Origins of Flamenco:
Flamenco is part of the culture of Spain, but it’s origins is only select to one region, Andalusia. The cities in Andalucia are Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba,Jerez, and Malaga,and reflect the great Moorish influence,since historically Moors ruled from the 7th to 11th century. What makes flamenco interesting is the influence of other dance forms that have helped to create it. The earliest settlers in Andalusiacame not only from the Middle East,North Africa and Persia,but from the Punjab region of India,Rajasthan. We call them the gypsies. Flamenco is an amalgamation of all cultures. It has drawn its inspiration from Greek, Roman, Indian, Moorish and Jewish cultures.
Flamenco was born from the frustration and heart aches of the oppressed people in Spain: the Jews, gypsies,and Moors. Since the time of the Spanish Iniquisition, the Jews, Moors and Gypsies were treated as outsiders, often persecuted disdained and hated by the Spanish people. Flamenco was born from this, as a spiritual outlet very much like gospel was born from the opression of the American slaves.Often whole families would gather impromptu in their neighborhoods to sing,dance and entertain for their community.It was not until later that flamenco became an accepted artform. It took a long time for flamenco to become accepted as an artform in Spain. It was not until non-gypsies performed in cafes and theaters that it became popular. It has been since,commercialized and now has many schools that train to dancers to be full fledged flamenco dancers, combining their training with ballet.
Flamenco and Gypsies:
Until the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, Flamenco dance, music and song was widely considered to belong to the Gypsies, whose customs, beliefs and way of life were disdained and even hated by Spanish society. During and for centuries after the famous expulsion of the Moors and Jews in 1492, the Gypsies were tortured, persecuted and even killed if they would not conform to the accepted standard of Spanish society. Nomadic by nature, many of the Gypsies never settled in one town for very long; they would stay in one location only as long as they were able to make money doing odd jobs, selling their wares, and many of them performing Flamenco for the curious Spaniards.