Where To Find The Best Flamenco in Seville

Posted on Saturday, July 12, 2014

Flamenco is the very soul of Seville and we're here to help you find the best Flamenco in Seville. This expressive performance, dating back only about two-hundred years in the Western Andalucian region, is something every traveler to the area must experience.  The romance, passion, and grit surrounding this art form make for an unforgettable addition to your Andalucian travel, and is one of the best ways to soak up the culture first-hand.

History of Flamenco

The history of Flamenco only maintains documentation starting in the early 18th century, but has become such an integral part of Seville and much of Western Andalucia’s culture.  Anything before this documentation comes from legends passed down through families—much like the song itself. The only thing that is certain about flamenco’s origins is that it was only one voice (a chant or cry) supplemented with the rhythm of hitting the floor by hand or a wooden cane. Each specific rhythmic sound and chant comes from various family trades: blacksmiths used the hammers to beat the anvil while carpenters hit wood. Over time, this style of music spread throughout the region and as instruments developed, so did flamenco.

The Four Elements of Flamenco

Traditional flamenco includes four elements: Cante (meaning voice), Toque (meaning guitar), Baile (meaning dance), and Jaleo (meaning “hell-raising”—handclapping, shouting, and stomping). The most captivating “fifth element” of flamenco however, is known as duende, and is considered the biggest mystery of the art. There seems to be a spiritual significance surrounding duende that goes beyond understanding or definition. The famous poet Federico Garcia Lorca is quoted saying “Duende could only be present when one sensed that death is possible”. It is described as a sadness—the haunting of the song that captivates the soul of anyone who is open to receive it. This is the true element of magic that is flamenco.

Best Flamenco in Seville

Visitors to Seville have the opportunity to witness flamenco in its truest and most traditional form, and it a variety of atmospheres. The biggest and most popular flamenco venues are known as tablaos—restaurant style settings providing extravagant performances. About fifty years ago, tablaos earned a bad reputation from the locals when they noticed a rehearsed, unimpassioned, and “touristy” version of the song being performed in these tablaos. Recently, they have made efforts to reconnect with the traditions of theatrics and regional flavor of real flamenco, and stay away from commercial numbers. The tablao remains a great venue for a night of song and dance—the massive Palacio Andaluz seats over 400 guests, while the more intimate Tablao El Arenal seats a little over 100. Both are great introductions to the art.

If you’re looking for the best Flamenco in Seville, the patios of venues like The Casa de la Memoria de Al-Analus are not only an absolutely picturesque venue to witness the song, but the musicians are trained to improvise and truly feel the music. These performances have become increasingly popular over recent years.

Flamenco Culture

A great way to experience flamenco culture is by paying a visit to the Museo del Baile Flamenco—a new museum dedicated to the famous Seville flamenco dancer Cristina Hoyos. It contains the history of the dance as well as great interactive exhibits unlike any other flamenco museum. The best part of the experience happens after dark, when the museum closes and the courtyard becomes a stage for some of the most skilled and educated flamenco artists in the region.

Where Else Can Flamenco Be Found?

There are, of course, great little bars along certain areas where flamenco can be found. These are typically unmarked venues where as long as you drink, you can watch the show for free. This being said, performances can be a bit hit or miss, but depending on the area you can bounce around different venues to find the best performances. In the Triana district, a well known flamenco neighborhood, locals prepare for the dance late at night in places like Bar Anselma—a hangout for flamenco enthusiasts. These performances are unique in the sense that they are more like jam sessions than meticulously written songs with choreography, which the crowds respond very well to. Audiences cheer and howl as the dancers and musicians improvise off of the energy.

If you’re lucky enough to experience flamenco at a pena (small private club) then you have witnessed the art in its truest and best form. These venues are more for the underground flamenco scene and are rarely advertised by more than word of mouth. If you happen to ask the right local, you might be able to find a pena and experience flamenco in its rawest and most lively state. Or simply parade the streets at night and let the music lead you to some of the most romantic and passionate song and dance in the world.

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