On the second trip to Spain in 1958, this time with my husband, we often attended theater performances. One of them was a revue at a theater featuring various presentations of dance and song. Among them was a Castilian number in which dancers performed in large festival masks known as Cabezudos. The combination of Gigantes and Cabezudos (giants and big heads) were used in Festivales in Spain and is an important element in Spanish culture. These resemble large faces with holes for the arms made of papier-mâché or light plaster. They were painted with features and augmented with chenille balls for eyes swaying from side to side to imitate expressions in a comical way. We were so impressed with this display that we planned to use the idea in subsequent programs that I might do.
An opportunity to try this novelty in a concert the first time developed in Paris.
While preparing for three performances at the Centre Americaine, we met a number of young people who helped set up the technical stage props. One was a fellow from Ireland who was adept at creating these masks and produced two big heads which could be used by dancers hidden inside. The effect was fantastic and theatrical. Two students of mine I had met at the Center performed the dance together. One was a French girl and another young woman from the Netherlands. They performed a Castilian dance which I composed for them from my knowledge of the vocabulary of La Garterana. This was added to some material I learned while studying in Alberto Lorca’s class in Madrid with other students from around the world.
We had to leave the cabezudos in Paris. In England another pair was made by a guitarist I worked with while in England. He also was a talented artist. This second pair had a different appearance than the first version. I was able to employ two other students of mine, a boy and a girl this time in London for a concert at St. Pancras Town Hall. It was quite special and was commented on by the critic in Ballet Today. A dance group was interested in buying the set and we sold them before departing from England.
For the engagement in Malta, we requested another pair made by the stage crew, but they neglected to put in holes for the arms which were necessary for the dancers to use! They were left behind as well.