El Carrete (r) with Jorge Peña during the filming of Don Quixote in Malaga last week. / FRANCISCO HINOJOSA

The Gypsy Fred Astaire heads to Broadway

El Carrete de Málaga. After 60 years in the limelight, the flamboyant dancer's ambition to end his career in New York has now become a reality

TONY BRYANT

One of Torremolinos' most charismatic residents, José Losada, is about to fulfil his life-long dream to have his name illuminated in neon lights in New York.

Otherwise known as El Carrete de Málaga - The Gypsy Fred Astaire, the flamboyant flamenco dancer has delighted audiences around the world with his spectacular dance style. His ambition has always been to end his dancing career on Broadway.

Now, thanks to a new documentary about his life, his dream will become a reality. Earlier this week he jetted off to New York to film the final scenes in the US for the programme.

Don Quixote in New York, in which José will portray his own interpretation of Don Quixote de la Mancha, is directed by Jorge Peña and it narrates the dancer's life, from the backstreets of Almeria, where he was born, to his rise to stardom within the flamenco world.

Times Square and Broadway

The 81-year-old will perform at the Skirball Theatre in Manhattan as the guest dancer for singer Miguel Poveda, and he will also offer two open-air performances in New York's Times Square and on Broadway.

José, who received the Hijo Adoptivo de Torremolinos (adopted son) recognition in 2018, was welcomed to the town hall last week for a special meeting with the town's mayor, Margarita del Cid. She congratulated the dancer on his career, which has spanned more than 60 years.

José acquired his artistic name, which means spool or reel, from his mother, a dancer called La Carreta who made a living selling the potent-smelling biznaga flowers in the streets of Antequera.

Love of movies

José began dancing when he was four, performing for tossed coins in the street in order to help his family survive. As a child, he would sneak into the local cinema to shelter from the cold, and it was here that he developed his love of the movies and Hollywood.

José's fascination with dance began after watching Fred Astaire on the golden screen and this is still obvious in his dance routines today. His dance style is erratic to say the least, and he can make the most sombre flamenco styles come alive with his energetic, rattling footwork.

The veteran dancer is no stranger to the limelight. His life story has been the subject of a book and he was also honoured with a tribute show, Señorialmente, which was written by José Luis Ortiz Nuevo and premiered in the Cervantes Theatre in Malaga in 2018.

The book - Carrete: Al Compás de la Vida - tells the story of his rise to stardom, from his first professional engagement in the Tablao El Refugio in Malaga, to working with artistes such as Camarón de la Isla, who nicknamed him The Monster.

José, who was filming some of the final scenes for the documentary in Torremolinos and Malaga last week, told SUR in English that he intends "to show New York what El Carrete de Málaga is all about".

Although he originally said he wanted to finish his career on Broadway, José says that he is not intending to hang up his dancing shoes just yet, claiming, "What would I do if I'm not dancing?"