His name is Miguel Fernández, he is known as El Yiyo and at 24 years of age he is in Spain one of the emerging figures of flamenco dance, “a great music” that he experiences as “a state of mind in its entirety”.
The Yiyo debuted at the Royal Theater in Madrid this weekend, after a long career that began in his earliest childhood and includes some forays into the world of fashion, as a brand face for Armani or IKKS, and even an appearance in the pages of Vogue.
Born and raised in the Catalan city of Badalona, in a gypsy family from Andalusia, he brought to the capital the show “El Yiyo y su troupe”, a choreography of his own authorship created in his studio during confinement last spring.
Among other artists, he came to Madrid with his brother Ricardo, the bailaor “El Tete”, and flamenco comes to the family Yiyo, as he tells . in the Hall of the Kings of the Royal Theater, surrounded by portraits of monarchs .
“We celebrated any joy in the family by singing. Young children play singing and dancing, it is something very normal, it is something that I was absorbing without realizing it from a very young age”.
– An eclectic training –
Yiyo made his debut in a concert hall in Barcelona when he was just seven years old, at the age of 11 he led a tour of Taiwan as the headliner, and more recently, before the spring confinement, he danced for four months in Madrid’s Corral de la Morería, one of the flamenco temples in Spain.
It all started when, as a child, at the wedding of a relative, the Sevillian bailaor Manuel Jiménez ‘Bartolo’ noticed him. “He told my father that he wanted to teach me for free, because he said it was a diamond that had to be polished.”
As references, El Yiyo lists all the great past and present, because flamenco “is like a chain” and “I try to learn something from everyone I like”.
Thus, he was formed by watching videos on YouTube of “the ancients”, such as the legendary dancer Antonio Gades (1936-2004), admired for his “elegance”, or Carmen Amaya (1913-1963), “genius par excellence” who revolutionized the flamenco dance and achieved world fame with her international tours and her roles as an actress in Hollywood.
Of the current ones, El Yiyo highlights the bailaores Antonio Canales and Joaquín Cortés, two media exponents born in the 1960s, and Farruquito (Sevilla, 1982), with whom he boasts of having shared the stage.
All this completed with a training in classical and contemporary dance, “to obtain more information about dance,” he points out.
The result is a powerful and inspired dance, which he displayed at the Teatro Real, where he performed with a hat in the purest Michael Jackson style – another of his teachers – and was not daunted when he broke a heel in the middle of his footing and had to continue barefoot.
“My dance is a state of mind in its entirety”; it is “a dance of strength and intensity” that transmits “the air that I carry”, sums up the Catalan bailaor.
Yiyo confesses that his dream is to have his own dance company “and tour the world.” Along the way, he has been experimenting beyond his art, dancing on fashion catwalks: “it is something that I have not looked for but has come to me”, and “I learned a lot”.
And although he is more towards purism, he does not see the fusion of flamenco with other musical genres -blues, jazz, rock-, a trend recently renewed by the phenomenon Rosalía.
“I agree that there is variety, so there is a wide range of purists, non-purists, and that means that flamenco is always giving something to talk about”.
– Spaces to conquer –
With his performance, El Yiyo inaugurated the Teatro Real’s third flamenco season, which includes 14 more shows.
He says he is happy to see the reception given to his art in this institution best known for opera, but he assures that “there is a lot of space to go” for flamenco to “have its weight” in stages similar to the Real one, and not look like something of a “minority”.
In the immediate term, yes, we will have to overcome the nightmare of the coronavirus, which has led to the closure of prominent tablaos in Spain and forced to cancel concerts and festivals. “A wasted time,” he laments.
avl / CHZ / zm