On our trip to Valencia, we took the opportunity to take in a Flamenco show at a restaurant, Mon, downtown Valencia. The restaurant was good, however not spectacular. The Flamenco, on the other hand, was. Spectacular, that is. I had never seen it live before, so this was a real treat for Old Mamasan.
What the heck am I on about now? Well, Flamenco is an art form native to the Spanish region of Andalusia and the two neighboring regions of Extremadura and Murcia. It does strike me as a tad ironic that we left the region of Murcia and drove two hours into Valencia – to experience the Flamenco. But when opportunity knocks, it is best to answer, right? Anyways, the oldest record of Flamenco dates to 1774. Although Flamenco has become associated with the Romani people in Spain, and somewhat influenced by them, its origin and style is distinctively Andalusian.
Anyways, as you can see in the vid below, the Flamenco includes singing (cante), guitar playing (toque), dance (baile), vocalizations (jaleo), handclapping (palmas) and finger snapping (pitos). Besides me falling in love with the guitar player – because he was just super-duper good – what I want to talk about is the dancing:
El baile flamenco is emotionally intensive, very expressive and proud and very rhythmic. The stamping of the feet in Flamenco is often confused with tap dance, but it is a completely different technique. As with any dance form, many styles of flamenco have developed. I am not sure what style we witnessed, but it was a lot more authentic than the “tourist-flamenco”; not a spotted dress in sight, and a total lack of castanets.
Here’s a little fun fact for ya: In traditional Flamenco, young people are not considered to have the emotional maturity to adequately convey the soul (duende) of the genre. Therefore, many Flamenco dancers do not hit their peak until their thirties, and will continue to perform well into their fifties and beyond.
And, here is one for you Quiz Masters: On Nov 16th 2010, UNESCO declared Flamenco one of the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”