The Flamenco is a traditional dance from south of Spain. What makes the flamenco impressive is at the same time the beauty of the dance and the clothes that the dancer wear. The show is performed together with some Spanish Folklorique music. The oldest record of Flamenco dates back to 1774 in a book of José Cadalso. It is a typical dance performed by the gypsies especially from Andalusia, the other regions of Spain did not practice it as much as in the Southern area. The Flamenco dance museum is one of the best places to see a flamenco performance and learn more about this fine art.
There is a possibility that Flamenco was actually developed during the time when the Moors occupied this part of Spain. It is certainly Andalusian in origin but it was an adaptation of the music that Arabs played and the instruments that they used. Remember the Arabs were in this land from the VIII Century until they were finally defeated and forced back into Africa. Inevitably, their influence remained and that included what was to become Flamenco. When it comes to the documented history of flamenco, that is far more recent than the times of the Moors. Before that, it was story and legend passed down through generations of families. Originally Flamenco was purely vocal, fairly primitive chanting to a rhythm that was beaten on the floor by a wooden stick or piece of cane. There were three forms of the songs with the oldest known as Palo Secos, dry styles.
The gypsies were the group who developed the flamenco from various strands including rhythms from their religious life. They had arrived from India in the 15th Century bringing with them song and dance styles from the Sub Continent. The Arabic influences were already here, and there were elements with Jewish origins already in Andalucia as well. In the years that followed, Christians and the Spanish Inquisition resulted in considerable persecution and oppression of all groups that did not conform; that meant gypsies, Jews and any remaining Moors, even if they had converted to Christianity. These groups were forced to live in remote regions where the authorities would not pursue them. The positive result of that was the fusion of their customs, music etc., which resulted in what we know as flamenco. It was years later that it was safe for minority groups to mix again in the general population. One of the elements in Flamenco is Jaleo which when translated means hell -raising. It involves clapping, stomping of the feet and shouting. If people attend a performance, they are actually encouraged to join in. Even the hand clapping is a skill in itself because it has to be in tune with the music. The Zapateado will remind you of tap dancing and it is something that involves a great deal of skill, and practice. There is no definitive time when the guitar began to play its part in these activities that have ultimately become flamenco. Flamenco was slowly embraced and singers and dancers were suddenly in demand. Yet, the whole point about flamenco is that it is spontaneous. Cafes where people could enjoy flamenco sprung up and flourished for a while but the performances were increasingly distant from the purest form of flamenco. With Andalucia a poor region for years until the end of World War II, flamenco lost its popularity but its fortunes revived with what could best be described as a dynasty of performers formed. The best place to go in Seville to enjoy the traditions of Flamenco is Utrera. It is an art that has spread beyond the regions where it first evolved. General Franco saw the advantage of encouraging flamenco clubs in the Costa del Sol to entertain the new tourist boom. It was presented as traditional Andalucian culture. There are modern changes to flamenco and some believe it needs to move with the times. Indeed, time will tell.