Themes from Goya
During the last part of my first New York concert appearances in 1954-55, an idea of presenting a series of dances based on themes in Francisco Goya’s paintings was discussed. This concept came up in conversations with a critic from Kansas City who saw my work and gave me a fine review for my engagement in Kansas City’s Starlight Theater production of the Opera “Carmen”. I was featured as solo Spanish dancer in interpolations of De Falla’s La Vida Breve and the Miller’s dance from The Three Cornered Hat – a Farruca.
This performance had no connection with Goya’s art but served to show my versatility with Spanish forms and inspire another point of view.
Subsequently, I devised some arrangements of dances into a suite. This represented the impetus behind the famous works of the Spanish master, namely his Maja Desnuda and Maja Vestida plus an interesting number which reflected one of Goya’s caprichos, an image of an old crone with a young woman. It developed into a sequence in which I danced Bulerias disguised as an old woman to the music of Manuel Infante accompanied on piano. I managed this with a mask and some darkly fashioned costuming and using a cane of gnarled wood to tap out the rhythms along with my feet. One of the Themes featured the Naked Maja ( in flesh colored garments) to affect the scene pictured in the painting. I appeared reclining on a divan in dim lighting, and during a blackout disappeared behind a screen to change to a flamenco dress and danced Seguiriyas with guitar. Another scene in which I did a Solea as the Duchess herself completed the flamenco element in the suite.
The remaining dances were the Farruca in masculine costume of that period evoking bullfight gestures and two dances of the 18th century; Intermezzo of Goyescas and the Bolero (Escuela Bolera) with music of Granados and Albeniz. These selections were accompanied on piano and completed the group depicting the life of Goya during his youth and as the supposed lover of the Duchess of Alba. A speaker also was employed to narrate the scenes. In Los Angeles the “animador” was Jaime Perez, a young man who was an actor and dancer. He presented the content in Spanish and English. The concerts in Paris featured a Spanish actor using pantomime and speech in Spanish.
Following the appearances at the Ivar Theater, we made plans to go to Spain and on the way, we stopped in San Francisco where I was presented in concert by the Contemporary Dance Theater in a solo recital with my pianist. There was a reception in my honor before the performance at the home of a dancer.
After this appearance, we set off for New York in route by ship to Spain. That saga of five years spent mostly in Europe and again on the East coast have been written about elsewhere in my stories.
I performed nine programs of Themes from Goya. Six of these took place in Los Angeles at UCLA, the Ivar Theater presented by Theater Unlimited, Inc. in Hollywood and three in Paris.
There were mixed reactions, but many people liked it. Finally I discarded it to concentrate on pure Flamenco.