The flamenco dance: origin and types
Flamenco is an art from Andalusia that combines several elements such as dance, singing and guitar. The result of gypsy, Arab, Christian and Jewish cultural miscegenation, flamenco is, today, an art recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO since 2010.
The strong emotional charge that artists put on the stage during their performances and the atmosphere created in a tablao, make seeing a flamenco show live is a highly recommended experience.
Male dancers and famele dancers interpret each piece with arm movements, body contours and ‘zapateos‘ according to each flamenco style, accompanied by the melody of the guitar and the deep voice of the singer.
The evolution of flamenco dancing
Dance and current music is the result of centuries of evolution, integration and unification of elements of different cultures. With the development of flamenco music, flamenco dance also emerged, which appeared for the first time, recognizably as a structured dance, in the 18th century.
At first, the attention of flamenco was focused on the voice of the singer, but little by little in the performances that were done in the old ‘coffee singers‘, the passion that was wasted by the dancers on stage was attracting public attention and the dance began to steal prominence to the singer .
In a flamenco show, the role of the flamenco dancer is to physically interpret the lyrics of the song, with smooth and elegant movements that contrast, sometimes, with intense ‘taconeos‘ or turns.
The duos, usually performed by a man and a woman, are also very intense dances and with a high dose of emotion, since the dancers maintain a kind of competition in which passion, tension and emotion come into play.
In a show, after the first bars of music and voice, when the dance starts, the artist interprets the style in question with his whole body: arms, legs and even with the expression of his face.
Types of flamenco dances
The structure of the piece, the movements and the intensity of the interpretation depends on the type of flamenco dance that is performed. Although more than talking about ‘type of dances’, the most correct thing is to refer to flamenco styles, of which there are more than 50 different ones, a sample of the richness and variety that this art of Andalusian roots possesses.
Each style has a compass, an origin (cantes de forge, party, back and forth …), a specific type of lyrics and a music that differentiates some clubs from others. A characteristic that has in common flamenco singing, music and dance is the high degree of improvisation of the performer, that “personal seal” with which the artist signs his performance and that makes each performance unique.
Among the variety of flamenco dances, the most popular and known are the following:
- Soleá: it is one of the most performed dances by artists and due to its type of movements it is better suited to women. It is a sad style, which is interpreted with arm movements, hip undulations and waist breaks. The lyrics speak of sorrow, loss, love, many other themes but always with deep feeling. They dance the lyrics that the dancer wants, then a foot brush (zapateado) and usually finish by bulerías.
- Bulerías: it is a festive cante par excellence and is used as the culmination of other dances (such as soleá or alegrías, for example). It is also usually the style for what in flamenco is called ‘end of party’, the bis after a show. It is the most cheerful and fun of all the dances and is distinguished by its fast pace, undoubtedly, made to dance.
- Alegrías: originating in Cádiz, it is the oldest flamenco dance. So much so, that much of the rest of the flamenco styles take as a basis the joys to compose their choreography. It is characterized by the musicality of the guitar tones. The alegrías dance sometimes begins with a song entrance before the lyrics; after the lyrics (usually two or three, but the dancer decides), silence comes and then the castellana, followed by a foot brush or zapateado. The alegrías are usually finished by bulerías, almost always bulerías de Cádiz or de Jerez.
- Seguiriyas: it is a sober dance, with slow and slow rhythm. Its fundamental step consists in a rhythmic walk based on dry, sonorous and cut hits, the dancer making a movement of forward and backward movement in the same space.
- Tangos: there are a thousand varieties of tangos and it is a very danceable. Tangos are, like alegrías or bulerías, another festive style. Its joyful rhythm and measured meter allows it to be interpreted with movements of great brilliance and expressiveness.
- Farruca: with origin in Galicia, it is a flamenco style that has a lot of difficulty and demands a high level of execution. It is more a dance of men than of women, to the point that when a woman interprets it, she dances it with pants, in order to highlight the characteristic zapateado, accompanied by whistles.
- Sevillanas: It is perhaps the least flamenco style (halfway between flamenco and Andalusian folklore), but it is by far the best known and the one that most people dance. It is composed of 4 sevillanas with their lyrics, which always have the same duration and the same dance structure: paseíllos, pasadas, confrontations and auction.
The best flamenco dance in Seville
In the flamenco show of El Palacio Andaluz, different flamenco styles are danced in a staging that bears the signature of Emilio Ramírez, ‘El Duende’, principal dancer, choreographer and artistic director of this show full of feeling and passion.
The show, which you can see live in our flamenco tablao, is performed by a unique cast of artists in Andalusia. In fact, this show has been chosen by TVE (Spanish TV) for the promotion and international diffusion of flamenco given the visual and artistic quality.
If you visit Seville, you can not miss the best flamenco dance. You have to see the show that night after night we celebrate in our tablao. Make your reservation online now!