Flamenco in Andalusia

Posted on February 17, 2014 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments


Street artists performing in Granada


Flamenco is originated from the Romani people ( also known as Gitanos) living in Andalusia centuries ago, with influences from the Moors, the Jews, and the Mozarabic. Many foreigners do not realise that the essence of flamenco is not the dance itself, but rather the cante (song), one of the four components of flamenco, along with toque (playing the guitar), baile (dance) and Jaleo (handclapping, foot stomping and shouts etc). And out of the different cante styles, cante jondo (deep song) is considered to be the oldest and the most distinctive.

Not surprisingly, flamenco has become a 'key attraction' in the region. Flamenco performances take place daily from the streets to cafes, bars, museums and various music venues. Some are tourists traps and the standards may not be up to scratch, so it is important to get some recommendations beforehand.

As a fan of different dance forms and music styles, I frequently watch performances at Sadlers Wells and its Flamenco festival is one of my favourites because it always feature world-renowned flamenco dancers and musicians. Hence, I was keen to see an authentic show in the birthplace of flamenco.


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Casa de la Guitarra in Seville


Luckily, I was not disappointed... while I was in Seville, I saw a passionate and mesmerising performance at Casa de la Guitarra, featuring an award-winning Cuban dancer, Yasaray Rodríguez, Manuel Romero (singer) and Javier Gómez (Guitarist). And I could tell by the audience's reaction afterwards that every person in the room was touched by the heartfelt performance. The three performers all played equal parts, and non over-shadowed the other throughout the show.

The center was founded by the well-known flamenco guitarist José Luis Postigo from Seville whose career spans over 45 years and has made over 60 albums with famous flamenco artists. Although the venue is quite small, it houses an amazing flamenco guitar collections dating back to the 19th century, and it features an original 12th century archway (see above) which was part of a traditional Arab bath. This venue is truly one of the best in the city.

For other authentic performances, it is also worth checking out Seville's working class district of Triana, the supposed birthplace of flamenco. Whether this is the truth or not is hard to tell but it is certainly the birthplace for many famous flamenco singers and musicians and they are commemorated by the ceramic tile plaques in the area.




Middle: Flamenco festival posters; Right: Lina's exhibition at Seville Musuem of Arts and Traditions


Besides music venues, traditional flamenco fashion and accessories can be seen at Seville Musuem of Arts and Traditions. During my visit, I saw an exhibition of the well-known flamenco fashion designer, Marcelina Fernandez, also known as Lina. Since 1960, Lina has been creating flamboyant and exquisite flamenco 'couture' dresses and wedding gowns, and it was eye-opening as I did not realise that there was a couture market for flamenco fashion!


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Top left & right: Plaques made of ceramic tiles in Triana commemorating flamenco dancers and musicians; Bottom: flamenco bars in Seville


Most cities in Andalusia also have a flamenco museum, but I think the best way to try and understand the music and dance style is to watch the performances or listen to the music and 'feel' the emotions and passion esp. for those of us who do not understand the lyrics. After all, these two elements are the common language shared between humans regardless of the race, age, gender and culture. Perhaps the music or dance style may evolve in the future, but hopefully, the flamenco spirit will live on.


This post was posted in Travel, Dance, Music & Sound, Andalusia, Flamenco and was tagged with dance, Flamenco, music, seville, Andalusia, world music