Blog Entries

Flamenco of Spain

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Last week, I almost bought tickets to see a flamenco performance that is taking place tonight.  I've been thinking about what I'll be missing and realize now I should've clicked the Buy Now button when I had the chance to get great seats.  I look forward to going to another performance sometime very soon.  And since I won't be able to make it tonight, I figured I'd show my appreciation for this beautiful Spanish art form right here on OBG.  
Flamenco is a style of music and dance which is considered part of the culture of Spain, although it is actually native to only one region: Andalusia in southern Spain.  Interestingly, the origins of flamenco are debatable; but what is certain is that the Golden Age of Flamenco occurred in Spain between 1869-1910 when flamenco developed rapidly in cafés cantantes, a new type of venue offering ticketed public performances. Flamenco´s most intense form, cante jondo, expressing deep feelings, dates from this period. And in the cafés cantantes, the art of flamenco dance rose to new heights as the dancers became the major attraction and the art of flamenco guitar was born.  
I didn't know this (oooo, I get excited when I learn!), but flamenco occurs in three settings:  

  • The traditional juerga, an informal, spontaneous gypsy gathering (rather like a jazz jam session) with the cantaores (singers) being the heart and soul of the performance. Similarly, a Peña Flamenca is a meeting place or grouping of Flamenco musicians or artists; and tablaos are establishments that developed during the sixties of the twentieth century throughout Spain replacing the "café cantante" (like a cabaret). 
  • The professional concert is more formal. A traditional singing performance has only a singer and one guitar, while a dance concert usually includes two or three guitars, one or more singers (singing in turns, as in traditional flamenco singers always sing solo), and one or more dancers. One of the singers may play the cajon, and all performers will play palmas when not required for other duties. Alternatively, there may be a dedicated cajon player and one or more palmeras. 
  • Finally there is the theatrical presentation of flamenco, which uses flamenco technique and music but is closer in presentation to a ballet performance, with musicians in the orchestra pit, scenery, lighting etc.  This is where I would've been tonight, although I would absolutely love, love, love to experience hanging out at a juerga with some Spanish gypsies!
Video above is from the movie (1995) Flamenco by Carlos Saura.

The pretty photo at the top left of this post is of Belén Maya, a famous flamenco dancer.  OMG.  I so want to be her right now, just so I can wear a fabulous flamenco dress and dance with all of that passion (smiling).  Ooo, the drama.  I love this stuff. 
[Sources:  Wiki &]



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