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Interview with Isamay Benavente, the director Jerez Festival,

An interview with Isamay Benavente, the director Jerez Festival, a woman in love with flamenco. Meet here at this post.

interview-with-isamay-benavente-the-director-jerez-festival

Isamay Benavente, takes the helm for another year of the Festival that turns the eyes of flamenco around the world towards the city of Jerez. A festival of reference for other festivals all over the world, there is no doubt that what is premiered in Jerez will have an international reputation. And in 2022 it is presented with a line-up of great quality.

A.F.- The presentation of the 26th edition was an emotionally charged event, are you looking forward to meeting "all" the public again?

Yes, it was an exciting presentation because we are all eager to get back to normality, for the Festival to once again become a meeting place for artists and fans, for the public who love flamenco and who come from all over the world to meet in Jerez during the Festival.

In February there are two cities in Andalusia whose streets are full of people on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. These are Cádiz, thanks to the carnival, and Jerez, thanks to the Festival. Groups of fans from all over the world plan their holidays in February to go to the Jerez Festival.

A.F.- Is the Jerez Festival an oasis for flamencos? How do you get so many fans from all over the world?

Well, we are about to begin the XXVl edition and I think that these followers have been achieved by always offering the best of the annual production of flamenco and Spanish dance and a serious and responsible management for all our visitors. It is also very significant the marvellous moment that flamenco creation is living nowadays.

A.F.- Is flamenco as well known as we think it is, and where do you think flamenco is today?

Flamenco has a loyal audience. Once someone knows flamenco, it is very difficult for them to lose their passion for this rich and complex art form, but it is still a minority art form in a global world. We still have many challenges ahead of us to broaden international audiences.

A.F.- What is the most difficult thing about directing this great Festival where small venues coexist with the Teatro Villamarta, master classes, promising artists with renowned artists...?

Precisely achieving a balance between the biggest and the smallest proposals, the most consolidated artists and those who are just starting out, and between the most commercial proposals and those that are not. In short, to put together a Festival that responds to what the public expects but that also works for the artistic sector and makes sense.

A.F.- It seems that this year you have opted for a less contemporary and more pure flamenco line, is that so?

There are great artists in the programme who represent the most contemporary flamenco, without going too far Rocío Molina with her third part of the trilogy on the guitar and with her recent award at the Venice Biennale will be part of this edition.

However, we are always looking for a balance, and this year there is an intention not to leave behind the dance of the roots, the tradition. It is very important that we all move forward: tradition and avant-garde.

A.F.- If you didn't have a budget limit, where would you like to get to with this Festival? What would the Flamenco Festival of your dreams be like?

The current Festival is very close to the Festival of my dreams, sixteen days with incredible proposals, very hard work, very diverse artists who offer us shows of impressive creativity.

If I had more budget, I would like to make progress with the dissemination to broaden the audiences. I think we have a lot to develop in this area. I would also like to organise a congress for the sector every two or three years, as I think it is very important for us to get together and rethink how we do things and how we can improve.

The current Festival is very close to the Festival of my dreams, sixteen days with incredible proposals, very hard work, very diverse artists who offer us shows of impressive creativity.

A.F.- What is your opinion of our television channel and platform ALL FLAMENCO? Was the experience in 2021 of bringing shows to the audience through ALL FLAMENCO a positive one?

The channel is a great tool to advance in the increase of international audiences for the sector and I really liked the experience of including some of the Festival's shows to reach those fans who cannot travel to Jerez and want to enjoy the Festival in some way.

On a more personal level...

A.F.- Where does your passion for flamenco come from?

It's a mixture of family upbringing, my father was a great aficionado and took care to pass on his passion to us. Added to that, my love for the performing arts - which have been my vocation - and my profession did the rest. Working on the creation of the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía with Mario Maya had a great impact on me.

A.F.- Have you encountered any obstacles in your career as a woman at the head of this organisation?

I think that all women face micromachismos at work: condescension, unwanted overprotection, etc. But I have not encountered any obstacles in the Foundation to carry out my work because I am a woman.

From ALL FLAMENCO, official media of the Festival Flamenco de Jerez, we would like to wish Imay Benavente and all those who make this great event possible all the best for the next edition.

Thank you very much.