Spanish National Ballet at the Flamenco Biennial 2012
Flamenco is a form of popular artistic expression representing a long-standing tradition that appears on the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
This art form combines vocal music, dance and musica accompaniment (called cante, baile and toque) rooted fundamentally in Andalusia and other regions like Murcia and Extremadura. This cultural expressive vehicle with two centuries of history (some experts have traced its origins in the 18th century, when its popularity began to grow) is the most emblematic of Andalusian folklore and the most renowned form of artistic expression in Spain. Flamenco has become a true identity for numerous communities, such as the gypsy ethnic group, where it is transmitted from generation to generation through dynasties of artists, families, flamenco clubs, numerous important festivals and schools and tablaos, whose numbers are growing each year.
There are a myriad of figures in the world of flamenco whose endeavours in the art have brought them great success, namely, Antonio Gades, Enrique Morente, Eva La Yerbabuena, La Niña de la Puebla, Joaquín Cortés, Antonio Canales, Rafael Amargo, Antonio “El Bailarín”, Camarón de la Isla, Cristina Hoyos or Carmen Amaya, just to name a few.
Both song and dance (cante and baile) can be express a multitude of varied sentiments. Cante can not only be accompanied by the guitar, but also by castanets, a percussion box known as “el cajón”, hand-clapping and heel-clicking, whose rhythms are broken down into diverse “palos” or varieties (toná, soleá, seguiriya, fandango, sevillanas, etc.) based on factors such as the song’s character or origin. The dancer, in turn, possesses a complex technique and the interpretation of the baile varies according to the individual interpreter.