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Javier Pajarino is a Spanish musician and composer of ethno-music, but besides he is a mad about corrida. OLE!

Interview: Dessislava Tomova

Are you mad about corrida?
As every Spaniard I also have interest for the corrida. The passion for the bull in Spain comes from antiquity. Bulls are present on the prehistoric rock paintings. The art of bullfighting starts to develop slowly, until it reaches its contemporary form of a battle with the fearless bull. This kind of corrida of cattle originates from the Egyptian bulls and European aurochs which turn in the unique race of the brave Spanish bull, which is present on the Iberian Peninsula, in the Southern part of France and the Latin-American countries.
El toreo, like we know it today, has been practiced from the end of 17th and the beginning of 18th century. In 1701 in Bayona, in honor of Felipe IV when he came to the throne, a bull fight was held with Navarro bulls where for the first time the toreador passes are shown, with a red cape used for irritating the bull, perpetuated by Goya in his eau-fortes. In the fist half of the 18th century the three great fathers of tauromachy are born: Joaquin Rodriguez Costillares, Jose Delgado Guerra and Pedro Romero. Since then this spectacle has become part of the Spanish culture and an essential inspiration for art. Therefore testify the works of masters such as Jose Ortega y Gasset, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Orson Wales and Vicente Blasco...

When did you go to the arena for the last time?
Very soon, a month ago I went to La Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, in the eastern part of Madrid, which was constructed in 1929 and officially opened in 1931. This is one of the most significant bullfighting arenas in the whole world; it is like a temple for the fans that are capable to appreciate the good toreo, the ferocity of the fight, and the development of the corrida. This arena is for about 25 000 spectators. The prices of the seats depend on whether they are in the sun or in the shade (the second ones are more expensive), and also on their closeness to the arena. The season starts in March and ends in December. The celebrations start at 18 or 19h., and continue about 2-3 hours.

What do you feel when the door to El toril opens?
I’m expecting in thrill for the animal to appear, I contemplate it with interest, and a flash thought flies through my head: „This is the bull, and all the public expects a spectacle from the torero” that is walking around the arena under the chords of pasodoble. The public is numerous and everybody is excited. Finally the signal of the tube is the sign for the bull to go out.

Before he starts the fight, the toreador shouts: „Let’s go, and let it happen what will happen…” How do you understand this phrase?
The toreador fearlessly grips the cape and turns bravely to the bull, in order to face it, and attacks it vigorously, with a great nobility and courage. There is a lot of grace in his movements which resemble a dance with the death.

Would you please describe an emotional scene on the arena using the typical words and expressions!
The last third, the culmination of the bullfight comprises attracting the bull with the red cloth for his forth-coming death caused by a sword wound. This is the most significant moment of the fight when the mastership of the toreador is displayed – a clear testimony of his skillfulness and dexterity. Experiences toreadors say that when the moment comes for killing the bull, the torero should aim with the sword a little above the highest part of the back – where the spine bones are crossed with the bones of the fore legs. In this way the bull dies in less pain. The toreador makes a couple of steps more with the cape, and according to the public’s exclamations that he hears (ole-ole-ole!), he should probably have been very attractive. When he notices that the bull has been tamed, without hesitating he rushes towards him in order to kill him, sticks his javelin to the hilt and the animal falls on the ground.

What is your opinion about women practicing the toreador job? Did you watch the movie by Pedro Almodovar „Hable con ella” where Rosario Flores plays such a role?
I think the answer of this question is hidden in the plot of this fascinating film. I don’t discriminate women in the torero profession. „Hable con ella” tells an intimate, romantic story, additionally spiced with other spectacular moments, like for example the bullfighting scenes, or the live performance of Caetano Veloso, Pina Bausch... According to the scenario Lydia’s father was a banderillero, but his dream was to become a torero. He brought up his daughter as a boy in order for her to achieve what he couldn’t. The girl inherited his dream. But the bullfighting world is very chauvinistic. After her father’s death Lydia faces the prejudice and the contempt of the professional bullfighters. Many of them refuse to compete with her only because she is a woman...
Loneliness is something all characters of the film know. The bull also leaves alone in the middle of the immense arena when they take away the badly wounded Lydia.


Corrida – bullfighting
Tauromaquia – tauromachy
Plaza de toros – bullfighting arena
Cuadrilla – the toreador and his assistants
Torero – bullfighter, toreador (diestro = matador – the one who kills the bull)
Picador – the one who sticks the javelin
Capa – mantle, cloak, cape
Muleta – red cloth, fixed on a wooden lath used for irritating the bull
El traje de luces – the toreador costume. The name comes from the light effects observed when the ornaments reflect light. In the 18th century these costumes were made of suede but later people began to make them of silk and adorn them with gold and silver.
Estoque – a long sword
Estocada – a sword hit, a sword wound
Acometida – attack
Acometer – to attack
Conceder la oreja – as an award the toreador is handed the year of the killed bull.
Toril – place close to the arena where the bulls chosen to fight are closed.