History of Flamenco
Since 2010, Flamenco is recognised as a Masterpiece of Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The most iconic expressions of Spanish culture comes from Andalusia in the south of Spain. Specialists even speak precisely of a district - Triana in Seville - which would be the real birthplace of Flamenco. If there are dozens of hypotheses about the etymology of the word flamenco, one thing is certain: it is the gypsy people who have preserved and transmitted this art. When the Gypsies from India arrived in Spain at the beginning of the 15th century, they preserved their original culture, namely language and music. Comparative studies have shown, for example, exact similarities between Indian dance (bharata natyam, mudrā and kathak) and flamenco dance (especially Carmen Amaya's). Flamenco as we know it today comes from the 18th and 19th centuries, when it played a social and cultural role and was expressed through singing in the workplace, in the family or in the first “cafes cantantes” that became tablaos.
Flamenco tradition in Barcelona
Flamenco is therefore not native from Barcelona. And yet Barcelona is now a real place of flamenco. The explanation is quite simple. Barcelona quickly became one of Spain's economic centres. In the midst of the industrial revolution in the 19th century, Barcelona attracted many Andalusian workers who brought their storied tradition of flamenco along with them. Today Barcelona’s tablaos feature some of the best performers in the country. We have selected for you, on this page, the best flamenco shows in Barcelona in very intimate venues like Tablao Flamenco Cordobes, one of our favourite places. But you can find many other flamenco venues in Barcelona on Las Ramblas, on Poble Espanyol, on Plaça Reial or at the Palau de la Música.
Do you speak Flamenco?
Before going to the show, these few definitions to demonstrate your erudition.
What is a Tablao?
A tablao (colloquial term for the Spanish "tablado", floorboard) is a place where flamenco shows are performed. Tablaos replaced during the 1960s the singing cafe- café cantante -. The particularity of tablao is that it is only dedicated to Flamenco, i.e. to dance, singing and traditional Andalusian music.
Originally, flamenco consisted of a simple cante (song) a cappella. The word cante essentially applies to flamenco singing, as the usual word in Spanish for singing is canto.
The traditional name of flamenco is also the cante jondo "deep song".
Cantaor or cantaora
Flamenco singers are called cantaor or cantaora (Andalusian variant of the Spanish cantador: "singer", or cantante: "lyric singer").
The clapping of hands to accompany this flamenco song is called palmas.
Baile, bailaor, bailaora
The flamenco dance is called el baile (bailaor: "dancer"; bailaora: "dancer", terms reserved for flamenco performers and dancers, because the generic term in Spanish for "dancer" is bailarín at the theater or danzante in a procession).
Percussion, in addition to polyrhythmic palmas, is often done with the feet: the zapateado, a kind of tap dance inspired by the traditional group dance known as chacarera, still practiced in some Latin American countries.
As percussion, castanets, heritage of Roman antiquity, are still sometimes used, followed by the movement of the wrists. The hands and the fingers also propose very worked and expressive figures called floreos.
The music that accompanies singing or dancing, or that plays alone, is called el toque (essentially guitar playing, although today, in the new flamenco, there are also piano and other instruments).
The flamenco musician is called tocaor, by Andalusian dialectal deformation of the Spanish tocador (guitar player, musician).
In contemporary times, percussion is also often done with the cajón, instrument of traditional Peruvian music since the eighteenth century, this one was brought back from Peru by Paco de Lucía.
Final de Fiesta del espectáculo de la Dinastía Farruco en Tablao Cordobés