9 mar 2012

Flamenco, more than just a dance

A Flamenco show - Madrid, Spain.
The famous Spanish dance Flamenco is known worldwide. It is a style of Spanish music and dance which was born in the southern Andalucía region of Spain, and which, since 2010, is classified as part of the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

An integral part of the Spanish culture, Flamenco brings tourists from far and wide, and is an obvious addition to any itinerary. It is certainly not something to be missed as the movement, passion and emotion they put into their performance transmits feelings and emotions that anyone identify with, Spanish or not.
See it for yourself, you can find dozens of Flamenco bars and clubs around Madrid, and across the whole of Spain. In recent years we have seen a huge rise in its popularity in the Spanish speaking countries of South America, such that in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panamá and El Salvador, there are numerous new and diverse Flamenco groups and academies. In Japan Flamenco is so popular that there are actually more academies than in Spain itself.

Flamenco originated in 18th Century Andalucía from the infusion of instrumental music, singing and dance. It is a symbol of identity for many groups and communities, above all, the gypsy community, although nowadays it is recognised by the rest of the world as a symbol of Spanish culture as a whole.
After the Spanish War of Independence (1808-1812) a strong sense of national pride based on individualism and casticismo could be identified in the Spanish people. During this time the gypsy lifestyle thrived, regarded as the perfect example of individualism.
The emergence of bullfighting schools in Ronda and Sevilla, the rise of banditry and a foreign obsession with anything Andalusian all contributed to “costumbrismo andaluz” which even reached as far as the courts of Madrid.
At night cafés would transform into a place where you can have a drink whilst admiring the musical spectacle. These local cafés nurtured its early forms and supported the emergence of the professional Flamenco singer, and also played an important role in the development of the art of Flamenco. Here the “payos” (non-gypsy people) would learn the songs of the gypsies, whilst the performers would put their own twist on the Andalusian folklore, all the time enriching its diversity.
Throughout this time, its popularity with the general public helped it to become more mainstream, bringing together its many themes and styles. For the Andalusians, it is an important part of their culture and heritage, regardless of religion or ethnicity.
A Flamenco dancer - Madrid, Spain.

What makes Flamenco?
There are three integral arts that make up Flamenco: music, singing and dance.

The Royal Spanish Academy (Real Academia Española) describes Flamenco singing as “el canto andaluz agitanado” (or andalusian gypsy song) and defines “el cante jondo” as “the most authentic of andalusian song, of profound feeling”. A Flamenco singer is called a “cantaor”, and the typical song expresses a whole range of emotions – pain, happiness, tragedy, fear and elation.

The “tocaores” are the Flamenco guitarists, whose posture and technique (crossed legs and the guitar practically resting on the floor) differs slightly for every person due to the many variations of the classic Spanish guitar. In general they are made with wood from the Cypress tree which gives a brilliant acoustic and constitutes the typical Flamenco sound. The use of one’s thumb on the shell of the guitar, and the use of a scratchplate add elements of percussion to the music which form a huge part of the recognisable sound of Flamenco.
In addition, Flamenco songs are sometimes performed “a capella” (without the accompaniment of a guitar) which therefore focuses all of the attention on the singer and the emotion which they transmit.

The Flamenco dance, one of passion and seduction, also expresses a range of emotions, from sadness through to joy. The technique is complicated and you will see a different interpretation from everyone who dances it: men dance the Flamenco with great power and force, with a focus on footwork, whereas women perform it with more varied and sensual movements. On the whole, the Flamenco dance is based upon movement of the feet, hands and arms, and different variants include: sevillanas, fandango de Huelva, tanguillos de Cádiz, cantes de Málagas, tangos, cantes de ida y vuelta, saeta, soleá and bulerías.

Flamenco in the current day
In the 80s emerged a new generation of flamenco artists, influenced by greats like Camarón, Paco de Lucía, Morente, etc.
These artists shared a great interest in “el panorama musical Español” (popular urban Spanish music) which at the time was an influential part of the Movida Madrileña.
During this time, music promoters diluted the significance of the word Flamenco by using it to describe a whole host of different musical styles. As such, the label of Flamenco grouped together many differing musical genres (orchestral flamenco, rock, pop and Cuban) which did in some cases originate from classical Flamenco.
Despite the new lease of life given to it by recognised singers, the label of Flamenco was still used for a diverse range of interpretations. Other contemporary Spanish artists would employ musical styles that were not Flamenco, all the while still respecting its traditions. There are also many conservative singers who still only regard Flamenco in the pure, classical sense of the word, and who therefore represent the roots and origins of the art to this day.
AIL Madrid Flamenco classes
(Spanish and Dance)
Flamenco is much more than a musical style; it has its own language, its culture and traditions, and without a doubt it is a Spanish art and even a way of living. Such is its rich culture and influence on Spanish society, that in November 2010 it was declared listed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

At AIL Madrid we offer a Spanish with Dance course, so you can complement your learning of the Spanish language with dance classes, and it goes without saying that Flamenco is on offer. Some say that nowadays there is a higher level and better quality of Flamenco in Madrid than in Andalucía, as it’s where all the best Flamenco artists are going now. Listed below are some details about where you can go in Madrid to get a taste of Flamenco. Lets us know what you thought about Flamenco, and enjoy it!

Places to enjoy the spectacle of Flamenco

Café de Chinitas

Calle Torija, 7. C.P.: 28013 – Madrid
915 59 51 35 
Metro: Santo Domingo / Plaza de España

Torres Bermejas
Calle de Mesonero Romanos, 11  C.P.: 28013 – Madrid
915 31 03 53
Metro: Callao

Tablao Villa Rosa
Plaza Santa Ana, 15 C.P.: 28012 – Madrid
915 21 36 89
Metro: Sol

Tablao Las Carboneras
Plaza del Conde de Miranda, 1 C.P.: 28005 – Madrid
915 42 86 77 

Metro: Sol / Ópera / La Latina

Café Flamenco - Skynight Puerta América

Av. América, 41 C.P.: 28002 -  Madrid
917 44 54 00 ‎
Metro: Cartagena

Cafetín La Quimera

Sancho Dávila, 34 C.P.: 28028 - Madrid

913 56 93 61

Metro: Manuel Becerra / O´Donell / Ventas

Artebar La Latina
C/ San Bruno 3, C.P.: 28005 - Madrid
Metro: La Latina

Corral de la Pacheca

C/ Juan Ramón Jiménez, 26  C.P.: 28036 – Madrid
913 53 01 00
Metro: Plaza de Castilla

Corral de la morería
C/ Morería 17 C.P.: 28005 – Madrid
913658446 – 913651137
Metro: Ópera / La Latina