During my long engagement at La Golondrina, when I began dancing professionally, I met many people. Some were individuals who approached me on their own, and others were introduced to me by my parent’s friends who were always eager to help me advance in my career.
While dancing at the Restaurant, I met a magnificent woman, Margarita Silva, an opera singer who was well known in musical and opera circles, (she was the first opera star to sing Carmen at the Hollywood Bowl in 1922). She was of Belgian background although at the time I thought she was Italian. Somehow, singing lessons were arranged with her and I studied classical singing with her for a while. She developed an interest in me and even taught me to make a tremolo with my voice. She declared that I could learn to sing opera and perhaps even sing the role of Carmen. Possibly she might have been able to instill in me the desire to develop my vocal abilities but my ambitions were clearly embedded in the dance. During our association, she gifted me with a number of real tortoise Spanish combs which I have in my collection. These authentic “peinetas’ were undoubtedly used in her performances as Carmen.
Of course, I never sang Carmen: but I did appear in a production of Carmen as a dancer as it was meant to be. I performed two numbers from the Spanish composer, Manuel de Falla; the Miller’s Dance (Danza del Molinero) as a Farruca in male costume, and La Vida Breve with castanets from the operetta of Falla as interpolations into the score of Bizet’s opera. This took place at the Kansas City Starlight Theater during the summer of 1954. A week’s run during my second East Coast season.