Mercé, Antonia (c. 1886–1936)

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Mercé, Antonia (c. 1886–1936)

Argentine-born dancer of Spanish ballet flamenco. Name variations: La Argentina; Antonia Merce. Born Antonia Mercé around 1886 in Argentina; died in Bayonne, France, in 1936.

Antonia Mercé, born in Argentina around 1886, was taught flamenco by her parents. Moving to Europe, she became La Argentina and the "first lady of the Spanish Ballet." Mercé represented a change in flamenco, breaking from its Gypsy (Roma) dance accompanied by guitar. Ballet flamenco combined various forms of dance, including classical, with large troupes for theatrical audiences. Although she retained some elements of flamenco's folk origins, her performances appealed less to purists than to the broader public. She toured widely outside Spain, helping popularize her stylized flamenco among international spectators. Interestingly, her chief rival as "Queen of the Castenets" was another woman called "Argentinita," Encarnación Lopez . Antonia Mercé died in Bayonne, France, in 1936.


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

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

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