The Rhythm of Life

The emotional sounds of the guitar, the intense look on the dancers’ faces, the staccato stamp of their heels – flamenco for me is more of an art form then simply a dance. Madrid, the Spanish capital, is an excellent place to experience the intensity of flamenco.

Oral tradition is the tradition of passing information only by speech, of not keeping a written record.

The history of flamenco is believed to date back to the Andalusia region of Spain in the 16th century and comes from a mix of influences including Gypsies, Jews, Moors and indigenous Andalusians. Historically, it has always been a music of the lower classes and passed on by oral tradition.

It became a public art form in the second half of the 19th century with the start of café chantant. These performances brought together both gypsy and Andaluz singers which each developed their own flamenco styles. In the cafes, the guitar’s role also became more prominent.

World war, followed by Spanish civil war meant that flamenco had little chance to grow. Interest began again in the 1950s when festivals were held in various Spanish cities. Public interest grew from here.

Company of performers: Groups of performers, especially dancers, are called a company

Madrid is the heart of flamenco; where both musicians and dancers looking to succeed in the genre gather. Here is the center of the flamenco record industry and the starting point for artists who go on to tour the world. Every day of the week, the city offers a wide range of shows, from grand performances in the city’s theatres to small song and dance recitals in tablaos. Tablaos are the café chantants of today, typically having their own company of performers.

Idiom: To be stuck in the past: To reject anything new and to want to maintain old customs

If you attend a flamenco performance, you can expect to see a recital with voice and guitar accompaniment, made up of a series of pieces, not exactly songs, interspersed by guitar solos. For a good-looking place, head to Café de Chinitas which is located in the basement of an 18th century palace and has an originally decorated stage. While these traditional venues offer up a feeling of history; flamenco is in no way stuck in the past. Las Carboneras was opened within the past five years with the idea of recreating a traditional café chantant atmosphere. Las Carboneras quickly became popular thanks to its innovative venue decorated with an avant-garde décor that contrasts nicely with the traditional costumes and movements of the dancers. If the music is too much for you and you can’t control your feet, head to Al Andalus or Ole con Ole which host live flamenco performances next to spacious dance floors. The courageous among you can show off your dancing skills as well.

Original article by Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team 

The Rhythm of Life Quiz: Medium

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Flamenco is very passionate and emotional music. One of the best places to hear the music is in Madrid, the Spanish capital.

Oral tradition is the tradition of passing information only by speech, of not keeping a written record.

The history of flamenco is believed to date back to the Andalusia region of Spain in the 16th century and comes from a mix of influences including Gypsies, Jews, Moors and native Andalusians. Historically, it has always been a music of the lower classes and passed on by oral tradition.

It became a public art form in the second half of the 19th century with the start of café chantant. These performances brought together both gypsy and Andaluz singers which each developed their own flamenco styles. In the cafes, the guitar’s role also became more prominent.

World war, followed by Spanish civil war meant that flamenco had little chance to grow. Interest began again in the 1950s when festivals were held in various Spanish cities. Public interest grew from here.

Idiom: To be stuck in the past: To reject anything new and to want to maintain old customs

If you want to see a flamenco performance, you can find many performances in Madrid. Café de Chinitas, which is located in the basement of an 18th century palace, has an originally decorated stage. While these traditional venues offer up a feeling of history; flamenco is in no way stuck in the past. Las Carboneras was opened within the past five years with the idea of recreating a traditional café chantant atmosphere. Las Carboneras quickly became popular thanks to its modern venue decorated with an avant-garde décor that contrasts nicely with the traditional costumes and movements of the dancers. If the music is too much for you and you can’t control your feet, head to Al Andalus or Ole con Ole which host live flamenco performances next to spacious dance floors. The courageous among you can show off your dancing skills as well.

Original article by Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team 

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The stirring sounds of the guitar, the impassioned look on the dancers’ faces, the staccato stamp of their heels – flamenco for me is more of an art form then simply a dance. Flamenco’s passion reminds me of Spain and the country’s capital of Madrid is an excellent place to experience the intensity of the dance.

Oral tradition is the tradition of passing information only by speech, of not keeping a written record

The history of flamenco is believed to date back to the Andalusia region of Spain in the 16th century and comes from a mix of influences including Gypsies, Jews, Moors and indigenous Andalusians. Its uniqueness comes from three parts – the singing, the dancing and the guitar as well as rhythmic hand clapping and foot stomping punctuating the music. Historically, it has always been a music of the lower classes and passed on by oral tradition.

It became a public art form in the second half of the 19th century with the advent of café chantant. These performances brought together both gypsy and Andaluz singers which each developed their own flamenco styles. In the cafes, the guitar’s role also became more prominent.

World war, followed by Spanish civil war saw little opportunity for flamenco to grow, or even occur. A renewed interest in the 1950s saw festivals being held in various Spanish cities which led to a growth in public interest and a new generation of performers.

Flamenco’s popularity has definitely been exported – there are reportedly more flamenco training schools in Japan than in Spain. UNESCO has named the art form a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Madrid is the heart of flamenco; where both musicians and dancers looking to succeed in the genre flock. Here is the hub of the flamenco record industry and the starting point for artists who go on to tour the world. Every day of the week, the city offers a wide range of shows, from grand performances in the city’s theatres to small song and dance recitals in tablaos. Tablaos are the café chantants of today, typically having their own company of performers.

To see: In this context the verb ‘to see’ means to be characterized by

If you attend a flamenco performance, you can expect to see a recital with voice and guitar accompaniment, made up of a series of pieces, not exactly songs, interspersed by guitar solos. The singer will be passionate; the dancer will express herself through concentrated arm movements and rhythmic foot stamping. She will move proudly and with lightening fast footwork.

Idiom: To be stuck in the past: To reject anything new and to want to maintain old customs

In Madrid, there are a wide variety of venues in which to see flamenco performed. Corral de la Morería is a world-acclaimed flamenco bar opened in 1956. They have their own troupe of performers and regularly welcome other well-known flamenco artists. For a good-looking place, head to Café de Chinitas which is located in the basement of an 18th century palace and has an originally decorated stage. While these traditional venues offer up a feeling of history; flamenco is in no way stuck in the past. Las Carboneras was opened within the past five years with the idea of recreating a traditional café chantant atmosphere. Las Carboneras quickly became popular thanks to its innovative venue sporting an avant-garde décor that contrasts nicely with the traditional costumes and movements of the dancers. If the music is too much for you and you can’t control your feet, head to Al Andalus or Ole con Ole which host live flamenco performances next to spacious dance floors. The courageous among you can show off your dancing skills as well.

Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona

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