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CONCHITA TRIANA - BIOGRAPHY

Born Barbara Mary Beck and raised in the upscale Toronto neighbourhood of Rosedale, Conchita Triana studied Spanish and flamenco dance with Toronto teacher Elisa Lopez. Lopez recognized Triana's talent and aptitude for the Spanish styles and encouraged her to travel to New York City to train with Juan de Beaucaire Montalvo. By the time World War II had begun, Triana was back in Canada and ready to contribute to the war effort by entertaining troops and raising funds through benefit performances. She participated in several concerts and events for various war-relief funds such as the Canadian Red Cross, the British War Victims Fund and the Red Cross British Bomb Victims Fund. She also toured Southern Ontario with a troupe sponsored by the Lowney Chocolate Co. They travelled to various army bases performing a variety show to lift the soldiers' spirits. Conchita Triana was immensely popular and reviewers compared her to flamenco greats such as La Argentina and Carmen Amaya. A 1938 review states, “Conchita Triana's dancing was the most popular feature of the recital. Her castanets were every bit as expressive as Argentina's used to be.” A letter from The Canadian Red Cross Society dated May 26, 1941, reads: “The concensus among the men at Chorley Park was that you were the most wonderful thing that had happened at the hospital and requests for your return have been pouring in.” She was also very involved with various cultural groups in the city, performing with members of the Ukrainian, Polish and Hungarian communities. She frequently performed on the same bill as the Polish tenor Vladimir Kulik and Ukrainian violinist Leo Lehrman. After the war, Triana's popularity remained steadfast and she often performed at large venues such as Massey Hall, Eaton Auditorium and the Royal York Hotel. She also continued to dance at benefits for charitable organizations such as the Canadian Save the Children Fund, as well as for various private functions. By 1953 she had opened a studio in Toronto. She also made multiple appearances on variety television shows on CBC in the 1950s. After living in South Carolina for approximately ten years, she died in Toronto in 2006.

CONTENTS

  • Programs, newspaper clippings, scrapbook and photo album, props and costume accessories, choreographic notes, audio cassette tapes, framed portrait (pastel on paper)
Notable:
  • Castanets, head pieces and fan used for flamenco dance

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Photos: Top Left - Conchita Triana
Below Top Left - Conchita Triana in a pose from the Spanish dance
El Mantón de Manila / Photo: T. Horshave
Above Top - Conchita Triana on tour with the Lowney's Caravan, c. 1941
Above Bottom - Conchita Triana

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