Debbie Neill and Susan Brock were able to experience the art of Flamenco in a master class on a recent trip to Spain as part of a group from Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio.

I was mesmerized when I saw Flamenco dancers for the first time in Spain about 15 years ago. I was so taken by the dance, I returned again this September. Our group was privileged to attend some master Flamenco classes. In these classes, they never use recorded music – always live musicians.

Flamenco is a type of music and dance that comes from the southern part of Spain. The roots of Flamenco are not exactly known, but most agree it grew out of several gypsy cultures that existed. 

There are many different types of Flamenco dances and each has a different look. Not only do the costumes differ but they also use a variety of accessories like castanets and fans. 

It is a highly expressive Spanish dance and meant to show extreme emotion. Flamenco dancers are intense and passionate. The main characteristics of this dance are hand clapping, percussive footwork like foot stomping and hand, arm and body movements, and oftentimes accompanied by guitar music.  

Flamenco dancers also became one of the major attractions for the public and by the 20th century it became very popular in the theater. Just like an Argentine Tango, they were performing on the streets of Spain. 

Flamenco dancers spend a lot of time perfecting the dance, which is difficult. There are so many rhythmic patterns to learn. The steps and movements are complicated. 

It is also important to communicate your innermost emotions and feelings to the audience. This is probably the most interesting part of the dance to watch. This dance can be danced in partnership, singly, or in a group setting. 

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, and very 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 to everyone to experience the Flamenco in some way, whether it’s watching or dancing. 

Sandro Virag is a partner and instructor at Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio of Hilton Head, located in Bluffton at Seaquins Ballroom. hiltonheadballroom.com