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July 26, 2022

Life of Spanish Dancer and Painter La Chunga Through Rare Vintage Photos

Born 1938 as Micaela Flores Amaya in Marseille, Spanish flamenco dancer and painter of naïf art La Chunga started dancing when she was six years-old in “Ca La Rosita”, a well-known bodega for the romanì community in El Poble-Sec. It was at this time she was discovered by a painter by the name of Paco Rebés, who later becomes her godfather and protector, during one of her improvised street performances and he takes her under his tutelage.

La Chunga became the muse of several writers like Blas de Otero, Rafael Alberti, José Manuel Caballero Bonald and León Felipe, and several painters, including Picasso, Dalí and Francisco Rebés who made her an attractive character for intellectuals and encouraged her to paint. A 1958 photo shows Salvador Dalí inviting her to make art by dancing on a blank canvas. During intervals, Dali would paint beneath her feet. She was known for her barefoot style of flamenco dance and described as “The Barefoot Dancer”. She was admired by Picasso as a “shining naif”. She also exhibited in several galleries in Paris and Madrid.

Pastora Imperio contracted her in 1956 and thanks to Ava Gardner, La Chunga took part in two Hollywood movies. The businessman Sullivan introduced her in Las Vegas and she participated in various TV programs in the United States and Mexico. Since then, she has participated in many tours and some movies. She married the cinema director José Luis Gonzalvo and they had a daughter, Pilar.

Take a look at these rare vintage photos to see portraits of a young La Chunga in the 1950s and 1960s.


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