Q&A with Chayito Champion, our guest Cantaora for Alma de Mujer 2013
In Alma de Mujer, local and international talent comes together. For this year’s performance, Chayito Champion will delight us with her voice. Born in San Antonio, Chayito is an important and talented local flamenco figure. She began singing at an early age and has built a name for herself nationally and internationally throughout her career.
She has performed in venues such as Repertorio Español, Thalia Theatre, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City. She has toured the world with renowned artists such as the late Jose Greco, Antonio Vargas, Teo Morca, NaNa Lorca, Pilar Rioja, Luis Montero, and Antonio Hidalgo to name a few. Chayito is also a recipient of the H.O.L.A. Award, A.C.E. Latinos Critics Award, and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador’s Award.
We had the opportunity to speak with Chayito Champion about Alma de Mujer:
GCAC: Chayito, this is the fourth year you have participated in Alma de Mujer, so you have a very good insight of what it is about. What are your favorite elements from Alma de Mujer as a flamenco production?
Chayito: Yes, I am so blessed to be part of such a wonderful project and every year I am just excited as the first year. I think Alma de Mujer is a very special production. One of my favorite elements is the collaboration and the interaction that takes place between the Guadalupe Dance Company and other guest artists.
GCAC: What do you think makes Alma de Mujer different from other flamenco productions?
Chayito: Well, first of all, the concept. The production emanates the sincere and pure essence of Mujeres Fuertes (strong women). You can feel the enjoyment and respect of each dancer and musician on stage; it is just beautiful. Last year, my favorite part was the performance of Las Canasteras, where one of the dancers sat on a chair preparing herself for performance while a piece of poetry was read in the background. That was beautiful. It was very different too. I hope to see more of that this year.
GCAC: What do you think of the international aspect that Alma de Mujer provides in the opportunity for collaboration of local and international performers?
Chayito: I believe this artistic exchange is wonderful for young dancers or people from the community who might not be able to travel to other countries due to budget constraints, work, family, etc. The Guadalupe is bringing international artists, in this case from Spain, so the dancers have an awesome opportunity to have Spain brought to them. They can experience first-hand a genuine technique and style. This experience is a wonderful exposure opportunity for them to learn fresh technique and the latest in Flamenco directly from Spain. It is a very gratifying experience for the dancers.
GCAC: How has your experience been working with the Guadalupe Dance Company?
Chayito: My experience has been wonderful! The respect and love I get from everyone at the Guadalupe Dance Company is priceless. They are very hardworking, very professional and they are always ready for rehearsal. I get very excited about working with them because they are from San Antonio, my hometown, and they are pursuing a passion for flamenco that I also have. I also get very excited to see young people who are still keeping the flamenco tradition going. The Guadalupe Dance Company offers that. The Guadalupe does a wonderful job at making very strong dancers.
They are also very good about working together as a team. I don’t see anyone in competition; everybody goes at the same time. No one is trying extra to stand out. This is truly a team effort.
GCAC: Being involved with Alma de Mujer for some years, how has it been to see it grow and develop?
Chayito: I enjoy seeing the young dancers’ ambition to challenge themselves and to get better and grow more every year. Since I started working with Alma de Mujer, the young dancers who are participating from the beginning have progressed greatly in their dance technique and style. Every time I go back, the dancers become stronger. I think it is because they work very hard throughout the year and because they have wonderful international artists to work with them every year.
Actually, the palos, the different rhythms in flamenco, of Alma de Mujer have been evolving throughout the years. They are now using more intricate rhythms than when I first started performing with them. I was using what we call Cante Chico and now I am singing Cante Grande, like Martinete or Solea. It is also awesome to see the caliber of the dancers they are bringing and how it is getting better and better.
I am excited to work with Lidón Patiño, the guest dancer for this year’s Alma de Mujer, because she is a younger artist. Because of that we will learn the new things that are happening in Spain.
GCAC: What is your favorite song in Alma de Mujer? Why?
Chayito: In Alma de Mujer we usually perform a Solea. I think this is my favorite song because it is considered to be the mother of Flamenco rhythms. I find it very inspiring to know that these young artists are dancing to the basic yet sophisticated rhythm of Solea.
Alma de Mujer 2013 will have performances on August 23, 24 and 25. Click here for more information about the event, or on the button below to reserve your seats.