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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

Elegance of ‘flamenco puro’ - Carmelilla Montoya

Another flamenco legend has gone… Carmen Montañés Montoya, known as Carmelilla Montoya, sadly passed away on 4th May 2021 at the age of 59 after her long battle with cancer. She was one of my favourite ‘bailaora gitanas’.

Born in Triana, Seville, to the bailaor Manuel Montañes ‘El Morito’ and the cantaora Carmen Montoya, she grew up breathing flamenco with her cousins Lole Montoya and Angelita Montoya, who also had flamenco artists as their parents, the cantaora Antonia ‘La Negra’ and the bailaor Juan Montoya.

She appeared in the TV series ‘Rito y Geografía del Cante’ in 1973 as a young singing duo with Remedios Amaya, where she also showed her talent in dancing. She became an important member of her flamenco family ‘Los Montoya’, especially as a dancer, and the group toured around the world.

Her dancing style was temperamental, yet it had a certain elegance and grace. She embodied both wildness and sophistication. At the age of 15, she was awarded ‘Premio Nacional del Baile Flamenco’ by an institution called ‘La Cátedra de Flamencología de Jerez’.

Throughout her career, she inspired many artists and collaborated with renowned flamenco stars including Camarón de la Isla, Paco de Lucía, Raimundo Amador, Farruco family, Miguel Poveda, to name but a few. In 2004, for the stage musical version of ‘Los Tarantos’, she played the role which Carmen Amaya did in the famous film version. In the final stages of her career, she worked as a flamenco dance teacher at Fundacíon Cristina Heeren.

In 2019, at her retirement due to her health issues, an homenaje for her was held in Fibes, Seville, for which many flamenco artists participated and she herself could appreciate the show. As she has gone, sadly she won’t be able to witness more homenajes, but many flamenco singers, dancers and guitarists will reminisce about her legacy and express respect to her in their performances. Her beautiful flamenco soul is still with us.

Carmelilla as a little girl in a family fiesta (1973?)

Soleá por Bulería with Camarón de la Isla, from ‘Musical Express’ (1979?)

Alegrías, Canal Sur (1990)

‘Los Tarantos’ Musical (2004)

Fundacíon Cristina Heeren. Homenaje a Triana Montoya y Angelita Montoya (2017)


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