After leaving Paris and Le Catalan Tablao, the concerts I did in Paris, and its environs it was time after eight months to explore a new environment.
I could have remained at the Catalan for at least another year as I was popular and life for me at least was comfortable enough, but there was still much to gain from a new public and a different point of view.
My husband immediately made some important contacts in London which led to two performances at Morley College. They were mainly lecture-performances but done in costume with guitarist and pianist. The material used was educational but aimed for artistic purpose to show a side of Spanish Dance and Flamenco which was uncommon among the practitioners working in this medium.
Actually, some of the first contacts were through the school system with the LCC in London. This led us to groups who were amateur performers but enthusiastic aficionados of the form. They remained devoted followers and they supported me wherever I appeared in London.
We visited a small cafe in London recommended by our new friends. It was known as the Acapulco and featured guitarists and singers. The clientele seemed to be expatriates of Spain and on the night we attended somehow the people in the restaurant sensed my presence and I was asked to dance. A guitarist responded to my rhythms and movements and the public practically were in tears to see this impromptu display out of nostalgia for their country.
When I wanted to contract the guitarist for the program set up for Morley College, he had to bow out due to a previous engagement. As these things invariably happen, a last minute search for a guitarist and singer resulted in a contact I had from Spain. A dancer, whom I knew from one of the classes in Madrid of Alberto Lorca, owned a night club in London where she performed regularly. I was able to borrow a fine Spanish guitarist, Rafael Prieto and a singer, Paco Victory for the occasion. With very little more than a quick review, we performed several flamenco numbers.
This program was so well received that it resulted in a fine review in the Daily Telegraph by A. V. Coton. The president of the Asian Music Circle arranged for a concert at St. Pancras Town Hall. I was to share the program with an East Indian dancer, Rina Singh , a dancer of Manipur style. I did the main part of the program, showing aspects of other dances of Spain. Many of the critics were unanimous in their praise except for one in the London Times who seemed to take exception to the ballyhoo of my publicity and made some unflattering remarks which he was known to do to other fine performers. A critic from Ballet Today, Fernau Hall, gave me one of the finest reviews of my career calling me a supreme artist. He had called personally to tell me about Richard Buckley and his reputation for being a curmudgeon about his reviews. One takes this as it comes. One part of that experience at St. Pancras Hall was the stage itself which was mildly raked. It had a special sensation performing for the first time in that sort of situation. However, I was able to dance with no noticeable handicap!
Following this, there were a number of other engagements arranged by the Asian Music Circle and Ayana Angadi the president, was always respectful and our relationship with him resulted in a buildup of a substantial public in London and Birmingham where I performed in quite a number of lecture-performances. Part of the audience who came to see me were in fact from India and we were the guests on several occasions of East Indian officials. An adventure in itself! The Maharaja of Mysore was the patron of my first concert in London.
One of the initial contacts was an especially important one with an establishment known as the Troubadour. They regularly featured performers who were musicians and specialists in exotic styles such as flamenco. While we lived in London, the very long and complicated material which really developed out of the experience in the Tablao where I had worked with so many guitarists and singers came to fruition by my demonstrating and explaining how the system in the flamenco forms work. The result was an incredible script of thirty pages which I was able to memorize and deliver without notes while demonstrating parts and variations of the dance! The debut of this opus was given at the Troubadour with guitarist and singer. The name of the guitarist was Antonio, he of the Acapulco café and Paco Victory, from Margarita’s establishment. The program lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes. This was an unbelievable feat for anyone. An Indian gentleman, a Sufi, by the name of Aziz Boulouche, presented some songs partly flamenco tinged and some of his native material during intermission of the extended program. The Troubadour was tightly packed with an enthusiastic audience.
The lecture-performance script eventually was condensed and shortened to accommodate the time frame I was given to appear. These programs were almost always done in full costume with guitarist and full dances offered as demonstration. Some of the material was done in fragments to take apart variations and explain in detail how flamenco was put together. I also was booked to deliver a program of similar content for the Royal Society of Dance and Dancing Teachers. Like many of these appearances it was successful.
During the summer of 1961, I had a two week engagement at a night club to fill time and pick up a little extra money. Although it was artistically successful, the experience resulted in a disastrous misunderstanding business wise and caused some embarrassment and distress to both of us.
Another appearance was accomplished in the early Fall with two full concerts at the Crane Theater in Liverpool sponsored by the English Speaking Union. I also did a master class there in that city.
After returning from Malta, a series of three one and one half hour lecture-performances were arranged at Morley College with a final full concert in Emma Cons Hall where I had done the original appearances for the Hispanic Society. The three week run of lectures at the College also featured an elaborate display of photographs taken by the Malta Government showing me in various sites all over the island. These images also included many pictures of the performances at the Manoel Theater.
A formal concert with guitarist, singer and pianist given at Emma Cons Hall was actually presented by a concert agency but the College gave us the theater free of charge. The pianist also was a member of Margarita’s musical group. He was John Bayesford Vernon, an Englishman and a marvelous musician, but an eccentric personality. He also played the organ and accordion. It was almost a miracle that we managed to engage him for so many of these appearances.
I danced at least 15 numbers and as in all of the appearances I received good critical acclaim. England was different than the United States where they customarily do not review such presentations. To have been given this coverage was very advantageous and my growing reputation spread to New York.
Even a Jazz Magazine published a rave review of my work in connection with the rhythms of Flamenco form and the method of communication between the participants.