You cannot leave ARGENTINA without experiencing the magic of their TANGO, you cannot go to CUBA without being infected by the sensuality of their SALSA and CUMBAYA, and you should never leave SPAIN without experiencing the rustic elegance of the FLAMENCO!
Evoking passion, temperament and energy, flamenco is one of the most exhilarating art forms to witness, both in the visual and in the audible sense. With centuries of socio-cultural evolution, flamenco has a rich history, which unfolds with every stomp of the dancer’s feet, strum of the musician’s guitar, and clap of the singer’s hands, which sets your heart racing and your foot tapping in turn!
It is fairly amazing to learn that the FLAMENCO now synonymous with Spanish culture, was actually not born in SPAIN, but brought to this magnificent country by Gitanos (Gypsies also sometimes called Romany) from India, Iran and Egypt, which evolved in the province of ANDALUCIA, and transformed into Spain’s national dance form it is today, over three distinct developmental phases as below:
FLAMENCO originated in the 15th century with the arrival of the Gypsies from ASIA and the MIDDLE EAST into what was then the IBERIAN PENINSULA comprising today’s SPAIN and PORTUGAL.
After 3 centuries of oppression by the monarchy, FLAMENCO started to finally receive recognition across EUROPE with the advent of ROMANTICISM in the late 18th and early 19th century.
FLAMENCO in this era, was a form of artistic expression of choice, manifesting the integration of the Orient and the Occident in a single dance form, rich in emotion and folklore, and transformed into its current modern incarnation, best exemplified by CARMEN (1845) that achieved a cult following.
Subsequently, the commercialization of FLAMENCO truly began in the 19th century, with the opening of Cafes Cantantes, where FLAMENCO was performed for the visitors and tourists.
The now Spanish Art found a huge following across Europe, turning its most prestigious ballerinas such as TAGLIONI and GESTIGINER into celebrities, and also saw the advent of the OPERA FLAMENCO, patronized by the aristocracy and the elite!
The final phase was its formal adoption as the National Dance of SPAIN orchestrated surprisingly by Spanish Fascist Dictator FRANCISO FRANCO (1939-75 – now who does he remind me of?!:-)), who recognized its potential as a platform for propaganda! Further, a number of films that included elaborate FLAMEDO song and dance sequences were sponsored by the Franco’s government to attract tourists to SPAIN, and succeeded in cementing FLAMENCO as the pre-eminent form of cultural expression synonymous with the Spanish identity!
So it was with immense excitement that we went to the TABLAO CORDOBES whose interiors have been inspired by the ALHAMBRA PALACE, where we were first treated to a sumptuous ANDALUCIAN dinner complete with seafood PAELLA, and then exposed to this fantastic dance form with rich vocals to the accompaniment of the Spanish Guitar.
A pleasant surprise for us was the inclusion of the solo female vocalist MARIA DEL MAR FERNANDEZ who sang the Spanish lyrics in the runaway hit ‘SENORITA’ from ‘ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA’ in the musical ensemble!
We were indeed spellbound by the richness of the experience and the talent of the artists – clearly an evening to cherish and remember for a long, long, time to come!