Carmen Amaya

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Carmen Amaya
Born (1913-11-02)2 November 1913
Died 19 November 1963(1963-11-19) (aged 50)
Occupation Flamenco dancer
Years active 1926-1963

Carmen Amaya (2 November 1918[1]– 19 November 1963) was a flamenco Romani dancer (Romani) and singer, born in the Somorrostro district of Barcelona, Spain.

She has been called "the greatest Spanish gypsi dancer of her generation"[2] and "the most extraordinary personality of all time in flamenco dance".[3] She was the first female flamenco dancer to master footwork previously reserved for the best male dancers due to its speed and intensity. She sometimes danced in high-waisted trousers as a symbol of strong character.


It is difficult to know de exact date when Carmen Amaya was born. One investigation suggests 1918 as her birth year, because they found documents for a twelve year old girl with her name living in Barcelona in 1930[1]. She was born in a Romani family, to José Amaya Amaya "El Chino" (player guitar) and Micaela Amaya Moreno and was the second of eleven children, although only six survived to adulthood; these consisted of three sisters and two brothers.

Amaya started in the flamenco world accompanying her father, and earned her first nickname, "La Capitana". She made her debut at Les Set Portes Restaurant in Barcelona, aged six. Soon after, she was performing at the Palace Theatre in Paris[4][5].

While she was working on "La Taurina", Sebastian Gash wrote :

"Suddenly a jump! And the gypsy girl danced. Indescribable. Soul. Pure Soul. Feeling made flesh. The floorboards vibrated with unprecedented brutality and incredible precision. La Capitana was a gross product of Nature. Like all gypsies, She must have been born dancing. It was before school, before the academy. All that she knows, She must have known from birth. Promptly, the viewer feels subjugated, upset, dominated by the face of La Capitana, by her fierce hip movements, by the bravery of her pirouettes and and the force of her broken turns, whose animal ardor ran parallel with the astonishing accuracy with which she executed them. The raging battery of her heels and the unsteady play of her arms now aroused, excited, then collapsing, surrendered, abandoned, dead, gently moved by the shoulders, are still recorded in our memories like indelible plaques. what caused us to look at her dance was her nerve, which twisted her in dramatic contortions, her blood, her violence, her wild impetuosity as a caste dancer"[6]

In 1930, she was part of the Manuel Vallejo company. She acting throughout the Spanish geography. On his return to Barcelona he danced at the Teatro Español, recommended by José Cepero.

In 1929, she appears in the tablao Villa Rosa poster, in Madrid and, in 1930, she acts in the International Exhibition. Juan Carceller, hires her for a tour. She travels several capitals, including San Sebastián. In 1935, Luisita Esteo presenting her in Madrid, in a show at the Coliseum. That year she work in the Zarzuela theater, in Madrid, with Conchita Piquer, Miguel de Molina and other famous artists, and in Fontalba theater. She is part of the films "La hija de Juan Simón" and " Maria de la ", and she work in a musical magazine in Barcelona. After that, she tour by the Spanish provinces. She was working in Valladolid when she was surprise for the Spanish Civil War. She left Spain, and went to Lisboa. After Lisboa she debut in Buenos Aires, accompanied with Ramon Montoya and Sabicas in Maravillas theatre. They stay there during one year, and then they began a tour in Argentina cities.

LEFT SPAIN She left Spain during the Civil Spanish war, and she was working all over the world: Lisbon, London, Paris, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, New York. During this stage of her artistic life (she added to her artistic group several members of her family), she made films in Buenos Aires with Miguel de Molina and she won the admiration of musicians Arturo Toscanini and Leopold Stokowsky, who made public Praise about her. She travels to New York in1941 and she acts in Carnegie Hall, with Sabicas and Antonio de Triana. The people said the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, after seeing her, gives her a bowling jacket with brilliants and invites her to dance in the White House.

COME BACK HOME Carmen Amaya returned to Spain in 1947 as an undisputed world figure. She appear again on the Madrid Theatre with "the Spanish Embrujo" performance. She won a very important success at the London Princess Theater in 1948, and her next American tour, she toured Argentina in 1950. She returned to dance in Spain the next year, performing at the Tivoli theatro in Barcelona, after several performances in Rome. She continues her work in Madrid, Paris, London, and different cities in Germany, Italy and other European countries. The Queen of London congratules her, and it exists an image in the newspaper with this text: "Two queens face to face." The next years she continue her work in Northern Europe, France, Spain, the United States, Mexico and South America. She got a lot of triumph at the "Westminster" theater in London and at "La Zarzuela" theater in Madrid in 1959. At the same time,Barcelona make an apreciation with Carmen Amaya and made the Carmen Fountain in her old district Somorrostro whith the popular recogniment. She record the last film: Los Tarantos, by Rovira-Beleta in 1963 and she continued working. At the end, her illness prevents her to continue in Gandía. The las time, she danced in Malaga.

DEATH Carmen Amaya died in Begur, Girona in 1963 and is buried in the Cemetery of Ciriego at Santander. She died for a kidney disease with 50 year old. Was a big lost for all the Flamenco World.

She being the award with the Medal of Merit of Tourism in Barcelona, the award Lasso of the Lady of the Order of Isabel la Católica and the title of Adoptive Daughter of Bagur.

Three years after her death (1966), was inaugurated a monument for her in the Amusement Park of Montjuic. Buenos Aires a street was dedicated to her. In Madrid in the "Tablao" Los Califas, was paid a tribute in which they participated among other artists Lucero Tena, Mariquilla and Felix de Utrera

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b Montse Madridejos and David Pérez Merinero (2013). Carmen Amaya. Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra. p. 21. ISBN 978-84-7290-636-5. 
  2. ^ Clarke, Mary & Crisp, Clement 1981. The history of dance. Orbis, London. p60
  3. ^ Clarke, Mary & Vaughan, David 1977. The encyclopedia of dance & ballet. Pitman, London. p316
  4. ^ Leblon, Bernard (1995). Gypsies and Flamenco: The Emergence of the Art of Flamenco in Andalusia. Barcelona: Interface Collectin. p. 88. 
  5. ^ Herbert, Kadison (1946). Flamenco Firebrand. Greenwich Village Chatter. pp. 5–7. 
  6. ^ Clement, Mary & Crisp (1981). The History of dance. Londres: Orbis. p. 60. 


  • Dublin, Anne (2009). Dynamic Women Dancers. Second Story Press. ISBN 978-1-897187-56-2. 
  • Bois, Mario (1994). Carmen Amaya o la danza del fuego. Madrid: Espasa Calpe.
  • Hidalgo Gómez, Francisco (2010). Carmen Amaya. La biografía. Barcelona: Ediciones Carena.
  • Madridejos Mora, Montserrat (2012). El flamenco en la Barcelona de la Exposición Internacional (1929-1930). Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra.
  • Madridejos Mora, Montserrat y David Pérez Merinero (2013), Carmen Amaya. Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra.
  • Montañés, Salvador (1963). Carmen Amaya. La bailaora genial. Barcelona: Ediciones G.P.
  • Pujol Baulenas, Jordi y Carlos García de Olalla (2003). Carmen Amaya. El mar me enseñó a bailar. Barcelona: Almendra Music.
  • Sevilla, Paco (1999). Queen of the gypsies. The Life and legend of Carmen Amaya. San Diego, EE.UU: Sevilla Press.
  • Francisco HIdalgo Gómez (1995). Carmen Amaya: cuando duermo sueño que estoy bailando. Barcelona. Libros PM.
  • Revista de l'Associació d'Investigació i Experimentació Teatral, año 2008 num 66-67

External links[edit]