Each piece is performed by the dancers with body swaying, arm motions, and the famed "zapateos" (rhythmic footwork) according to each "palo flamenco," always accompanied by the music of the guitar and the deep voice of the cantaor or cantora.
Flamenco dancing is all about rhythm and melody. The dancer's movements should be in harmony with the music — not astride it as in most other dances. Body movement is important too; dancers use their arms and legs to create a visual image that pleases the eye. This is also why flamenco dancing is often called "the art of dance."
Flamenco was born in southern Spain's Andalusia region. It is based on Arab and African influences dating back many centuries. But the core of this unique dance style lies in its own originality and creativity.
Today, flamenco is practiced around the world because of its ease of dance-movement quality and its musicality. There are three main types of flamenco: traditional, folk, and gypsy.
Traditional flamenco is the most refined and exclusive form of the dance. It includes figures such as arcos (arches), trances (held poses), and saltairs (quick foot movements). Traditional dancers usually come from family businesses that date back several generations.
Flamenco is comprised of six major elements:
It is a passionate and energetic dance that can be performed alone (by a guy or female) or with companions. Modern flamenco is distinguished by the skillful interplay of three elements: cante (singing), toque (traditional Spanish guitar playing), and palmas (all rhythmic aspects, including the dance itself).
Flamenco was originally a male dance; now it is done by both men and women. A man might have between one and four partners at a time. A woman usually dances with two men at a time, switching partners after each song.
The name "flamenco" comes from the Arabic word for "flame"; this refers to the foot movements used in dancing it. The first recorded performance of modern-day flamenco was by French dancer Antonio Pappano in 1955. He hired musicians in Madrid's famous Tabla Rasa club and taught them his own style of singing and drumming. This became the basis for all subsequent performances. Today, flamenco is popular all over the world.
In addition to being a dance, flamenco is also a music genre that includes songs, instrumental pieces, or both. There are many different styles of flamenco, but they all share several characteristics. They are all based on traditional songs that were originally played solely on the guitar. Now there are other instruments such as the violin, the harp, and others that are included in some arrangements.
Flamenco is an expressive, improvisational dance. Sevillanas are danced to a set of highly choreographed movements, each of which has four dance parts. The two styles can be mixed together with no problem.
The basic footwork for both sevillanas and flamenco is called "soldaditos," little stamps of the foot. In flamenco, the feet are used more freely and there is less stamping than in sevillana dancing. However, all sevillana dances include some sort of tap dance, usually on the head or shoulders. This is not done in flamenco.
Sevillanas were created in Spain's Seville region by women who were left without work when their families' money ran out. They made up their own style of dancing to entertain guests at parties or at the doors of their houses. This new style became so popular that other girls started copying it. Today, sevillanas are still danced by young women looking for work in the local music clubs.
Flamenco was born in rural areas outside of Madrid in the late 1800s when slaves from Africa added their own unique step to the already existing Spanish guitar music. Over time, this combination of music and movement became what we know today as flamenco.
Palos (formerly known as cantes) are flamenco genres that are distinguished by factors such as rhythmic pattern, mode, chord progression, stanzaic structure, and regional provenance. There are approximately 50 distinct palos; some are sung alone, while others are accompanied by guitar or other instruments. Some types of expression are danced, while others are not. For example, the nardar is a foot dance unique to Sevilla that requires careful coordination of the feet.
The term "flamenco style" can be used to describe any one of these genres, but it is most commonly applied to those styles that use the cane as their primary instrument. The three main flamenco styles are sevillano, sardana, and gaditano. They differ in their rhythm, melodic content, and instrumental accompaniment.
The sevillano style is the most popular and can be seen as the foundation for all other styles. It is characterized by its simple but effective use of two-beat rhythms, repeated notes, and trills. It also uses minor modes (A flat major for alto, G natural minor for tenor) and modal scales (dorian for alto, giordanian for tenor).
The sardana style originates from Sardinia and uses a fast 3/4 meter similar to that of Spanish bullfighting music.
Cante, the song; Baile, the dance; and Guitarra, or guitar playing, are the three forms of Flamenco. Flamenco, on the other hand, has its roots in the singing heritage. There is also a fourth form known as "Rumba", but it's not quite the same as the other dances.
Flamenco music is all about emotion. When you dance Flamenco, you need to feel everything that's being expressed in the music: sadness, love, pain, longing, joy, freedom... The list goes on and on. That's why there are three different forms of dance: Cante, Baile, and Guitarra. Each one covers something different which helps preserve the emotional integrity of the music.
People usually think of flamenco as a male art form, but it's not. Women have their own style of dancing called "sevillanas". This dance is energetic and involves jumping around a lot!
There are two main styles of flamenco: Old School and New School. Old School dancers use brushes instead of their hands to do the moving. They play many more notes per minute than New School dancers, who use their fingers to tap out a quick rhythm while keeping the melody flowing.
Flamenco dance is a kind of body language and an integral aspect of rhythm that combines the most diverse psychologically motivated parts with the art of movement and transforms the most remarkable talents into harmony and beauty. This is why many people call it magic of the feet.
It all began in the 15th century in Spain, when artists from North Africa crossed the Mediterranean Sea to work on royal commissions in Madrid and Barcelona. Their influence can be seen in the development of modern ballet later on. Flamenco also influences other forms of dance such as salsa, bachata, and mambo.
Some say that it's the combination of emotion and movement while others claim it's the dual role of the dancer: artist and audience seducer at the same time. No matter what it is, one thing is for sure - there is no denying the power and appeal of this very special form of dance!
Flamenco has become so popular that there are now many schools where students can learn how to do it professionally. There are even festivals all over the world dedicated to this art form. In fact, it's so popular that there are even movies made about it!
One of these movies is called "Carmen". It was released in 1945 by Hollywood legend MGM and stars Carmen Miranda as well as Antonio Mayans Jr.