One night only – internationally-renowned Flamenco artist María Pagés and her company perform Autorretrato (Self-portrait) on March 27, 2013

Dancer-choreographer María Pagés is the most internationally renowned Flamenco artist in the world. Since 1990, when María Pagés Compañía was first founded, Pagés has created a fiercely traditional yet boldly modern Flamenco dance vocabulary. María Pagés Compañía, featuring Pagés, seven dancers, and six musicians (two guitarists, a cellist, a percussionist, and two singers), bring raw emotion and ferocious discipline to the Southam Hall stage at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, 2013.

Autorretrato (Self-portrait) - 2008
Choreography and Direction: María Pagés

María Pagés is a bold, uninhibited innovator, recognized for infusing contemporary movement and music into a highly traditional dance form. She is the embodiment of the electricity of Flamenco –earthy and feisty, yet coolly elegant. Invited in 2007 by Mikhail Baryshnikov to dance at the Baryshnikov Arts Centre in New York, Pagés began the creation of Autorretrato (Self-portrait). Baryshnikov had asked for a personal performance, one that depicted both the dancer and the woman. Pagés discovered they were one and the same, saying, “The truth of the matter is that dance is the only medium that I have found to get to know myself ... that we are one; in short, dancing is what best shows what I am."

Autorretrato is indeed a self-portrait, a touching, poetic, and humorous vision of an extraordinary artist.

Autorretrato is breathtaking, full of joy, pain, and pleasure. It's a fiery, flamboyant evening of dance, a superb example of how this ancient art form still has new life and power. Autorretrato is a personal and intimate production, raw and emotional, performed on a bare stage with simple chic costumes. The few set pieces, a mirror and three hanging frames, are used to terrific effect. Here Flamenco is pared down to its raw essentials –the guitar, the voice, the hand clap, the foot stomp. Flamenco is at its root primarily about the dancer –the guitarist, the singer, and the percussionist all take their cues from the dancer, who controls the shape and direction of the performance like an orchestra conductor.

Born in Seville, Spain, multi-award winning María Pagés is internationally renowned for her personal aesthetic concept of the art of Flamenco. Pagés is a pioneer in the understanding of Flamenco as an Art in evolution, contemporary and alive. She is convinced that artistic interchange favours better understanding between human beings -- and that Flamenco is a clear example of how the union of cultures, races, and religions, can create a common echo. She started her professional career in the Antonio Gades Company. Her works include Burlerias (1996), La Tirana (1998), Flamenco Republic (2001), Ilusiones FM (Ballet Nacional de España, 2002) Canciones, Antes de una Guerra (2004), Sevilla (2006), Autorretrato (2008), Flamenco y Poesía (2008), Dunas (2009, with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui), Mirada (2010), and Soleá (2010, choreographed for Ángel and Carmen Corella). Her most recent creation is Utopía (2011), an ethical and aesthetic reflection on yearning, nonconformity, and the human capacity for dreaming of living in a better future. Her movie collaborations include Carmen (1983), El Amor Brujo (1986), and Flamenco (1995), all directed by Carlos Saura. Pagés has also collaborated with superstar tenor Plácido Domingo. In October 2005, María Pagés Compañía created a special performance for the Ibero-American Summits of Heads of State and Governments in Salamanca, Spain. In 2009, Teatro Real in Madrid included María Pagés Compañía in its dance season, and in 2010, Pagés directed the Inaugural Gala of the Spanish Presidency of the European Union, at Teatro Real.

"If all dance companies were as expert as that of María Pagés, critics would have very little to do. Pagés and her superb group of dancers and musicians displayed artistry and skill at a level seldom achieved, much less witnessed in performance. Pagés was always in full control of her impressive gifts, including an impeccable flamenco technique and the ability to communicate both ferocious erotic appeal and sly wit."
Richard Storm, Sarasota Herald Tribune, October 10, 2009

"The North American audience can raise up a storm when they like a show. And the audience that was at the first performance of María Pagés’s Autorretrato went over the whole repertoire – they stood, stamped their feet, whistled, clapped, shouted ...."
ABC-TV, February 14, 2010

"María Pagés then took over the stage on Monday night in irresistible fashion. The programme identified the event as a “self-portrait” ... Happily, what we saw was an archetypal flamenco show in which The Star (and Pagés is certainly that) unleashes her artistry to musicians, singers and attendant dancers, and to us.…"
Financial Times, February 24, 2010

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Clara Wicke
Marketing and Communications Officer, Dance
National Arts Centre
(613) 947-7000 X379