I imagine that if a flamenco dancer could transform into an animal, it would be something fierce and stunningly beautiful. From watching a flamenco cave show to the street dancers, flamenco is a powerful dance that demands the viewer’s attention.
Flamenco originates from Spain’s Andalucía region. The dance has several forms which includes finger-snapping (pitos), singing, guitar playing as well as vocalizations and hand-clapping (jaleo). The combination gives it a mysterious and wild beauty. It’s a tradition that’s essential to Andalucía’s culture and identity.
The city of Granada, located in southern Spain, keeps this tradition alive and well where the Gitanos (gypsies) have preserved it over the centuries. Granada still retains its roots from the past and has a unique cultural blend. The Spanish city was the last Moorish stronghold in the Iberian Peninsula before it was conquered by the Catholic monarchs. A person only needs to look at La Alhambra, the city’s ancient Moorish fortress, to see its historical influences.
Flamenco’s historical origins can best be experienced by its cave shows. The narrow caves easily echo the sounds of jaleo and pitos. The caves are small and the audience can experience flamenco up-close. During the summer months, when tourism is at its peak, flamenco dancers can also be found in the plazas and by the cathedrals. Even with the crowds, they are hard to miss.
The style is different from any other dances, emphasizing force and power with each step. It’s a difficult art form to master, which my flamenco workshop proved. The dance workshop was a fun experience and it gave me a much greater respect for the art. A Flamenco dancer has to improvise when the guitar changes the beat or when the audience claps their hands.
When I arrived in Granada, I saw that there was a strong relationship between the music and locals. Guitar players could be found in most plazas and when it wasn’t too hot, locals could be found out dancing. During the summer the day wasn’t over until you saw at least two bridal parties, a groom or a local dance party.
Music and dance are integral in any culture and it has a prominent influence in Spanish life. Granada seemed to embody the characteristics of its traditional dance. The complex city never lacked passion or energy.