The History of Flamenco
The history of Flamenco is a bit sketchy for the simple fact that much of its past has been documented through oral tradition. Actually, up until about the last 200 years, there was little to no written history of Flamenco. It is known, however, that it originated in the Andalusia area. Also, between the VIII and XV centuries, it is well documented that Spain was under Arab rule. During those centuries, the original concepts of Flamenco music and dance were altered by both the Jewish, Christian and gypsy traditions.
Later, Flamenco schools were founded, which led to the dance form’s solidification as an authentic ballroom dance. It was during these hundred years that composers began to introduce more to the traditional vocals and clapping of Flamenco with the well-known Flamenco guitar. This pivotal time between 1765 and 1860 led to Flamenco’s Golden Age, which arrived around the year 1869 in music cafes. It was in these cafes that Flamenco took on a life of its own. Audiences were enthralled not only with the guitarists but also with the dancers who portrayed the music’s deep meaning so well.
Variations of Flamenco
There are more than 50 variations of Flamenco, but all are recognizable through a single common denominator. Flamenco portrays an unrivaled level of passion and fire. Each of the Flamenco styles adheres to the patterns of Flamenco music, but there is also a great deal of spontaneous improvisation within each performance. Most laymen recognize Flamenco through its use of rhythmic foot stamping and expressive arms.
Different Flamenco Styles
There are several different Flamenco styles, but three of the most well-known are Classical Flamenco, Flamenco Puro and Modern Flamenco.
- Classical Flamenco: This particular style holds true to the Seguidilla, maintaining a very upright carriage. Classical Flamenco is the most popular style amongst Spanish dance troupes.
- Flamenco Puro: This style follows the Gitano tradition. This is a solo dance which is completely improvised by the dancer.
- Modern Flamenco: This technique is quite complicated and often takes many years to perfect. It is a highly technical dance style which can include props in addition to its highly difficult footwork.
Renowned Dancers: Antonio and Rosario
One of the most renowned Flamenco couples of all time is Antonio and Rosario. For over two decades, these two cousins partnered each other and became world famous. In 1953, both opened separate schools of dance. Antonio Ruiz Soler, more popularly known as Antonio el bailarin, went on to choreograph classical and Spanish pieces. Some of these were performed by his own company, Antonio and the Ballets de Madrid, and some were taken on by other companies altogether.
Camaron de la Isla: A Flamenco Musician of Worth
Although there are countless Flamenco musicians, many of which are notable, one of the most recognized is Camaron de la Isla. Although he released numerous Flamenco albums before he died in the early 1990's, he likely made the most waves with La Leyenda del Tiempo.
Flamenco dance is known for its passion and rhythmic foot stamps. There are more than 50 different styles of Flamenco, but it is a firm Spanish stronghold in the ballroom dance tradition. Throughout the centuries, this fiery dance style has not only evolved with the times but has thrived.