How to enjoy flamenco dancing in Spain

flamenco dancing in spain

How to experience the best flamenco dancing in Spain?

It’s an obvious question since the country is considered the cradle of this art. It’s THE best place to enjoy an authentic flamenco show.

So if you plan to go to a flamenco the choice of places is extremely wide…

These are the best flamenco shows in Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Cordoba and Granada.

If you need more options, here is a complete list with all the places where you can see flamenco dancing in Spain.

But with so many options to choose from throughout the city finding a genuine, high-quality show can sometimes be a little tricky.

To help you stay away from the tourist traps, here are some insider information of what you should look for when choosing the flamenco show you plan to see.

Don’t focus exclusively on flamenco dancing in Spain

Traditional flamenco is based on three art forms: singing, dancing and music. And one of them has no sense without the other two.

A bailaora needs to coordinate her elegant and complicated body movements with the heartbroken lyrics of a cantaor and the beautiful and harmonic tunes of the talented guitarrista.

Therefore, to see the real thing and to enjoy an authentic show, don’t focus only on flamenco dancing.

Spain is full of great places where you can enjoy amazing artists performing their best singing, dancing and music. Ideally, the show should give an equal importance to dancers, singers and guitar players, incorporating guitar and singing solos in between the dancing.

A simple flamenco show is always better

Look for simplicity and quality!

In flamenco the gamut of feelings and states of mind (e.g. grief, joy, tragedy, love, fear) are expressed through brevity and simplicity.

Forget about extravagant and excessive clothing (especially the bailaoras dresses). The best performers, whether they are dancers, singers are musicians always dress very soberly.

And please, don’t go to a show where singers use microphones. That’s a profanation in the flamenco culture! Their voice should be strong enough and deep enough to get to the whole audience.

The flamenco singing is characterized by its sober accompaniment. Take into account that until the 20th century there was no guitar in a flamenco performance. So it was sung a palo seco (without any music instrument at all, only hand clapping).

Find a small venue to experience the duende

Even for a Spaniard like me, understanding the concept (and the importance) of duende is fairly complicated. To put it simply, it represents the true soul of flamenco, the art that naturally arises during a performance.

When you attend a flamenco show, let yourself be carried away by the atmosphere created in the tablao or the flamenco bar. That is, forget about any reasoning and focus on feeling.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the lyrics. Don’t worry about what they singers are saying.

Focus on the music, not the words. Listen, listen, listen. All the emotional messages come in the music.

If the artists don’t convey any emotion or passion to you, they have failed. Because that’s what flamenco is, an art of pure emotions.

So look for small venues or tablaos where you’ll be able to sit close to the scenario. From there, you can watch every dance move, and listen to every breath between every note in detail.

It’s an experience that will give you goosebumps!

Look for an improvised performance

Improvisation and spontaneity are synonyms of flamenco.

Flamenco singing, dancing and music and have a very high degree of personal improvisation, which you can see in the spontaneous expressions of emotion of the performers.

Although it depends on the place where you go to see a flamenco show, during the performance you’ll see that different flamenco styles or palos are played.

But the important here is not if you see a siguiriya or a soleá. It’s whether the artists have a specific choreography or structure or, on the contrary they improvise, making each show unique.

Run away from any routine of flamenco dancing in Spain.

Here is a list of places where you can see an authentic flamenco show in different cities throughout the country.

Respect basic flamenco etiquette

When you’re at a flamenco show, here are some friendly tips to help you enjoy the experience without disrupting the magic:

Stay quiet when the guitar starts. The guitar is the first sound that sets the mood for the show. From that moment, keep quiet and pay close attention.

Mind the pauses. Sometimes, the dancers will pause dramatically before continuing. Avoid talking or even whispering during these moments of silence.

Keep noise levels down. Try not to make any noise when eating or drinking at your table during the performance.

Wait for the right moment to move. If you need to go to the restroom or get a drink, wait for the audience to applaud or for a change of artist before moving around the room.

Be mindful of timing. If you arrive late or come into a flamenco venue with an ongoing performance, wait until a piece has finished before entering. This helps maintain the performers’ focus and the atmosphere.

Respect photography and video rules. Usually, taking photos and videos is not allowed during the main part of the performance. However, in some venues, especially tablaos, the artists might let you know when it’s okay to snap pictures or record during the last 10 minutes of the show. So, keep your cameras and smartphones away until you get the green light.

By following these simple guidelines, you’ll ensure that everyone, including yourself, can fully enjoy the beauty and passion of flamenco dancing in Spain.

Go to a flamenco bar off the beaten track

In a flamenco bar local artists, sometimes not very experienced but full of passion, spend their nights showing their art and style to the audience.

The only drawback it that you won’t see any professional dancing… Or any dancing at all.

But, you’ll witness the best local and amateur talent of the city.

Not to mention that you won’t have a to pay a cent to enter the bar and to see this improvised and memorable show.

So do as locals do and head to a flamenco bar.

This article is part of a complete tutorial about flamenco in Spain where you can read everything you need to know about flamenco and how to fully enjoy it.

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

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