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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Paredes Audio Clip and Transcript

Paredes Audio Clip

Interviewer: Dena Kinney

NP: In 1979 I rejoined Theatre Flamenco because Adela Clara had called me and asked me if I would rejoin the company because she was going to do a large production of JoaquÍn Maria Nin-Culmell’s composition, Tonadas. JoaquÍn Maria Nin-Culmell is a well-known classical composer from Spain, and his sister is the well-known AnaÏs Nin. She’s a famous writer and she’s had a wide range of experiences. I did not have the pleasure of meeting her, but I met JoaquÍn and we became very good friends.

DK: Did you meet him here in San Francisco?

NP: Yes, I had met him in San Francisco. At that time he was a professor emeritus of music at UC Berkeley. He lived in a beautiful house in Berkeley with his architect friend. I went there and it was very beautiful. He’s quite a joy to talk to.

Of course, when I was attempting to choreograph, he gave me some hints as to how to develop the piece from the musical standpoint, and I’ll always remember that. He had composed a suite of musical vignettes based on folk songs from the northern Spanish provinces, and Adela decided to take a few of the pieces—I think there were ten or twelve pieces that she composed into a suite of dances. She called that Regionalismos, that is, Regional Dances. It was played live on piano by another famous pianist, Marta Bracchi LeRoux, whose husband was Jean-Louis LeRoux, who was a conductor with the San Francisco Ballet for quite a number of years. Marta was to play that composition and this, Regionalismos orTonadas, was going to be part of Theatre Flamenco’s 1979 season. It was supposed to be the highlight, the premiere, and she needed quite a few male dancers, and she asked me if I would do that. I thought it would be a unique experience to rejoin them again to do that, and I was looking forward to doing it. It was well worth it because it was wonderful . . . There were four male dancers, and I forgot the number of women dancers—I’d say there’re about another four or five of us. She composed it in groups of three or four dancers, or three or four couples, sometimes three male dancers. One particular piece that we did, a musical vignette, where we were dressed as—she had made these plastic horses and we had to fit inside these horses. In other words, the head and the tail were made (of plastic) but right in the middle of the horse’s body, we put ourselves in it.

DK: Like a skirt, kind of?

NP: Exactly. Exactly. It was very lively and very amusing to do that. The whole piece was light-hearted; it had a lot of humor to it. No heavy flamenco footwork, a lot of soft—kind of like soft-shoe dances that we did, but all in the Spanish flavor. That was quite enjoyable and also for Marta LeRoux to play for us. Our rehearsals were wonderful experiences.

©Museum of Performance + Design

Nemesio Paredes
Paredes Audio Clip and Transcript