It’s difficult to fathom a troupe of dwarf bullfighters traveling Mexico and parts of the U.S., bringing their part comedy, part performing art act to audiences of all different shapes and sizes. But the tradition dates back to 1950s Spain, and for nearly a decade, New York-based Mexican photographer Livia Corona captured present day little matadors and their lives as traveling performers through interview and photograph in her book entitled Enanitos Toreros (PowerHouse Books, 2008).
Enanitos Toreros offers a glimpse into a world that, at first, appears very foreign – Mexican, dwarfism, exhibitionism. But, as we get to know the members of the various cuadrillas (team of bullfighters), we enter more familiar territory – that of isolation, misrepresentation, and defiance. The book is not only about what it means to be a struggling bullfighter in an unjust work environment, but what it means to be a struggling dwarf in an unjust social environment.
The photos stand alone to convey the sometimes prideful, other times prideless atmosphere of the enanito torero, but the message is driven home through Corona’s interviews (published in English and Spanish) with promoters, impersonators, family of toreros and the toreros themselves. “It’s hard to get used to in the beginning. It takes time to realize that the whole world is a spectacle. This is just one more spectacle,” says torero-turned-promoter Ezequiel Virgen. Virgen goes on to describe a conversation with an “educated” woman. “She basically said, ‘I don’t make fun of you, I pity you,’” he says. “She wrecked me.”
The collection of black and white and color photographs is striking, heartwarming, and compelling. Enanitos Toreros puts dwarf bullfighters at center stage, without making them out to be a spectacle.
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