Spain is widely known for Flamenco music and dance, bullfights, the Andalusian horse, fantastic beaches and lots of sunshine.
Today, we will dive into the world of Flamenco!
Flamenco is an art form based on the music traditions of Southern Spain first recognized in 1774. The three main components of flamenco are the singer, the flamenco guitar and the dancer. This form of expression is known for its emotional intensity, posture of the performers, animated use of the arms, clapping & finger snapping and rhythmic stamping of the feet.
Because the dancer is front and center it is often assumed the dance is the most important aspect of the art form. In fact, the singer is the heart and soul of the genre. Flamenco songs fall into three categories: cante jondo (profound song), intermedio (intermediate) and chico (light song). The flamenco song only became accompanied by guitar and dance in the mid-1800’s and the dance is never performed without accompaniment.
The Flamenco guitar, originally just a backdrop for the dancing and singing, is now recognized as an art form in its own right. When accompanying the Flamenco dance the volume of the flamenco guitar is crucial as the guitarist must be heard over the rhythmic clapping and the dancer’s tap dancing.
A dancers flamenco shoes are an integral part of the dance and are used as percussive instruments. Specially designed, the sound of the dancers foot tapping and stomping in rhythm is enhanced by the special nails embedded in the toe and heel. Wearing the correct flamenco shoes and dress are considered to be a vital part of the performance. The dress is figure-hugging, ankle length, with ruffles in both the layered skirt and the sleeves. The most common colors for flamenco dresses are red, black and white but they are typically bright colored.
The dance itself is performed in a proud, upright way with the emphasis for both the male and female performers, on specific footwork performed with absolute precision. In addition, the dancers may have to dance while using props such as castanets, shawls and fans.
Unlike other dance forms, where dancers turn professional early to take advantage of youth and strength, many flamenco dancers do not hit their peak until their thirties and will continue to perform into their fifties and beyond. In the 1950s Jose Greco was one of the most famous male Flamenco dancers, performing on stage worldwide and on television including the Ed Sullivan Show, and reviving the art almost singlehandedly.
To witness such a unique experience there is an optional excursion to a Flamenco Dinner Show during the Spain & Portugal tour by Image Tours.