Flamenco dancer who worked with Picasso incarcerated in Epsom asylum

Picasso sketched Felix el Loco dancing with Nemtchinova during rehearsals in 1919

Picasso sketched Felix el Loco dancing with Nemtchinova during rehearsals in 1919

First published in News
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Epsom Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A brilliant flamenco dancer who worked with Diaghilev and Picasso and reportedly died in Spain, was actually incarcerated in an asylum in Epsom from 1919.

Nearly a century later, a Spanish musician wants to create a memorial to Felix el Loco, or Felix the Mad, who died at Long Grove Hospital in the Epsom hospital cluster.

Antonio Hernandez, who has researched the dancer’s tragic life for a decade, said he believes his unmarked grave is in an offshoot of Horton Cemetery near the former psychiatric hospital.

Felix Garcia, from Seville, collaborated with Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev and artist Pablo Picasso on an avant-garde ballet, the Three-Cornered Hat, which premiered in London in 1919.

It is believed that Felix lost his mind when he discovered from posters that he would no longer be dancing the lead role and he fled to St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square.

He was reportedly found dancing naked on the altar at night and arrested. Felix was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to Long Grove Hospital where he died two decades later in 1941.

His life story was the subject of an opera, El Loco, performed by the Spanish Ballet Nacional in 2004.

Mr Hernandez said: "Diaghilev declared Felix dead in Spain but the truth is that Felix was "imprisoned" in a mental hospital with no chances of coming back to Spain."

Mr Hernandez, who teaches music in southeast Spain, has been on many research trips to Surrey and has been to the place where Felix was buried.

He said: "At that time the Long Grove Hospital was partially demolished and a new residential project was under construction. I marked the site on my map.

"I would like to promote and sponsor a memorial stone on the site where Felix was buried."

Mr Hernandez also wants to make contact with anyone who knows about Felix’s life and the conditions at Long Grove Hospital at the time.

He said: "I have tried many times unsuccessfully to keep in touch with the descendants of the doctors or workers in order to gather or compile any memories about the only Spanish inmate in this mental institution."

Violin prodigy Josef Hassid, notorious criminal twin Ronnie Kray and Titanic survivor George Pelham were also once patients at Long Grove Hospital, which closed in 1992. Both Hassid and Pelham died there.

Epsom Guardian:

Antonio Hernandez is appealing for information on Felix's life in Epsom

David Brooks, museum assistant at Bourne Hall in Ewell, questioned whether Leonide Massine, who worked on the the Three-Cornered Hat and was the one who played the lead part in it, consolidated his reputation as Europe’s leading choreographer on the back of Felix’s work.

Mr Brooks said: "There are many unanswered questions to his story. Was he really insane or was that what people were led to believe? Why did Diaghilev declare him dead in Spain?"

Epsom Guardian:

David Brooks, museum assistant at Bourne Hall in Ewell

The Epsom Guardian is running a campaign to get dignity for the thousands of people who died in the hospital cluster and lie in unmarked graves in the abandoned Horton Cemetery where human remains surfaced in 2012.

Anyone with information about the hospital and Felix Garcia should email Mr Hernandez at antonioparamus@yahoo.es.


TODAY'S HEADLINES IN EPSOM AND EWELL

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