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Amalia Aguilar: 100 years

Along with Cuban divas like María Antonieta Pons, Ninón Sevilla, Rosas Carmina, and Mexican Meche Barba, Amalia Aguilar (July 3, 1924-November 8, 2021), who came directly from Matanzas, Cuba, would soon become part of the popular group of rumberas in Alemanist Mexico.

The goddesses of the night show captivated audiences with their rhythmic hip movements and alluring presence, becoming objects of desire for those who watched them on screen. This marked the start of the initial myths surrounding sensual performances, where they were often mistreated, exploited, and faced tragic fates while showcasing their intense choreography. However, Amalia Aguilar's films shifted this narrative from tragedy to a vibrant celebration filled with infectious joy, evident throughout her extensive filmography.

Amalia Aguilar

The cabaret, portrayed as a fictional film setting, presented various captivating exotic elements in movies like Pervertida (1945) featuring Emilia Guiú and Ramón Armengod. This film marked the debut of Amalia Aguilar, who was recruited by brothers Guillermo and Pedro Calderón, renowned producers specializing in stories of downfall. In PervertidaAmalia portrayed the seductive rumba singer "Esmeralda." She was lean, with long legs, large eyes, and voluminous hair, sporting a charming mole on her chin. Her Cuban spirit shone through in all 23 films she appeared in from 1945 to 1955.

Julio Richard, a businessman, brought her to Mexico in 1944 to debut in theater, venture into movies, and tour the United States in 1946, where she was nicknamed "The Atomic Bomb." Amalia returned to Mexico and starred in Conozco a los dos (1948) by Gilberto Martínez Solares, alongside the singers and composers "Cuates Castilla". She also had a special role in Dicen que soy mujeriego with Pedro Infante, portraying "Luciérnaga," a rumbera who dances and sings to Pedro: "Don't come near me, don't touch me, my body is electrified..."

That year, Martínez Solares introduced Amalia to Germán Valdés Tin Tan in the film Calabacitas tiernas. In this movie, Amalia had a memorable moment dancing energetically with her Cuban bongo players to the song "Que rumbón de conga." She displayed her impressive dance skills by climbing on tables and using the mansion's living room as her stage. The comedian humorously remarked, "Who brought this Antillean mango?" It was also the year she filmed En cada puerto un amor portraying a seductive woman performing Afro-Cuban dances.

Amalia Aguilar, Tin Tan

She performs in cabarets with her group Los Diablos del Trópico. In 1949, she starred in El gran campeón alongside Luis Villanueva "Kid Azteca", playing a lively rumbera competing with María Luisa Zea for the affection of a boxer from Tepito. Directed by Juan Bustillo Oro, she also appeared in El colmillo de Buda (1949) as "Adjacapatra", an enchanting dancer owned by an eccentric Englishman. Furthermore, in Novia a la medida (1949), she portrayed "Remolino", a captivating dancer who inspires everyone to dance.

La vida en broma (1949) is set in renowned cabarets of that era like El Patio and Ciro's. These settings take the characters on a journey through a musical paradise encompassing various rhythms, including the mambo featured in Al son del mambo (1950). The story includes the music of Cuban artist Dámaso Pérez Prado and his Dolly Sisters, the comedian and dancer Resortes, the Tres Diamantes, Chucho Martínez Gil, and Rita Montaner. Additionally, there is a piano duel between "Chamaco" Domínguez and Juan Bruno Tarraza, where Amalia sits at Tarraza's piano to deliver a beautiful musical performance. This scene unfolds amidst Chelo La Rue's ballet, with the presence of fellow countrymen Pérez Prado and Benny Moré.

In Ritmos del caribe (1950) the dramatic moments are buried by the musical interventions of Daniel Santos, Bienvenido Granda, the Sonora Matancera, the trio Los Panchos, Roberto Cobo "Calambres" and the explosive presence of Amalia Aguilar who brings exceptional sensuality and a rhythm, followed by Amor perdido (1950), in which the actress has part of her face disfigured and therefore dances with a mask, and whose plot was inspired by the famous bolero by Pedro Flores, alongside María Victoria, Pérez Prado, María Luisa Landín, and Juan Bruno Tarraza. Followed by Los huéspedes de la marquesa and Delirio tropical ―both from 1951― with the splendid dancer and choreographer Carlos Valadez.

Amalia Aguilar

Back then, national cinema reflected cultural shifts, introducing new female characters as a part of social advancement. For instance, films like Las tres alegres comadres and Las interesadas, in 1952, featured actresses Amalia Aguilar, Lilia del Valle, and Lilia Prado. The visually appealing posters created by "Chango" García Cabral and Freyre showcased these iconic women in a modern urban setting. In Las tres alegres comadres the characters audition for a movie, with Amalia delivering a stunning musical performance in front of the Sanborns de los Azulejos. This was followed by Mis tres viudas alegres in 1953, starring Amalia, Del Valle, and Silvia Pinal, replacing Prado. Additionally, in Las cariñosas the characters contract the peculiar "Sex-appelitis" virus.

Amalia Aguilar, under the direction of Alejandro Galindo, starred in Los dineros del diablo (1952), a crime drama film. Her performance was highlighted by impressive choreography, captivating the audience and unsettling Roberto Cañedo. However, her acting career came to an end in 1955 when she married Peruvian doctor Raúl Beraun. That same year, she had a brief role in Los platillos voladores, alongside Resortes and Evangelina Elizondo, and in Música en la noche, a film filled with musical numbers. She also starred in Las viudas del cha cha cha, where she showcased her talent, leaving a lasting impact on popular cinema. Even a century after her birth, Amalia Aguilar solidified her legacy in a genre that elevated tropical music and the art of dance to new heights.