Toward the end of Shakira’s new documentary, Shakira in Concert: El Dorado World Tour, the pop superstar is onstage in her home country of Colombia, performing the final concert of her momentous 2018 tour. Throughout the film, which opens in theaters worldwide on November 13th, Shakira takes absolute control of every aspect of her live show: from the lighting to the musical arrangements to the choreography. (“I want to look sexy as hell, or I cancel this!” yells Shakira with zeal to her crew during rehearsal.)
But on that same night in Bogotá, we see Shakira break down in tears for the first and only time onscreen. “It was bittersweet,” she tells Rolling Stone, while seated inside Barcelona’s luxe Mandarin Oriental Hotel. “It was the ending of a phase in my life filled with so many different emotions. . . . It was possible that I would never sing again.”
“When I was there in Bogotá, finishing that cycle, in my country,” she says, “I couldn’t feel more overwhelmed with emotion, gratefulness, and nostalgia.”
In November 2017, the 42-year-old artist was forced to postpone her first tour in seven years — and her first since becoming a mother to two sons — due to a vocal-cord hemorrhage injury. It was a serious, unprecedented health scare that Shakira says shook her to her core and put everything in perspective.
“I always thought my youth would go away one day, my black hair would go away one day . . . anything,” she says wistfully as she snacks on gummy bears. “But I never thought my voice would go away. That was unthinkable. It was so inherent to my nature, to who I am. It’s my identity.”
“When I couldn’t speak, when I couldn’t sing,” she says, “it was the worst nightmare of my life.”
The documentary doesn’t dwell much on the painful episode, but focuses on Shakira’s triumphant return to the stage. In support of her Grammy-winning 2017 album El Dorado, the tour finally kicked off in the summer of 2018, spanning 55 dates in 22 countries and captivating almost a million spectators. The film, co-directed by the artist and James Merryman, was shot primarily during the Los Angeles stop of the tour, and is a celebration of Shakira’s bond with her loyal fans around the globe, many of whom appear in close-ups crying of joy and singing along.
It is also an unflinching statement on Shakira’s prowess as an entertainer. It’s all about her vision and execution: her voice, as powerful as ever, and her flawless dance moves, commanding the adulation of thousands of fans night after night. In contrast to other superstars of her stature, on this tour Shakira had no backup dancers (“I wanted the freedom to improvise”) and the set design was purposefully minimalistic — inspired, she says, by Anton Corbijn, one of her favorite visual artists, who has directed music videos for U2, Metallica, and Depeche Mode.
Fans will also delight in behind-the-scenes moments of Shakira in the studio with Maluma and Nicky Jam, writing and recording songs together; glimpses of her interacting with her family and her band during rehearsals and between concerts; and even seeing her dancing and singing aboard her private plane, still brimming with adrenaline after performing the nightly two-hour-long show.
Instead of going straight to DVD or streaming services, Shakira in Concert: El Dorado World Tour offers a communal fan experience, with screenings in more than 2,000 theaters in over 60 countries on the same day. A live album of the tour will also be released this week; it’s a gift to fans who have been with her through thick and thin, and who, Shakira says, are the true protagonists of El Dorado.
“When an artist decides to go on tour, in a way, he or she needs reaffirmation,” Shakira says. “We need to confirm that there’s people out there loving us, worshipping what you do. . . . [There’s] a very narcissistic motivation behind all of that,” she adds with a laugh. “When I came out on tour this time, there was none of that. I just wanted to do it for them, because they were there for me.”
Shakira is currently in the studio working on new material and studying different types of dances — including the Afro-Colombian genre champeta — as well as slimming down her two-decades-long repertoire for her upcoming Superbowl LIV performance, which she will share with Jennifer Lopez in February. (She has not ruled out a collaboration.)
.”I definitely want to showcase everything I’ve learned lately, and everything I’m capable of doing as an artist,” she says of the months to come.
Shakira in Concert: El Dorado World Tour will premiere internationally on November 13th in more than 2,000 theaters across 60 countries. Tickets are now available on the film’s website.