Smithsonian Journeys Dispatches

Video: Flamenco!

Native to the Anadalucia region of Spain, flamenco dancing has become synonymous with Spanish culture. There have been traces of Andalusian, Gypsy, Sephardic, Moorish and Byzantine influences in the dance, and while it is believed the dance originated in the 15th century, the term flamenco was not recorded until the 18th century. The mixture of Moorish guitar with Gypsy dancing resulted in a social dance that has now spread throughout the world, particularly in Central America.

The Golden Age of Flamenco is considered to be 1869-1910, when ticketed performances in public venues attracted a new audience. Dancers began to receive attention, while flamenco guitarists gained a positive reputation as well. However, this created a split in the flamenco community. For purists, the dance changed drastically with public attention. The flamenco fiestas involved a gathering of twenty or so dancers, and there was no certainty as to when (or if) people would show, or for how long.  But once ticketed performances started, there was a structure there did not exist previously. This commercialization of the dance left some feeling it was not authentic, while others saw it to be a new opportunity in creativity and performance.

Check out this scene from the 1995 film Flamenco by Carlos Saura, and then join a dance class in your community.  

Have you seen a flamenco performance in person? Tell us about it.

You can experience the beauty of the dance on Historic Cities of the Sea, where you'll experience flamenco in lovely Seville.