Flamenco, refers to a variety of Spanish musical styles developed as early as the 19th century. In November 2010, UNESCO declared it as one of the ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’. It has become extremely popular all over the world, especially in the United States and what we see today is a fusion form and the American take of the same. Flamenco is often accompanied by a guitar, a palo seco (dry stick) and a dancer performing a series of choreographed dance steps and improvised styles. The dancer is the protagonist of the singer’s narrative and its interpreter. Flamenco dancing is a very emotional style of dance and can have many different purposes. It could be intended to be romantic, entertaining or comforting.
The dance is a sensuous display of fluid motion, stylized and yet highly personal. It involves the movement of the arms and upper torso, hand and finger movement, footwork and heelwork. Flamenco dancers try to express their deepest emotions by using body movements and facial expressions. Male dancers usually perform intricate footwork, while the female dancers emphasize more on the hands and upper torso. As the dancers perform, they may also clap their hands or kick their feet. Many dancers also snap small percussion handheld instruments called ‘castanets’.
The early Flamenco performers regard this as a form of prayer and thus communicate with both the audience and the God while performing. If we go back to the history, the ancient origins of flamenco are the gestures of the profound dance, in which the arms, hand and foot movements closely resemble those of classical Hindu dance of Indian subcontinent.
Now, coming to the most characteristic and colorful elements of this universal art, the Flamenco dress. It has evolved a lot over time and has become a benchmark of Spanish culture and a fashion icon. It is a long dress, which is hugging at the waist, and open at the hip and up to the ankles, which is adorned with ruffles on the skirt and sleeves. When a woman dresses in flamenco, the usual thing is to make a bun and wear a series of accessories that are essential for the overall get up. The shawl, the flowers in the hair, the earrings, the necklace and a fan are the fundamental elements accompanying the dress. Each year, the flamenco dress is renewed and reinvented with new materials, accessories and prints.
What we see now is the modern flamenco, a derivative of traditional flamenco. It combines flamenco guitar virtuosity with musical fusion of Jazz, Rumba, Gypsy, Latin, Middle eastern, Cuban swing, Tango, Salsa and many more.
The students of Studio Antara performed a Modern flamenco routine with an added twist of Belly Dance at DreamCatcher 2019.
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