Flamenco artist Rafael Amargo arrested for drug trafficking

One of Spain’s top dancers and choreographers, he was going to open a new show on Thursday in Madrid

Rafael Amargo in a file photo from 2016.
Rafael Amargo in a file photo from 2016.Alvaro Garcia (EL PAÍS)

The flamenco dancer and choreographer Rafael Amargo was arrested on Tuesday in a police raid against drug trafficking in Spain. Amargo’s sentimental partner, his producer and a friend have also been detained, and the police has searched several homes.

The operation remains under seal but sources told the Efe news agency that Amargo is facing charges of criminal association and drug trafficking. According to Efe, methamphetamines were found during a search of the artist’s residence.

Amargo, 45, is one of the best-known names in the flamenco scene. On Thursday he was going to open a new production, Yerma, based on the play by Federico García Lorca, at La Latina theater in Madrid.

The Rafael Amargo dance company performing "La difícil sencillez"
The Rafael Amargo dance company performing "La difícil sencillez"

The native of Granada is considered one of Spain’s top dancers and choreographers. He studied at the Martha Graham School in New York and his work blends traditional flamenco with elements of contemporary dance. In 2016 we was awarded Spain’s Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts.

Amargo was arrested at 8pm on Tuesday as he was walking out of his parents’ house. Police sources said they had been following him for a year after discovering that what initially looked like petty dealing had turned into something bigger.

This is the latest blow for an artist who has had his share of controversies in the last few years. Despite his artistic success, Amargo was in financial straits and had moved back in with his parents in the Tribunal district of Madrid.

The opening of Yerma was going to be a confidence booster for a man who has defined himself as “politically incorrect and emotionally promiscuous.” But the show has been cancelled following the arrests.

Not one to shy away from controversy, Amargo once described himself as bisexual but angered the LGTBIQ community by asking “Why don’t we celebrate Straight Pride Day?” He also triggered controversy in 2010 when he posed nude for the cover of Interviú, a now-defunct magazine that became famous in Spain for its investigative reporting and for its covers of topless female celebrities.

His artistic career includes several successful productions such as Poeta en Nueva York, El amor brujo and Quijote.

English version by Susana Urra.


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