A total of 33 artists performed in the contest on Saturday in Tokyo: 10 guitarists and 23 men and women dancers.
The Nakano Zero Hall Theater of the Japanese capital also hosted the Official Presentation of the International Festival del Cante de las Minas, a ceremony that included the participation of the Spanish guitarist Cañizares.
The Cante de las Minas again demonstrated its power to convene the masses as the world’s leading flamenco event. Theatre facilities at the Nakano Zero Hall in Tokyo were small to accommodate the second stage of the contests of singing, dance and guitar, which will directly qualify aspirants for the 55th Festival of La Unión.
Today a grand total of 33 artists competed in an intense day full of emotion. The mixed jury of the Spanish delegation and experts provided by the Nippon Association of Flamenco (ANIF) has had an afternoon of hard work evaluating the performances of each of the contestants. There were 10 guitarists and 23 male and female Japanese dancers who went up on stage before large crowds that filled the spacious auditorium with a capacity for over 1,500 people.
But, in addition to the selective trials, today there was also the official presentation of the Festival del Cante de las Minas in Japan, an event in which the coordinator of the Cante de las Minas foundation, Manuel José Navarro Jimenez participated. He emphasized the great work being done by ANIF to promote flamenco in Japan. Navarro noted the pleasant surprise felt by the entire Spanish delegation due to the high quality of the artists and the great respect the audience shows towards this art. He also noted that the prize is that the winners will be passed directly to the semifinals of La Unión Festival in 2015.
For his part, Jiro Hamada, President of the ANIF, again thanked La Unión for attending this event in Tokyo, and ensured everyone that the visit of the most important flamenco festival in the world has triggered the interest of Japanese flamenco fans.
The artistic note for this Official Presentation was provided by the Spanish guitarist Cañizares, who delighted the Japanese audience with a generous sampling of flamenco guitar, accompanied by two local artists: in singing, the 1997 winner of the contest organized by ANIF, Taka Ishizuka, and dance, the winner of the same contest in 2001, Shiro Ijuin.
Cañizares praised the initiative of the International Festival del Cante de las Minas for being present in Japan, the second country after Spain in terms of flamenco followers. The guitarist, who has been visiting Japan for 20 years, emphasized that the alliance between ANIF and the Cante de las Minas is very important because it will help to continue disseminating flamenco and Spanish culture beyond our borders.
The guitarist also thanked the Festival del Cante de las Minas de La Unión for this year’s tribute to Paco de Lucia, with whom he shared the stage for 10 years.
Tomorrow Sunday will be the third and final day of the contest of the Cante de las Minas in Japan. It will again be an intense afternoon with another 32 individuals participating, with the novelty that in addition to the 24 male and female dancers, 8 singers will also take part, a specialty not represented until now.