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7-29-1951 Mercedes Borrull, and Flamenco guitarist Miguel Borrull perform

Mercedes Borrull's dancing troupe conquers Paris

by: Randy Osborne - Published 06/12/2023 9:35 PM and updated 08/04/2023 4:05 PM

Her grandfather, Miguel Borrull Castello (1866-1926), played in restaurants in Paris in 1915.

From the daily "La Vigie marocaine" July 29, 1951, page 4.

THE THEATER IN PARIS

The “Gitana Blanca” to conquer Paris

"THE Théâtre de l'Etoile is getting a makeover. Its facade, on the avenue de Wagram, is repainted and announces an upcoming show: “Ballets d’Espagne”, with Mercédés Borrull and her company. Mercédès Borrull (1933-2014) is the “Gitana Blanca”. She is of gypsy origin, but she was born in Barcelona, and she has a very fair complexion – hence her nickname. She belongs to a family that has produced many renowned artists throughout the Iberian Peninsula. Her father Miguel Borrull Giménez (1900-1976), who leads the troupe, is a famous guitarist, and her sister Trinidad, — Trini in intimacy — dances with her, "La Gitana Blanca" is renowned from San Sebastian to Seville, and from Barcelona to Oviedo. She has been the star of many films, including “Macarena”, “Vientos de Siglos”, “Centauro”. But until last year, she had only performed in Spain. A year ago, she left the Peninsula for a tour of North Africa. She gave performances in Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh, Tangier, Algeria and Tunisia. And now, with her “Ballets d’Espagne”, she is leaving. On the set of the Théâtre de l'Etoile, the troupe rests after repetition. The show won't begin until August 17, but its development requires a long preparation and each evening is worth the empty seats the artists are training for the next evening is where they hope to communicate their flame to the Parisian public. They are about thirty, in all, with six dancers, five star dancers, singers and a quartet of guitarists, Los Chacareros. Mercédès Borrull hardly speaks French but my Spanish, although sometimes hesitant, manages to establish a friendly and understanding contact.

'No', she told me, 'I don't have too much apprehension to face vibrating the Parisian public, although I am dancing for the first time in front of them. I hope they will like my show of songs and dances from all the provinces of Spain, Andalusia, Aragon, Galicia, etc... with particularly neat and typically Iberian costumes. My “Ballets” are not artificial choreographic creations. My dance is not an arrangement, it is a more or less falsified adaptation. It is an outpouring and from the Spanish soil... In Spanish: No es cosa falseada. Es muy puro... (It is not a fake thing. It's very pure...)'

And while she talks to me warmly about her art, an art that is her whole life, her fingers beat on the pedestal table following the rhythm of a dance whose music I do not perceive, and her feet accompany the pace.

Was it your tour of North Africa that prompted you to try your luck in Paris?

'Of my tour in North Africa, which was a determining encouragement for me, I retain a moving and exhilarating memory. I found an extraordinarily sensitive and vibrant audience there. I saw people crying at our show. And I formulate only one wish: it is that the Parisian public be similar to this public of Casablanca, Tangier, Fez, Marrakech, Oran or Algiers, to which I refer you. I would like to express my grateful remembrance and all my faithful friendship...'

That's done. It only remains for us to wish the Gitana Blanca to find in Paris a public as understanding and as enthusiastic as in North Africa."

Pierre BOUJOL

Mercedes

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