La Singla: One of the Best Flamenco Dancers in the World Was Deaf


Known as La Singla, she was one of the best flamenco dancers in the world and was deaf. She achieved great success and international recognition, but more than 40 years later, her story has been ignored. A recent documentary film recovers the figure of a star who should never have been forgotten.

La Singla
Photograph of the short film "La Singla" (

She Grew Up Dancing and Reached the Top

Antonia Singla, known artistically as "La Singla", grew up in a family with 17 other siblings and her deafness appeared after a meningitis a few days after her birth. She was called Antoñita and learned to speak at the age of 8 while learning to dance rumbas, fandangos, bulerías and flamenco.

She made her first public performances at the age of 12 in some taverns in Barcelona, and her career as a bailaora (flamenco dancer in Spanish) was immediately launched. A few years later, she was already working with flamenco greats such as Paco de Lucía (considered the best flamenco guitarist in history) or Camarón de la Isla (one of the all-time greatest flamenco singers), even participating at the age of 14 in a film nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1963 (Los Tarantos).

In her youth, she traveled throughout Europe, performing in more than 30 European cities as the headliner for four consecutive years, and was particularly successful in Germany, where she caused great admiration and was even said to be the best dancer in the world.

In the following video, you can see her performing when she was around 17 years old:

How Could She Dance When She Was Deaf?

Starting as a child, La Singla followed the rhythm of her mother's clapping while she assimilated the rhythm and looked at herself in the mirror. As she became a great dancer and began to perform, it was the rest of the flamenco troupe (guitarist, percussionist, cantaor/a, etc.) who had to follow the rhythm marked by La Singla with the deep sounds of her foot tapping, as it was said that she danced "by instinct".

Jean Cousteau, notable French poet, writer and artist, said of La Singla that she "spit fire from her mouth and extinguished it with her feet".

La Singla poster in German promoted by the airline Iberia
La Singla poster in German promoted by the airline Iberia

Documentary Film About La Singla

In 2023, the feature-length documentary "La Singla" premiered at several film festivals. Its director, Paloma Zapata, discovered her by chance, and, after being fascinated by her look, did some searches on the Internet, but found very little information.

After seeing her dancing in a video, the director wondered how La Singla was not "an icon of flamenco today and there was not more about her", so she began an extensive research that led her to the making of this documentary. The documentary invites the viewer to follow La Singla's quest to meet and interview her.

Below you can see the trailer, which succeeds very well in attracting the interest, because at the end of it does not reveal La Singla today (English captions):

Those who had the opportunity to see the documentary at festivals have praised the film and on IMDB it already has a score of 8.1. If you want to see its journey through festivals and try to see the documentary, you can follow it on social media on Facebook and Instagram.

Woman, Gypsy, Deaf and Poor

La Singla's childhood and youth was not easy being a woman, gypsy, deaf and poor. She lived in a shantytown and her father left the family when she was a child to go to France, but returned to manage her when he found out that his daughter was being a flamenco star and exploited her for his benefit, exercising control over her life. This macho exploitation and other abuses ended up impacting La Singla's mental health (probably depression), which led to her retirement from professional dancing after more than a decade of success, when she was at the top of her career.

Despite the huge popularity achieved in her time and the merit of having achieved so much success while being deaf, her figure has been practically forgotten and the director of the documentary believes that it is mainly because La Singla "was a gypsy at a time when there was even more racism than now, and she was also a woman". However, La Singla defied the norms of her time, for example, she used to dance with pants (something totally unusual in the 60's as a woman). 

Probably due to the traumatic experience of the abuse she suffered, today La Singla wants nothing more to do with that time and leads a quiet life with her grandchildren.

Poster of the documentary film "La Singla"


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