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dance

Dance, Dance, Dance

By Patricia Sauthoff [ Tue Jun 8 2010 10:47 AM ]

A lot of you out there are already sold on flamenco. That's great. Get thee to the National Institute of Flamenco's "Festival Flamenco Internacional." You've probably already got tickets.

Now, the rest of you. What's your problem? I hope it's not some kind of misguided idea that traditional equals boring. Here's the thing. You probably think you know something about flamenco, but there's a lot more to learn. That's right, grab your glasses and a notebook, it's time for a lesson.

First, flamenco isn't Spanish dance. It's an Andalusian musical style that's accompanied by movements with gypsy, Moor, Byzantine, Andalusian (and a few others) roots.

Wait, what? The Moors. Those are Muslims, right? Yuppers, you got it. Back in the day, when this little thing called the Crusades was going on, Muslim armies came to Spain where they got along pretty well with the Christian natives. (One big difference was that no one levied taxes on those of other faiths.) So the two groups shared music and art, making some really unique stuff. Like flamenco.

That's fascinating! What else?

So glad you asked. Flamenco flourished during the late 1800s, with guitarists and dancers performing in public, rather than the previous when-the-mood-strikes kind of get together.

In the 1920s Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca, a huge flamenco fan, organized a festival called "Concurso de Cante Jondo," which featured flamenco from many different traditions, rather than just the popular ones that were seen by the public. After Lorca's fest, flamenco got all sort of theatrical and there is a plethora of academic drama about whether it lost its spark, which I shall spare you. Your welcome.

Today, flamenco is often known for its bright red costuming and dramatic style. It has these things, yes, but flamenco isn't just some stuffy performative art. It is style itself. So now that you've got your little history lesson, go check out some flamenco!

"Festival Flamenco Internacional" runs from Wednesday, June 9 to Sunday, June 13. Tickets range from $20 to $90, depending on the performance. A complete schedule is available right here.