Essential Guide To Flamenco: Dancing, Singing And Playing
Flamenco dancing is, still today, the most famous Spanish dance. It’s usually very passionate, loud and sensual. From generation to generation, the legacy of flamenco dancing is gotten across, whether it is to conserve it or for it to evolve. But apart from dancing, flamenco is also known for other expression forms: singing and guitar playing.
Andalucía, the southern part of Spain which is flamenco‘s home, has a strong musical tradition documented from ancient times and flamenco certainly takes part into that heritage. Throughout the centuries Andalucía absorbed people fo different cultures and backgrounds – including Romans, Jews and Moors. The melting pot is phenomenal.
Regarding flamenco, the arrival of nomadic gypsies in the 15th century marks the introduction of new rythms and musical instruments. And they decided to settle in the south of Spain. At the same time, both Jews and Moors were expelled from the country.
The roots of what we know today as flamenco were there…
Please, don’t confuse FLAMENCO with flaminco (misspelling) or flamingo (the pink bird). They have nothing to do!
What Is Flamenco?
Flamenco is both a dance and a musical style typical of Andalucía, a region located in the South of Spain.
Additionally, flamenco is a state of mind. It’s a powerful art that usually conveys deep emotions such as pain and sadness.
Actually, the main purpose of the artist is to connect with the audience creating such a bond that he or she will helplessly accept. If not, the artist fails. It’s an art that you can only love or hate.
Flamenco In Seville
Did you know that Seville is the cradle of flamenco? Many famous artists among cantaores, bailaores and guitarists are originally from here.
On top of it, some of the most important flamenco festivals and events (e.g. the Bienal Flamenco) take place in Seville.
Combine an authentic flamenco dancing show with the best of the city’s nightlife. From a real tablao, to some small theatres and venues, or even a bar flamenco, the possibilities are endless!
History Of Flamenco
The history of flamenco dancing started some 300 years ago. It’s said that it has roots from all the medieval cultures that inhabited Spain. Thus, it’s a dance that intermingles features from the local musical culture and many others thanks to the influences travellers brought back to Spain from the colonies.
However, it has always been linked to the Spanish gypsy community. They have been for decades the major spreading actors of this musical style within Spain, but also abroad. And they still are, the most famous virtuosos are gypsies.
Take Flamenco Lessons In Seville!
One of the best ways to connect with the dancing culture of Seville is by taking flamenco lessons. The city is famous for being the origin of flamenco, and private courses are becoming more and more popular. Stop being part of the audience, cross the line and get into this magic world.
The lessons help you get a greater understanding in the essential rhythms and body control involved in flamenco. The teacher supports you and adapts the lesson to your needs and level. At the end of the flamenco lessons you will know about posture and position in dance, understand rhythms and body control, lose inhibitions and gain confidence.
Despite flamenco‘s origin is still unknown, the evolution of its art forms (singing, dancing and playing the guitar) have been endless and very surprising.
Initially, flamenco was only performed privately and there weren’t musical or dancing rules. In fact, flamenco is still based on improvisation.
Did you know that in the 1930s the most famous dance in Spain was on the verge of disappearance? Pure singing was rejected, the taste for the authentic was lost, and only superficial performances were appreciated. Fortunately, from the 1950s on it became so popular that today it is one of the symbols of the Spanish culture.
Flamenco Styles Or Palos
Due to the fact that flamenco dancing was initially performed at family parties or among peasants, it has evolved in a myriad of styles. The list is so long only experts are capable of recognizing them all!
Every style is called palo and represents a different traditional flamenco variety. To give you an idea of how wide flamenco can be, there are more than 50 palos which, in turn, can have many variations…
There are confronted opinions on what is the most important element of flamenco.
While some experts claim that the songs, and most particularly the lyrics, are essential, others affirm that without the introduction of the guitar, flamenco would be just too arid and harsh.
Flamenco has 3 main forms of expression:
- Cante or singing. The cantaor or cantaora is the leader of the group and marks the rhythm and intensity of the performance.
- Baile or dancing. The bailaor or bailaora is a synonym of elegance, grace and temper.
- Toque or playing the guitar. The artist ability is challenged by the cantaor who imposes the rhythm and sentiment.
Glossary Of Terms
What is flamenco about? Do you know the difference between the cante grande and the cante intermedio?
The myriad of terms used to describe the music, the rythm and the feelings related to flamenco is so wide that you should at least know a bit about the basics.
A glossary helps you to understand flamenco dancing and the importance it has in Spain. Although not exhaustive, it introduces you to some basic concepts providing either a short explanation or a translation. A must read if you plan to attend a show and know more about the subject!