What is it about flamenco that makes us move in our seats no matter what age we are or where we come from? Although it is not necessary to be familiar with it to enjoy it, the more we learn about the intricacies of this centenary art, the more we will be able to appreciate each of its details and facets.
For this reason, today we bring you this article with some interesting facts about the art of flamenco that you didn’t know, but which you are about to. Go ahead!
1. What is the origin of flamenco?
As we mentioned before, flamenco was born in Andalusia, back in the 18th century. Although we date its origin in this period, flamenco is influenced by musical and dance elements that arose in earlier times. Flamenco is the result of the mixture of Gypsy, Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures that merged the musical elements of their cultures with traditional Andalusian elements. Even though the Gypsy culture is the one that has contributed the most to the development of this art, flamenco has been influenced by Arab sounds, African rhythms, Gregorian chants performed in Jewish synagogues and, naturally, by Andalusian popular songs.
2. Why do we call it flamenco?
There are several theories that try to explain the origin of the name of this art, but none of them is officially accepted as the correct one. The most widespread theory is the one that Blas Infante presented in his work “Orígenes de lo flamenco” (Origins of flamenco), according to which flamenco comes from “Felah-Mengus”, translated as “wandering peasant” in English. Another theory of lesser relevance suggests that the name comes from the flamenco bird, due to the short jacket that the “cantaores” (singers) wore. There are also other less accepted theories, such as the one proposed by Hipólito Rossy or Carlos Almendro, according to which flamenco would have arrived in Spain from Flanders at the time of Charles V.
3. Where does the flamenco dress come from?
The flamenco dress is one of the most iconic and unique garments of this art. Every year, thousands of flamencas walk with their dresses at the popular Andalusian fairs and pilgrimages. The flamenco dress never goes out of fashion and each year, fashion designers present their new flamenco collections in Spain and abroad. However, far from what it may seem, the origins of this garment are very humble. Its immediate predecessor was the dressing gowns that Gypsy and peasant women wore when they went to cattle fairs. They had so many embroideries and colours that wealthy women fell in love with this garment and decided to copy it. It was not until 1929, the year of the International Exhibition in Barcelona, that the flamenco dress became the official dress for the fair and the representative dress of the Spanish culture.
4. What is the flamenco “duende?
The flamenco ”duende” is an abstract concept, essential to understand the flamenco art. Many authors have studied “duende”, among them Federico García Lorca in his work “Teoría y juego del duende” (Theory and play of duende). It is an expression difficult to explain and to translate, but it alludes to the gift that the artist has for singing, dancing, playing the guitar or the “cajón” (box-drum). “Duende” is that talent, grace, magnetism and emotion that makes the artist come alive on stage and makes the audience go silent. Some artists have “duende” and others don’t, but “duende” doesn’t always appear. Having “duende” is something to which all flamenco artists aspire, the summit of emotion made art.