Around 1947, Edward Perkins, (Pan- American Concerts) arranged a number of concerts to tour Los Angeles and the West coast. He contracted a fine Spanish pianist, Pablo Miguel, a dance duo from Spain, Muguet and Albaicin, Carlos Montoya, the well known guitarist, and the Inky Taky Trio, featuring Imma Sumak, the phenomenal vocalist from Peru. It was an illustrious cast and I was thrilled to be part of it. Here was my first opportunity to work with an authentic Spanish guitarist who was associated with the finest artists in flamenco.
The format of the program consisted of six dances which included my Farruca accompanied by Montoya. This was my initial time with guitar, but I was very familiar with the rhythms of this form since it is usually the one learned in the beginning study of flamenco. The first review of my dance was successful enough to draw praise from Miguel and Montoya and I was greatly encouraged. They expressed pleasure and approval which lifted my spirit immeasurably.
Montoya actually became an admirer and subsequently wrote some letters to me which I still have.
As before, there was publicity, favorable reviews and an enthusiastic response from the public.
By the end of the 1940’s I had established a reputation as a Spanish dancer. There was an occasion which presented itself to me to dance at a benefit and I had the pleasure of meeting Jeronimo Villarino, guitarist to Carmen Amaya, La Argentina ( Antonia Mercé), Escudero, Argentinita and Jose Greco and many prominent artists in the world of Flamenco and Spanish Dance. Villarino was highly versed in the forms of the dance and song. He played for me in this appearance and he too became a fan and gave me much praise and encouragement for my ability and potential.
A concert which was given in 1949 featured my solo work with Villarino and a pianist. The program was varied and was well received by the public and decently commented on by the critics. It was not financially rewarding, but an engagement at the Orpheum Theater (with Villarino) in Los Angeles followed and some money was recouped.
During the years later on, I met numerous guitar players; some the students of Villarino himself and others I met in New York, Spain, Mexico and England. Outstanding among these were Fernando Sirvent, a Spaniard whom I knew in my first concert debut in New York and Emilo Bonet, who was the step-son of Estampio’s guitarist, Manolo Bonet, in Madrid. Others were Andalusian players with whom I worked in Paris. The list is very long and the experience invaluable. Almost to a man, they all wanted to play for me and I can easily count their numbers in the dozens.
It always was refreshing to work with different guitarists as they were influenced by their teachers and by working with other dancers and singers. Apart from the variety, it is good practice to be able to dance with other guitar players in the same way orchestras benefit from the conductors who lead them.
In these later years, the guitarist with whom I worked over the longest period has been Stamen Wetzel, who was a devoted student of Villarino for seven years until Villarino’s death in 1972.
October 6, 2016 at 3:42 am
Brings back memories of the many artists of that period of flamenco that I am more familiar with. I don’t keep up and most of the new performers are unknown to me.
October 9, 2016 at 11:18 pm
Thank you, Manley for your comments. I know we share similar experiences