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The origins of Flamenco Dance
Most of today’s flamencologists will agree that the baile flamenco
has descended from the ancient dances of the Indian Hindus.
Although the flamenco dance has shed many of the elements of the
Indian religious dances that will unfold a story with set eye and
facial movements, it does still have similarities with the Indian
The early flamenco dancers, especially the woman,
concentrated more on the upper body and arm movements, similar to
that of the Indian Bharata Natya, where the dance is focused on arm
movements and facial expressions.
Also from India is the
Kathuk, which is a dance performed by men and woman, where the very
intricate footwork has similarities to the zapateado in flamenco.
These dances reached Spain as early as the Greek times,
500-250 BC, where Indian dancers where brought into Spain via the
port of Gadir, today known as Cádiz, to entertain the royals of the
time. The arrival of the Moors nearly one thousand years later, and
also the gypsies, who brought with them, dance and music styles from
Pakistan and Persia enriched the existing andalucian styles.
Many theorists lay the blame for the lack of footwork in the
early female baile flamenco on the Muslim discouragement for women
not to show their legs.
The zapateado or intricate footwork
displayed by the dancer was not introduced into the female dance
routine until the early twentieth century.
The decrees of
the 16 th century, where Moors, Jews, and gypsies were persecuted,
resulted in these outcasts going underground, and taking with them
their music and dances, and this is where it stayed, and this is
thought to be the very beginning of the formation of flamenco.
The style of dance we see performed today has changed
considerably since these times, and now styles of flamenco song that
were never danced are being taken up by modern dancers striving to
find new directions for the flamenco dance.
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