Flamenco 19 – Solo Artists (3)

In the third of our series on solo artists, we’re going to take a look at a leading Bailaora and one of my favourite Cantaores. Get ready for a master class on the use of both El Mantón de Manila and La Bata de Cola from Matilde Coral and for some fine tanguillos and bulerías in the mischievous company of the incomparable Chano Lobato.


Matilde Corrales González “Matilde Coral” was born in June 1935, in the Plaza de Chapina, in the heart of the historic barrio of Triana in Seville. We saw her in the second Sevilllanas post, dancing the Classic Sevillanas with her husband and daughter. In this photo she is accompanied by her husband, Rafael García “El Negro” (of whom more, below). Here they are dancing Bulerías.

She studied under Adelita Domingo, Pastora Imperio and Eloisa Albéniz and started out as a bailaora in the “Cortijo El Guajiro” in Seville. She was “Primera Bailaora” at the El Duende Tablao in Madrid and travelled the world with the leading dance companies, with Pastora Imperio and Gitanillo de Triana among others, in the fifties and sixties.
She is widely recognised as a maestra in the use of the Mantón de Manila (the embroidered shawls imported from the Philippines) and in the art of moving the Bata de Cola (the dress with a train weighted down with heavy cord that can weigh up to seven kilos and is often moved with no more than a flick of the ankle). Here she is dancing Alegrías:

She set up her own studio in 1967 and no fewer than 9 bailaoras who studied under her have gone on to win national prizes, among them Merche Esmeralda, Pepa Montes and Milagros Mengíbar, all of whom we have seen in earlier instalments of the series.

Rafael García Rodríguez, El Negro, was born in Triana in April de 1935 and died there in March last year.
A gypsy dancer blessed with the “duende” found only in Triana, he was considered to be one of the last bailaores who were able to transmit the real drama of the movements of the bulería. With no formal training, he debuted at the age of sixteen and since then there have been few who were able to hold a candle to him, except perhaps, his good friend Farruco when dancing soleá.
A dancer of breathtaking talent and no less astounding humility, in 1954 he joined the Cortijo El Guajiro, the legendary Tablao in Seville, where he met the bailaora Matilde Coral. They were married in Triana in 1957 and their personal and professional lives were inextricably linked from that moment on. Here is the second part of the Alegrías posted above. Here Rafael dances alone (6:58 onwards – at which point the cantaores have moved up a gear and are really singing bulerías, a palo far better suited to El Negro’s style of dancing) before being joined by Matilde to close the number.


Juan Miguel Ramírez Sarabia, known as Chano Lobota, was born in the Barrio de Santa María in Cádiz in 1927 and died in Seville in April 2009. He started out in the Tablaos of his home town before moving to Madrid where he started work in Alejandro Vega’s dance company. For 20 years he was employed as a cantaor de atrás or singer for dance numbers, an apprenticeship that has been served by many of today’s leading figures such as Arcángel. But such was his talent and inimitable style that he became recognised as a cantaor in his own right. Here he is singing Bulerías de Frascuelo:

In his twenty years as “cantaor de atrás“, he performed all over the world with Antonio “El Bailarín” and other leading figures. He later sang, as we have seen above, for Matilde Coral, as well as for his wife, Rosario la Chana, Carmen Amaya and Manuela Vargas. In 1974 he won the “Enrique el Mellizo Award” at the Concurso Nacional in Cordoba. He is perhaps best remembered for his Tanguillos and Alegrías but was an accomplished singer with a range that covered many of the palos that are considered more serious (as we have seen above with the Bulerías). Coming from Cadiz as he did, his affinity with the Cantes de Ida y Vuelta was notable and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better example of Guajiras than this:

We’ll leave you with these Tanguillos de Cádiz, recorded at the end of a show. An impromptu fin de fiesta that was happily caught on film. The whole thing, whilst obviously drawing on the staples of the form, is improvised and went down so well that the four guitarists who had been accompanying the different cantaores that evening stayed on stage to join in and even the bailaora (Pepa Montes), who was back in her dressing room, came back on stage to dance. The voice over is a little annoying in places, I’ll admit, but the commentator makes an extremely valid point. It is often thought, given the light-hearted nature of the words and the frequent use of double-entendres, that the Tanguillo is a minor palo and easy to sing. This is not the case. Finding the balance between the mischievous and the artistic (the cadence, the rhythm, the delivery) is notoriously difficult and no-one has ever done it quite so well as Chano.

3 Responses to Flamenco 19 – Solo Artists (3)

  1. flamencomexicano says:

    Dear Maki,

    I thouroughly enjoyed this post and look forward to reading more.

  2. makinavaja says:

    We do one a week, so stay tuned!! I’ll be visiting your blog over the weekend. Thank you for commenting.

  3. Pingback: The Flamenco Series « Casa Maki

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: