I was mesmerized when I saw flamenco dancers for the first time in Spain about 15 years ago. They danced from their heart and soul.
Flamenco is one of those true folkloric dances one must learn at a very young age to be able to dance with full passion.
Flamenco is a type of music and dance that comes from Andalusia, a southern community of Spain. The roots of flamenco are not exactly known, but most agree it grew out of several gypsy cultures. It is a highly expressive Spanish dance and meant to show extreme emotion.
The main characteristics of this dance are clapping, practicing percussive footwork like stomping and using hand, arm and body movements, often accompanied by guitar music.
Flamenco dancers became a major attraction for the public, and by the 20th century, it became very popular in the theater. Just like an Argentine tango, it was being performed on the streets of Spain.
Flamenco dancers spend a lot of time perfecting the difficult dance. There are so many rhythmic patterns to learn, and the steps and movements are complicated.
It is also important for dancers to communicate their innermost emotions and feelings to the audience. The most interesting part of the dance to watch is probably the personal expressions of emotions that dancers show. This dance can be danced in partnership, solo or in a group setting.
Flamenco dancers are intense and passionate. The dance itself is known for its emotional intensity. The dance can involve some strong stomping, which can be made louder with attachments on the shoes.
Castanets are sometimes added for a clicking sound and even a folding fan or shawl can be thrown in for an exciting effect.
To celebrate flamenco in some Spanish regions, there are colorful fiestas and celebrations with music and dance. Today, the dance still retains its very Spanish, very gypsy, passionate character.
If you are looking to learn flamenco, keep in mind it is not a social dance. It is a performance dance. You might have to find a unique setting, as not all dance studios teach this.
I recommend that everyone experiences the flamenco in some way, whether watching or dancing.
Sandro Virag is a partner and instructor at Fred Astaire Dance Studios of Hilton Head, located in Bluffton at Seaquins Ballroom. www.fredastairehiltonhead.com