When you think of Spanish dance, flamenco is probably the first thing that comes to mind. This mesmerizing dance style has a long and complex history and remains popular to this day. If you're curious about flamenco or are thinking of learning how to do it yourself, read on! We'll take a look at what flamenco is, where it came from, and how you can learn the basics.
What is Flamenco Dance?
Flamenco is a form of Spanish folk dance that originated in Andalusia in southern Spain. Flamenco is known for its passionate, elegant movements and its percussive footwork. The word flamenco comes from the Spanish word for "fire" (Fuego), and it is said to be one of the fiercest and most passionate dances in the world.
Flamenco dance is usually accompanied by guitar music and singing. The dancers typically wear brightly colored dresses or skirts with frilly underskirts, and they often use castanets (hand-held percussion instruments) to add to the rhythm of the music.
Flamenco has become popular worldwide, and there are now many different schools and styles of flamenco dancing. However, the roots of this passionate dance form remain in Spain.
The Origin of Flamenco Dance
Flamenco has its roots in the Romani people who migrated to Spain from India in the 15th century. The Romani were known for their lively music and dancing, which likely influenced the development of flamenco. Over time, flamenco evolved into a distinct style that was popular among the working-class people of Andalusia. In the 19th century, flamenco began to gain popularity beyond Spain, particularly in France and the United States.
Flamenco is a combination of the best in the dance culture of the peoples who inhabited the territory of Andalusia for centuries. The origins of flamenco should be sought in the Moorish musical culture. The Spanish Romany music also had a big influence on this style - many believe that the main real bearers of the style are the Spanish Gypsies. In the XV century in Spain from Byzantium, which ceased to exist in 1453, came the Gypsies, who settled on the southern coast of the country in the province of Andalusia. They customarily adopted and reinterpreted local musical traditions, such as Moorish, Jewish, and Spanish proper, and from this fusion of musical traditions, reinterpreted first by the Gypsies and then by the Spaniards, flamenco was born.
At the end of the XVIII century, the persecution of the Roma came to an end and flamenco entered the taverns and cantinas and found freedom. At the end of the twentieth century, flamenco began to absorb Cuban melodies and jazz motifs, and in addition, elements of classical ballet got their permanent place there.
There are many speculations about how the word flamenco itself came to be. The most romantic one associates it with the German word "flammen" - to burn. The first mention of this word in the literature dates back to 1774. But it refers not to dance but to a knife of Flanders's work. German gypsies allegedly came to Spain with such knives. In any case, by the nineteenth century, the word "flamenco" was in no way associated with either dance or song, though in one way or another it referred to the gypsies.
Today, flamenco is enjoyed by people all over the world. It remains an important part of Spanish culture and continues to evolve as a dynamic and ever-changing art form.
How to dance flamenco - Technique?
The basic steps of flamenco are relatively simple, but it takes practice and precision to dance with the grace and power that characterize this beautiful art form.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Stand up straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Relax your shoulders and keep your head level.
- Posture. Balance, a sense of your own body and weight are the main conditions for successful mastering of the dance. This is necessary for making sharp lunges, jumps, and turns. No less important is posture. Slouching and stiffness of the shoulders makes the dance ugly. A straight back provides more opportunities for a variety of movements of the arms, legs, head and body. In addition, beautiful posture reduces the risk of injury and increases self-confidence.
- Begin by gently rocking side to side, shifting your weight from one foot to the other. As you become more comfortable, you can increase the intensity of the movement.
- The basic movements of flamenco. Golpe - a full foot strike gives a full sound. You make a loud sound with your foot to the floor, as if you were stamping. Planta - strike or placing the foot on the floor with only the toe with the heel high up. In other words, you hit with the pads of your fingers, trying not to touch the metal part of the shoe to the surface. This can be with or without sound. Ponta or Punta translated as the big toe. Punta means to strike the toe behind the body or in front of the supporting leg with an immediate raising it somewhere to the level of the ankle of the supporting limb. The "point" made gives a loud sound.
- Hand movement. Your arms should be rounded, and always keep your elbows raised and half-bent. Move on to the study of the movements of the upper part of the body you can after you learn to always keep your posture and control your body in the dance.
- The next step is to master the movements of the wrists. Try to make your wrists as round as possible. Try not to move your hands intensely when you make movements with them. Never put your elbows down.
- Next, start tapping your feet in quick succession, keeping a steady rhythm. As you become more comfortable with the steps, you can add arm movements and turns.
- Flamenco is all about feeling the music, so don’t be afraid to let yourself go and express your emotions through your dance.
- Practice, practice, practice! The more you dance, the better you will become at moving with grace and power.
What are the Castanets?
Castanets are handheld percussion instruments that are traditionally used in flamenco dance. They are made of two hardwood or plastic shells that are held in the hand and clicked together to create a sharp, percussive sound.
Castanets can be played alone or in pairs, and they are an essential part of flamenco music. Many flamenco dancers use castanets to add rhythm and excitement to their dances.
If you’re interested in learning how to play castanets, there are many instructional videos and resources available online. With a little practice, you’ll be able to add these traditional Spanish instruments to your flamenco repertoire!
Popular Flamenco Shows
Flamenco is a popular form of entertainment in Spain, and there are many shows and festivals dedicated to this passionate art form. If you’re visiting Spain, be sure to check out some of the following flamenco shows:
- Taberna Flamenca El Cortijo: This flamenco bar in Madrid offers nightly flamenco shows with live music and dancing.
- El Palacio Andaluz: This flamenco palace in Seville is one of the most popular flamenco venues in Spain. It features regular flamenco shows with some of the best dancers and musicians in the country.
- Museo del Baile Flamenco: This museum in Granada is devoted to the history and culture of flamenco. It offers regular flamenco shows as well as classes and workshops for those interested in learning more about this passionate art form.
Whether you’re a fan of flamenco music, dance, or both, there’s sure to be a show that will appeal to you. So don’t miss out on this exciting aspect of Spanish culture! Flamenco is an experience that you’ll never forget.
Flamenco is a passionate and mesmerizing art form that originated in Spain. This traditional Spanish dance is enjoyed by people all over the world and continues to evolve as a dynamic and ever-changing art form. If you’re interested in learning how to flamenco, there are many instructional videos and resources available online. With a little practice, you’ll be able to add this beautiful art form to your repertoire! Thanks for reading!