Joaquin Cortes is an exceptionally gifted and spectacular dancer. He is also a man who features in celebrity gossip columns and takes Oscar night by flamenco storm. As the fiery Spanish performer returns to Athens this summer and is scheduled to perform at the Lycabettus Theater tonight and tomorrow, Athenian audiences should brace themselves for two unforgettable appearances by one of our era’s most passionate performers. Gypsy blood Born in Cordoba, Spain, in 1969, Joaquin Cortes’s Gypsy blood led him to Madrid, where at the age of 15, he entered the Spanish National Ballet. Soon, his developing artistic ability was recognized as exceptionally gifted and the dancer became a soloist. Yet a career in the National Ballet seemed confining to Cortes’s talent, and he took off to appear alongside dance greats such as Maya Plisetskaya, Silvie Guillen, Marie-Claude Pietragalia and Julio Bocca, while also acting as a choreographer. In 1992, Cortes founded his own dance company, the Joaquin Cortes Flamenco Ballet. His first show, «Cibayi,» traveled throughout Spain before conquering Japan, France, Italy, Venezuela and the USA. On film In 1995, sought out by Pedro Almodovar, the increasingly popular dancer appeared in the cult Spanish director’s «La Flor de mi Secreto,» while he also collaborated with Carlos Saura in the latter’s «Flamenco.» In the same year, Cortes’s «Pasion Gitana» became the company’s second production – with the participation of Italian designer Giorgio Armani in the costume design department. The show closed the Spoleto Festival – a first for a dance performance. In 1996, multifaceted Cortes ventured into the recording field with his Gypsy Passion Band, featuring his own compositions and himself on percussion. In 1999, Cortes traveled to New York City to broaden his dance horizons. Teaming up with choreographer Debbie Allen (of television’s «Fame» glory), he appeared at the 71st Academy Awards. Following Oscar night, Cortes returned to Spain to take up the role of Hercules in the closing ceremonies of Seville’s World Track and Field Championships. In 2000, he began touring the world once again, this time with «Soul.» At the same time, he took on his first leading acting role in «Gitano,» a film noir directed by Manuel Palacios in which Cortes starred alongside Laeticia Casta. As one success has followed upon the other, Cortes’s fiery personality travels the world bringing flamenco’s passion to world audiences. In Athens, Cortes is presenting «Live,» following performances in Latin America, Russia and the rest of Europe. Joaquin Cortes presents «Live» at the Lycabettus Theater tonight and tomorrow. For ticket information: Ticket House, 42 Panepistimiou, tel 210.360.8366. For more information: www.didimusic.gr.