Flamenco Dance History
The origins of Flamenco can be traced back for centuries. Appeared from the expression of a pursued people, most particularly, the Gypsies of Southern Spain, its distinctive mix of influences and musical complexity can be attributed to the results of the decree made in Spain 1492 by Catholic Spanish King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella that everyone living under their domain converts to Catholicism. This announcement was published under the threat of varying degrees of penalty, the most cruel being the death punishment, by fire. Gypsies, Muslims, Jews and anyone living in Spain at the time was ordered to convert. It is believed that because of this decree these diverse ethnic groups came together to help each other, and within this blend of cultures Flamenco was born.
With the flourishing of flamenco music emerged rapid evolution of flamenco dance, in the 18th century flamenco appeared recognizably as a structured dance. This dance, in general, composes of three artistic elements: the singing, the dance and the guitar. Sometimes, there are members of a Flamenco group playing "palmas" or Hand-clapping.
Many scholars will agree that the hometown of Flamenco is Jerez de la Frontera, in Southern Spain. However, because of the nomadic nature of the Gypsies, who traveled from town to town selling their merchandise and doing odd jobs, Flamenco quickly gained roots in various Andalucia towns, including Sevilla and Granada.
In 1782, the Leniency Edict of Charles III reestablished some measure of liberty to the Spanish gypsy and permitted this music and dance to be adopted by the general population of Spain.
Among 18th and 19th centuries, Flamenco went trough several stages, including the performance of the form by non-Gypsies. Paradoxically, this is what gave the form its legitimacy. This led to the development of 'professional' artists and it was seen in theatres and 'cafes cantantes' (song and dance cafes) where flamenco could be heard and seen in public.
Many of the primitive style languished and other disappeared, while other more upbeat forms achieved incredible popularity.
Nowadays, Flamenco is nothing short of an international phenomenon. Jerez, the city where flamenco was born, is hosts of annual Flamenco Festival.
A brief history of some styles of dance: