Reel speak with your feet and dance with words. Taconea firmly on the wood with security in the same way that anecdotes and memories come to him in spurts. His memory covers the long range of those who have lived in different times. He seems to have lived several lives. And in all of them there is a common denominator: flamenco as a way of life and dance as passion. But the bailaor is missing one more to live, the one that will someday take him to Broadway to pay homage to Fred Astaire in his land. "For now it's just a dream, I hope it comes true," says Malaga.
José Losada Santiago has always been known as Reel of Malaga. A unique artist who does not even know when he was born. Yes where. In an era close to Venta de Zafarraya, bordering town between Granada and Malaga, although its baptism certificate reflects that it was in Antequera (Málaga). His name comes from family. His mother, cantaora, was known as La Carreta. The dance was put by him, who at the age of five began to move his feet on the mown wheat and under the influence of flamenco, his way of life thereafter.
From his humble apartment in Torremolinos, Carrete spends his days learning and teaching. In an old book he practices calligraphy and with the help of some books his reading improves. Several times a week he crosses the street to go to the Pablo Ruiz Picasso cultural center, where he has been teaching dance for 17 years. He also works as a teacher in a bass of his urbanization, where he is able to transform into lessons his art, which always sprung from improvisation.
His small studio is also a flamenco museum. There are guitars, records, books, photos, posters of recitals. There is also an old television on an old video device. In it, Carrete plays again and again, on an already worn VHS tape, a two-minute sequence of Fred Astaire's dance and Eleanor Powell's movie The new Broadway melody (1940). He sits in front of the screen and his feet come alive. It is his inspiration since, as a child, he enjoyed that film at the Rialto cinema in Málaga, where he took refuge from the cold. Then I believed that the protagonists danced in bulerías. Today, Carrete is known as the gypsy Fred Astaire, nickname that came with the show I do not know how old I am, premiered in 2007. "It's a pride to be called like that, but also a responsibility that weighs," says the bailaor.
That work reviewed a biography that is many at the same time. As a child he danced to beg while his family traveled through half of Spain. He cleaned boots in the Port of Malaga, where he became a major player in La Repompa, La Cañeta, La Quica, El Tembleque or El Nino de Almeria. He did the military in Ceuta. He went through the El Refugio tablao until he was hired at the Villa Rosa, in the Plaza de Santa Ana in Madrid. Then came performances in half the world and in places as unsuspected as the Norwegian Royal Palace. Also a few years living in Santa Monica, near Los Angeles. In the United States, he was married by the Mormon rite. "I'm a millionaire in experiences," he says. He does not lack reason.
In the sixties he settled in what was then the capital of the Costa del Sol. "From Madrid to heaven … and from Torremolinos to hell," he emphasizes with the eyes of a rogue. He acted for decades with Chiquito de la Calzada. They were years of hard work, yes, but also had fun surrounded by writers, poets, artists and actors of Hollywood like Sean Connery or Frank Sinatra, with which he coincided in the hotel Pez Espada. "That guy was a gangster," he says. Camarón, Paco de Lucía, Farruco, Carmen Amaya, Sabicas, Marisol or Antonio Gades are some other names that appear in his story of someone to whom flamenco has saved life several times. Today it is the young people who take notice of him, from Israel Galván to Rocío Molina, with whom he shares more than he believes himself.
The successes and failures of Carrete have given for a book, In time with life, written by Paco Roji and Francis Mármol in 2009. An amazing story of anecdotes, landscapes, taverns, chiaroscuros and proper names. That work boosted the numerous recognitions that he continues to receive today, the last one a few weeks ago at the Moments festival. The one that filled him most occurred last May in a Cervantes Theater overflowing, which he left on his shoulders. "It was a tribute from the comrades, that is not forgotten," he says. A few weeks ago they made him the Adoptive Son of Torremolinos and Carrete mistakenly believed that it would entail some financial compensation. "That they recognize you is very good. But the pictures, the diplomas, can not be eaten, "he laughs. Hunger is never forgotten. Nor his dance.
"He says he feels forgotten, but Carrete still has chapters to write," says Jorge Peña, Malaga director based in Barcelona who prepares the documentary Quixote in New York, with the bailaor as the protagonist. At teaser for the presentation of the film, Estrella Morente justifies the title. "My father always stayed with the desire to do a flamenco Quixote with Uncle Carrete," says the singer. Perhaps it is the project that allows José Losada Santiago to fulfill his dream: to see on Broadway a luminous one that says in big letters "Carrete, the gypsy Fred Astaire".