Follow these tips to see and learn about the best flamenco dancing. Seville is a perfect place to see flamenco, and one of the best cities in Spain to experience a genuine flamenco show.
It’s hard not to find flamenco in Seville. There are often street performers in the biggest plazas, and just walking through the Centro and Triana neighborhoods, you’ll hear it in doorways and through open windows.
However, if you really want to plan a full flamenco experience, here are several different options.
- Finding the right show can be a tricky business for the uninitiated, so here are my favorite places where you can see flamenco in Seville.
- Or you can trust my expertise, and book tickets for the best flamenco show in Seville.
1. Don’t look only for flamenco dancing: Seville has tons of options
Flamenco is much more than just musical genre. It’s an art and it stands as one of the richest, most diverse and most recognized artistic manifestations in the world.
Flamenco is presented in two variants: music and dance.
- Within music, singing and guitar play an essential role, although there are other percussion instruments such as the castañuelas or the cajón, and accompaniments such as palmas (clapping).
- The dance is also crucial, as it’s the most expressive and striking part for the public.
The dance is very effusive and each part of the body moves in a coordinated way: feet, legs, hips, the waist, arms, hands, fingers, shoulders, the head. All the body parts work hard to arouse emotions on a stage.
But that’s not it.
To see the real thing and to enjoy an authentic show, don’t focus only on flamenco dancing. Seville is full of great places where you can see wonderful artists performing at their best.
Enjoy the music, and how the guitarist, who accompanies singing or dancing, knows not only the song he needs to perform, but also when he should accelerate or delay the rhythm and when to fade it or end it all together, for example. He’s the one marking the tempo.
2. Know what to expect from a flamenco show
Most spectators go to a flamenco show not having a clear idea of what it is they’re going to see.
They expect a show with a story, a beginning that develops to a climax and leads to an ending. They imagine that all of this will be accompanied by a choreography adapted to the show. Like a theater play: some kind of Spanish folkloric opera or musical.
This preconception has nothing to do with what a flamenco show truly is.
In a traditional tablao, the flamenco show is a series of palos (styles) represented by a number of artists. Each act is independent from the one before it and the one after it. Each palo expresses something, a feeling that is framed by the chords of the guitar, the gestures of the dancer, the heal tapping and rhythm keeping of the other artists and, of course, by some moments of silence.
So thanks to the different palos, the show flows through a series of rhythms and emotions.
However, every night is different, because this is the way flamenco is. There’s an inevitable dose of improvisation and flexibility that changes everything and makes it so magical and special.
3. Don’t try to understand everything, just feel it
Flamenco is a perfect way to channel emotions and above all, to generate them.
The theme of the music is almost always about love, poverty, death and injustice. Having said that, lyrics are very hard to understand even for Spaniards who are not from Andalucía.
But don’t worry about that because you’ll be moved by it.
Unless you end up going to an awful place, flamenco performers have a great capacity for expression. They will use body language to convey all their emotions, encompassing passion, anger, sadness, pain, fear and joy.
And that’s universal so they will create a deep bond with you and the rest of the audience where you’ll feel immediately involved in this set of emotions.
Defining what you experience during these shows is very complicated, almost impossible. You only need a minimum of sensitivity to get you excited and stunned. It’s best to experience it yourself and find the word that sums up your emotions when you see such a passionate performance.
4. Look for an impromptu flamenco performance
Authentic flamenco is not choreographed.
It’s based on the flamenco typical rhythm called compás, which is the traditional hand clapping (palmas) and heel clicking (taconeo).
Fundamental to the performance, the compás is usually based on an intricate 12-beat rhythm. Actually, it looks easy when you see the professionals do it. But, it isn’t.
Sometimes, the artists clap their hands on the off-beat, as if they’re not in time with the music. It’s intentional though, and it works.
And this is something, you wouldn’t know it unless you watch for the interplay between the performers as they react to each others’ notes.
But that’s the magic of it. You don’t just watch the performance. You feel it.
5. Get to the flamenco venue as soon as possible
I always recommend to arrive early for your flamenco performance.
It’s better to arrive early and relaxed and enjoy the atmosphere or a drink beforehand than arrive stressed and late and miss the start of the show. Doors usually open around 30 minutes before the flamenco show starts. And this is particularly important if the seating arrangement is on a first come, first served basis.
People turning up late to a performance can be very disruptive to performers and other audience members. For that reason, doors are closed and late comers are often not admitted until there is a break in the performance, or not welcomed in at all… That can be very disappointing!
To make sure you don’t miss a thing, please always allow extra time to be punctual.
6. Go to a flamenco bar for the ultimate experience
If you want to get the full flavor of flamenco away from the tourist traps selling buckets of sangría, then you’re best heading to a flamenco bar.
The tourist office won’t direct you towards these places primarily because they rarely offer a regular schedule of shows.
And the best of it is that you don’t need to be lucky enough to stumble upon one. To experience flamenco at its unadulterated best you only need to go to one of these flamenco bars.
Alternatively, you can go to a peña flamenca.
These places are a bit like a flamenco social club. They are open to everyone, and as a non-member you may be asked to pay a nominal amount or order some drinks. In exchange, you’ll enjoy a two part flamenco show performed by respected, local artists.
Unfortunately, peñas flamencas are often found hidden away inconspicuously on the many backstreets littering Seville.
This article is part of a complete tutorial about flamenco in Seville where you can read all the information you need to enjoy this typical Andalusian folklore.
Here is a complete summary of all the guide:
1. What is flamenco?
2. Where to see flamenco in Seville?
3. The best flamenco show in Seville
4. Flamenco tablaos in Seville
5. Small flamenco venues in Seville
6. Flamenco bars in Seville
7. 6 tips to enjoy flamenco dancing in Seville
8. Where to take flamenco classes in Seville
9. Flamenco history and origins
10. Understanding flamenco singing (cante)
11. Understanding flamenco dance (baile)
12. Understanding flamenco guitar (toque)
13. The different flamenco styles
14. A flamenco glossary