1952 was the year America fell in love with José Greco and classical flamenco dance.

That was the year Greco – almost single-handedly – revived the art of flamenco and became a household name through appearances on popular television shows and in movies. In November 1952 the José Greco Company came to Santa Barbara and brought their riveting showmanship to the Lobero Theatre for 4 performances.

José Greco was born to Spanish-Italian parents in Montorio nei Frentani, Italy in 1918. When he was 10 years old his family moved to Brooklyn, New York and as a teenager, Greco started training in Spanish dance. His career as a serious concert-dance performer began in 1942 when the famous Spanish-Argentine dancer “La Argentiñita” invited him to partner with her and join her company. In 1945 Greco moved to Spain and a couple of years later formed his own classical flamenco dance company.

At the end of 1950, after six years in Europe, the José Greco Dance Company returned to the United States and soon became a national sensation after performing on Broadway and appearing on national TV variety programs like the Ed Sullivan Show.

To Americans, José Greco’s aristocratic elegance, fiery temperament, and Latin sensuality were irresistible, with one critic quipping, “All men want to be José Greco, and all women want to be loved by José Greco!”

Arlene Croce of the New Yorker magazine called José Greco

“the undisputed Spanish dance star of the ‘50s and ‘60s…in terms of box-office power he may have been the greatest of all dance stars until the advent of Rudolph Nureyev.”

Nearly 50 years after his first performance at the Lobero, José Greco and his Spanish Dance Company returned to the theatre in 1991. With Greco serving as artistic director and dancing in character roles, the company starred his adult children including his daughter Carmela, son José II, and his eldest son José Luis.

José Greco’s last live performance came in 1995, when he was 77 years old. Anna Kisselgoff, dance critic of The Times wrote, “Now a bit stout, sometimes quaint looking, he can still burst into a blazing display of dynamic heelwork. He never loses his star luster.”

Enjoy José Greco in this short clip from the 1956 movie Around The World in 80 Days
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wL2fRBv4GxY

Sources

While we wait in the wings for things to return to normal, we hope you enjoy a peek into the Lobero archives.

We hope you’re staying safe and enjoying the arts from the comfort of your own home. Go ahead and read more stories below.

While we wait in the wings for things to return to normal, we hope you enjoy a peek into the Lobero archives.

We hope you’re staying safe and enjoying the arts from the comfort of your own home. Go ahead and read more stories below.