Carmen, the making of

CarmenJóvenesPortadaCNDCarmen, by Swedish choreographer Johan Inger, is the title chosen by the Compañía Nacional de Danza -José Carlos Martínez, Artistic Director- to publish a new Educational Book. This little publication explains in depth all the details regarding not only this version of the ballet but also those previously choreographed by other artists.

This book, easy to read, will allow audiences to enjoy and appreciate the many details that made this story one of the main works in the repertoire of most ballet companies worldwide.
Like the previous Educational Book published by CND, dedicated to the Russian-American choreographer George Balanchine, this publication is available in two versions; one for adults and another one for youngsters. Elna Matamoros, Ballet Master of the CND and advisor of the LOEWE FOUNDATION, is the author of both the text and the selection of images, which Anabel Poveda later designed.

This book delves into the origins of Carmen as a Spanish myth, starting from the novel written by Prosper Mérimée, through the opera composed by Georges Bizet and then through the multiple versions that have been choreographed. CND had two different versions in its repertoire in the previous decades, and they are also explained in the book.

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The Educational Books of the CND are possible thanks to the support of the LOEWE FOUNDATION and are distributed for free to the people who attend the open rehearsals of the company; moreover, this Carmen book is also available to download in PDF through the website of the CND, and includes an explanatory text about this collection. You can also download Carmen, Educational Book, by clicking on the following links. [Only in Spanish]

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Photographs: Carmen para los más jóvenes, cover. Rehearsals of Carmen with Johan Inger at Compañía Nacional de Danza © Domingo Fernández for CND, 2015.

The voices of Elena Medel and María Gómez Lara

Elena Medel wore black. María Gómez Lara chose a dress full of colours and a big green flower decorated her hair. They both belong to the same generation but their poetic voices are as different as their clothes, perhaps because a full ocean separates these two women. Medel, from Córdoba (Spain), reads her verses with a meticulous voice, full of rhythm, keeping her eyes on the book. Colombian poet Gómez Lara sways on her chair as pouring her strong voice which brings some anxiety to the room and tries to reach the gaze of the audience. Both of them, as different as they may seem, have been awarded with the 26th and 27th LOEWE FOUNDATION International Poetry Award for Young Poets, respectively.

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The LOEWE store at Gran Vía Street, in Madrid, hosted an evening of poetry reading bringing together two different ways of understanding and writing poems. “Poetry as a gaze to the world, not as a literary genre”, explained Medel. Gómez Lara, as soon as she started to read her work, said: “I am very happy that we write so differently and still we can enjoy poetry together”. These two women arose as poets from different referents.

Elena Medel remembered the women who shaped her personality (mother and grandmother) and read some poems she wrote still in her teens -Mi primer bikini- and also, among others, those written after her reflections on death. “My book Tara changed after my grandmother died”, explained Elena as she recited her poems on the multiple faces of love and loss.

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Poets like Emily Dickinson, the many heteronyms of Fernando Pessoa, her many changes of address and other personal experiences came out in the verses of María Gómez Lara. She read an unpublished poem recently inspired by the unpleasant weather of Boston, where she lives now. “I am from the Tropics: cold weather makes me sad”, she said. Years ago, when hurricane Sandy kept her hidden in her bathroom overnight, María wrote a poem titled “Conjuro”, which she also read.

“A poem -said Elena Medel- can be inside a novel, an essay, or a stage play”. Poems go beyond words and reach the readers. For María Gómez Lara, “To know that whatever you write alone has an impact on other people, is very nice”.

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Photographs: Elena Medel and María Gómez Lara with Sheila Loewe © Daniel Mordzinski para FUNDACIÓN LOEWE, 2015.

Tina Modotti, in PHotoEspaña 2015

Committed and wise, artist Tina Modotti (Udine, Italy, 1896 – Mexico City, 1942) had a strong personality that built her life as an exciting story to tell. The character behind her life and her political commitment have, too often, come to hide her exceptional talent as a photographer.

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Now -in its fifth collaboration with PHotoEspaña- the LOEWE FOUNDATION has made possible what will be the first solo exhibition of Modotti’s work in Spain. Curated by María Millan, this showing synthesises a special moment in the history of the twentieth century: the inter-war period that she lived intensely.

NaturalezaMuertaModottiAs a disciple and partner of the American photographer Edward Weston, Modotti was devoted to photograph the many details of diverse laborious atmospheres. Her work borders on anthropology and shows people as being part of a fascinating social reality that she could never ignore. Moreover, the photographs of the first period of her life display some wonderful still-lifes and shadowing studies that she used to transform any daily scene into abstraction.

Among the 50 selected images gathered in this exhibition, those devoted to crafts, its dedication and creative rigor, will gain special prominence. Those values ​​have shaped the identity of LOEWE through the years, and Modotti herself showed special respect to them through her camera.

Tina Modotti, PHotoEspaña 2015. Photographs courtesy Throckmorton Fine Art. LOEWE at 26, Serrano St., Madrid. Throughout August 30th, 2015.  [Monday – Saturday: 10:00 to 20:30h. Sunday and holidays: 11:00 to 20:00h].

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Photographs by Tina Modotti: Roses (1924), Still life (1928-29), Hands resting on a shovel (1926).

John Allen, the emotion of colours

The wise and relaxed conversation between John Allen and journalist Anatxu Zabalbeascoa -leading the LOEWE Talks titled A bag is a landscape- inundated recently the emblematic LOEWE store in Gran Vía, Madrid, and the Galería LOEWE in Barcelona. Using the patterns previously created by British knitter and master weaver John Allen, Jonathan Anderson -LOEWE’s Creative Director- has designed a new collection. Allen’s flat drawings -created to be hung on the walls, as carpets- have developed into accessories. “I couldn’t imagine my designs as three-dimmensional objects”, said Allen. Besides beach towels and totes, Allen’s colours have reached wallets, key-rings or espadrilles. The John Allen Collection, with British landscapes drifting towards abstraction, reveal the understanding between Allen and Anderson. “We trusted each other”, explains Allen. “It was like giving him my baby”.

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Designer, craftsman, weaver… Allen does not care what other people call him. “I see myself as an artist, but that could seem very pretentious. I generate ideas for others”, he insists with remarkable humbleness. Moreover, he gets inspired “from everything” but his main creative source is colour. “Colours make me emotional, it´s about pushing boundaries”, he says. But as an artistic tool, explains Allen, “colour cannot be taught, we cannot learn to enjoy colours”. Allen has taught at the Royal College of Art, whose knitting department he also founded, until his retirement in 1989.

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John Allen is an expert in reinventing himself, and he admits to keep certain “freshness” towards his work, perhaps emphasised by “having been working with younger people for so long”. “People never chase, never move on”, he complains. “I am somebody whose attitude has changed over the years. I am a man of the future”. When Zabalbeascoa asked him how we will perceive this collection in the next years, Allen was lost in thought, as if thinking ahead. Then he smiled and said: “I think it will age quite well”. Among all his works, Falling Leaves is “my favourite design I have ever done”. That’s why he carries his bag everywhere, because -he laughs- everytime somebody stops and says, ‘Oh! Where is that great bag from?’”.

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Photographs: Cornish Harbour beach towel and canvas Falling Leaves duffle, John Allen Collection Spring Summer 2015 © LOEWE, 2015. LOEWE Talks A bag is a landscape with John Allen and Anatxu Zabalbeascoa at Galería LOEWE in Barcelona © Yolanda Muelas for LOEWE, 2015.

Pablo García Baena, poet and friend

GarciaBaenaWhen Spanish poet Pablo García Baena (Córdoba, 1921) resigned after 5 years as Jury of the Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award, the Loewe Foundation and his Honourary President, Enrique Loewe, wished to pay tribute to him. This homage to the poet was intended to thank and lavish him, but also to think over his extraordinary work.

Last Tuesday, the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid hosted this celebration of memories, love and admiration where he met friends, colleagues, readers and scholars who revealed the enormity of García Baena’s legacy. Víctor García de la Concha, Enrique Loewe, José Infante, Guillermo Carnero, Luis Antonio de Villena and Joaquín Pérez Azaústre spoke about the unquestionable excellence of his poems; García Baena was awarded with the Prince of Asturias Award in 1984 and the Premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana in 2008. Moreover, his friends and colleagues highlighted García Baena’s extraordinary humanity, his generosity and integrity.

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The words of Víctor García de la Concha -Director of the Instituto Cervantes and President of the Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award – distilled admiration and repect towards García Baena; he rememberd that the poet always provided “the most serene and erudite doctrine” during the deliberation of the Jury, where he was always “the very last one to speak”. The poet José Infante had said before that “the best hommage for a poet is to read his poems”, and so it was. Pablo García Baena, again the last person to raise his voice that evening, read his unpublished poem titled “Las rosas” which will be included in his next book, to be published by Editorial Visor.

That morning, Pablo García Baena had deposited his legacy in La Caja de las Letras housed at the main building of the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid. The contents, that García Baena declined to reveal, include a message for his grandnephews and great-grandnephews: words, the memories of the past and the complicity with the future well preserved inside a Loewe box.

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Photographs: Pablo García Baena. Guest speakers: Joaquín Pérez-Azaústre, Luis Antonio de Villena, Guillermo Carnero and José Infante. La Caja de las Letras at Instituto Cervantes: Guillermo Carnero, José Infante, Joaquín Pérez-Azaústre, Luis Antonio de Villena, Pablo García Baena, Sheila Loewe, Enrique Loewe, Víctor García de la Concha and Carla Fernández-Shaw © Juanjo del Río – Instituto Cervantes, 2015.

María Pagés is Carmen

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For years, María Pagés resisted to recreate Carmen, the archetype of the Spanish woman. Now, after a long way through poetry and life, this sevillian dancer decided to reveal the femininity of freedom using flamenco dance as her creative tool.

Mar°a PagÇs y bolso Flamenco 1 (foto Javier Mor†n)With the support of the Loewe Foundation, María Pagés Company shows the most contemporary side of the Spanish culture, envolving different arts and linking creators from around the world with the universality of flamenco. As a symbol of this appropriate connection of cultures, the new piece I, Carmen has just had a wonderful success in Japan.

Sensual and daring, the choreography I, Carmen presented by María Pagés Company allows women to tell a story that creates spaces and brings cultures together through an open and contemporary dance; thus, the audience gets easily connected to I, Carmen.

The story of Carmen is presented from a female perspective and shows all the shades of feminity: from fragility to sensuality, from the outburst of the initiative to the tenderness of motherhood.

Carmen, a character who had become almost a cliché created to explain and justify male passions, now develops as a claim to life and freedom.

 

  Photographs: I, Carmen by María Pagés Compañía © David Ruano, 2014. María Pagés with the Flamenco bag in I, Carmen © Javier Morán, 2014.

Happy International Dance Day

NoverreByPerronneauLouvreIn 1982, trying to expand the visibility of dance worldwide and to find the appropriate way to integrate it fully in our society, the International Dance Council -founded within UNESCO- established the 29th of April as the International Dance Day. This celebration is open to all styles and fields as dancers are encouraged to organise activities around the world so dance will be performed in every corner of the globe, reaching audiences that otherwise could never enjoy it.

Each year, Dr. Alkis Raftis, President of the CID, writes a message which is distributed to more than 100,000 professionals in over 200 countries. The International Theatre Institute also requests another text to some prestigious dancer or choreographer; these two open-minded messages, together, offer a wide spectrum towards the internationalisation of dance. In 2015, the Spanish dancer and choreographer Israel Galván has raised his voice, and his message speaks off in the eclecticism of his dancing and his ideas. Why would we celebrate dance on April 29th? Because on this day, in 1727, Jean-Georges Noverre -the great revolutionary of dance- was born.

LettresNoverre1760During the 18th Century, dance was essential in the French court and aristocrats had to learn complicated steps; Ballet Masters, devoted themselves to their art, were trying to surprise and entertain the audience while remaining faithful to the rules of decorum and good taste of the Court. But during that period theater still carried certain encumbrances, partly inherited from the Greek Theatre: crinolines and corsets -in style those days- were hidding and blocking the movement of the dancers, and anachronistic costumes showed mythological characters on stage, dressed as contemporary courtiers.

Jean-Georges Noverre rose up to what he considered an absolute nonsense and opposite to the prevailing stage aesthetic. He demanded that the period and character of each dancer on stage should be respected, banning masks that could cover the faces of the performers; he wished dancers to have more freedom of movement… so the audience could see their evolutions on stage. Despite initial resistance and thanks to the support of Marie Antoinette, Noverre changed the course of dance forever. His Letters on Dancing and Ballets, published in 1760, is still considered as a reference book for both dancers or historians.

Happy Birthday, Master Noverre

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Photographs: Portrait of Jean-Georges Noverre by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, 1764. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Cover from the first edition of Lettres sur la danse et sur les ballets, 1760. William Forsythe’s Artifact, danced by Compañía Nacional de Danza © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2012.

María Gómez Lara: poetry playing

Could anyone imagine a better way to celebrate the International Book Day than having a conversation with a poet? María Gómez Lara, whose book Contratono won the 27th Loewe Foundation International Poetry Award for Young Poets shows a big hope and on writing. “I think I cannot realise yet what it means”, says María.

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This young Colombian had just finished her book and had started to look for an appropriate publisher when she heard about the Loewe Award. “I had read about it, but I could not remember that a Young Poets Award category even existed; when I found out, I thought it was just a signal: I had to try.” Her previous book was published three years earlier and she had been working on Contratono for two years, so the young poet felt that “even if I wished to keep working on it, the poetic voice was already there. After organizing the poems over and over, I felt that I had finally found the last piece of the puzzle”.

MGLlecturaContratonoMaría knew very well Elena Medel’s writings, the young poet awarded the previous year, and she admired her work. “I was very interested in her poems and I understood the poetic quality of the young winners of the previous years. That was one of the incentives to participate and I really enjoyed meeting her in person”. Among the books previously awarded, she remembers Los desengaños, by Antonio Lucas: “It is very well written; one can see from afar his poetic craft. I was lucky enough to have him presenting me in the Loewe ceremony”, she says; and Playstation, written by Cristina Peri Rossi: “Only when I was searching about the Loewe Award I found out that her book had won before, but I already had it in my library, among her other books: her poetry touches me”. María Gómez Lara admires the work of Óscar Hahn, the poet awarded together with her. She says it was “a very happy coincidence that we were both honoured the same year”.

She knew and admired all the members of the Jury. “It was just incredible to have the opportunity to have such a prestigious Jury reading my book. By chance, I was carrying one of the books by Ida Vitale in my bag during that Summer I was going to send my manuscript to the Loewe Award. Also by chance, she was a member of the Jury that same year”.

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The young poet hopes to “survive under the academic work that my PhD involves” as she is completing a degree in Harvard University, but she is also thinking about her next new book. María started to work on it while she was still writing Contratono. “I realised that some of my poems belonged to a different universe; I was already writing differently”. Gómez Lara has always shared her life with poetry. “Even before I could write, when I could merely play with words, I liked to repeat little verses making rythms; it was like playing. And poetry became the most serious thing for me. I mean, still a game. The most serious things about life are also sort of a game. Then, I kept on finding in poetry a place to hide, a home, a different logic, a new language; I found this music that moved me, this door towards so many worlds that nuanced the world.”

Photographs: María Gómez Lara © Daniel Mordzinski, 2015. With Antonio Lucas and her book Contratono © Eugenio Da Vila for Fundación Loewe, 2015.

Carmen

The Compañía Nacional de Danza, directed by José Carlos Martínez, brings Carmen back on stage. This emblematic title, breaks completely this time with the traditional point of view of the story, as coming to life in a new version choreographed by Johan Inger.

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These days, the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid hosts the CND, sponsored by the Loewe Foundation. It is a contemporary and courageous piece, which leaves Carmen on an equal plane; Johan Inger has created a new version that modifies the romantic image of the well-known Spanish character and sets the story in a social context that has to do with ourselves, with our present reality.

CarmenSombrasVallinasJohan Inger is an internationally renowned choreographer emerged from the Royal Swedish Ballet and the Nederlands Dans Theater, and former Director of the Cullberg Ballet; he has had the courage to face -precisely in Spain- a purely Spanish character, reconsidering the social and gender stereotypes of Carmen over the centuries. In collaboration with the actor and playwright Gregor Acuña-Pohl, Inger has been investigating fully the work of Prosper Merimée and has moved away from Bizet’s opera. Bizet’s work, with its brilliant score and scenes from the Spanish tradition, left a scar on several generations of people because of its romantic charm and manners; but perhaps alienated the authenticity of the original characters: Carmen and José.

From the original novel, dated in 1847, Inger has created a work that requires us to understand José’s crime as an attack on Carmen’s freedom, and shows a clear case of gender violence; it is an unjustifiable and morally reprehensible crime. A character especially created for the occasion -a child- accompanies the viewer throughout the play, witnessing everything from the stage. His reactions, emulating those role models playing before him, show our responsibility towards situations involving domestic violence. The jealousy and the violence of José -in past centuries explained by the behaviour of Carmen, the protagonist- are now preventable and reprehensible nonsense acts.

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With costumes designed by David Delfín, scenery by Curt Allen Wilmer, lighting by Tom Visser and original music composed by Marc Alvarez -completing Rodion Shchedrin’s original score -Carmen Suite, for strings and percussion- this Carmen seems destined to make the current audience discover the multiple perspectives that an emblematic story can always offer.

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

Photographs: Carmen © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2015.

Óscar Hahn, poet

“When I heard Sheila Loewe’s voice on the phone -she was in Spain and I was in Chile- congratulating me for the award, I was silent and quite surprised.”

Thus Óscar Hahn received the news that his book, Los espejos comunicantes, had won the XXVII International Loewe Foundation Poetry Award. The jury’s verdict was announced last November and the award ceremony and official presentation of the book was in March.

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The Chilean writer has a long career in the fields of poetry, essays, and criticism; Mr. Hahn holds a PhD from the University of Maryland (USA) and had taught Latin American Literature at the University of Iowa (USA) for more than 30 years, where he is now Professor Emeritus. His work has been publicly praised from both readers and institutions. Among others, he has received the National Literature Award of Chile and the Pablo Neruda Latin American Poetry Award; in contrast, his book of poems entitled Mal de Amor (1981) was banned from distribution by the military dictatorship in Chile. He is, what they call, a poet.

Mr. Hahn sent the manuscript to Spain last June. That is the reason, he explains, that five months later it was “no longer on my mind”; he was “not expecting” a notification at that point. Therefore, he was very surprised when he received a telephone call from the Loewe Foundation. An award, says the poet, that is “highly valued even in non-literary circles and is internationally regarded”.


HahnFLoeweIt seems amazing, somehow, that a poet like him, with a long and venerable career behind him, would be competing. The writer says that, “two factors came together”. On one hand, he had “just finished the book and therefore it was unpublished” and, on the other hand, he says: “I had just found, in that moment while on the internet, the announcement of the Loewe Award for unpublished books of poems. What a coincidence, huh?”. A happy conjuction that brought together his book Los espejos comunicantes with a Jury whose members he knew “mainly through their work”. The fact of winning an award like this one, says the poet, is that “it always helps readers pay attention not only to the winning book, but also to the other books published by that poet. This is happening to me right now, as I have noticed in my visits to various Spanish universities.”

Óscar Hahn saves warm-hearted thoughts for María Gómez Lara, winner of the XXVII Loewe Poetry Award for Young Creation: “Mary is a simple, sensitive, generous young person, without any affectation; full of girlish charm. And her poems are like her: fine, without verbal fanfare, but very deep”.

The Loewe Foundation Poetry Award goes, for the first time, to two Latin American poets. “The problem is that during the previous twenty-six years, only three among all of the winners were Latin Americans,” says Hahn. For that reason, “for a long time in America we thought that it was a Spanish prize for Spanish poets. This time two Latin American writers won, and it was disseminated worldwide.” The bonds have been increased more than ever and “Latin Americans know now that they can compete.”

Photographs: Óscar Hahn, portrait @ Daniel Mordzinsky. XXVII Loewe Foundation Poetry Award © Uxío da Vila for the Loewe Foundation, 2015.