Carmen Amaya on screen at Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West), Saturday (November 6) at 4 pm. $10. Rating: NNNN
Wow. This compelling doc chronicles the extraordinary life and career of Carmen Amaya , an illiterate flamenco dancer/singer who rose from obscurity in the slums of Barcelona to play Carnegie Hall, the Champs Elysées and get typecast in Hollywood films.
Through it all, she maintained her pride and dignity, as the fascinating archival footage, some from as early as the 1930s, shows. Director Jocelyn Ajami includes interviews with Amaya's friends, family and colleagues, as well as some scholars who provide a context for so-called Gypsy culture and the role of women in it.
There are some gaps, especially around her personal life, and there's little comment from the artist herself. But whenever she's onscreen, the woman dubbed the "human Vesuvius" communicates more effectively than any talking head.
As a bonus, the Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company presents a show devoted to Amaya throughout the weekend.