15 Things you didn’t know about Flamenco
June 2, 2022
This year’s hotly anticipated Flamenco Festival, back for the first time since 2019, celebrates rising stars and Flamenco legends. From traditional flair to flamenco with a twist!
With our annual Flamenco Festival kicking off this June, discover a further 15 things you may not already know about this unique art-form!
1. It is widely believed that Flamenco actually originates from India! The roots, though somewhat mysterious, seem to lie in the Roma migration from Rajasthan (northwest India) to Spain between the 9th and 14th centuries.
2. Flamenco dance is called ‘Baile’, while a flamenco dancer is known as a ‘Bailor’ (male) and ‘Bailaora’ (female).
3. The typical Flamenco outfit is called the ‘Traje de Flamenca’. Dresses are said to have a guitar shaped body, to enhance a woman’s figure. Heels are an essential and range from 4 – 7cm in height. They can also have special nails in the sole to enhance sound.
4. ‘Duende’ is a term used to describe the ‘soul’ of Flamenco and a heightened sense of emotion that overtakes you. The term also describes an elf or goblin-like creature in Spanish mythology, where it is derived from.
5. ‘Palos’, which also means stick or branch refers to the different traditional music forms of Flamenco. There are more than 50 Palos, from Algerías to Bulerías.
6. Castanets are not part of traditional Flamenco; they are an element that has been added to enhance finger snapping. These wooden percussion instruments are more than 3,000 years old and over time have become an iconic symbol of Spanish Flamenco.
7. Flamenco is made up of four elements: Cante (voice), Baile (dance), Toque (guitar) and the Jaleo, which is roughly translates to mean ‘hell raising’ and involves the handclapping, foot stomping and shouts of encouragement.
8. Silverio Franconetti Aguila, born in Seville in 1831, is considered a legendary singer of Flamenco and opened the famous Café Silverios. It became known as the top ‘Café Cantante’ in Spain during a golden age of Flamenco, where he invited only the most talented singers to perform and promoted only the purest forms of the art.
9. The ‘Cajón’ is another popular percussion instrument, originating from Peru, sometimes used in Flamenco performances. Legendary Spanish Flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía discovered the Cajón during one of his tours in America in the late 1970s and described the sound as ‘restrained to Flamenco’.
10. From 1920 to 1955, many Flamenco shows took place in bullrings and theatres, and became known as ‘Opera Flamenca’. A reason why this name became popular was because opera paid much lower rates of tax than Flamenco shows, so was more economical.
11. One of Spain’s greatest writers, Federico Garcia Lorca, was a keen ambassador of the art-form. Two of his most important poetic works, ‘Poema del Cante Jondo’ and ‘Romancero Gitano’ show Lorca’s fascination with Flamenco and appreciation of Spanish folk culture.
12. Rhythmic handclapping, known as ‘Palmas’, is an important part of Flamenco. There are two types: ‘Palmas Sordas’ and ‘Palmas Abiertas’ which use different parts of the hand to produce different sounds.
13. Under the ‘Franco’ regime, Flamenco gained the status of a Spanish national symbol, while secret police simultaneously repressed any form of cultural dissent in lower-class neighbourhoods, illegalizing many Flamenco concerts and gatherings.
14. In classical music theory, ‘Compás’ is the word used to describe the rhythm or time signature in Flamenco. Flamenco uses three basic counts or measures: Binary, Ternary and the (unique to flamenco) Twelve-Beat Cycle.
15. The fastest flamenco dancer ever recorded danced 1,274 taps in one minute.