly respected elders in flamenco, we must drink from that information to learn more about their wisdom.
Does Tarragona breathe flamenco?
There is a lot of Andalusian culture, with wonderful academies, with a great love of dancing. It forms part of the culture and history, I see a very flamenco Catalonia. Historically, I can tell you about Carmen Amaya or La Chana. Camarón and Morente have worked a lot in Catalonia. I have learned here, in Madrid, Granada or Seville.
He talks a lot about the roots, but he is attracted to the avant-garde. What is his vision of his flamenco?
You look at my Spotify [ríe]. There is everything from Vivaldi to Camarón or Rosalía… they are all there. Flamenco is an art that has drunk many influences. The flamenco artist does not have to be pigeonholed, he has to keep scheming. Camarón, Morente or Paco de Lucía are the first to have mixed. You have to continue drinking from different styles: musical, artistic or cinematographic.
The tablaos, like the Cordobés, what do they mean to you?
It’s improvisation… like jazz. The pattern is the flamenco style, but every day you dance in a different way even if you do the same choreography. Many factors influence.
Is it easy for a bailaor to earn a living?
One day you throw yourself into the trenches and find many wonderful spaces, there are a lot of tablaos in all corners of Spain and many companies. I have felt very easy, there is room for everyone. We live in a time in which all this is being taken care of a lot.
He has already traveled the world with flamenco. How are you?
I have performed in Taiwan with a piece of mine, in Spanish, Lola Flores reciting, and people understood the emotion I wanted to convey. She gives me goosebumps.
Where is it headed?
I see myself dancing, whatever part of the world it is; If they take away my dance, I wouldn’t be happy.
And what do you feel when you dance?
In the tablao you go through all the moods. When I dance I feel tremendous freedom, I am master of my dance, I feel that I am naked, that I open my soul to whoever sees me. I dance for myself, but an imaginary channel is traced with the public, who wants to enjoy. He understands more or less flamenco, he wants to have a good time. And you have to give it to him.