Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Barcelona-based guest artist Genie Espinosa, celebrates Spanish Romani dancer Carmen Amaya. Considered one of the greatest flamenco dancers of all time, Amaya’s boundless energy and personality manifested in her every move.
Amaya was born on this day in 1913* in Barcelona. She was born into a long line of flamenco dancers. Amaya’s father was a guitarist, and by age four, she danced in taverns and bars while he played. After touring neighborhood venues for years, Amaya’s expressive dancing style gained the attention of a variety showrunner. He booked her in prestigious places like Barcelona’s Spanish Theatre and Paris’ Palace Theatre — the latter became a staple in her career.
By 1929, Amaya started touring through Spain and Portugal with some of the most respected flamenco dancers of the time. Flamenco dancing traditionally focuses on upper body movement, but Amaya used her entire body. Her rapid footwork became iconic, earning her fans across Latin America. She eventually settled in Buenos Aires and founded her own flamenco troupe. They toured everywhere from Cuba to Brazil.
After a decade on the road, Amaya moved to Mexico City. In 1941, she performed in New York and made a fan of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt which resulted in an invite to dance at the White House! Amaya spent her late career in Hollywood and acted in films like La Historia de los Tarantos.
Amaya has been honored in many ways including Spain’s government awarded her the Medal of the Tourist Merit of Barcelona and Barcelona’s Montuic Park features a monument and a fountain in her honor. Amaya’s legacy lives in the twists and turns of today’s flamenco dancers.
Happy birthday, Carmen Amaya!
*some sources site 1918 as her birth year
Guest Artist Q&A with Genie Espinosa
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Barcelona-based guest artist Genie Espinosa. Below, she shares her thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q: Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: I really admire the power and strength of women like Carmen who broke down walls and showed her talent without hesitation.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: I watched many old videos and performances to gain an understanding of her vibe.
Q: What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: I hope people get curious about Carmen and are inspired to watch Carmen’s performance again (or maybe discover her for the first time!)