Matilda Corrales Gonzalez, who was born in Seville in 1935, is a dancer of the purest and most profound qualities of the baile flamenco.
As a child Matilda Coral was greatly influenced by Pastora Imperio, a person whom she would perform with and also someone she would learn so much from. Today you can see that this influence has stayed with Matilda Coral throughout her long and dedicated career.
She started to dance professionally at the age of sixteen, having to borrow the I.D. of her eighteen-year-old cousin to be able to work legally.
When she was twenty, Matilda was hired to work at the tablao El Guajiro and it here that she met her future husband, the gypsy dancer Rafael El Negro.
She then spent her early years dancing in the flamenco companies of Pastora Imperio and Pepe Pinto and went on to become extremely popular in the main tablaos of Seville, as well as those in Madrid, during the 1960s and `70s.
In 1967 Matilda Coral started what was to become a life long dedication to teaching flamenco dance, and her classes would become famous for the “Seville School”, a style that she has religiously promoted for more than fifty years. The Seville style of dance is instantly recognizable by the positioning of the dancers head, the movement of the hips and the arching of the shoulders.
Matilda Coral is a shining example of this classic dance style, which concentrates of the upper torso. Her hand and arm movements are fluid and the arching of the shoulders and back done so majestically, such a contrast to the swirling hysteria performed by many of today’s female flamenco dancers.
Her love of teaching dance started in her mother’s small dining room where she would give free lessons, and later she rentd a room in Seville; she has taught just about any serious flamenco dancer of the last three decades.
Her lifelong teaching experience has won her the teaching certificate from the Conservatorio de Cordoba, and many other awards including the Premio Pilar López and the Premio La Argentinita, which she won during the 1967 contest in Cordoba.
She later teamed up with another dance legend from Seville by the name of El Farruco and, together with her husband El Negro, they performed as Los Bolecos. This famous trio appeared at many festivals and tablaos in Andalucía and they were recognized and awarded by the Cátedra de Flamencología de Jerez.
In 1975 Matilda Coral was honored again by becoming the first and, to this date, the only, person to be awarded the Llave de oro de Baile, the prestigious golden key of flamenco dance.
Matilda Coral has a radiance which glows and fills the whole room when she dances, she has rhythm and harmony flowing through her veins, her dance is full of femininity and grace, just like a classic bailaora should be.
Her dance school is one of the most prestigious in Spain and she is respected and idolized by most people who have a passion for flamenco. She is, most certainly, a monument to the jondo dance.
Matilda Coral still lives in Triana with her husband, Rafael el Negro, who had to retire from dancing due to ill health, but he is constantly and discreetly in the background watching over his wife.
In 2006 they celebrated fifty years of marriage and even though Matilda`s health of late has been dogged by illness, she is still active on the flamenco dance scene, promoting Seville’s own special style of dance.
Tony Bryant is author of Flamenco An Englishman’s Passion and Flamenco a Tale of Three Cities