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Flores, Lola (1924–1995)

Flores, Lola (1924–1995)

Spanish stage actress and flamenco singer-dancer, who was the best-loved singer in Spain for decades. Name variations: Dolores Flores Ruiz. Born Dolores Flores Ruiz on January 21, 1924 (some sources cite 1928), in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain; died in Madrid, Spain, on May 16, 1995; daughter of Pedro Flores and Rosario Ruiz; married Antonio González (a Gypsy [Roma] guitarist), in November 1957; children: Rosario, Lolita, Antonio.

Born in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, on January 21, 1924, Lola Flores was the daughter of Pedro Flores and Rosario Ruiz . She grew up in Andalusia, the Spanish home of flamenco song and dance, and although not a Gypsy (people of Romany) herself Lola was fond of saying that the Rom were her cousins. As a child, she frequented the convivial bars of Sevilla and Jerez, where her father often worked, and began singing and dancing with Rom friends.

By the 1940s, she had attracted the attention of Manolo Caracol, a great flamenco singer, and began touring with him. Caracol sang while Flores danced, like "thunder and lightening" according to one observer. Flores and Caracol formed a very successful team that evolved into a fiery relationship. She also appeared in a movie, Maringala, made in 1943. When Flores and Caracol finally broke up, she formed her own company, as one of the foremost flamenco performers in the Hispanic world.

Her ability as a dancer outshone her singing. Trained by flamenco guitarists Javier Molina and Sebastián Núñez and by the dancer María Pantoja , Flores was nonetheless an instinctual artist rather than a highly choreographed performer. She possessed duende, what the Rom call mysterious, emotional, instinctive genius. Such dancing with duende harkened back to the traditional roots of flamenco.

A popular idol in Spain, Flores was the subject of constant media attention. Gossip about her tours and love affairs attracted readers. In November 1957, she married Antonio González, a Gypsy guitarist in her company. They soon had three children, continued to tour, and even starred together in movies, including La Venta de Vargas. In 1989, the Spanish bureaucracy caught up with Flores' free-wheeling ways because she had never filed an income-tax report. Lola Flores died in 1995.

sources:

Medina, Tico. Lola, en carne viva: Memorias de Lola Flores. Madrid: Ediciones Temas de Hoy, 1990.

Pohren, D. E. Lives and Legends of Flamenco. Sevilla: Society of Spanish Studies, 1964.

Umbral, Francisco. Lola Flores: Sociología de la petenera. Barcelona: DOPESA, 1971.

suggested reading:

"Lola Flores," in The Times [London]. May 29, 1995, p. 19.

"Lola Flores, 72, Spain's Definitive Flamenco Singer", in The New York Times. May 17, 1995, p. C18.

"Spain Mourns Its Flamenco Diva," in The New York Times. May 18, 1995, p. C19.

Kendall W. Brown , Professor of History, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

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