Cante … Toque … Baile … Palmas …. These are the four words which shortly and very well describe one of most passionate dances and music – flamenco. This Spanish hot folk dance-music is supposed to have originated in Andalucía in 1774. It’s often associated with the gitanos or the Spanish Romani whose dwellings were the caves of the Spanish southern region. Their temperament and hot blood were incorporated in their music and dances and thus the four elements that make flamenco have still been the most major ones up to now.
Cante flamenco (or flamenco song) is the most important element. We assume that flamenco dance is in the centre of a performance because flamenco dancers are in the “front line” but no. A song is the soul and cantaor (a singer) is the heart of flamenco.
What is a song without toque? Nothing … Guitar-playing accompanies every song and gives a flamenco rhythm to every performance. A flamenco guitar is a classical acoustic one with thinner tops. Because of this and because of the less internal bracing, its sound is brighter and creates a punchy tonality.
Baile is the third inseparable element that attracts with its passionate movements performed by the dancers. And do you know how gitanos teach their children to sway and swing their hands in the air, passionately and seductively? They make their kids pick an apple from a tree, swing it in their hand until it reaches their mouth and they bite it. They repeat all this again and again till the gesture with the hand becomes their second nature.
Additional driving forces of a flamenco dance are the floral outfits, women’s long flamenco dresses and special flamenco shoes. And yes, what is a flamenco performance without the traditional accompaniment of non-stop handclaps and castanets? Of course, palmas somehow fashions the whole flamenco performance.
Finally, I would like to add one last thing. I have watched several flamenco shows. I can assure you that it depends on where they are performed and on who the performers are. Ballet Nacional de España and Los Vivancos stage brilliant flamenco spectacles, mixing some modern elements and combining classical and folklore styles. On the other hand, it’s one story to attend a Catalan flamenco show in Barcelona and it’s a completely different story to watch it in Andalucía where flamenco was born. So, the conclusion is that if you really wanna the rhythm of flamenco to enter your blood and to touch your soul, you should avail of the chance either to attend a flamenco show at one of the numerous Casas de flamenco somewhere in Andalucía and in Seville, in particular, or watch it in an authentic cave near Granada. Enjoy it. 🙂