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London Duende

Posted on March 17, 2014

It’s about 6pm and while Gala Flamenca enthusiasts meeting friends early are mingling with people in the queue to see the BBC’s Frank Spencer (at the Lilian Baylis Theatre next door) I’ve managed to catch up with Belén Castres (pictured). She’s the person responsible for co-ordination and liaison between the troupes and the host organisations.

I’ve used the plural because neither Belén nor the Flamenco Festival deals with just Sadler’s Wells and at the moment she’s co-ordinating the logistics of 60 troupes in two continents. It can’t be easy, as Belén explains: “While nobody is unreasonable, there is so much that can go wrong. For example, if the luggage is lost or delayed I might have to rush around London with maybe an hour to find a suitable replacement cajón. Good ones aren’t easy to find and they all have their own tones.”

Backstage, her last-minute facilitation is key. She translates where necessary, negotiates between house stage crew and performers when, for example, a light isn’t right or the set can’t be arranged precisely as the performers prefer. It’s clear she’s never bored!

Photograph: Carole Edrich

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Now acting editor of Discover Britain magazine, she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success.

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