Flamenco - El Farruco

Antonio Montoya Flores, El Farruco, was a gypsy dancer of no schooling who performed the most deep-rooted gypsy style of flamenco dance. He was born in Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid, in 1935 and is part of the great Montoya dynasty whose members include the guitarist Ramon Montoya, El Farruco`s grandfather.

This great name in Flamenco spent most of his youth on the open road living the traditional gypsy existence. His father was a horse and cattle dealer who traded at the fairs and markets of Andalucía, where a young Farruco would entertain with his mother La Farruca, a Moroccan beauty who was also a dancer.

El Farruco`s tragic personal life is believed to have been the basis for much of his style, as he had first hand experience with most of the emotions that he portrayed through his dance. He was married by the time he was fourteen, a father at the age of fifteen, a widower by the age of just sixteen, and his only son died in a tragic road accident at the age of eighteen.

El Farruco is one of the most unusual dancers of the last century, and rarely has a dancer with his physical characteristics created so much emotion with the dance. There have, for example, been many whose technique and physical attraction would have been far more appealing to the general public, but El Farruco was never interested in flashy showmanship or theatrical type dance, just pure gypsy “baile” (dance).

His over-weight, heavy frame gave the impression that he would probably do as little as possible as he slowly moved about the stage dragging his feet, faking a turn, and snapping his fingers. But in an explosive frenzy that lasted for just a few seconds he became as if possessed by demonic forces that controlled his every move. The “duende” (spirit) and emotion that filled his dance has rarely been equaled and his timing and knowledge of the rhythm was impeccable.

He spent much of his life in Seville where he opened his own dance school, a place where many of today’s top dancers have studied. However, he also traveled the world with many different flamenco troupes including those of Manolo Caracol, Lola Greco, and Matilda Coral, and in 1977 he joined forces with his daughters under the title of Los Farrucos.

El Farruco also performed at the 1992 “Expo” in Seville where he was awarded the prestigious “Compas del Cante”. He also appeared in many television documentaries concerning the gypsies and flamenco dance and was a part of the Carlos Saura film Flamenco in which he performed with members of his family, including his grandson Farruquito. And he participated in a Canal Plus film “Bodas de Gloria” in which most of his immediate family appeared performing nothing but traditional gypsy flamenco.

The history of flamenco is littered with characters who show us what this art is all about, and none so much as Antonio Montoya Flores, he had a natural animal instinct that had his audience hanging on his every move.

El Farruco, who died in 1997, was the epitome of pure “baile flamenco”, who till this day has yet to be surpassed.

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