Flamenco dance is an art form which was born from the necessity of a group of people to express itself. It originates from popular and marginal roots that have developed throughout time. In 2010 flamenco reached a status that no one ever thought possible when it was named as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage.
All types of dance truthfully reflect culture and society and, as you can imagine, flamenco is no exception. Flamenco is considered as a manifestation of the culture and language of the Andalusian and gypsy populations.
What is flamenco dance
Flamenco dance is the demonstration of a state of mind and of a different way of life. As a matter of fact, flamenco dance is the artistic demonstration of very intense emotions.
Therefore, it’s obvious that rhythm and expressing feelings are the two most important aspects of this type of dance. They are, in fact, absolutely necessary for its correct execution. In other words, the posture of the dancer, the aesthetics and the representation of the dance are essential elements of the performance.
Is there a unique flamenco dancing?
While the common denominators of passion are always present, there is no one single flamenco dance.
In fact, depending on the criteria of mood intention, the set of melodic phrases and the cultural traditions behind each song, flamenco dance actually can be expresses through more than 50 distinct palos…
Flamenco as a whole (singing, music and dance) involve a great deal of personal improvisation. In this sense, the dancer must follow the music and the singer’s emotions at each moment of the performance. However, the personal expression of the bailaor (or bailaora) must adhere to the strict framework of flamenco music’s traditions and rhythmic patterns.
The characteristics of flamenco dance
The following are flamenco dancing characteristics, and should be respected by the dancers:
- Freedom and pride of the posture.
- Sensitivity and profoundness of the movements.
- Natural, sensitive and flirtatious movements by the bailaora.
- Arrogant, strong and masculine movements by the bailaor.
They are all extremely important and represent what is traditionally known as the duende of flamenco dancing. Obviously, the duende depends completely on the expression and attitude of the palo that is being performed. It must truly reflect the dance’s essence.
Therefore, the dancer’s body and face expressions are crucial. She has to be capable of expressing feelings and emotions through the body and of expressing the dance’s alma when dancing and moving, but also when touching, grabbing or caressing her partner if she is dancing with a man like a couple would do.
The role of the flamenco dancer
In a flamenco show the dancer, whether its a woman or a man, may start the performance standing motionless. She will spend the first minutes absorbing the strums of the guitar, the clapping, and the singing until the inspiration hits her.
Then, she will start her intense dance increasing the passion as the cantaor singing rises the emotion. As a matter of fact, you will see how the dancer’s facial expressions change throughout the performance to show the explosion of emotions that go along with the music and the lyrics.
So the role of a flamenco dancer is basically interpret with her body the lyrics and the rhythm. It’s a contrast between the light and graceful with the strong and noisy steps as her feet drill intensely into the floor.
Duets, performed by a man and a woman, are often the most passionate flamenco dances. Both generally keep their eyes firmly locked each other. It’s an aggressive competition of passion, sexual tension, and emotion.
Learning flamenco dance
Without a doubt the most important thing you need to start flamenco dancing is patience. A lot!
The art of flamenco dance is very difficult to master and it requires years of practice. Apart from learning complicated steps and movements, the most complicated thing to learn is to communicate thought gestures and looks (no words allowed!) with the singer or the guitar player. You must show in the most possible expressive way your innermost emotions and feelings to the audience.
However, with a good instructor and some time, anyone can learn.
So, while you are in Spain, are you willing to book some flamenco dance classes?
This article is part of a complete tutorial about flamenco in Spain where you can read all the information you need to enjoy this typical Andalusian folklore.
Here is a complete summary of all the guide:
1. What is flamenco?
2. Where to see flamenco in Spain?
3. The best flamenco show in Spain
4. How to enjoy flamenco dancing in Spain
5. Where to take flamenco dance classes in Spain
6. Flamenco history and origins
7. Understanding flamenco singing (cante)
8. Understanding flamenco dance (baile)
9. Understanding flamenco guitar (toque)
10. The different flamenco styles
11. A flamenco glossary