Aida Gomez as a different, evolved, all-woman Carmen

«Only a woman in love can bring out on stage the explosive power of Carmen. Because there is no life without love…» Two years ago, dancer Aida Gomez impressed Athenian audiences as Salome in the Carlos Saura production that was staged at the Herod Atticus Theater in the summer of 2004 as part of the Cultural Olympiad. On Sunday, the famous Spanish dancer and choreographer will return to the same theater with «Carmen,» a production directed by Emilio Sagi and featuring maestro Jose Antonio Rodriguez. The production is brought to Greece by the Elva company. It premiered on March 9 at the 10th International Jerez Festival in Spain and then traveled to Japan and Taiwan. After Athens, it is scheduled to go to Mexico and the USA. Aida Gomez joined the Ballet National de Espana in 1981 and immediately became a leading ballerina. In 1996 she worked with Joaquin Cortes and performed with him in renowned theaters in Europe and the USA. She founded her own company in 1997, the Compania de Danza Espanola, and in 1998 she was appointed artistic director of Spain’s National Ballet. She became Carlos Saura’s muse in 2001 and he gave her the leading part in his film «Iberia» in 2004. She has also been awarded the title «Woman of the Year» by Glamour magazine. Aida Gomez spoke about her return to Greece and her new «Carmen» in an interview with Kathimerini. What does the role of Carmen mean to you? As you know, Carmen is a woman who gets a lot of abuse, although she is dynamic, decisive and demanding as a personality. All these elements are exciting and when coupled with the fact that Carmen defeats death and does what she wants, make her very appealing to everyone, me especially. Will we see a new version of «Carmen»? What are the differences? So far, «Carmen» had always been seen through the eyes of a man. This time, the approach and the whole procedure – for which I am responsible – is from a woman’s perspective. I used my own feelings and experiences and the result came very naturally. I didn’t need to make much effort to understand her thoughts and behavior. Men hurt Carmen. That is something that happens often in life and a woman like me can easily understand Carmen’s philosophy. It is something familiar that a woman understands and feels. What is it that keeps flamenco alive? Flamenco is always a process which evolves. It is the evolution of the Andalusian culture. Flamenco expresses all aspects of life: joy, passion, sadness, love, deep feelings, even death. It is this inner power that enables it to evolve and stay alive. What do you think of the numerous self-titled flamenco groups that have been touring the world the past few years? Flamenco is not folklore. It is a form of art with very firm roots, a tradition, a long history, culture and feelings. It derives from the behavior of an entire nation, blended with elements from other cultures that crossed its path, such as the Arabs, the Jews, the Greeks and others. Flamenco is based on the study of hundreds of years which continues to this day. Lately it has become fashionable, which means that it may soon be out of fashion. Authentic flamenco is not something temporary and should be treated with caution and respect. Does flamenco have a future as an art form? I believe that all serious and real things, traditions, will survive and that everything that is in fashion, that is popular but temporary, will vanish. Flamenco will survive in the future as a very powerful and evolving form of art, despite any influences that attempt to threaten it. You last appeared at the Herod Atticus Theater with Carlos Saura’s «Salome.» How do you feel, performing before the Greek public once more, this time with «Carmen»? I will never forget the «Salome» performances at the Herod Atticus Theater. The theater was full… I was very nervous at first, but the audience’s warm reception encouraged me and the result was sensational. The same happened in Thessaloniki two days later. I hope my new production has the same appeal. I call on all my Greek friends to come to enjoy a different «Carmen,» more sensational, more explosive, but also more immortal. Tickets can be purchased at the Hellenic Festival box office (39 Panepistimiou, tel 210.327.2000) and at Elva (tel 210.672.8079).