Flamenco -A dance of passion
When I was in Spain I had the amazing opportunity to participate to three flamenco performances, two by professionals and one (which unfortunately I did not document because I did not have my camera with me) by amateurs. It was the most complete, the most beautiful combination of music, singing and dancing I had ever seen in my life.
The Flamenco art-form was declared on November 16, 2010 by UNESCO one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Although the origins are unknown, we have evidence that it was performed by gitanos in the Andalucian region. The word flamenco could derive from the word fire (fuego) which could associate the passionate and strong movement of the dancer and the sentiment that the singing passes on to the public. But nothing is certain since the word appears for the first time in literature during the eighteenth century. Between the many theories of its origins , the most widespread highlights a Morisco heritage, because I have mentioned in a previous article, Spain at the time was a cultural melting pot, containing Andalusians, Moors, Castilian settlers, Jews and Romanis.
Flamenco is made up of four elements, Cante-Voice, Baile-Dance, Toque-Guitar, and the Jaleo, which roughly translated means “hell raising” which actually is the hand-clapping, foot stomping, and shouts of encouragement. Many times the public performs the Jaleo, thus participating in the whole art-form. There are many flamenco styles, which are called Palos which subdivise into three main categories: the cante jondo, the cante chico and the cante intermedio. The palos come various modes and melodies and there are approximately fifty different varieties. Depending on the form, we can combine the three main elements of flamenco or perform them individually.
The music of the flamenco is very particular and the most interesting part is the fact that anyone could recognize immediately a flamenco song. In the start of each palo, the guitarist will give the tempo, or will say something to the other artists (all three times that I was in a flamenco performance the guitarist did something different) to indicate them the tonality, compás and tempo of the cante.
But in my eyes, what makes the flamenco so beautifully mesmerizing is the dance. El baile flamenco is known for its emotional intensity, proud carriage, expressive use of the arms and rhythmic stamping of the feet (similar to tap dance). Some people say that the flamenco dance originates from the Indian religious dances, and there is one particular dance in India that is similar the Kathuk (dance performed by men and women including footwork).
If you want to see a performance, there are many tablaos that at a very reasonable price will include typical Spanish food and you are surely going to be impressed by how professional the artists are.
But as with any art-form existing in the world, flamenco has evolved and adapted to our modern times, but it still makes us travel back in time each time we are to set eyes on a performance. I will always remember this cultural experience as one of the most passionate moments I have ever felt.
Flamenco – Spain
Here are the videos of the performances: