Enter Flamenco

By Charlene Pepiot

From the rhythmic tapping of feet to the sweeping motion of dresses mid-twirl, the passion, vibrancy and energy of Flamenco dance offers a rich experience for the senses with its blend of song, dance and music. Yet Flamenco is far more than just a form of entertainment. It has rich origins dating back centuries and has inspired creatives for generations. Read Enter Flamenco to discover more.

Lefthand image courtesy of Sadler’s Wells

Flamenco’s extensive blending of different entertainment forms is a reflection of the diverse groups that brought the style into being. Though the exact origins of the dance are shrouded in mystery, it is commonly believed that the cultural intermingling of Roma migrants in Spain during the 9th and 14th centuries with the Sephardic Jewish community and the Moors cultivated this unique art form.

Image An Ode to Time by David Ruano

The passion and beauty of the dance have inspired artists throughout the centuries. The likes of Picasso, Julio Romero de Torres and many more have all been captivated by the art form and sought to portray its energy and emotion in their work. Julio Romero de Torres painted acclaimed Flamenco stars like La Niña de los Peines, Pastora Imperio and La Argentinita while Picasso made sketches of Flamenco dancers during their rehearsals. 

The Flamenco aesthetic has even inspired fashion designers, for example, John Galliano’ with his Iberian heritage, had early designs that explored the frills and colours of Flamenco dresses and this passionate dance. 

Sadler’s Wells brings the vibrancy and energy of the iconic dance to London’s doorstep with their Flamenco Festival. The festival will run from the 21st of June to the 2nd of July and features a multitude of shows featuring dance and music events across the two weeks. The performances offer a blend between traditional Flamenco and new takes on the style.

Image from ¡VIVA! by Marcos G. Punto

For example, their show ¡VIVA! deviates from traditional gender norms with both traditionally feminine and masculine roles being portrayed by an all-male cast. The performance is full of elegance as dancers leap through the air and sway back and forth to the beat of the music.

The male cast provides strength and power to the roles traditionally reserved for the females and reinvents the beloved style while staying within what is familiar. From twists, turns, leaps, bends, and sashing hips to full throttle power jumps thuds and actions this interpretation via men brings a new facet to the traditional dance.

This particular performance with an all-male cast was partnered with typical Iberian singing, violin, guitar and hand beat of drums. This heightened each and every move, from the tap of feet to the twitching of hips to bring a crashing of emotion to the event.

Every emotion was laid bare, with love, passion, heartache, cheekiness, laughter and even blatant sex. This dance form is known by many as something traditionally seen in bars on holiday destinations and is so deservingly held in the hearts of Spaniards with great pride. The Flamenco Festival is an opportunity to share such great heritage as well as new interpretations with many more.

The performances at the Flamenco Festival are as follows:

¡VIVA!: A blend of speed, technical brilliance and comedy that challenges the defined roles of male and female forms in Flamenco.

Without Permission, Songs for Silence: Mixes the traditional with the avant-garde, this performance delves into the recollections of the artist’s father and their own journey to understanding art’s connection to life.

Boreal: Displays the artistic richness and technical complexity of Spain’s most traditional dance through full-length choreography.

Gala Fiesta de la Bulería de Jerez: Presents Flamenco in its purest form by examining the past, present and future of ‘The Woman.’

Estrella Moente: Features an emotive, powerful vocal that lends itself to festive songs as well as the depths of love and loss.

The Jump: Explores art’s ability to influence personal growth.

Image by Luka Radikovic

Tomatito – In Concert: Five-time Latin Grammy Award-winner Tomatito performs alongside musicians and a guest Flamenco dancer.

An Ode to Time: Eight dancers and an original score deal with darkness and light, happiness in uncertain times and the nature of time itself.

El Yiyo: Transcends genres as dancer El Yiyo explores sounds, fantasy, and expression without limits.

Paula Comitre Residency: Experience Paula Comitre, awarded Best Emerging Artist in 2020 at Festival de Jerez and Bienal de Flamenco deSevill.

Third Heaven, Tercer Cielo: Flamenco singer Rocío Márquez, and urban and electronic music producer Bronquio explore the known, unknown, tradition and creation.

Flamenco is not a crime: Dance and music party that blends grime, gqom, dub and reggaeton with its projections inspired by the Free Party Is Not A Crime movement.

For more details on these events, be sure to check out the Sadler’s Wells website here.

Be it the slight twist of a dress or the clap of a performer’s hand, Flamenco continues to inspire and intrigue those who witness it. With its rich history and room for variation, Flamenco is truly an experience you will not want to miss out on!  

If different styles of dance interest you, be sure to read about the blending of science and dance here.

.Cent Magazine, London. Be Inspired; Get Involved