There are a few cultural art forms that are exclusively unique to Spanish culture. The first that could come to mind are the bullfights, in which a torero and a bull literally fight to the death. If hair-raising death matches aren’t your thing, seeing a Zarzuela at a local theatre can easily soothe your nerves. However, if you want to really indulge in the culture and be transported into performance heaven, it is imperative to see a flamenco show.
After dancing every style imaginable for sixteen years, it is impossible to not feel nostalgic about my favorite past time. My blood naturally pulses to the beat of a good tune, whether it is a hip-hop, classical, or modern song. So when I heard that the GW Madrid program offered a Flamenco class, I had to sign up.
For over a month I have been taking classes at Casa Patas, one of Spain’s most prized dancing schools. Every Monday and Wednesday I strap on my black Mary Jane heels and stomp away to the rhythm of different flamenco palos, or styles.
The beauty of flamenco is that it incorporates my three favorite dancing styles: ballet, tap, and salsa. I know it sounds impossible for these completely different styles to blend, but they fuse together perfectly. The ballet is seen in the core and arms of the flamenco’s body. Her upper body barely moves, while her feet are stomping away in similar tap steps. A little bit of salsa is present in the dancer’s hip sways, but even those moves are all in control.
Flamenco is not just the dancer performing, it also includes a guitarist, cantor, and several others who hold the beat by clapping their palmas, palms, together. A performance does not even have to include a dancer at all. What defines flamenco are the range of styles within the genre. Depending on the rhythm, the cantor can sing songs of sorrow or happiness and the dancer exudes that emotion.
For that reason, flamenco takes your breath away when you watch it. It’s a fusion of different artistic elements coming together to present an amazing cultural experience. If you ever find yourself in Spain, find the nearest tablon (flamenco stage), order some wine, and sit back and indulge in a unique visual and auditory experience.