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Carmen Amaya (1946)

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Carmen Amaya visits Cuba and Pedro Varcárcel (manager of the theater) and the artists, Rita Montaner and Victor Correa, come to receive her. Carmen Amaya (born November 2, 1913 – died November 19, 1963) was a Spanish flamenco dancer and singer. He was born on the beach of Somorrostro, a neighborhood of Barcelona that has now disappeared. She was the daughter of El Chino (Francisco Amaya), niece of La Faraona, sister of Paco, Leonor, María, Antonia and Antonio Amaya and was married to Juan Antonio Agüero. In other words, she was part of one of the families most closely linked to flamenco, who lived since she was little. Since she was little, she was nicknamed La Capitana, when she began in flamenco accompanying her father, debuting with only six years in front of the public at the Barcelona restaurant Les Set Portes and it did not take long for her to take a great leap to perform in Paris. with great success, at the Palace Theater. He danced from a very young age with already very popular and recognized figures such as Raquel Meller or Carlos Montoya. Working in Barcelona on the stage of La Taurina, she was discovered by the critic Sebastián Gasch, who wrote a highly praiseworthy article on Carmen, and brought her general recognition for her talent as a dancer. In 1923, when he was only 10 years old, he arrived in Madrid to dance at the Palacio de la Música also successfully and the following year to start a tour throughout Spain as part of the Manuel Vallejo company. On her return to Barcelona she danced at the Spanish Theater, recommended by José Cepero. In 1929, he appeared on the poster of the Colmao Villa Rosa, which was run in Barcelona by Miguel Borrull, and, in 1930, he appeared at the International Exhibition. The businessman Carcellé hired her for a tour in which she toured several capitals, including San Sebastián, in 1935, presenting her in Madrid, Luisita Esteso, during a show at the Coliseum. The same year he worked in the Madrid theaters of La Zarzuela, with Conchita Piquer, Miguel de Molina and other prominent artists, and at the Fontalba. She is also chosen to act in the film La hija de Juan Simón, with Angelillo, and takes part, in Barcelona, ​​in a musical magazine. After her performance in the film María de la O, she begins a new tour of the Spanish provinces. The Civil War surprises her in Valladolid and forces the company to move abroad. After performing in Lisbon, he jumps the puddle with his team, which includes other performers and his father and Pelao Viejo. They performed in Buenos Aires, where he made his debut in the company of Ramón Montoya and Sabicas, at the Maravillas Theater with enormous success. The public order forces had to intervene, as well as the firefighters; on the second day of performance in order to maintain order at the box office. He stays in that theater for a year, and after that he toured all the cities of the interior of Argentina, to return to Buenos Aires and to the same stage. All of this took four months. From 1937 to 1940, his performances followed one another in Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba and Mexico, where, in 1940, he simultaneously performed at the Fabregas Theater with which he performed at the tablao El Patio. During this stage of her artistic life, in which she joined her artistic group with several members of her family, she made films in Buenos Aires with Miguel de Molina and was admired by the musicians Toscanini and Stokowsky, who made her public praise. In 1941 he traveled to New York and performed at Carnegie Hall, where only prestigious artists performed, mainly with music or classical ballet shows, together with Sabicas and Antonio de Triana. As an anecdote, it is noteworthy to say how Carmen, who was staying at the Waldorf Astoria, the best hotel in New York, took advantage of the fact that on one of the walks she was taking through the city, she found a fish market with sardines, of which she bought several kilos. Those sardines were roasted in the hotel’s Imperial Suite, burning “a couple of nightstands” valued at more than $ 900 each already at that time. The then president of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, invites her to perform at a party at the White House. Roosevelt also gives him a bowling jacket with diamond inlays. Carmen appeared on the cover of Life magazine and was admired by the most famous stars of cinema and art. Since 1942 in Hollywood, it has become one of the biggest attractions. He performed a version of El amor brujo by Manuel de Falla, at the Bowl Auditorium, before twenty thousand people, with the Philharmonic Orchestra. He has appeared in a large number of films, including Dreams of glory, Silver legs, See my lawyer, Carmen Amaya and her boys, The bitterness of a bullfighter, The hat of Paraná and Follow the boy, also making his first recordings. . He returns to Europe and performs at the Champs Elysees Theater in Paris, to do so later in London and in Dutch theaters, from where he passes to Mexico and then again to New York and London, to continue through South Africa and Argentina, returning to Europe. When Carmen Amaya returned to Spain in 1947, she was already an indisputable world figure. The long American years had served him not only to firmly establish his art, but also to make his legend grow unstoppable. They were already told about her, and have continued to be told later, things that seem difficult to believe. And yet they could be true, at least some of them, given the human quality of this great gypsy. The most strange stories imaginable began to circulate around his surprising personality. After she returned to Spain, she reappeared at the Madrid Theater, with the show entitled Spanish Embrujo. He obtained a resounding success at the London Princess Theater in 1948, and on his next tour of America, he toured Argentina in 1950. The following year he returned to dance in Spain, performing at the Tívolí Theater in Barcelona, ​​after several performances in Rome. He continues to perform in Madrid, Paris, London, and various cities in Germany, Italy and other European countries. In London, the English queen congratulates him, and a photograph appears in the press with the following text: “Two queens face to face.” Northern Europe, France, Spain, the United States, Mexico and South America are the itineraries that he follows with his cast in the following years. In 1959, he achieved a great triumph at the Westminster Theater in London and at the Teatro de La Zarzuela in Madrid, opening the Carmen Amaya Fountain in Barcelona in the midst of popular homage; for this reason it celebrates a charity function at the Palacio de la Música, which had the largest full house in its history. His last film was Los Tarantos by Francesc Rovira-Beleta. Claimed by the main coliseums in the world, from 1960 to 1963, the year of her death due to kidney disease, she returned to make continuous tours of Europe and America, until her illness prevented her from doing so, while in Gandía, after having danced for the last time in Malaga. Her death from kidney disease at the age of 50 was a great affliction for the entire flamenco world, being awarded the Barcelona Tourist Merit Medal, the Isabel la Católica Ribbon and the title of Adoptive Daughter of Bagur. His funeral summoned a large number of gypsies from Catalonia and from different parts of Spain and France. Buried in Bagur, where she lived her last days, her remains currently rest in Santander, in the pantheon of her husband’s family. In 1964, the teachers León and Solano composed the song Aquella Carmen dedicated to the memory of Carmen Amaya, which read: Carmen Amaya died, and the whole of Spain cried. Three years after his death, in 1966, his monument was inaugurated in the Montjuic Amusement Park, today the Joan Brossa Gardens in Barcelona, ​​and in Buenos Aires a street was dedicated to him, while in Madrid, in the “Tablao” Los Califas, a tribute was paid to him in which Lucero Tena, Mariquilla and Félix de Utrera intervened among other artists. Carmen Amaya is one of the myths of flamenco dance. He was a genius who revolutionized the dance that was done at that time. She also sang, but her skills as a dancer ended up overshadowing her role as a cantaora. She did not learn to dance at any academy, everything she did came from her heart and soul. He had no teacher but his own instincts. His school was the street, where he sang and danced to earn some money. From the street he went to the theaters and from there to the great stages of Madrid, in a meteoric rise, with a style and manners never seen before. When the Civil War began he left Spain and traveled the world walking his art: Lisbon, London, Paris, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, New York. City after city surrendered to his dance, so that when he decided to return to Spain in 1947 he was already an international star, a status that he retained until his death in 1963.

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