Caret de Málaga, the last land navigator

In case reel malaga To say that flamenco has no age is a matter of literalism. Everything trusts legend and his remarkable memory, this self-taught dancer and his age uncertain (about 83), a gypsy nomad in post-war Spain, danced barefoot and half-naked since he began walking and never knew the exact date of his arrival in the world. “I don’t know how old I am,” he says, enjoying the anecdote. His mother lived on the street and begged in the port of Málaga while the child, placed before him as an attraction, kept time on his feet to defy hunger. My mom used to tell me “Do the chorilla dance. He’d drop my pants and I’d start dancing and touching this thing,” he recalls dying of laughter, standing up, and gesturing. From there to filling theaters on different continents, he spent his life—which could be six or seven in any other person—of trouble, but also of glory, of tales impossible to keep from pure fury in conversation—his quick tapping head—and, of course, an unbridled talent for dancing.

Another moment from Carrete de Málaga’s performance in London. Julia Caroline Zeng

“I have a child inside my body named Carretillo, as my mother calls me, La Carreta,” says this octogenarian artist who perfectly marks the end of the era in flamenco and who joyfully lives “the child in me,” his greatest glory year, “the great year of Carretiano,” as his biographer, Paco Roji, christens only his memories. Nice flow of his conversation.

with the Teatro Sadler Wells From the British capital – 1,200 seat – stands for the three back-to-back performances presented by the London Flamenco Festival last week, Carrete de Málaga culminates in a 12-month cycle of tributes within our borders and beyond. It all started in April 2022, with his first – and most memorable – performance in New York, at the Skirball Center in Greenwich Village, as guest artist of singer Miguel Poveda and within the North American program of the Flamenco Festival. The ovation lasted 12 minutes. The documentary tells about that experience. Quixote in New YorkAnd The result of Karet’s trip to the Big Apple, where he was followed by Jorge Peña’s camera from Malaga, presented at the last edition of the Malaga Film Festival.

This was followed in February this year by the placement of a life-size statue in the town of Torremolinos on the Costa del Sol, where Karet has lived and worked in Tablaos since international tourism began to emerge in the midst of development in the 1960s. And after another triumph at the dance mecca of Sadler’s Wells in London, another grand homage awaits him Fourth Flamenco Council in Archidona 29 August next. “I am in a very happy moment, I have it all,” says the man and artist with sparkling eyes. “Hunger made me a savior and now Bailey gives me life.”

Caret de Málaga to the right.  The first on the left is Chiquito de la Calzada.
Caret de Málaga to the right. The first on the left is Chiquito de la Calzada.

Born coincidentally in Ventas de Zavaraya, Granada, Karet celebrated his birthday on February 27, 1940 after Paco Roji managed to find a baptismal certificate with the name José Losada Santiago – which appears on his DNI – in a church in Granada. “But the truth is, we don’t know for sure,” says the biographer. “There is a difference of more than two years between the dates of birth and baptism, according to the document, which was not very credible at the time.”

Granada, to be precise, is one of dozens of cities that Caret passed through in the first ten years of his life – Ciota, Almeria, La Linea de la Concepción, the whole of Levante … – carrying the child from one family to another, walking barefoot the roads of Andalusia and working in all kinds of agribusiness and dealing. “My mother left me one day in the Puerta de Colon in Málaga with a woman to come look for me after a while and I didn’t see her again until two years later; since she lived on the street, they would have put her in jail at that moment and I didn’t know any more. At Gibraltar, “he would have been seven years old,” he fell ill with typhus, and there an Englishwoman picked him up, he asserts, and saved him from the disease; So he ended up in Almeria in the clan of Pepa Vargas la Templica.

All these gypsy families who welcomed him carried the pollinated flamenco. Karet was a wonder—”He’s got a wild dance, he’s so unique,” Roggie points out—and soon the couple formed by singers Pepe Cordoba and Marie de la Trinidad, who are based in Malaga, are taking him on tour. Since then, it was 1957 and according to official data he would have been 17 years old, the legend of this sponsor began to take shape, which, thanks to its mastery of its feet, is known as Fred Astaire Roma. “I went from knowing the world as a wandering child to knowing him as an artist in tables and theatres,” he asserts.

Malaga ball dancing in the fifties.
Malaga ball dancing in the fifties.

On the Costa del Sol, he made a name for himself with another genius of pop culture: little bridge, with whom he shared the stage in the best paintings in Torremolinos in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, going to see such celebrities as Brigitte Bardot and Anthony Quinn. They were the actors of the moment, who were shooting movies that were made in the desert of Almeria. During breaks, they came to Malaga to see him dance,” his biographer helps him build the story. “I have pictures with all these, but I don’t know what they’re called, beautiful,” he exclaims to the journalist.

His biography contains so many stops – he is the father of seven children and married three times, one of them to an American who took him to live in California – that it is impossible to summarize them in short journalistic breaths. “Why don’t you write a book, Riel?” He replies, “I have the book in me.” However, what can seem like a stressful existence, for Carrett, it’s just encouragement to keep going.

The dancer is in the center with actor Anthony Quinn (left).
The dancer is in the center with actor Anthony Quinn (left).

At the London Flamenco Festival, he met the stage direction by Granada-born choreographer Manuel Linan, who did not know him personally before this performance and who did not leave him in his arms throughout his stay. “I met the three greats: Antonio L Bellarín, Jadis and Farruko, and I say this boy has something amazing inside of him, he’s a huge talent. We can do so many things together.” Manwe’, Repeat with this glamorous look for someone who feels they still have a lot to live for.

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