Excerpt from the e-book

Flamenco is a Spanish art form with roots deep in Andalusia -- Spain's southern region.
Although there are clues as to how this dance and folk music evolved, the details are lost
in history.

Even the origin of its name is elusive. Some attribute it to the early 1500s and the Flemish
courtiers during the reign of Spain's Charles V. Their bright clothing inspired the names
given things garish or conspicuous, such as flamingoes and flamenco.

Others say flamenco -- still referring to the Flemish -- was the nationality erroneously
given by the common people to Gypsies. Still others claim the name comes from the Arabic
fellah mangu -- the laborer who sings.

Flamenco's characteristics

Flamenco combines acoustic guitar playing, singing, chanting, dancing and staccato
handclapping. The flamenco dancer performs with passion, fervor, even tortured
expressions but always striving for grace and dignity.

The guitar -- there may be one or several -- and the rapid rhythmic handclapping of the
singers and dancers set the scene.

Flamenco handclapping produces a sharp, almost piercing sound. Those performers not
dancing or guitar playing hold the left arm still. Its bent at the elbow with the hand about
neck high and just slightly cupped. The fingers of the right hand slap the left crosswise,
covering the hollow.

Try it yourself. If your fingers do not land squarely, the clap is dull, flat. When they hit
just right, you'll hear it.

The dancer does not begin immediately, but waits, absorbing the strumming, clapping and
singing until inspired to dance.

Like American jazz, flamenco dancing involves improvisation. It's the dancerís spontaneous
expression of the momentís emotions. The Spanish call it duende (DOOEN-day). The word
means goblin or fairy or magic, but to the flamenco dancer it signifies an inner force that
fuels an inspired performance.
A dancer with duende goes beyond technical mastery to vent his or her feelings, achieving
a powerful, compelling dance. Those who arenít singing may shout encouragement: olť or 
°baile! °baile! -- dance! dance! As an observer, you donít really see good flamenco, you
feel it.

Flamenco Blends Many Influences

The Pyrenees Mountains running along the Spanish-French border have throughout history
cut Spain off from the mainstream of European culture. But a Mediterranean coast....

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The Dance of Spain's Andalusia

by Bob Martin


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