Carmen Amaya, the Spanish Romani dancer, is celebrated by Google Doodle on her birthday.

Google has dedicated its homepage today to celebrate the life and legacy of Carmen Amaya, a Spanish Romani flamenco dancer and singer who was born on November 2, 1913 or 1915 in Barcelona. The doodle, created by guest artist Sergio Ingravalle, depicts Amaya in her signature style of dancing, wearing a red dress and high-waisted trousers, with a guitar and a fan in the background.

Who was Carmen Amaya?

Carmen Amaya was one of the most influential figures in the history of flamenco, a musical genre and dance form that originated in Andalusia, Spain. She was known for her powerful and passionate performance. Her mastery of footwork and her innovation of blending traditional and modern elements of flamenco. She was also the first female flamenco dancer to perform in trousers. Which was considered a symbol of her strong character and defiance of gender norms.

Amaya came from a poor Romani family of musicians and performers. She started dancing at a young age on the streets and in bars with her father, who played the guitar. Carmen Amaya soon gained recognition for her talent and charisma and began touring around Spain and Europe with various flamenco troupes. She also appeared in several films, such as Maria de la O (1936), Los Tarantos (1963), and El Amor Brujo (1967).

In 1936, she moved to Paris with her family to escape the Spanish Civil War. There, she performed for celebrities and dignitaries, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, and Pablo Picasso. Carmen Amaya also collaborated with other renowned artists, such as Edith Piaf, Django Reinhardt, and Sabicas. She later traveled to America, where she performed at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and the White House. She also introduced flamenco to Latin America, where audiences warmly received her.

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What is her legacy?

Many people widely regard Carmen Amaya as one of the greatest flamenco dancers of all time and a pioneer of modern flamenco. She influenced generations of flamenco artists, such as Antonio Gades, Cristina Hoyos, Joaquín Cortés, Sara Baras, and Rocío Molina. Carmen Amaya also inspired other dancers from different genres, such as Martha Graham, José Limón, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Michael Jackson.

Carmen Amaya was also a cultural ambassador for Spain and the Romani people, who have faced discrimination and marginalization throughout history. She represented the diversity and richness of Spanish culture, as well as the resilience and creativity of the Romani community. She received numerous awards and tributes, such as the Gold Medal of Fine Arts from Spain, from different entities and groups. The Order of Isabella the Catholic from Spain. The Order of Merit from Brazil, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Carmen Amaya died on November 19, 1963, in Begur, Spain, due to kidney failure. She was buried in the Cemetery of Montjuïc in Barcelona, where a monument was erected in her memory. Her tombstone bears the inscription: “Carmen Amaya. The greatest Flamenco dancer ever”.