Canales to be honored at the Festival Al Gurugú
The 19th edition of the Festival Al Gurugú, held in Arahal (Seville province) will honor Antonio Canales, bailaor and choreographer from Triana. That makes me happy. Canales in my hometown, I couldn’t ask for more.
It’s an honor for me having created Al Gurugú, the flamenco festival of Arahal (Seville province). I’m not sure if I’ve told the story already, I don’t think so, but one morning I got a call from Fran Romo at the Culture department of Arahal City Council to schedule an appointment and discuss the project of creating a festival in that town in Seville’s countryside. I had one condition: starting a new type of flamenco summer festival, to be held through several days with one concert per day and having parallel activities such as conferences, exhibits and round tables. Nowadays this is the prevailing format, which is a good thing because the old format was obsolete and worn out, quite frankly. I remember I added another condition: not having bars in the venues, and that how it was done. Many aficionados in town didn’t like this, but eventually they accepted it and I think it was a good idea.
I proposed the creation of an award which would recognize the work of flamenco artists and flamencologists, and I think it was José Manuel Gamboa who named the award “Verde, que te quiero verde“ alluding to a well-known poem by Frederico Garcia Lorca and a clear reference to the so-called verdeo, Andalusia’s olive harvest. This award was bestowed upon renowned flamenco personalities such as Juan Valderrama, Enrique Morente, Manolo Sanlúcar, Félix Grande, Antonio Murciano and José Blas Vega, among many others. All of this, the new format and the awards, helped to make this festival, named in honor of Niña de los Peines — although I’m sometimes labelled a male chauvinist — an important reference in the world of flamenco after just three or four editions.
«I’m proud of this award honoring Antonio Canales in the place where my ancestors, my parents, my siblings and myself were born. Congratulations, maestro»
In order to sideline me from the direction of the festival, at a time when it was at its best and running smoothly, they offered me the award Verde, que te quiero verde, shared with José Manuel Gamboa, but I refused to accept it. It was a very underhanded way to get me out of the way, so I declined the honor. Besides, it would not have been right to accept an award from a festival that I had created and I had directed for years. It was a matter of ethics and dignity. Moreover, I’d never accept this award, in case anyone is considering offering it to me again, even as it’s a statuette of Niña de los Peines, a cantaora I adore without reservation. And who has a monument in that town, and a museum, because of my own initiative and hard work in those early days of the Festival.
This year, in the 19th edition of the festival, Arahal City Council and Peña Flamenca Niña de los Peines will give the award to bailaor and choreographer Antonio Canales. This will happen on June 20th at Arahal Municipal Theater. This makes me happy. Canales in my hometown, I couldn’t ask for more. The place where my ancestors, my parents, my siblings and myself were born. This makes me proud, because I love my hometown well above politics and life’s betrayals. Congratulations, maestro.