Women with flowers in their hair and bright red polka dot dresses, twirling and stomping to the rhythm. Men seated in a wooden chair, playing the sultry guitar in sync with the hardened voice of the singer.

The passion of Flamenco music and dance dates back centuries, to Moorish and Gypsy roots in Andalusia, Spain. While legend tells that Flamenco has been passed down by oppressed Gypsy families since the 15th century, the first forms of documented Flamenco began in the 18th century, when the art was coined “Flamenco”. Soon after, between 1765 and 1860, the first Flamenco schools popped up in Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Seville; these three cities make up what is now known as the “Flamenco Triangle.” Within the 20th century, it transformed from folklore to a professionalized art. The art contains four main elements: singing (cante), dance (baile), guitar (guitarra) and hand-clapping (palmas).

Where can you see some of the best Flamenco today?

Jerez de la Frontera

Sit back and sip on a glass of aromatic sherry wine while you watch some of Spain’s best Flamenco performers, back dropped by horses and cobblestone streets. Most of Jerez’s greatest Flamenco artists come from Barrio San Miguel or Barrio de Santiago, which still holds on to its deeply-rooted Flamenco culture. In these traditional neighborhoods, you’ll find many peñas (clubs) and tablaos (Flamenco venues) offering shows. TIP: Catch the Flamenco Festival of Jerez, the next one happening on February 23rd - March 10th, 2018.

Cadiz

A city known for its cheerful people and coastal vibes, it’s no wonder that Flamenco from Cadiz is considered the most upbeat and joyous! In fact, one of its most famous singing styles is called alegría, or joy! Within the city of Cadiz, Barrio Santa Maria is traditionally known for its Flamenco. Walk through the narrow streets and listen for the passionate sounds of Flamenco voices echoing through the city, or go to one of its many peñas or tablaos. TIP: Check out “Flamenco Thursdays”, where different art and music venues throughout the city feature performances every Thursday during the summer months.

Seville

From the live Flamenco acts being performed in the streets, to the many famous tablaos throughout the city, Seville eats, sleeps and breathes Flamenco. However, the real heart of the city’s Flamenco culture awaits in the local neighborhood of Triana, considered one of the birthplaces of the art. Walk from the city center across the charming Triana Bridge, and you’ll find a handful of authentic venues with centuries worth of stories to tell. TIP: Mark your calendars to attend the Biennial Flamenco Festival, the biggest Flamenco festival in the world, taking place in Seville every 2 years. The next one is in September 2018.

Granada

In order to get a real feel for local Flamenco culture, head up to the caves of barrio Sacromonte. Historically a gypsy quarter, many flamenco artists still inhabit these cave homes, in which the sounds of their guitars can be heard echoing throughout the neighborhood. See a Flamenco show in one of the famous cave tablaos, or go to a more undiscovered venue in the Albaicín. TIP: Catch the International Festival of Music and Dance this June - July, featuring many world renowned Flamenco artists.

Madrid

While Madrid might not be the home of Flamenco, the bustling and lively capital gets some of the country’s best performers. Whether you want an intimate tablao experience, or a big stage production, Madrid has got what you’re looking for. TIP: This June, attend the Suma Flamenca Festival for some of the biggest names in Flamenco!

OLÉ! Where are you going to see your next Flamenco show?

Written by: Casie Tennin June 20, 2017

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