On Tuesday UNESCO declared that Flamenco is a quintessential Spanish genre of music and dance an art form the world should treasure. The announcement made the front page of all the papers yesterday, as Spaniards celebrated that their dance received International attention as a cultural piece of Spanish heritage.
Flamenco historians say the genre, with roots in centuries of Moorish presence in Spain, first emerged in the 18th century as an outlet for poor people to express everything from sorrow to happiness to faith in God.
They would perform at home or while doing menial labor, and it was not until the late 19th and early 20th century that it became a commercial form of entertainment.
You can still feel traces of sorrow and emotion when you watch a true Flamenco show. When our friend Andy visited Spain, we ventured down to Seville, capital of the southern Andalusia region where flamenco is more deeply entrenched than in any other part of Spain, for an authentic viewing in the neighborhood of Triana.
You could feel the emotions of the main male singer from the beginning. Then a woman in a traditional orange dress came on stage. She was graceful and beautiful, but she lacked the passion that makes Flamenco such a renowned dance. You could sense something was lacking from her performance the moment the next dancer came on stage. Dressed in a dark purple dress, this woman was fierce and passionate. She did not smile. She grew in intensity with every stomp of her foot and twist of her hips. She had curves throughout her body and I was mesmerized by her every move — she was dancing for something. Releasing emotion. We quickly dubbed her Jo Lo.
When you come to Spain, Seville is worth a visit. And make sure you see a show. The are even free at most spots. You will certainly feel the emotions of the Spaniards and experience first hand why this dance has become a protected treasure.