When I told people I was studying in Seville for a semester, many people reacted by telling me "You have to take flamenco or sevillanas classes!" As a result, one of my first goals when I got here was to find a dance studio. Flamenco is a pretty stereotypical part of the Spanish culture, and there are flamenco tablaos all throughout Spain. However, it originated in Andalusia and is not a typical part of the Spanish culture as a whole. The three main components of it are the singing, the guitar playing, and the dance. The dancing part is not required, and many times it just involves the guitar playing and singing. Sevillanas, as the name suggests, is a typical folklore dance and style of singing from Seville. It is usually danced in pairs and during the Feria in Seville. As far as the relationship between the two styles of dance, some say that sevillanas is a part of flamenco and others say that they are different due to the folklore aspect of sevillanas.
Through CIEE, I was able to find a dance studio with a beginner's course in both flamenco and sevillanas that meets once a week. So far, I have had two classes, and it is a small class with four girls total. We start the class with some warm ups that involve flamenco footwork and arms. The footwork requires a lot of golpes (or stomps) and toe-heel work. Right now, we are still learning the basics, but each week, we will add new, more complicated exercises. A few years ago, I went to a flamenco class with a friend of mine. In the beginning, I was able to keep up, but later on, the steps and rhythms got so intricate and fast that it became impossible. It will definitely be interesting to see the progression in the coming weeks. We also have to work on getting used to the arm, wrist, and finger movements as they are major parts of the expression of the dance. Afterwards, we have been working on learning the basic steps that comprise the sevillanas (pasos y pasadas), and by next week, we should have learned all the footwork for a typical sevillanas dance.
My dance teacher and I
Over the holidays, my family and I went to a flamenco tablao in Madrid, and I was in awe of the performance, especially the dancers. There was so much energy and passion in their movements, and they made the most difficult steps seem easy. I was amazed that they were able to keep dancing for two hours with this intensity. I also loved the music they were interpreting. Although I was already planning on finding a dance studio in Seville, seeing this performance definitely solidified my decision. I have yet to see another flamenco performance in Seville, which is surprising, especially since I live in Triana, but this will definitely change soon. With the many bars that host free performances and my personal experience learning this dance, there is no way I can leave Seville without seeing one.