Definitions

flamenco

flamenco

[flah-meng-koh, fluh-]
flamenco, Spanish music and dance typical of the Gypsy, or gitano. Flamenco dancing is characterized by colorful costumes, intense and erotic movements, stamping of the feet (zapateado), and clapping of the hands (palmada); its execution is brilliant, noisy, and passionate. Flamenco music is believed to have originated in the early 19th cent. from the canto hondo [Sp.,=deep song] of Andalusia, a highly emotional and tragic type of song accompanied by a guitar. By the mid-19th cent. flamenco had become a generally popular entertainment form, and it subsequently flourished, both in its pure form and with the addition of elements from ballet, folk music, jazz, and other forms. Among the most notable flamenco dancers have been La Argentina (d. 1936), Vicente Escudero, La Argentinita (1898-1945), Carmen Amaya (1913-63), José Greco, Antonio ("El Bailarín") Ruiz Soler (1921-96), and El Farruco (1936-97) and his grandson, Juan Manuel ("El Farruquito") Fernández (1982-).

See D. E. Pohren, Lives and Legends of Flamenco: A Biographical History (1964) and The Art of Flamenco (1971); J. Serrano, Flamenco, Body and Soul: An Aficionado's Introduction (1990); T. Mitchell, Flamenco Deep Song (1994); Flamenco (film, 1995), dir. by Carlos Saura.

Flamenco, Madrid

Form of song, dance, and instrumental (mostly guitar) music commonly associated with the Andalusian Roma (Gypsies) of southern Spain. (There, the Roma people are known as Gitanos.) The roots of flamenco, though somewhat mysterious, seem to lie in the Roma migration from Rajasthan (in northwest India) to Spain between the 9th and 14th centuries. Its essence is cante, or song, often accompanied by guitar music and improvised dance. The cante jondo (“profound song” or “deep song”), thought to be the oldest form, is characterized by profound emotion and deals with themes of death, anguish, despair, or religious doubt. After the mid-19th century, flamenco song was usually accompanied by guitar music and a palo seco (Spanish: “dry stick,” a stick that was beat on the floor to keep time) and a dancer performing a series of choreographed dance steps and improvised styles. Baile, or dance, has been the dominant element of flamenco since that time, though it is never performed without accompaniment. Essential to traditional flamenco is the duende, an intensely focused, trancelike state of transcendent emotion. It is usually enhanced by rhythmic hand clapping and encouraging interjections (jaleo) from fellow performers.

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