«Our intention is to place ourselves in the orbit of medium and large format shows that tour internationally»

«Our intention is to place ourselves in the orbit of medium and large format shows that tour internationally»

Cambuyón began sailing in 2012. One of his stops was New York, where he attracted the interest of the public and critics. The New York Times itself was seduced by this dance and percussion show with a Canarian-Catalan stamp. The next port of call is the Mueca Festival, with two performances on the 13th and 14th. Carlos Belda, artistic director of the show together with Jep Meléndez, analyzes in this interview the keys to remaining on the billboard for four years.

– What was the starting point of the Cambuyón show?

– Fusion and exchange, just as the cambuyoneros did. We wanted to start from the idea that travel and, therefore, cultural exchanges have been fundamental in evolution. For this reason, we wanted to mix artistic disciplines (tap, hip-hop, body percussion, voice, musical percussion...) geographical areas, and rhythms.

– Cambuyón is defined as a sound and cultural journey. Where will you take the public that comes to see you in Mueca?

– We propose that you join us on a journey through the evolution of different rhythms that are very present in Western culture. Starting from Africa we will visit Cloogging, originally from the British Isles and when traveling to the USA it became the tap dance we know today. A journey to America that connects us with the Latin of the Caribbean, with jazz, with the appearance of hip-hop and shows us how the mixture of cultures has led us to the current globalization that makes any square in any big city can see similar musical and dance expressions.

– Artists from Catalonia and the Canary Islands come together in Cambuyón. How is this collaboration carried out?

– Born from the meeting of Jep Meléndez, Josefa Suárez and Carlos Belda who, after having performed several shows together, decide to tackle a more ambitious project with a clear international projection. For this, it is decided to have artists who had previously worked with Jep. Hence the idea of making a Canarian-Catalan co-production. The assembly took place in different stages, between El Sauzal and Sabadell. The space L'estruch de Sabadell is, together with the Tenerife Auditorium, co-producer of this adventure.

Will that union materialize again in a new show?

– We have some ideas in the works for a new project but first we have to move further with this one. Our intention is to place ourselves in the orbit of medium and large format shows that tour internationally and in these times it is not easy, so we will continue insisting on what we currently have for some time to come.

– What have been the ingredients for Cambuyón to remain on the billboard since 2012 at a time when companies can barely tour?

– It is an entertainment show with a cultural component of some interest. We have a first class cast and we have no language barriers. Our commitment to internationalization has been decided and that takes a long time. For an unknown company to gain a foothold in the international market in these times is very complicated, so I think that patience is being another of the fundamental ingredients of this journey.

– What did it mean for the company to perform in New York and receive great praise from New York critics?

– First of all, a first-class artistic accolade. Appearing in the New York Times in four columns, with two photos and opening the general summary, is something that very few Spanish companies have achieved and has enormous significance in the world of performing arts. The New VictoryTheater programs a selection of what they consider to be the best happening around the world to give Broadway audiences a broader view of the international stage scene. Just being part of that programming is already a huge prize. Then it helps you a lot to vary the perception that others have of the company. I don't think we would have arrived in Barcelona and Madrid in the same way without first passing through New York. Now what we hope is that the attempts being made to have a strong tour of the United States will also bear fruit.

– Have you achieved something almost unthinkable for a Canarian company: make the leap to the United States. However, most of the companies from the islands complain about the difficulties that exist in being able to operate on the peninsula. What do you think the solution should be?

– Attempting to export without having a solid internal sector is an error. The big problem in the Canary Islands is the lack of consolidation of a professional sector that must have stable bases for its daily operation and therefore for its artistic and productive growth. The vaunted idea that we have plenty of talent and we have to export it is enormously myopic. If we have so much talent, why aren't we capable of developing it in good conditions at home? Why don't we offer it to tourism as a quality product that sets us apart? Much needs to be improved in the cultural reality of the archipelago so that exports occur naturally and not forced by a colonial vision of culture (everything from abroad is better than here), from which it follows that if you like abroad you will have recognition at home. It is also necessary to consolidate transport aid policies, which are clearer and more stable, as have other productive sectors that contribute much less to the Canarian GDP.

– Theatrical productions are proliferating more and more under the umbrella of the off circuit. However, the working conditions of the actors in these alternative theaters are not always ideal. Do you think that this type of alternative theater basically promotes the precariousness of the sector?

– Talking about circuits or alternative venues in the Canary Islands has always made me very funny. Alternatives to what? Without a stable, serious official circuit and without theaters that are more than municipal assembly halls, everything becomes alternative or off. We must not imitate operating structures of completely different realities or we will end up not knowing who we are. The precariousness of the sector is mainly in public theaters. The existence of cafes, theaters and small rooms where young actors can take their first steps and access a different audience from conventional theaters is wonderful and it would be much more so if after that experience there were clear prospects for professional progress.

– After Mueca, what will be the next docking points for Cambuyón?

This 2016 we have Spain in the spotlight. We will try to return to Madrid in the fall and start opening national circuits. We have some loose things in the Canary Islands and we are organizing a powerful tour of Holland and Belgium for 2017.


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