Sunday, October 17

From triumphing in Hollywood to jail for blasphemous: the amazing life of Antonio El Bailarín


Often times, the brilliant artistic career of Antonio El Bailarín (Seville, 1921-Madrid, 1996) has been obscured by the jokes surrounding his life. The centenary of his birth can be a good excuse to remember in the right measure a Sevillian who reached the top of dance, put the theaters around the world at his feet, rubbed shoulders with the greatest figures of his time … And it remains a great unknown.

An exhibition will show the legacy of Antonio El Bailarín on his centenary

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To this end, the Junta de Andalucía will exhibit for the first time the artist’s legacy acquired in 2000, which had been buried in boxes for two decades. It should be remembered that Antonio Ruiz Soler – his real name – did not have children, and that all the memories that he treasured in his studio on Madrid’s Calle Coslada, and with which he dreamed of building a museum, ended up being divided into parts by his nephews and auctioned in the Durán gallery. The Board acquired that heritage, and taking advantage of the anniversary will inaugurate this exhibition in the Santa Inés room nextNovember 4, as announced this Monday by the Minister of Culture, Patricia del Pozo.

Other appointments of the commemorative program will be the premiere for the Andalusian Flamenco Ballet (BFA) of the show Antonio … 100 years of art, a co-production with the Festival International Music and Dance of Granada –7, 8 and 9 October at the Central Theater– and the Antonio congress. One Hundred Years of Dance –4 and November 6–, as well as a cycle programmed by the Filmoteca de Andalucía that will review their contributions to the seventh art.

Triumph in Hollywood

Initiated in the dance from the earliest childhood with the teacher Realito, to later pass into the hands of other teachers such as Pericet, Otero or Frasquillo, Antonio was a child prodigy born to succeed. He met at a very young age what would be his partner and artistic partner, Florencia Pérez Padilla, better known as Rosario, and with only eight years old she was already performing before the kings of Spain Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia at the Ibero-American Exposition of Seville in 1929.

“Antonio was not only a great interpreter and creator, but he also had a charisma and a personality that subjugated Chaplin or Kennedy, among many others”, Rosalía Gómez, curator of the Seville exhibition

With the outbreak of the civil war, he accepts a contract to travel to the Americas, where he will stay for twelve years. Of these, seven years were spent in the United States, where he appeared in numerous films such as Sing Another Chorus by Charles Lamont, Ziegfield girl by Robert Z. Leonard and Busby Berkeley, Hollywood Canteen by Delmer Daves or Pan-American by John H. Auer. The Seville exhibition will reflect this Hollywood facet, since according to the curator Rosalía Gómez “Antonio was not only a great interpreter and creator, but he also had a charisma and personality that subjugated Chaplin or Kennedy, among many others”

The return to Spain of the couple formed by Antonio and Rosario will be triumphant, undertaking tremendous tours for three years through France, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, England, Belgium, Scotland, Holland, Israel, Morocco, Egypt … Later they would even conquer the Vienna Opera. “He was an ambassador for Spain around the world,” says Gómez. “And not only as a flamenco dancer, but also in Spanish folklore, stylized dance … Antonio was one of the most important dancers there has ever been”.

A particular genius

However, some biographers have preferred to focus on anecdotal aspects of his life, such as his conflictive relationship with Rosario – from which he separated in 1952, to rejoin her company ten years later – than on his art. “It is true that he had a very particular genius, and that the fights with Rosario even had to lower the curtain on stage. But Picasso was also apparently a complicated genius, and when an exhibition is held, his work and work prevail above all. his example “, says the commissioner.

Albums with press clippings, photographs, posters and some samples of costumes will make up the sample of the Santa Inés room dedicated to who would also become director of the National Ballet of Spain. Among the curiosities that will be exhibited is also his book My diary in prison, testimony of an experience that would make as much noise as his most famous premieres.

In 1974, he was in Arcos de la Frontera, taking part in the filming of El sombrero de Tres Picos under the baton of Valerio Lazarov, when Antonio reacted to the news that part of the company had caused a sick leave due to colds with a dead of Christ “that fell into the ears of a diligent servant of the law. The latter informed the competent judge of the facts, which earned the artist a fine of 10,000 pesetas and a sentence of two months in prison. And it was useless for the dancer to assure that he was referring to the dead of his driver, Cristóbal.

“If there is then a Save me DeluxeThey would still be talking about it, “the commissioner jokes.” Even Torrente Ballester wrote in the press about the matter. People on the right took it as a disgrace, those on the left were outraged by the excessive punishment that anyone could have had. “The matter raised such a cloud that the government was forced to decree a pardon.

Anecdotes of a life filled with them, which ended in 1996 with their burial in the San Fernando Cemetery in the capital of Seville. “Although a lot of gossip has circulated around him, a hundred years later it is time to pay tribute to a great figure of our culture,” Gómez emphasizes. “And Seville still hadn’t done him the honors he deserves.”



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