Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ramblings from Seville: Flamenco

Flamenco runs through the veins of Andulucia. It's difficult to put into words the power of this dance form, Flamenco is experienced through emotion and through the soul. It's a dance filled with sadness and anger, but also of passion, strength and beauty. Born from the expression of a persecuted people, most notably, the Gypsies of Southern Spain, its unique blend of influences and musical complexity can be attributed to the consequences of the decree made in Spain 1492 by Catholic Spanish King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella that everyone living under their domain convert to Catholicism. This proclamation was issued under the threat of varying degrees of punishment, the most severe being the death penalty, by fire. Gypsies, Muslims, Jews and anyone living in Spain at the time was ordered to convert. It is believed that because of this decree these different ethnic groups came together to help each other, and within this melding of cultures Flamenco was born.

One does not need to go to a show to experience Flamenco, the sounds of the cante (singing) and guitarra (guitar) echo from the tapas bars, sevillians break into improtu baile (dance) at nights on the city's streets, accompanied by hand clapping and palmas. It is an ever present undertone in a society deeprooted in a cultural cooking pot that continues boil to this day.

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