Q&A with Marisol Navarro — the driving force behind Madrid’s contemporary Flamenco venue Las Tablas
A Flamenco venue in Madrid with a contemporary vibe hosting some of the country’s best performers, Las Tablas was founded by flamenco dancers Marisol Navarro and Antonia Moya in 2003.
Here, we talk to Navarro about how she discovered flamenco, why she decided to set this space up, and what she most loves about this unique art form.
How did you start your career as a flamenco dancer?
I started studying contemporary dance at the National University in Costa Rica. My parents are Spanish and I grew up in Costa Rica until I was 21 years old. I discovered flamenco on returning to Madrid and watching Saura's trilogy of Amor Brujo, Bodas de Sangre, and Carmen. I was immediately captivated and decided I wanted to study flamenco. At that time, there was little flamenco in Costa Rica, so I decided to go to university and study contemporary dance while studying what I could of flamenco. After finishing my degree, I came to Madrid to study at the dance school Amor de Dios.
What led you to set up Las Tablas in 2003?
I founded it with my partner Antonia Moya in 2003. We wanted to have our own space for flamenco where we could offer everything that is good for us in terms of show quality, artists, staging, and audience interaction. When Antonia and I opened Las Tablas in 2003, we wanted it to be a special place, to put all the knowledge we had acquired throughout our artistic careers at the service of our tablao. We wanted a space with a large stage, to use the resources of lighting, to take great care with programming and artist selection, and to improve what already existed. We did it with the excitement of two artist women embarking on a dream. At the same time, we became entrepreneurs.
What defines your tablao? What makes you different from other tablaos in Madrid?
We offer a high-quality flamenco show, both in terms of artist selection and staging. We care about the stage space, sound, and lighting. Perhaps what makes us different is that we are artists in charge of the company. It is a company formed by two artist women who are also fighters. Within the current Madrid flamenco scene, we choose the artists who we believe, in addition to being of a high technical level, are capable of communicating, transmitting emotions, and saying something more. This may be subjective, but I think that being artists helps us to have a good eye.
Can you tell me about the artists with whom you collaborate? How do you select the artists?
The criteria we use to select our artists are various. We like them to have something to say, to be sincere on stage, of course to have technical mastery, to have personality. That the shows are fresh and that they transmit something new to the public. Some of the artists we work with include Carmen Coy, Mariana Collado, Paco Hidalgo, Sara Jiménez, Jan Carlos Avecilla, Marta Gálvez, and Fuensanta Blanco. We've chosen them because they're part of the current Madrid scene, and while they may not necessarily be contemporary, they're artists who explore, experiment, and are constantly evolving. They may or may not be of Romani descent, and they've studied in a variety of places. Each one comes from a different geographical region and school of thought.
Recently, Paco Hidalgo and Sara Jiménez performed at your tablao. Can you tell me a bit about their wonderful performance and the creative process behind it?
Both of these artists have a very personal and distinctive style. We admire them greatly and are fascinated by their evolution. Flamenco relies heavily on improvisation, and we believe that the combination of these two artists creates something truly beautiful.
What role do you play in Madrid’s cultural scene? How do you think flamenco has influenced Spanish identity?
We definitely have an important role in Madrid's cultural scene. We offer flamenco performances every day, so anyone who wants to see it at any time of the year can do so. We also provide work opportunities for flamenco artists throughout the year.
Flamenco has had a significant impact on Spanish identity. It's a cultural expression that has evolved over centuries and has become an integral part of the Spanish artistic heritage. It's a reflection of the country's diverse and complex history, and it continues to inspire and captivate audiences around the world.
You can book a performance and dine at Las Tablas from Monday to Friday at 7pm and 9pm. And Sunday and Sunday at 1pm, 7pm, and 9pm.
Want to discover more about the art of flamenco and its cultural significance? Learn more about the deep-rooted history of this powerful art form through our interview with the director of Tablao 1911.
Credits for the Main photo: © Adobe Stock
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