La Chunga was born in 1938 as Micaela Flores Amaya in Marseille. She started dancing at age six in the bodega “Ca La Rosita,” which was well-known to the Romanì community in El Poble-Sec. Paco Rebés, later to become her godfather, discovered her during one of her improvised street performances and took her under his tutelage.
La Chunga became the muse of several writers like Blas de Otero, Rafael Alberti, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, and León Felipe, and several painters, including Picasso, Dalí, and Francisco Rebés, who made her an attractive character for intellectuals and encouraged her to paint. A 1958 photo shows Salvador Dalí inviting her to create art by dancing on a blank canvas. During intervals, Dali would paint beneath her feet. She was known for her barefoot style of flamenco dance and was described as “The Barefoot Dancer.” She was considered a “shining naif” by Picasso. Additionally, she exhibited in several galleries in Paris and Madrid.
Pastora Imperio contracted La Chunga in 1956, and she acted in two Hollywood films thanks to Ava Gardner. She participated in several TV programs in the U.S. and Mexico after being introduced by businessman Sullivan in Las Vegas. After that, she took part in various tours and movies. She married the director José Luis Gonzalvo and had a daughter, Pilar.
Here are some stunning photos of young La Chunga from the 1950s and 1960s.