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History Of Flamenco Dancing - Go2 Spain

Aug 18, 2007
Flamenco dancing is one of the top attractions for tourists to Spain. It is a flamboyant visual feast involving a dramatic explosion of noise and colour. Featuring hand-clapping, foot-stomping and swirling long dresses all accompanied by skilful, finger-plucking guitar, it is a very exciting visual experience. However, there is a degree of uncertainty and argument surrounding its exact origin and development.

Flamenco is a musical genre generally acknowledged to have its origins in nomadic tribes in Andalucia, Spain. Indeed the word Flamenco has become synonymous with gypsies. It is believed to have developed from a mix of native and gypsy musical styles in Andalucia as far back as 700 A.D. although there is still some quite heated debate about this in Spain. The reason that the history of Flamenco is so clouded in mystery is because it was a music and dance form stemming from the lower levels of Andalucian society. Largely ignored by the affluent upper classes for centuries the tradition was passed on by word of mouth and example from father to son and mother to daughter by the largely illiterate Andalucians singing of their desperation, the struggle to survive and their pride.

As Flamenco developed it did so alongside Spanish history. Notable movers and shakers in the early development of Flamenco; the Moors, Gitanos and Jews, were all persecuted during the religious Spanish Inquisition of the 15th century, and it is their struggles that are reflected in Flamenco songs. The Gitanos in particular have been largely responsible for ensuring that their folk songs were passed down the generations.

Flamenco performers began to distinguish themselves as highly skilled artistes in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The genre began to grow apart from the simple folk music which had forged its centuries-old development. From a largely Andalucian activity Flamenco developed into a national pastime. Flamenco performers achieved a previously unseen level of technical excellence as they evolved into professional musicians and dancers. Those performers also started to draw on songs originally derived from outside Flamenco influences but included them and their styles. From 1760 onwards Flamenco has been highly documented, not only the historical development and traditions of the genre, but also for the first time songbooks, musical scores and even highly technical dance instructions were produced. This has enabled Flamenco to spread as an art form throughout mainland Spain and even Europe.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Flamenco progressed to music cafes and Flamenco operas. Here the highly stylised music and dance genre developed even further. Both guitarists and dancers became established stars. At the same time gypsies exported and performed Flamenco throughout Europe to places as far afield as Russia. Visitors to Spain sought out Flamenco performers, which often turned out not to be Andalucians, the originators of the genre, but regular Spaniards who had learned the art-form; much to the chagrin of native Andalucians!

Like any art-form Flamenco has developed, often in ways not favoured by Andalucians. Performers throughout the years have added their unique interpretations, which in turn have been adopted by those who followed them. Today's Flamenco bears only a passing resemblance to the folk dances of old. However it is undeniably popular to both Spaniards and visitors alike, and continues to be a colourful, loud and impressive experience.
About the Author
Daniel Johansson writes article travel related market. Go2 Spain provides hotels and accommodation in Spain with low price guaranteed.
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