Andalusia is famous for its flamenco. This art form that includes dancing, singing, guitar, hand clapping and finger snapping is much like the region where it originated: varied, colorful, passionate, a true melting pot of the peoples who lived together in this region.
While in Andalusia, I saw two flamenco performances, each quite different. The first was at El Palacio Andaluz in Seville. We were on the front row, so it was incredible to get such a close view of the musicians and dancers as they completed the complicated music and movements. The seriousness with which the dancers performed was moving – I can only imagine the years of training that go into mastery of such a demanding dance.
The second performance I attended was in Sacromonte, the gypsy or Roma section of Granada. Before visiting Spain, I was taught that “gypsy” is a derogatory term for the Roma people, but everyone in Spain uses it, including many gypsies. So I don’t know what to think about that. The performance in Sacromonte was more of a family affair – most, if not all, of the performers were from the same family. The women were ageless – I couldn’t tell which generation was which for the most part. This performance was not in a theatre, but in a theatre room in a cave tucked into the side of the cliff above the city of Granada. The people of Sacromonte are famous for their caves with building facades, where they’ve lived for generations.
As I mentioned, flamenco is a melting of cultural influences in Andalusia: famously gypsy but picking up strains from the Spanish Christians, Muslims, and Jews living in the area as well. It seems appropriate for this area so influenced by so many different groups of people. But aside from its cultural importance, it’s just a delight to watch, listen and enjoy.
Title quote: Janet Fitch, White Oleander