Flamenco is folk music from Spain, originating in the souther area also known as Andalucia region. Flamenco is believed to have originated in the eighteen hundreds and it is associated with the gitanos or gypsies, which were the Romani or people of Indian descent living in Europe. But has now transmitted to all the parts of Spain and is taught worldwide.
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Originally flamenco only involved clapping to set the tempo of the dancing but has now evolved to include dancing, singing, playing instruments and particularly clapping, all executed at the same time to create a unique sensory experience. A typical flamenco recital with voice and guitar accompaniment, comprises a series of pieces in different “palos” or sets. Each song of a set of verses, which are punctuated by guitar interludes called falsetas. The guitarist also provides a short introduction which sets the tonality and tempo of the singing and dancing which also pairs up with the “zapateado” or stomping in a tap dance style of footwork.
According to a friend, who is a Seville native, when the gypsies arrived in Andalucia from India around 1425, they brought with them many song and dance styles that have strong Indian connections. At this time Andalucía was still under Arab rule, and along with the Jews and the moors, the gypsies were soon to be persecuted by the Catholic monarchs and the inquisition.
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The moors were forced to convert to Christianity, and failure to do so resulted in expulsion from Spain, the Jews suffered a similar fate, and the gypsies were subjected to some of the worst atrocities in an attempt to exterminate them as a race. Many laws were passed by various monarchs, which forbid them anything to do with their identity. These different cultures lived in relative harmony for many years, and the fusion of their music and dances are what we know today as flamenco.
Flamenco dancers try to express their deepest emotions by using body movements and facial expressions. As the dancers perform, they may also clap their hands or kick their feet. Many dancers also snap small percussion handheld instruments called “castanetas” which were also included in the performance years after.
You can schedule a performance when you are in Sevilla through your hostel or hotel or you can also just walk into a bar and pay the admittance to watch a live show. If you are in Spain, this will be a must!! Check out our post on close cities to visit when in Spain Cadiz, Granada, Madrid, Barcelona, Toledo, Zaragoza, Bilbao and San Sebastian.