The free-verse poetry of Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

Víctor Rodríguez Nuñez’s most ardent wish is that people read despegue, the book that won him the 28th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize. “That is the ultimate dream,” he admitted.

Víctor, who was born in Cuba, but has lived in the US for several decades, says that “when I lived in Cuba I was just a Cuban poet; now I am a Cuban poet specialising in Cuban poetry.” He admits that he had submitted his work for the LOEWE Prize on numerous occasions because it is “the most prestigious Spanish-speaking award in its category; not the one that pays the most, but the one everyone wants to win,” he explains. “The rigour, the jury, and the roster of winners are impressive. It is an honour to be among them.”

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Laughing, he recognises that “each time I finished writing a book I would send it to LOEWE and only when I found out I hadn’t won would I submit it elsewhere.” That is why he is “so proud to have finally won” and is grateful “to all those who have made it difficult for me, because I am a better poet for it. Struggling benefits all artists.”

This is, without a doubt, a career highlight for Rodríguez Nuñez, but he finds it difficult to define the type of writer he is. “One is not always the same poet; we are constantly changing. What is important is to recognise when the change is taking place. It’s a serious problem when one tries to resist change; it is detrimental to one’s work. Identities don’t actually exist. The only thing that exists is change. One’s identity is linked to the Spanish verb “ser”, ‘Being’ with a capital B, and that state is nothing but an illusion. The verb “estar” is more expressive of one’s present ‘state of being’. The distinction between these two verbs, one that doesn’t exist in other languages, is representative of the richness and nuance of Spanish.”

He is, however, very sure about one of the traits of his poetic personality: his independence. “I don’t belong to any group and I don’t know anybody. I am neither an official nor a dissident Cuban writer. I am an independent writer,” he explains, “and one pays dearly for that. I have been excluded from anthologies and other publications….I don’t have an editor. I have been able to publish my work by submitting entries to different contests and, in the long run, that has given me a lot of confidence because I have won important prizes without knowing anyone.” He explains that “what I write has been well received for its own merit” and “that gives me immense satisfaction,” so “I am very grateful to Spain for the recognition I have received here because it has been an outlet for me.” Without hesitating, he adds, “I have found myself as a poet.”

With regards to the media coverage the Prize has received, he explains, “the announcement was published in all the most important newspapers in Latin America.” So he warns with humour: “if last year there were eight hundred entries, this year there might be a thousand!” And as to his presence as a jury member in next year’s edition, he says, “I will have to do my part to find the winner among that jungle of poems!”

Photo caption: Víctor Rodríguez Núñez in the Prize Ceremony of the 28th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Prize  © Uxío de Vila for the LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2016.

 

The CND Returns to Barcelona

With the support of the LOEWE Foundation, the 2015-2016 dance season of Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu closed with “Homenaje a Granados”, the latest work by the Compañía Nacional de Danza (CND) under the direction of José Carlos Martínez. The presence of the dance company in the city last week also brought about a most unique event: the performance of I want in LOEWE’s Paseo de Gracia store, which gave the general public the chance to experience and admire the piece and the dancers in a most intimate of settings, just a few centimetres from the performers.

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At the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the company paid homage to composer Enrique Granados in celebration of the 100th anniversary of his death. Accompanied by pianist Rosa Torres-Pardo, the CND staged a world premiere choreographed by Dimo Kirilov, a former dancer of the company. Anhelos y tormentos accompanies the public on a romantic journey and quest which concludes with a powerful climax that then brings about the inclusion of three other pieces, some of which the CND performs for the first time ever.

Raymonda Divertimento (foto Jesús Vallinas)

William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of the Exactitude, set to music by Schubert, together with the ballet In the Night, by Jerome Robbins, set to Chopin’s noctures –played live by pianist Carlos Faxas- were chosen by José Carlos Martínez as part of his vision to widen the CND’s repertoire. A Martínez version of Glazunov’s Raymonda, based on Pepita’s and Nureyev’s choreography and staging, was the last performance of the evening, enveloping all the musical pieces into a capsule of the time in history when Enrique Granados lived.

In addition, with their appearance at the LOEWE store, the CND dancers once again showed off their unorthodox capabilities, playing with the different spaces the location offers while mixing with the guests who stood in awe and admiration. As has happened on other occasions, no one was left feeling indifferent.

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Photo Captions: I want. Agnes López-Río, Mar Aguiló and Elisabet Biosca © Poncho Paradela for the LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2016. Raymonda by the CND © Jesús Vallinas for the CND, 2015. I want. Mattia Russo, Isaac Montllor and Mar Aguiló © Poncho Paradela for the LOEWE FOUNDATION, 2016.

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Three emotion-filled moments in the award ceremony of the 28th LOEWE Poetry Prize

The protagonist of the first memorable moment of the LOEWE Foundation International Poetry Prize award ceremony in its 28th edition, held this past Thursday in Madrid’s Hotel Palace, was Enrique Loewe Knappe, the firm’s patriarch, who died last week. It was his son Enrique, the person behind the creation of the award, who remembered him.
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Poet Chantal Maillard was responsible for the second one. Maillard, who generally shies away from public literary ceremonies and celebrations, agreed to present the work by Carla Badillo Coronado (Quito, 1985), winner of the Young Poets Prize, after finding that the words in El color de la granada were “devoid of gimmicks”. She believes that the Ecuadorian writer is “someone who knows that poems are not made, but rather found. Someone who remembers that a poem is a vehicle for humility”. She warned against prizes, which she feels can be double edged swords: distracting and illuminating in equal measure. She encouraged Carla to keep her focus, avoid distractions and “lie low when the bright lights come calling”. When Carla spoke, she talked about poetry as a personal trench from where she may “face life, face death and face herself”.

The third emotional moment (and humorous as well) took place when Cuban writer Abilio Estévez took the podium to introduce his friend Víctor Rodríguez Núñez (Havana, 1955), winner of this year’s LOEWE Prize. They both worked for cultural magazine El caimán barbudo during the 1980’s, the winner as the director and he, as a distracted copy editor. Estévez gave an overview of his friend’s book remembering that “up in the clouds no one is a foreigner” and that even after exile’s longest night “morning inevitably dawns”. When Rodríguez Núñez spoke, he quoted José Martí to highlight that “poetry is more important than agriculture” and closed by reading the last poem in despegue, the winning book: “mas este espacio tiene su compás / ni la muerte se apura llega tarde / por un sitio decente / a sacudir el ser con un trapito”.

Photo captions: Enrique Loewe, Carla Badillo Coronado, Víctor Rodríguez Núñez and Sheila Loewe © Uxío da Vila.

Sasha Waltz & Guests in Madrid’s Teatro Real

From 9th to 12th March, and with the support of the LOEWE FOUNDATION, Madrid’s Teatro Real will be staging three of the most recent works by powerful and emotional German Choreographer Sasha Waltz: SacreScène d’Amour and L’Après Midi d’un Faune.

Sasha Waltz & Guests L'Apres-midi d'un Faune

Sasha Waltz & Guests was founded in the 1990’s in response to Waltz’s spiritual curiosity and desire to interact more with a number of different artistic disciplines that she frequently included in her productions. Today, the company is made up of an international ensemble of rotating guest partners who create and perform pieces inspired by German neo-expressionism, leaving no member of the public feeling indifferent.

Sasha Waltz - Consagración (foto Bernd Uhlig)

The Madrid programme includes a version of Le Sacre du Printemps which Waltz created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the premier of Igor Stravinsky’s original masterpiece. Without completely losing sight of the focus with which the original ballet was conceived, the organic dance and group work result in a production with a primitive edge to it that perfectly conveys Waltz’s language. The programme’s triple bill is completed and balanced out by the romantic subtlety of Scène d’Amour and L’après Midi d’un Faune, whose original scores were written by two like-minded composers –Berlioz and Debussy respectively– who had much in common with Stravinsky. Scène d’Amour, an excerpt from Waltz’s full-length Romeo & Juliet, is shown as an independent piece featuring a duet, whilst L’après Midi d’un Faune portrays a sensual ambience inspired by the homonymous symphonic poem.

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For these performances, Madrid’s Teatro Real Resident Orchestra –The Symphonic Orchestra of Madrid– directed by Titus Engel, will accompany a dance company that holds a prominent position in Europe’s creative scene. This is an excellent opportunity to enjoy contemporary dance of the highest quality, one that looks to the past without losing the freshness of the present.

Additional information at 915 060 660 (www.teatro-real.com)

Photo Captions: L’après Midi d’un Faune and Sacre © Bernd Uhlig.

Encuentro con Enrique Loewe y Pedro Mansilla sobre Vicente Vela

Hasta mediados de abril, en la tienda LOEWE de la calle Serrano de Madrid, la muestra “Vicente Vela en LOEWE” expone el importante legado que el diseñador dejó a la marca.

“Este no es un acto cualquiera”, advirtió Enrique Loewe, “está lleno de emoción, nostalgia y reconocimiento hacia una persona que ha sido tan importante para LOEWE como para mi historia personal”. Ese fue el ambiente que se respiró en la misma tienda cuando Enrique Loewe -presidente de honor de la FUNDACIÓN LOEWE- fue presentado por su hija Sheila, actual directora de la Fundación, y el nombre de Vicente Vela volvió a resonar en la sala.

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El sociólogo, periodista y crítico de moda Pedro Mansilla, que participaba como interlocutor de Enrique Loewe en este Encuentro LOEWE, hizo un generosísimo hincapié en que su intención serviría de hilo conductor de las vivencias de quien fundó hace 28 años la FUNDACIÓN LOEWE y compartió tantos años con el propio Vela; Mansilla brindó las mejores oportunidades con sus preguntas a Enrique Loewe para que pudiera compartir con el público anécdotas y recuerdos.

Llegado de la mano del arquitecto Javier Carvajal, Vela supo desgajar su propia vida en dos mitades y delegó su faceta como pintor para entregarse a LOEWE con la vehemencia y la generosidad que le imprimía su fuerte carácter. “A Vicente Vela no se le podía dejar ‘no opinar’ sobre algo”, advirtió divertido el propio Enrique Loewe, mientras recordaba los viajes que hicieron juntos por España, con los que Vela logró dotar de una “conciencia histórica, no sólo estética” a la firma española. Vela implantó en la casa un vínculo irrompible entre los artesanos y el diseñador, que se involucraron, según Loewe, “para explicar, mostrar y resolver” en el propio taller las ideas del equipo creativo. Y ese espíritu empapó todos los ámbitos de la firma, afianzando el profundo carácter que se iba forjando. Vicente Vela nos dejó, entre otros logros, el anagrama que hoy es reconocido internacionalmente como uno de los mejores símbolos corporativos que existen.

NacimientoOrganicoVela1973Con Vicente Vela, explicó Enrique Loewe, se empezó a considerar que “los objetos tenían que tener un alma y mantener un diálogo con los consumidores”. Y añadió: “El lujo de hoy tiene que ver con un anhelo profundo de parar el tiempo y hacerse preguntas, con contar con objetos compañeros que tengan sentido a tu lado”.

Mucho más allá de su impronta dejada en LOEWE, el público pudo apreciar la influencia de Vicente Vela en aquellos que lo rodearon: “Vicente nos enseñó a no contentarnos, a ser curiosos, a enamorarnos de la cultura española. Fue un líder en crear en nosotros otros personajes, otras actitudes, otra forma de mirar las cosas”.

Fotografías: Artesanía y lujo, Encuentro LOEWE con Enrique Loewe y Pedro Mansilla © Luis Sánchez de Pedro para FUNDACIÓN LOEWE. Nacimiento orgánico, óleo sobre lienzo de Vicente Vela, 1973.

Vicente Vela at LOEWE

For more than forty years, designer Vicente Vela gave his all to LOEWE’s creative project working from his office inside the building that housed the firm’s Madrid headquarters on Serrano Street. On the ground floor of that same building, where LOEWE’s emblematic flagship store is still located today, much of his legacy to the fashion house is currently on exhibit.

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Following the modernisation that LOEWE went through under the leadership of architect Javier Carvajal – who was the mastermind behind the Serrano flagship renovation in 1958, establishing what would become LOEWE’s modern stamp of “Spanishness” – Vicente Vela took that new spirit of transformation to all corners of the house. Breathing Spanish culture from his pores – he was a prominent oil on canvas painter – Vela allowed the Prado Museum, the aesthetics of hunting, and modernist Barcelona to imbue the designs of handbags, scarves, ties, decorative pieces and travel products. The colour palette of great Spanish painters came to life, reaching the streets for the first time ever and blending into a society finally ready for change and willing to be dazzled.

LOEWEaireVela is remembered most especially for creating the beautiful emblem that gave LOEWE its identity. Stamped on the house’s leather products, the famous four Ls, with their double and magical symmetry, are recognised today the world over. However, we must also remember his years of collaborative work with the great designers who worked at LOEWE during his tenure at the fashion house: Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Dario Rossi, Laura Biagiotti, Roger Vivier, Andrea Pfister and Renzo Zengiaro.  

A year after his death, this exhibit showcases Vicente Vela’s universe, including his contributions to LOEWE, as well as his boundless and respectful creativity which flowed freely and unstoppable and gave the Spanish Brand its distinctive identity.

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Vicente Vela at LOEWE (1958-1998). Loewe, at 26 Serrano Street. Madrid. Until 1st April 2016. [Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sundays and Holidays: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Photographs: LOEWE anagram (1970-2014), “Velázquez Collection” Bag (1991) and “Aire LOEWE” (1985) © LOEWE, 2016.

Dancing on pointe

LaDanzaEnPuntasCNDPortadaNiñosThe support of the LOEWE FOUNDATION to the educational project of the Compañía Nacional de Danza (Spain´s National Dance Company), has just crystallised in the publication of a new Educational Book, La danza en puntas (dancing on pointe). The previous books were dedicated to the choreographer George Balanchine and to the ballet Carmen, choreographed by Johan Inger last season for the CND.

Dancing on pointe is one of the most curious chapters in the History of Dance: How, when and why dancers began to rise on their toes? What is hiding inside these shoes? Is it difficult to dance on pointe?

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Elna Matamoros, Ballet Master of the CND and Advisor to the LOEWE FOUNDATION, is the author of these texts that, as in the previous editions, are published in two different versions: one for adult readers and one for children and youngsters. She has also been commissioned to gather a collection of images to illustrate and explain not only the origin of dancing on pointe, but also the manufacturing process of these shoes and the little secrets that every dancer keeps for herself.

MaríaMuñozCNDThe dancers of the CND are seen in this book as another link in the evolution of dance. Pointe shoes were born centuries ago and today this magical instrument makes them capable of defeating gravity and enjoying the advantages of using this tool that creates fantasy. Among other curiosities, in the book, the Spanish dancer Lucía Lacarra tells us her tips for caring her pointe shoes and how she gets them ready before each performance.

La danza en puntas was first introduced to the public at the LOEWE Talk Choreography of a dream, held at the Gran Vía LOEWE store last November between José Carlos Martinez, Director of CND, and Elna Matamoros, and later distributed during Aprendanza (an educational and performing arts festival organised by CND). These Educational Books are given to all the guests visiting the CND during rehearsals. They can also be downloaded in pdf format from the website of the Company or by clicking on the following links [only in Spanish].

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Photographs: La danza en puntas, cover: design by Anabel Poveda. Natalia Muñoz in In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2015. María Muñoz’s sewing box and herself on pointe © Ángel Martínez Sánchez for CND, 2015. Kayoko Everhart and Moisés Martín Cintas in In The Night © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2015.

The CND shines with Don Quixote

The premiere of the ballet Don Quixote by the Compañía Nacional de Danza and its Artistic Director, José Carlos Martínez, has become the most awaited dance event. Last time this company performed a full-length ballet it was over twenty years ago. This version of Don Quixote by Martínez has become an absolute recognition of his artistic project. He has been very respectful towards tradition, emphasising the Spanish roots of the piece. The anniversary of the publication of the second part of the novel Don Quixote by Cervantes and the centenary of his death, makes 2016 the perfect year for the CND to present this ballet and to tour it internationally.

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The CND, sponsored by the LOEWE FOUNDATION, has a full repertoire which explores all dance styles and now includes one of the most famous works in Dance History. Don Quixote first premiered in Moscow in 1869 as a ballet inspired by two chapters of the second part of the novel by Cervantes, in which the original choreographer Marius Petipa left a strong Spanish imprint in all the characters.SehYunKim

José Carlos Martínez has built his choreography after that first work by Petipa and Gorsky’s later revision, as well as after the versions he performed during his brilliant career as a dancer. His priority, however, has been to emphasise the Spanish dances beyond what Petipa himself could do in Russia. Martínez plays with the Spanish folklore and underlines the character of our bailes.  He has invited choreographer Mayte Chico to collaborate in his creation in order to achieve in this Don Quixote an authentic flamenco flavour.

Guest dancers Elisa Badenes, Cristina Casa, Joaquín de Luz and Maria Kochetkova are welcomed these days in the cast playing the lead roles alongside the dancers of the CND: Aitor Arrieta, Esteban Berlanga, Moisés Martín, Haruhi Otani, YaeGee Park and Alessandro Riga.

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The performances of Don Quixote will continue throughout the Holidays at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, until next January 3rd.

More information: 915 245 400, teatrodelazarzuela.mcu.es and at the box office of the theatre.

Photographs: Corps de Ballet, She Yun Kim with Iván Sánchez and Joaquín de Luz with YaeGee Park in Don Quixote © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2015.

Aprendanza 2015

After the success of Aprendanza in 2014, the Compañía Nacional de Danza (CND, Spain´s National Dance Company), directed by José Carlos Martinez, has conducted a second edition of this education and performing arts festival: music, movement, communication and all the aspects that dance involves, come together to participate in the process of training young people.

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Last November, with the support of the LOEWE FOUNDATION, more than two hundred teachers from all over Spain met and exchanged ideas, knowledge, their motivation and difficulties. With the leadership of a team of specialists in education, they found their creative path.

Aprendnaza2015.2The weekend started with an open rehearsal of the CND performing the ballet Don Quixote, which will premiere next week in Madrid. Later the workshops coordinated by Pedro Sarmiento -director of LÓVA and driving force of Aprendanza- included activities to generate movement by using creative tools, body percussion, experiences through observation and plastic art workshops. This year there was a special guest, Monica Milocco, responsible of the educational programme of the Gottemburgh Opera. Some members from the CND also led some of the workshops: José Carlos Martínez himself taught Koreographía, a brainstorming of ideas in order to invent our own choreographic language, Elna Matamoros revealed links between dance and almost all the academic subjects, and Agnès López Río with Elizabeth Biosca led a large movement class that brough all the participants together.

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The showing of the film Five Days to Dance by Wilfried von Popel and Amaya Lubeigt, some free time for meetings and the welcoming facilities of Matadero Madrid, Ballet Nacional de España and the CND itself, were the perfect blend to enjoy a memorable weekend for this group of teachers, who were all eager to integrate dance into their classrooms.

Photographs: Aprendanza 2015 © Sara Navarro, 2015