I’ve Become a Flamenco Fanatic

As soon as my daughter and I booked our trip to Spain, I knew I wanted to see a flamenco dance. Our itinerary looked pretty booked, but we did still have a free evening the first night of our arrival in Madrid.

“Don’t see flamenco in Madrid,” a friend told me. “See it in Seville where it originated.”

But I had a free night, you see, and I found a place to watch flamenco in Madrid: Las Tablas Flamenco.

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We were seated at the table closest to the small stage — which I always love. I like to see performers sweat. I like to see their muscle control and the expressions on their faces that I’d never be privy to at a table toward the back. I also saw the floorboards bounce and reverberate with the pounding of the dancers’ feet.

First, we listened to the lone guitarist flex his acoustic muscles. Then a singer joined in, wailing with soul as the guitarist strummed. Then a man came out and stood there, eyes closed, swaying slightly as he felt the music move through him, poised for movement, but waiting.

Slowly, he began smacking the floor with his feet, raising his arms above him as he stomped with staccato passion. The music built to a frenzy and the dancer matched the fiery tension of the guitar with his feet. I felt like I was witnessing a battle; a duel of man vs. self as he seemed to banish the spirit that possessed him as his stomping heels hammered the stage.

I loved it.

A woman followed the man for the next dance and fought her own inner fire as she pounded the stage. She wore a traditional polka-dotted dress and a stern expression. She danced as though her life depended on it. If it did, she finished her dance victorious.

The dances at this small dinner theater thrilled me. They were full of heat and passion. I felt like I’d seen authentic flamenco. But, once we arrived in Seville, we took part in a group dinner at a flamenco theater and I saw a completely different type of flamenco.

Our host explained that at small flamenco venues, we were watching amateurs who improvised and practiced their techniques in their shows. At this large dinner theater, we’d see professional flamenco dancers who performed the same choreographed dances at every performance. It wouldn’t vary; they were performing as professionals.

It was beautiful. And passionate. The troupe displayed several different types of flamenco dance.

I loved it. But I think I liked the small, intimate expression of dance at Las Tablas Madrid better. It felt like the dancers were fully present, feeling the music and moving their bodies and feet with determined intensity. Like the fierceness of the bulls that I associate with Spain, the striking precision of the rapid-fire stomping embodied the spirit of Spain. The dancers seemed like they were fighting a battle of honor and valor. I know one thing: if it was a battle to win me over, they slayed it.

Have you watched flamenco dancing, or another type of regional dance that you love?

29 responses to “I’ve Become a Flamenco Fanatic

  1. Thank you, Juliann, for an action-packed piece featuring the spirit of Spain that we really like to see: Flamenco!

  2. Interesting indeed. Yes I guess it’s traditional v showtime, two different aspects of dance. My immediate thoughts are Irish dancing. There are the traditional set-piece dances, body and arms quite still with the feet and legs providing the movement. Then there came Riverdance, and overnight the genre was transformed into something interpretive and exciting. Both are ‘correct’ and have their place.

    • I think I’ve seen both types of Irish dancing you mention, Roy, and love them both. You’re exactly right that these two types of flamenco style and Irish dancing have their place. I love watching dance, period.

  3. I am the same way when I go to a dance performance. I love to sit as close as possible (without the sweat being flung onto me, lol). I really want to go to Spain and see the Flamenco. Sitting that close would be so inspiring to watch with the amount of passion the dancers pour into it. Gah! I LOVE DANCE!!

  4. I’ve never seen Flamenco but I really wanted to when I was in Madrid. I have a good friend from Granada who dances it herself! Sounds like a really lovely experience… next time you will have to take a lesson!

  5. I have seen a flamenco dance in Spain in Madrid, but it was the first year I went to Spain many years ago and other than knowing I liked it, I don’t remember much about it. I would like to see another one on another trip to Spain and see if I have a preference between the smaller and the larger, more professiona venuesl. I would like to see one in Seville too!

  6. I actually have not seen flamenco dancing but I’ve heard it’s pretty awesome. I’ll definitely check it out the next time I’m in Spain. I love the way you described liking to sit close – I also love sitting clsoe for that reason. You get so much more involved emotionally that way.

    • I know. I’m such a geek like that. I love to see how controlled their movements are and see their muscles flex. And the expressions on their faces. Sitting up front is always my goal.

  7. How wonderful to see the real thing in Madrid. I love that you saw two shows and contrasted them. We had a visiting Spanish dancer here in San Diego and it was fierce to witness! So fun.

  8. I love Flamenco guitar. I like Flamenco dancing too. One of my friends from work is returning to Tucson, which has me waxing poetically about the Old Pueblo. I loved a tapas place there in downtown that had live Flamenco dancing. I would love to go for tapas and a show. Really energic and beautiful at the same time.

  9. I somehow missed seeing Flamenco when we were in Spain. Their footwork is impressive! Thank you for including the video so I don’t feel like I’ve missed out 😛

  10. I’m the worst: In spite of doing an entire summer abroad in Madrid — as well as visiting one other time — I haven’t made time for flamenco! Truly a crime…

  11. Pingback: So Much to See in Seville! | Browsing The Atlas·

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