Joaquín Cortés, often dubbed the "King of Flamenco," recently turned 40, but he’s not yet ready to stop stomping his heels with his signature intense, sensual style.
"I don’t have time to reflect. I have turned 40, I have less years to live," said Cortés, who returns to the city tonight after a five-year absence. "On the contrary, I turned 40, I couldn’t be better."
His new show, "Calé," looks back on his 20-year career, in which he’s become famous worldwide for his fusion of flamenco with contemporary dance and classic ballet — as well as for his spectacularly toned, often bare torso and mane of black hair.
"I wanted to do a retrospective work of my career, of everything that these 20 years and six shows that have traveled around the world mean," Cortés said last week from Madrid, where he lives.
"Calé," which means "Gypsies" in Romany language, combines musical and choreographic fragments from such hit works as "Gypsy Passion," "Cibayi" and "Of Love and Hate."
"It’s a bit like stealing the essence of each show," he explains in Spanish, "but I have put together a new show."
"Calé," which has been shown in previews in Madrid and Barcelona, is also debuting two new pieces, "Tangos" and "Requiem." It’s also the first dance program performed in the newly renovated Beacon Theatre.
Forty people, including 16 musicians and 10 female dancers, are making the trip for the single-night performance.
"I’m so pleased to return to New York after so long ... and to be making a world debut," he said.
The flamenco superstar last performed in New York in 2004. A December 2006 show at the Palace Theater was canceled when his beloved mother, Basilia, became gravely ill.
His mom died last year and "Calé" comes after a long period of mourning for the dancer.
"In a way she has always been my light, the light of my eyes," Cortés said, his vibrant voice turning gloomy.
"She has given me strength and I know that she is now with me — and she’s going to continue giving me strength."
The man once described as "pure sex" and who counts Naomi Campbell and Mira Sorvino among his exes, was mum on any current romance.
"I’m enamored with life, with love, with family, and friends," he said. "A bit enamored with love because I don’t conceive a world without love."