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Flamenco - The Dance of Spain

Cante, Baile, and Guitarra

Flamenco is a genuine Spanish art form and exists in three forms: Cante, the song, Baile, the dance, and Guitarra, guitar playing. Gypsies are often named as its fore athers, and it can be taken for certain that they played an important part in its creation and early development. The popular songs and dances of Andalusia have also influenced its early development quite considerably as have the numerous and diverse cultures and civilizations during its different historical epochs.

The rise of Flamenco in the Cafes Cantantes

The first time Flamenco is reported on in literature is in the "Cartas Marruecas" of Cadalso. Between 1765 and 1860, the first Flamenco-schools were born in Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Triana (Seville). It was during this time that the Flamenco dance started to grab a hold in the ballrooms with the earliest Flamenco consisting of a purely vocal arrangment, accompanied only by rhythmical el toque de palmas (clapping of hands). It was dedicated composers such as Julian Arcas and others who introduced guitar playing.

The Golden Age of Flamenco

The Golden Age of Flamenco occurred during 1869-1910 and developed into the definitive form we know today within the numerous cafes cantantes (music cafes) of the time. The more serious and authentic dance forms, that express deep feelings (cante jondo), also dates from this same period when Flamenco really fired the public imagination and became the major public attraction for the cafes cantantes. Guitar players who featured the dancers increasingly gained a popular reputation.

Opera Flamenca, Cante Jondo and Manuel de Falla

Manuel de Falla

1910 to 1955, Flamenco is marked by the Opera Flamenca, with an easier kind of music like the Fandangos and Cantes de Ida y Vuelta. The latter clearly demonstrating strong South American influence.

After 1915 Flamenco shows were organized and performed all over the world. Not everybody though was so enchanted with what Flamenco had grown into. a Flamenco intellectual Manuel de Falla (1876–1946 of Andalucia), denounced it as 'frivolous and regressive' , and  set about gathering an impressive list of poets, musicians, composers and dancers to form El Concurso, its aim to enhance and encourage the performance of authentic Flamenco and influence the music world and culture. Leading figures, amongst many others, involved in the movement included Federico García Lorca (Poet), Ignácio Zuloaga (Painter), Joaquín Turina,Conrado del Campo, and Oscar Espl (Composers).

The Flamenco Renaissance

1955 saw the start of a Flamenco Renaissance with the great performer Antonio Mairena one of its key figures. Outstanding dancers and soloists soon made their way out of the small tablaos, successors to the early cafes cantantes, and into to the great theatres and concert houses of the time.