By Josie LaRiccia. Appearing in Natural Awakenings Magazine (March 2013)
If you think you have a little gypsy in you, then Flamenco might be the dance for you! Characterized by various heelwork rhythms (zapateo), hand-clapping (palmas) and expressive, lyrical arms, Flamenco demonstrates the passionate Spanish temperament.
The dance originated with nomadic gypsy tribes. The word Flamenco is believed to come from the Arabic term fela mengu, or "fugitive peasant." The gypsies migrated from India into Egypt into Transylvania (now Romania), into Barcelona (Northern Spain) and finally into Andalusia (Southern Spain). Gypsies settled throughout these regions of North Africa and Europe, but the gypsies who settled in Andalusia are the Spanish gypsies or "Gitanos" and Flamenco is their story. Their story is in their songs and dances, which encompass many moods and themes, allowing the artist a great deal of expression. In the more folkloric dances, castanets (my favorite) are also played as a rhythmic accompaniment.
Southern Spain was heavily influenced by Arabic Culture, since the entire region was under Islamic rule for more than 700 years. So while contemporary Flamenco explores a fusion of Jazz and Latin rhythms outside the tradition, its Arab roots still run very deep. It is a journey worth taking. At Josie's International School of Dance you can hear all of these beautiful sounds and explore the art of Flamenco!!
Classes are occasionally accompanied by live guitar, an essential part of the Flamenco art form, and on special occasions (and during performances) a live singer and palmista (hand-clapping accompaniment) are also present.
And if you're not sure whether you have a little gypsy in you, don't worry ... Flamenco will definitely bring it out! OLE!