Flamenco: Culture of Resistance

The passionate evocative dance we know as the flamenco, has a very diverse cultural origin.

The “baile” (dance) originated in Andalusia, the southern region of Spain during the late 1700s.

The flamenco is comprised of dance, music and singing. Music historians have identified

Morisco or Moorish, Jewish and Romanian influences in the music, whose meaning derives

from an Arabic-Spaniard meaning ‘expelled peasant’, as explained by Spanish historian Blas

Infante in his book Orígenes de lo Flamenco y Secreto del Cante Jondo (1933).

The Moors, Berber-Hispanic Muslims ruled span for 8 centuries (711 to 1492). They controlled

more than two thirds of the country for close to 400 years, and expanded their reach to more

than half of Spain for another 160 years. The Moriscos eventually took control of the Spanish seat of power at Granada for the remaining 160 years of their reign.

The Spanish Vet, the unification of Spanish lands through the marriage of king of Aragon

Ferdinand and Castile’s Isabella, known as the Catholic Monarchs, began the movement of religious and nationalism homogeneity against the rule and diverse cultures of Andalusia.

Repression, expulsion from Spain and instances of ethnic cleansing during the Spanish Inquistion (1492), enacted upon the autonomous communities of Andalusia, Murica, a Moorish

community in Spain’s southeastern province, and Extremadura, a western province near the border of Portugal with a large Portuguese population. It was the artisans of these provinces who gave rise to the flamenco.

Flamenco is an artistic expression of resistance. Anger, sorrow, pride and hope were articulated by vocalizations known as jaleo, cante (singing), toque (guitar compositions), by baile the dance, pitos and palmas (finger snapping and hand clapping respectively).

In the fall of 2010, Spain’s flamenco was added to the list of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Recognizing the art form for its cultural representation and popularity worldwide.

You can learn more about the dance of resistance by reading Flamenco…All You Wanted to Know by Emma Martínez (2000), or visit UNESCO to learn of the organization’s efforts to protect and preserve world culture here.

Don’t forget to check out our trailer, Quilombos: Culture of Resistance and learn more about this history

Originally published at Untold Story.