Monday, June 15, 2015

Flamenco Dancing in Granada


It's a thrilling experience to watch flamenco dancing. The rhythms, the dramatic flourishes and chants capture you immediately. I climbed the steep cobblestone hills of Granada, Spain to watch a flamenco performance in the famous caves of Sacromonte. Formed around ravines and supplying striking views of the Alhambra Palace, this historic neighborhood is worth a visit even without flamenco but the dance and the music is closely tied to the area. The area was settled by Roma, Moors and Jewish people fleeing persecution. The derogatory term of gypsy is still used but Roma is the preferred name for these nomadic people who arrived from India in the 15th century. It's said that elements of Indian dance can be glimpsed in flamenco as well as Moorish and Jewish influences. What I recognized was the strong connection between cultural expression and systematic oppression. Many of the movements and phrasing reminded me of American blues culture and I think that there are many historical parallels.


The dancers vivid dresses were often raised to show their intricate footwork or zapateado.


The hand clapping looked effortless but palmeros weave intricate patterns around the baseline of each song. The audience was encouraged to join in the clapping but our claps were nowhere near as refined.


It was interesting to see a male dancer. Although the image of a flamenco dancer is usually a woman, men have always performed the dances and many of Andalucia's most famous flamenco artists are male. This dancer's moves were very fluid and quick, it was mesmerizing to watch his feet whirl around.


The echos of the percussive movements rang through the cave. The musicians who played behind the dancers were just as skilled and the overall effect was unforgettable.  Some travelers feel that a visit to Sacromonte flamenco shows is a tourist trap but I think it's a special opportunity to learn more about a distinguished culture.

7 comments:

Indrani said...

I saw this dance in Seville, but it was strictly a no photography event. So envious of your wonderful captures. I didn't know the slight Indian connection it had.

Fly Girl said...

Indrani, thanks. The history is really interesting. They were called gypsies because people believed they were from Egypt but the actually came from India hundreds of years ago. I can see slight connections too but they have been nomadic for so long that it's a really big mix of influences.

A Cuban In London said...

Great post. The Indian connection has come to the fore in recent years as more and more people research into flamenco culture. For a good mix, look up the collaboration between Anoushka Shankar and "El MiƱo" (pianist. Sublime.

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Cubano, the Indian heritage comes up as people examine Roma history. There has been more pop culture exposure for the culture in general. I love Anouska, I'll check it out, thanks.

One Girl: One World said...

I can't wait to see this for myself in Granada! I saw flamenco in Madrid and Barcelona and it was amazing

One Girl: One World said...

I can't wait to see this for myself in Granada! I saw flamenco in Madrid and Barcelona and it was amazing

Fly Girl said...

Thanks so much for dropping by Francesca! Flamenco is one of my fave things, it never gets old no matter where I see it.