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Why is the Festival de Jerez so successful?

Every year, thousands of people come to Jerez looking for something that’s not available in most other flamenco festivals: that combination of novelty and tradition, of old and new. They also seek that unique way to experience the city’s atmosphere

The Festival de Jerez has already sold 90 per cent of available tickets, so it looks like, in this regard, it will be a total success. Few people believed this festival would be successful, due to its novel format, focusing on baile flamenco and Spanish dance, in a city with a very clear and conservative perspective about this art form, where flamenco is mostly enjoyed in tabancos, peñas and private parties. Well, this is the 24th edition, so next year it will celebrate its quarter-century anniversary.

Every year, thousands of people come to Jerez looking for something that’s not available in most flamenco festivals, that combination of novelty and tradition, of old and new. They also seek that unique way to experience flamenco in private parties where flamenco aficionados share drinks with the artists, after the theaters and other venues have closed for the day. In this sense, the Festival de Jerez is unique, and perhaps that’s part of the secret of its success: offering something that no other national or international festival can.

«Then there is the city’s charm, its flamenco history and, above all, the art of its professionals and how well they treat those who come from all over the work to learn or simply to enjoy the music and relaxed atmosphere of the flamenco gatherings»

I remember that on occasion of it’s first edition I wandered about the San Miguel and Santiago districts with some important artists of that city. They didn’t believe the festival would be a success. It happened the same with the Bienal de Sevilla, where the people of that city objected to that event since its format was unheard off in the city, although it had been based on the Quincena de Flamenco y Música Andaluza,  created before the Bienal, which pioneered the organization of flamenco festivals in theaters. Nowadays, talking with those artists from Jerez — although some have already passed away — they admit they were wrong, and even feel very proud of their “festival of festivals”.

Why has this festival been so successful? It’s not easy to answer this question. Without a doubt — and it’s only fair to say this — it’s been due to the great effort that the Jerez City Council makes each year in putting together this event. It doesn’t have a perfect organization, although it’s close to perfection. Then there is the city’s charm, its flamenco history and, above all, the art of its professionals and how well they treat those who come from all over the work to learn or simply to enjoy the music and relaxed atmosphere of the flamenco gatherings.

This year I’ll spend a few days in Jerez to write about what happens and to give my opinion about some shows, particularly premieres, and I’ll also take the opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere and get to know more about a city I adore.

 

 

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Crítico de flamenco, periodista y escritor. 40 años de investigación flamenca en El Correo de Andalucía. Autor de biografías de la Niña de los Peines, Carbonerillo, Manuel Escacena, Tomás Pavón, Fernando el de Triana, Manuel Gerena, Canario de Álora...

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