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When it comes to Flamenco immediately our memory brings us back to that beautiful land called Spain. We think of its landscape, its flavors and perfumes.

But what attracts the visitor are the traditions and music that belongs to the Earth. The dancer with her steps unleashes the strength and rhythm, along with theatrical gestures, seduces the Viewer. That song without music or dance accompanied by guitar, along with women's movements, it gives us a sense of movement and lightness that contrasts with the strength of the beating of the feet.  It's the story of the poor peasants Andalusians and Gypsy errant whose cante (singing), full of suffering, reveal to us their feelings, which are the basis of this culture. This pain is felt through those typical whining like ahy … ahy and also love's anguish because love itself is seen as the prison of your loved one, a difficult to break. Another element that distinguishes cante flamenco is the family. It is a symbol of protection and wealth from which determines the value of a person.

  • Origin of Flamenco

To understand the origin of Flamenco we must return back in time to when the Arabs conquered the Iberian Peninsula in 711 d. C. this domination lasted eight centuries. Right in the period of Arab rule was the singing of the Moriscos. A plaintive song composed by a change in the vocal intonations that mingled with the singing of the place, becoming a fundamental part of Andalusian folk music. This music continued to evolve with the arrival of the Gypsy people, around 1500. This merger contributed to the birth of Flamenco. The dance which today we know is nothing but a collection of many traditions that Theodoric, and merging with the law of the place, he created a dance that we can define.

Regarding the origin of the word there are several theories but we have no certainty about the veracity of these. The first theory is to call flamencos Gypsies because they thought, mistakenly, coming from Flanders (Belgium). The other theory is the literal translation of the word flamenco which in Spanish means "Flamingo". Another interpretation is related to the Arab world where is connected the word Flamencos with felah-mongke meaning "farmer escaped." A possible reference to the continuous movement of the Gypsies.

  • Evolution of Flamenco

In the first half of the 19th century Flamenco was intended as a way of life. Since then the Spanish aristocracy began to try some interest towards this move way of making music. The Gypsies began to animate the holidays of nobles Gladdening with their art.

Over time the cafés cantantes or places where you could attend performances by Flamenco. This dance became an art and became space within the Spanish society. Here the payos (non-gypsies) began to engage and to approach to the art of dance. Began, therefore, another evolution. You enriched forms of singing, dancing and musical accompaniment. The folklore is laced with Flamenco, creating songs like on fandango, sevillanas and ferruca. There are 50 different musical styles called palos characterized by musical criteria such as tempo, key and melody, which includes the songs previously said. Some palos have the guitar, singing and dancing while others have only the song and calls "a palo seco". Are also divided into two large groups: the first one is called cante hondo (deep chant) and the second referred to as cante chico (small). This was the typical repertoire of flamenco artists, which in turn became payos. Until then the importance was given to singing but further transformation was that of baile (dance). And behold this amazing dance became rhythmic choreography where the toes for men and for women, in addition to the beating of the feet, the movements of the arms and skirt.

  • Flamenco today

Flamenco is an art still evolving even culturally. In recent years it has been contaminated by other music genres such as Jazz and pop.  Another kind is the Rumba Flamenco is a style of music from Latin America, who became famous even in Andalusia, and this Andalusian influence has changed the look and figurative than Latin American. Another style is the Catalan Rumba and that of Madrid.  This type of music is well known thanks to famous artists such as the Gipsy Kings. UNESCO, November 16, 2010, publish the Flamenco as a world heritage site.

January 19, 2015

About Mariangela Bognolo

Artistic director Retetop95, curator, historian and art critic.

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