Flamenco: Much more than “Typical Spanish”

/ / Flamenco

One of the reasons to start Spanish Tapas Madrid was to provide a “typical Spanish experience” to our clients and we consider Flamenco (Flamingo), as a highlight of the Spanish culture.

In order to follow this line we are going to start with or new product, Introduction to Flamenco, from September 2014 in Madrid.

Vanesa Garcia is an andalusian Flamenco dancer based in Madrid. She will be collaborating with us by giving you the best introduction to the infinate misteries and insights of this art form.

Vanesa is passionate about Flamenco since her childhood, she was born in the province of Malaga (Andalusia, Southern Spain), where Flamenco was born.

It is a form of Spanish folk music, dance and for many a way of life.

It includes singing, guitar playing, dance and handclaps. The first written mentioning in literature goes back to the late 18th century. It grew out of Andalusian and "Romani" (gypsies) music and dance style. Flamenco is often associated with the Romani people of Spain (Gitanos) and a number of famous Flamenco artists are of this ethnicity. Flamenco was first recorded in the late 18th century but the genre underwent a dramatic development in the late 19th century.

Flamenco has its contrasts throughout history. Back in the 60's and 70's it was often related to the nightlife, alcohol and outlaw activities, but thanks to the work of many legends like Paco de Lucía and Camarón de la Isla it started being recognized in the 80's. Nowadays Flamenco lives his golden age once again: Sara Varas and Joaquin Cortés are good examples of this success.

It has become so popular all over the world that it is taught in many countries: for instance, Japan has more Flamenco academies than Spain. On November 16, 2010 UNESCO declared Flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Where is the name Flamenco coming from?

The origins of the word Flamenco are unclear. It was not recorded until the late 18th century.

There are some theories:

  • "Flamenco" seems to come from the word for naming the bird known as "flamingo" in english, which is colorful, like some dresses of dancers and it seems this bird was usual in Southern Spain some centuries ago.

  • "Flemish", i.e. someone or something related to Flanders. The (predominantly Flemish) courtiers of Charles V of the Roman empire (Carlos I of Spain) were known for their colourful dress and florid displays of courtesy, but also for their boisterous behaviour. The word Flamenco came to be used for arrogant or flamboyant behaviour in general, which could possibly have come to be applied to the Gitano players and performers.

  • We cannot forget the muslim culture influence in the iberian peninsula during the Middle Ages. They ruled most of Spain from 711 to 1492 with Córdoba (Andalusia today)as the Capital of The Caliphate. If you listen to arab music and Flamenco you'll find some recurrent and obvious similarities in the music and even in the way of vocal expression.

Modern Flamenco is a highly technical dance style requiring years of study. The emphasis for both male and female performers is on lightning-fast footwork performed with absolute precision. In addition, the dancer may have to dance while using props such as castanets, shawls and fans.

Luis Ortega
If you want to learn more go to or join our brand new service Introduction to Flamenco with Vanesa García from September 2014.
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