Rather unusually, just a video: this is an evening’s flamenco display at the Casa Patas in the middle of Madrid. Apparently you can eat traditional Spanish dishes while watching just-as-traditional flamenco dancing – but this is special because of the absolutely amazing performances by a number of young girls at the beginning (about the first 3½ minutes with Claudia, Paola and Itziar, and then Paola again right at the end – but the Flickr link below has just over a minute of highlights, if you prefer).
These girls aren’t any different from their peers: it’s just that the moves of flamenco give them a recognised format through which they can express extreme feelings – frustrations, passions, anger, desire, sadness….. The dance originally took place in caves, where oppressed ethnicities like gypsies vented their emotions – and the singing and music was much more important than the accompanying dance.
It’s interesting to compare it with the competitive, gymnastic and highly choreographed girls’ dance styles that are hugely popular in Western media these days – here the girls seem to get applause for the honest expression of inner passion, as much as for the good execution of particular pre-ordained steps. It’s often inescapably sexual – and the age of the girl hardly matters – but at the same time ritualised and contained.
Finally, “bonito” means “pretty” – and it’s a pejorative term when applied to flamenco….
[I apologise for the really naff (British word – look it up) featured image of a stock girl in a “flamenco outfit” above the title (the girls in the video are notably free from such tourist trappings) – I finally have to admit I’m a header junkie….rehab here I come…..but not until the next……]