Flamenco dancing isn´t just about dancing (Baile). It´s about the music and songs (Cante), the guitar (Guitarra), the arm gestures, the footwork and handclaps. It´s when you put all of those things together that Flamenco comes alive.
It´s full of passion and emotion which builds as the dancers move with the music. Sometimes they´ll use castanets and fans to add to the visual impact of the dance but they´ll always have passion and attitude in abundance. Young or old, male or female, when the music starts the Spanish people begin to stamp their feet and clap their hands, their arms go up and an impromptu dance begins.
It´s such an important part of Spanish culture that back in 2010 UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
It´s quite a complex form of art but it´s thought to originate back to the peasants of Andalucia and the Romani people (Gitanos) of the 18th century. There´s still some debate about where the word Flamenco originally came from however, but it´s a word that is now known worldwide with countries around the world teaching and learning the moves and music.
Aficionados say there are around 50 different styles of Flamenco music (Cantes). With about a dozen or so commonly played and many more rarely performed at all. Some are unaccompanied songs, while others have the guitar playing. Some are danced to while others are not. Some are mainly for men and others for women, however both men and women now dance to together.
The Spanish guitar (Guitarra) is played in a very specific way which differs from the usual teachings. It´s always played while being seated, with the guitar resting on the top of the performers thigh and them using their fingers, rather than a pick. It´s always played with the right hand, so quite what you do if you´re a lefty, we don´t know?
Flamenco dancing has evolved over the years. To a trained eye you may see these differences due to the location of the performance and in the type of location used. For instance, a large staged affair with many dancers will be quite different to a more intimate solo performance.
But if, like us, you just see the swishing of the skirts, the stamping of the feet and the sweeping of the arms - then techniques aren´t all that important to the end result.
Here are two ladies enjoying a dance at one of the local ferias in the area. It was a set dance that seems to be taught at a young age, as there were all age groups on the dance floor.