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A Girl Dancing In Taverns To Feed Her Family Became The ‘Queen Of Flamenco’

After growing up in poverty in a Catalan shanty town, Carmen Amaya rose to become one of the most famous dancers of her era. But she never forgot her roots on the streets of Barcelona. While Amaya might not be a household name today, the legacy of her talent and courage has endured through the ages. 

La Capitana

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the woman who became known as La Capitana toured theaters around the world, captivating audiences wherever she went with her unique dancing style. 

And no matter whether she was entertaining presidents or paupers, she won her audience's admiration wherever she went. But such a bright flame was never destined to burn for long.

The essence of flamenco

Although her influence can still be felt today, ultimately, Amaya left the world far too soon. There's no doubt that with her unique style of dancing she transformed the essence of flamenco.

Her technique combined both the masculine and feminine elements of the dance steps in a perfect fusion. And even six decades after her passing, her name still inspires reverence within artistic circles.


Today, the city of Barcelona in Spain’s Catalonia region is a real tourist hotspot, one that attracts visitors from across the globe. And Somorrostro is one of its most popular districts.

Somorrostro is blessed with a long beach of golden sand and today it boasts plenty of trendy restaurants and bars. Back in Amaya’s day, though, things couldn’t have been more different.


First founded in the 19th century, Somorrostro soon grew into a densely populated slum. This makeshift city within a city comprised of some 15,000 people inhabiting around 2,000 shanty houses.

The district — or barrio — remained undeveloped, even while the urban sprawl of Barcelona grew around it. Primarily, it was home to much of the city’s Romani population, who had begun migrating to the region several hundred years before.