Flamenco 25 – Los Farrucos: My dance is my legacy

Today we are going to talk about a family whose prowess, art and Gypsy heritage begin with the grandfather and have been handed down through subsequent generations. A family that reflects and embodies many of the elements of the true ethnic pride and identity that have always characterised the Gypsy race. In this post we are going to get to know Los Farrucos, whose name as we have mentioned before comes from the Arabic “Farouq”, which means “brave”. This is a long post (we have tried to trim it down but couldn’t leave anything else out) so please take your time over it.

ANTONIO MONTOYA FLORES
Known everywhere as “Farruco” and probably one of the best Gypsy Bailaores the Flamenco world has ever known, Antonio Montoya Flores was born in Madrid in 1935 and died in Seville in 1997.
The Patriarch of an extended family saga, he was a true one-off due to his rebellious nature, his stubborn independence and his defiant and fierce defence of the Gypsy roots and qualities of his art. “I am a true Gypsy, one of the purest. I have perpetuated my race and tenaciously upheld our customs,” he was proud to observe.
Here he is dancing a Soleá. The palmero is El Chocolate, another Gypsy, who we will see has accompanied the family over the years:

Farruco was a great nephew of the legendary guitarist Ramón Montoya and came from a long line of Gypsy basket weavers that travelled from place to place in their caravan often sleeping rough under bridges or finding shelter where they could. His stage name came from his mother, another fine dancer, who was known as La Farruca. He had six children – a son and five daughters – and he was very proud that all of his daughters had married fellow Gypsies in what he referred to as “Glorious Weddings”.
Here is another example of his dancing. This time Bulerías, with a very young Tomatito accompanying him on the guitar:

He was married at fourteen, a father at fifteen, widowed at sixteen, remarried and by the age of thirty three had welcomed his first grandchild into the world. His only son, who he called Farruquito, a fine dancer and natural heir to his father’s art and temperament, was tragically killed in a traffic accident at the age of only eighteen. This was a blow from which Farruco would never really recover and one that led him to withdraw from public performance for a number of years.
Farruco was the first in a legendary saga of Bailaores and whilst still alive was hailed by his peers as well as within his own family as the patriarch of Gypsy dance, customs and heritage. His fame did not die with him and his teachings (for he was a fine, but incredibly demanding teacher) live on.
Farruco died with all his hopes placed in his grandson Juan, who he also called Farruquito, who we can see dancing with his grandfather in this clip:

ROSARIO MONTOYA MANZANO
Rosario Montoya Manzano, La Farruca, one of Farruco’s five daughters was born in Seville in 1962. She danced from an early age and has shared the stage with the best Flamenco artists of her time. She has starred in innumerable productions, most notably “Andalucía Flamenca” and “Bodas de Gloria”.
She accompanied her son, Farruquito, in his first show “Raíces Flamencas”, which premièred at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 1997 and went on to have successful runs in Barcelona, Madrid and even Japan. She later accompanied him on his first tour of the United States with the show “Farruquito y Familia”, where the critics noted that she was “a woman with a volutuous stage presence, whose dancing is a continuous invocation to the Muses”. here she is in a performance in Nimes, with two of her sons – Juan, “Farruquito”, and Antonio, “El Farru”- and her nephew, “El Polito” (watch till 4 mins – the rest is curtain calls and the beginning of a fin de fiesta we will see better at the end of this post):

La Farruca couples almost magical force with measured restraint. Her last show, with her sister La Faraona and her nephew El Polito, was called “De Farruca a Faraona” and was premièred in 2008. She made her last appearance in public at the Jerez Festival this year and has now retired.

JUAN MANUEL FERNÁNDEZ MONTOYA

Juan Manuel Fernández Montoya, Farruquito, was born in Seville in 1982. He is the son of the late Cantaor Juan Fernández Flores, El Moreno, and La Farruca. He is considered by many to be the true heir and inheritor of his grandfather’s art and passion. He made his début in public at the age of only four in the Broadway show “Puro Flamenco” in the company of several leading Flamenco performers, many of whom were members of his family, and by the age of eight was performing in Madrid. By this time he was working with Camarón and the film maker Carlos Saura. At the age of eleven he starred in the family production “Bodas de Gloria”, not only dancing but contributing choreographies as well. Here is a clip from the show in which his father sings:

The show is the story of the preparation of a Gypsy Wedding with the bride undecided between two suitors. If anyone would like to see more, the whole show can be seen here.

In 1992 he took part in the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Paralympic Games and danced with his grandfather in the Andalusia Pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Seville. He was only fifteen when his grandfather died in 1997 but assumed the great responsibility of continuing the family traditions and perpetuating the saga. He was very successful, very quickly. Firstly with his show “Raíces Flamencas” in 1997, which was met with universal acclaim on the international stage. In 2001 he presented his show “La Len Varo” in New York at the inaugural Festival Flamenco and was hailed by one critic as the best artist to have performed in NY that year. The following year he enjoyed a successful run in his home town, Seville, and in 2003 he was back in the U.S. triumphing at the third Festival Flamenco, this time in the company of his brother Farru, who at the time was only fourteen. By this time he had caught the eye of the photographer Richard Avedon and the fashion designer Antonio Miró and had been included in People Magazine’s list of The Most Beautiful People in the World.
He also runs a dance academy in Seville, where his grandfather’s teachings are passed on to new generations of dancers.
Here he is in a clip from January this year dancing a Seguriya with his brother Farru:

His latest show “Alma Vieja” has played to packed houses in Madrid and Seville.

ANTONIO FERNÁNDEZ MONTOYA

Antonio Fernández Montoya, Farru, is Farruquito’s younger brother and was born in Seville in 1988. He made his international début in Berlin at the age of two, was dancing in Bodas de Gloria at the age of six and at the age of ten started his own dance company “Los Gnomos del Flamenco”, which performed at a number of Flamenco festivals throughout Spain. In 2001 he took part in the show “Farruquito y Familia” and was invited to tour Mexico as a solo dancer with Antonio Canales’ company. Here he is dancing a Guajira. This is a dance that is very rarely danced solo by male dancers. The fusion of the male Gypsy dancing style with this almost dreamy example of one of the Cantes de Ida y Vuelta is both stunning and unique:

MANUEL FERNÁNDEZ MONTOYA

Manuel Fernández Montoya, El Carpeta, was born in 1998. His stage name means “The Folder” and was given to him by the family because even as a toddler he paid attention to absolutely everything he saw his family doing on stage and stored it away for future reference.

Here he is dancing with his mother, La Farruca:

He has danced in public from a very early age and taken part in Carlos Saura’s last film “Flamenco, Flamenco”. He has already performed successfully both with his family and more recently as a solo dancer at Casa Patas in Madrid. Here is a clip from that performance:

His facial expressions, his energy, his pride in his art and so many other qualities have people rushing for a Thesaurus to find synonyms for outstanding! Of the three brothers, perhaps the youngest will turn out to be the real heir to their grandfather’s legacy. Only time will tell. He is a bright young lad who comes across very well in interviews. An old head on extremely young shoulders. He lives and breathes Flamenco and knows exactly what he wants to do with his life. One more thing about this last generation. They all admire one, just one, dancer from outside the Flamenco world. Who? Well, Michael Jackson, of course!

So, here to end are the whole family together in a wonderful “fin de fiesta”. Watch it till the end, please. When El Carpeta comes on stage the house comes down!

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2 Responses to Flamenco 25 – Los Farrucos: My dance is my legacy

  1. Pingback: The Flamenco Series « Casa Maki

  2. Pingback: ¡FESTIVAL FLAMENCO GITANO! at NYU’s Skirball Center « Ren's Micro Diplomacy

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