Short Stories for Teachers

About Flamenco Dancing
By:Debra Stein

Flamenco dancing is much more than a pattern of steps or a style of movement. It is defined by the emotional interpretation of music and song, and the influence of a culture that shaped its form. Words and rhythms drive emotionally charged movements expressed by the artistry of the performer.

Origin
Flamenco grew out of the responses of gypsies to their surroundings and nomadic lifestyle in Andalusia, a region in southern Spain. With little documentation of the art form, there is no verification of the origin of the name.

Characteristics
The three most important elements of Flamenco are guitar music, singing and dancing, which are enhanced by staccato hand clapping, rapid heel movements and stomping.

Influences
Moorish culture and Jewish traditions that shaped the nomadic life of the gypsies contributed to the narrative songs and emotional outpouring in their movements.

Evolution
Flamenco dancing evolved from the streets of small countryside communities in the 7th century to ballroom studios in the larger cities of Spain in 1765. The addition of guitar music took performers to the country's popular music cafes.

Rebirth
A rebirth of Flamenco in 1955 took the art to concert halls and theaters around the world. Rising from a poor class of gypsy performers, contemporary Flamenco is performed by professionals who, while retaining its roots and original cultural characteristics, dance with a mastery of required technical skills.






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