The bata de cola on stage

The bata de cola on stage

We’re celebrating the addition of our new class ‘tecnica - BATA DE COLA’ to our online dance studio danza estudio Flamenco Bites with a series of posts looking at the bata de cola.

Today we’re going to take a look at examples of the bata de cola on the stage.

From our last post you’ll recall that according to Matilde Coral the first flamenco dancers to wear the bata de cola on stage in the early 20th century were La Malena and La Macarrona.

I have also found articles that state La Mejorana a contemporary of both La Malena and La Macarrona was the first dancer to perform with the bata de cola.

La Mejorana performed professionally in the cafes cantantes of Seville from 1878 to the year of her marriage in 1881.

Both La Malena and La Macarrona were also dancing in the cafes cantantes at the turn of the century before moving on to dancing in more formal staged performances that toured both Europe and regional Spain.

I couldn’t find any footage of these dancers but I did find a written description of La Macarrona written by Fernando el de Triana.

“When her manton de manila and bata de cola go out dancing and after a few desplantes she stops firmly to enter a falseta, the bata de cola is behind is in a mathematical straight line; and when in different steps of said falseta she has to make a quick turn with a firm stop, her feet are gently rolled in the tail of her bata, resembling a precious sculpture placed on delicate pedestal”
— Fernando el de Triana

You can read the whole article (written in Spanish) with photos here -  http://www.elartedevivirelflamenco.com/bailaores16.html

In my search for early footage I found some videos of La Argentinita (not to be confused with La Argentina).

In this video La Argentinita dances por alegrías.

Something that strikes me in this video is the style and construction of the bata de cola. The skirt in the front is quite short, it finishes well above the ankles. Also, that the train of the bata doesn’t appear to be very bulky.

The early batas are said to have been very heavy, up to 25kg so perhaps La Argentenita is just doing a very good job of making things look easier than they actually are.

As far as how La Argentinita dances with the bata, apart from moving the skirt from one side to the other and some slightly larger patadas, the style of dance is very elegant and refined and becomes more exuberant at the end of the dance.

Next we have Matilde Coral dancing a Caña.

Matilde Coral has dedicated her career to studying the bata de cola and she wrote a book about it called 'Tratado de la bata de cola'. Unfortunately it is now out of print but if you have 700 euro lying around you can pick up a second hand copy on Amazon España.

I don't know what the year of this recording is but my guess would be sometime in the 1960s. The technique and the style of dancing with the bata de cola has certainly come a long way since the earlier video of La Argentinita above.

The next video I want to share with you is of Milagros Menjibar.

Milagros is a student of Matilde Coral and in this video she is dancing a Petenera. This recording is from 2008 so it is relatively recent but I wanted to find a generation from the next generation on from Matilde to show you.

Also, this Petenera is amazing you should watch it all the way through. The control of the bata de cola here is incredible. It's like it truly is an extension of her body.

Moving on to the next video also from 2008 we have Belén Maya performing a contemporary choreography with the bata de cola.

And to complete our look at the bata de cola today we're going to finish with Fuensanta 'La Moneta'. This performance was filmed last year in 2016.

There are so many more incredible dancers that have contributed to the art of dancing with the bata de cola. We haven't even mentioned Carmen Amaya who apparently danced with a bata de cola that was 3 metres long!

We could never listed them all here but we hope that you've enjoyed this short little bit of time travelling.

 

Technique for the bata de cola now available to all danza estudio Flamenco Bites members.

Technique for the bata de cola now available to all danza estudio Flamenco Bites members.