‘La Polaca’ was born Josefa Cotillo Martinez on June 16, 1994 in Lavapies, Madrid, Spain. After leaving her studies at the age of 10, she begins to engage in flamenco dance and creating her own style. At the age of twelve she made her professional debut in the play “La parrilla” at the Alcazar Theatre in Madrid.
At sixteen she went to America as part of the company of dancer José Greco, and quickly became one of its main figures. By dancing a Polish dance she earned her nickname ‘La Polaca’.
She became a leading figure in flamenco dance in the late fifties and toured the Soviet Union, Europe and the U.S.A., where she appeared on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ and danced for President Kennedy. Back in Spain she made a number of successive tours and reached the status of the first figure in Los canasteros and Las brujas
Her enormous popularity opened the doors to the cinema, where she debuted in 1965 with the film “Con el viento Solano”, by Mario Camus. Throughout the seventies she participated in various films, giving life to racial and passionate characters and through which often showcased dance schools. Among the films involved included her only Euro-western “Rebels on the Loose” (1966) also such films as “El amor brujo” (1967), by Rovira-Beleta; “Las secretarias” (1969), by Pedro Lazaga; and “Del amor y de la muerte” (1977), by Antonio Giménez-Rico.
In the 1980s, her career began to decline but she still participated in the new version of Carlos Saura’s “El amor brujo” (1986).
‘La Polaca’ died in Seville, Andalucia, Spain of lung cancer on June 2, 2010. She was 65.
Today we remember ‘La Polaca’ on what would have been her 70th birthday.