She fled a war and became an international star

Carmen Amaya, legendary flamenco dancer, found fame abroad during the Spanish Civil War

Flamenco is fierce. It’s a dance form that demands it’s dancers to pull themselves tall with pride, stamp their feet with authority and communicate intense emotions as if they are being pulled deep from their soul. Carmen Amaya embodied the best that the art has to offer and introduced innovations to the field along the way.

Carmen Amaya (sources)

Amaya began dancing as a child and began accompanying her father, a guitarist, at the age six. She gained some small noteriety in her native Spain in those early days, but it wasn’t until the Spanish Civil War caused her to leave the country that she rose to become a star.

After leaving Spain, she made a name for herself in Latin America and the United States, by eschewing skirts for high-waisted pants and incorporating the footwork most commonly connected to male dancers as part of her routine. She became a familiar guest in Hollywood films and preformed in venues like Carnegie Hall and the White House. In 1947, when she returned to Spain for the first time as an international success. Her family legacy is continued in New York City by her niece, Omayra Amaya, who still teaches workshops in New York City.

Check out Carmen Amaya in action in this 1945 Hollywood film:

Carmen Amaya dancing in a Hollywood film (source)