Also known as cante jondo (Andalusian gypsy singing)
represents the purest Andaluscian expression of folklore.
Its origins, still disputed, are linked to the arrival
of gypsies during the 14th C to the flat farmlands of
Cádiz and Seville. It is believed that they originated
from a region in the north of India called Sid, that today
is part of Pakistan, fleeing from a series of conflicts
or invasions from foreign conquerors.
During the middle of the 19th C, flamenco was made popular
by singers who frequented cafes. rThe first such café
opened in Seville around the year 1885. They later extended
throughout Andalusia and Madrid. Up until then flamenco
was not common in family reunions or private parties.
Mythically this art form has been related to the gypsy
race. However flamenco is a complex phenomenon, with multiple
variants making it difficult to circumscribe it to a specific
social or ethnic group.
All experts of this expressive artistic form agree on
its three essential elements: song (cante), the guitar
(toque) and dance (baile), having countless styles (palos),
grouped according to more or less common structures, melodies
Today, flamenco has a history full of extraordinary figures,
such as Enrique el Mellizo, Manuel Torre, Tomás
Pavón, La Niña de los Peines, Antonio Chacón,
Manolo Caracol o Pastora Imperio. These are some of the
legends, pilars of this historical art form rich in interpretations,
which has become one of most significant tokens of culture
from this land.
José Monge, better known as Camarón de la
Isla,, deserves special mention. He is considered the
last great figure of gypsy singing. Tracing his flamenco
repertoire, he reached the highest levels of popularity
and stood out for his innovative initiatives and experiences.
Today’s interest in everything that is autochthonous
has coincided with a surge in flamenco that is extraordinary.
Thus the birth of "nuevo flamenco" (new flamenco),
classical and virtuous on the one hand and more open to
new musical genres on the other. This panorama, still
in a state of flux, has launched the fame of stellar artists
such as Enrique Morente or Carmen Linares in song, Cristina
Hoyos, Mario y Belén Maya, Milagros Mengíbar,
Antonio Canales or Joaquín Cortés in dance
and guitarists such as Vicente Amigo, Tomatito or Paco
de Lucía. In short, a long list of which we can`t
leave out the Compañía Andaluza de Danza
(Andalusian Dance Company), an extraordinary public troupe
that since 1995 has been in charge of investigating and
promoting flamenco on stages throughout the world.
Tourists in Seville can enjoy daily performances of this
art form in all of its splendor in well known flamenco
tablaos (venues for flamenco), direct inheritors of the
ancient cafés, the neighborhood peñas (flamenco
club enthusiasts) or village festivals.
Just the same, throughout the year numerous flamenco festivals
are held. The famous Bienal de Arte Flamenco, celebrated
every other year, attracting the biggest names in song
and dance, is definitely worth highlighting. This incomparable
encounter has been held for twenty years. Its main objective
is to internalize this culture in the social fabric of
Seville and later throughout all of Andalusia.