THE FLAMENCO GUIDE

From the sound & movements to expert show reviews

Flamenco Leaves You Spellbound

The rich art form of flamenco has been ever evolving for the past 200 years. It combines influences from the vast crossroad of cultures that have converged in Spain, and in particular, the southern region of Andalusia. As a result there are an endless number of flamenco palos (styles).

This folkloric music tradition relies heavily on emotion, passion and duende. Song (“cante”), dance (“baile”) and guitar (“toque”) are the most basic expressions of flamenco. They are traditionally performed on a wooden stage known as a tablao. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Continue on with our guide to learn all about the fundamentals of flamenco and don’t forget to see a live show when you’re in Spain. You won’t regret it!

DUENDE: FLAMENCO'S MYSTERIOUS FORCE FLAMENCO PALOS (STYLES) TABLAO: THE AUTHENTIC FLAMENCO VENUE FLAMENCO INSTRUMENTS
Patricia Palacios, co-founder of España Guide
About
PATRICIA PALACIOS
España Guide Co-Founder
Patricia is an engineer turned content creator who for over a decade has been helping travelers navigate her native Spain. In addition to her own website, her tips and recommendations have been featured on BBC Travel, CNN, El País & Lonely Planet, just to name a few.

This article might include affiliate links, allowing us to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check our disclosure page for more info.

Patricia Palacios, co-founder of España Guide
About
PATRICIA PALACIOS
España Guide Co-Founder
Patricia is an engineer turned content creator who for over a decade has been helping travelers navigate her native Spain. In addition to her own website, her tips and recommendations have been featured on BBC Travel, CNN, El País & Lonely Planet, just to name a few.

This article might include affiliate links, allowing us to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check our disclosure page for more info.

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FLAMENCO
IN SPAIN

Don't miss the chance to experience this passionate artform firsthand! Get tips & recommendations from our reviews of the best flamenco venues across the country.
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Brief Flamenco History

Café Cantante in Seville in 1885, Spain
Café Cantante in Seville in 1885

Although its exact origins are open to debate, it seems clear that flamenco was born in Andalusia. It is believed to have originated from the Roma music that the gypsies (“gitanos” in Spanish) brought with them when they migrated to Spain from northern India (9th to 15th centuries).

Over the centuries, it mixed with the Jewish, Moorish and Christian cultures that occupied Spain, creating this unique art form that we now call flamenco.

Flamenco Icon - UNESCO    Did you know? In 2010, flamenco was declared one of the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Flamenco Fundamentals

Three dancers during a flamenco show at a traditional tablao
Flamenco show at a tablao
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

Duende in Flamenco

One of the most characteristic elements of flamenco is what is called duende. This concept represents the emotion and the passion on the performance. It occurs when the performer is “in the zone” and reaches a state where they are overcome by the emotion and passion of the performance.

DUENDE: FLAMENCO'S MYSTERIOUS FORCE
Male flamenco dancer with castanets in Madrid
Flamenco dancer with castanets
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

Flamenco Palos

There are many different genres of flamenco which are called palos (bulerías, sevillanas, fandangos, etc.). However, all flamenco songs fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Cante jondo (“profound song”) – the oldest form of flamenco. It is characterized by deep emotions and it often deals with death, anguish and pain.
  • Cante intermedio (“intermediate song”) – hybrid that incorporates elements of Spanish music styles.
  • Cante chico (“light song”) – simpler in rhythm, it requires much less emotional investment. It deals with more joyful subjects, such as love.
FLAMENCO PALOS (STYLES)

Flamenco Tablaos

Tablaos are the traditional venues celebrating flamenco performances. They are characterized by their small size and intimate atmosphere. With the audience very close to the stage and no need for amplification, the result is a pure and authentic flamenco experience.

TABLAO: THE AUTHENTIC FLAMENCO VENUE
Two female flamenco dancers with gorgeous dresses
Two dancers with gorgeous dresses
© ESPAÑA GUIDE

Flamenco Instruments

As an art that has evolved over the centuries, flamenco has been influenced by many cultures, their music and instruments.

The flamenco guitar is the most well known flamenco instrument but not the only one. Palmas (hand-clapping) and zapateado (tap dancing) are also very characteristic of flamenco.

THE MOST IMPORTANT FLAMENCO INSTRUMENTS
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