Now retired, Rosa Montoya lives most of the year in Spain, but whenever she returns to the Bay Area for a visit, word spreads quickly through the local dance community and students flock to learn from her. In the episode “Masters of Dance,” Spark goes into the dance studio where Montoya is immersed in coaxing the best out of each of her students. She makes it clear to them that flamenco requires having not only the dedication to master the technique, but also — and more important — the feeling and attitude that must accompany this passionate dance form.
Born in Madrid, Spain, into a gypsy family of world-famous flamenco guitarists, Ramón Montoya and Carlos Montoya, Rosa grew up surrounded by music and dance. She began her formal dance training at age 8 studying flamenco at Amor de Diós, Spanish classical dance at Círculo de Bellas Artes and ballet at the Instituto Nacional de Ballet. Her professional career began at La Zambra when she was 16, and shortly after, she was touring with José Marchena and Company.
Montoya was discovered by Ciro Diezhandino, who invited her to join his group, Casa Madrid, as a lead dancer. As partners, from 1961 to 1972 they toured Asia, Europe, Australia and the United States. In 1964, Diezhandino opened the nightclub Mesón del Flamenco in San Francisco, where Montoya met her future husband, Carlos Mullen, a guitar player.
When Montoya settled in San Francisco in 1971, she set out to make her art form much more visible in the existing dance landscape. A few years later she opened a school and started a company, Rosa Montoya Bailes Flamencos. Montoya joined the faculty of San Francisco State University’s ethnic dance department in 1985. Now retired from performing, she is still passing on her rich legacy to aspiring students around the world.
Rosa Montoya may be contacted at:
Calle Tomasa Ruiz 6,
Segundo Piso, C
Phone (dailing from the United States): 011-34-914-698-760