Close your eyes and picture a Spanish dance. What do you imagine? Probably dark moody lighting, twirling skirts, and lots of flair, right? Though all of these components can be labeled as stereotypes, they all arise (not incorrectly) from the cultural force that is Spanish dance. Below is Panrimo’s alphabetical guide to our 7 favorite Spanish Dances. Olé!
A very specific variation of flamenco native to the Cádiz region, Alegrías is most notable for it’s difficulty. Danced to a 12 beat structure, it is compiled of 6 sections that all feature differing tempo, emphasis, and phrasing. Though strict, when performed well it’s a stunning, intricate performance that will please even the sternest audience.
The Bolero is a slow dance best performed by a couple. Popular since it’s conception in the 18th century, the dance is a unique combination of the grace of classical ballet and the flourish of traditional village dances. The accompanying music often features some sort of string instrument (primarily guitar) and castanets, which work well with the triple time beat.
A favorite couple dance in Castilla and Leon, the Corrido is a group participation event. Popular since the 19th century, the music’s irregular rhythm drives the dancers around in circles, speeding and slowing in time with the beat. Still used in many local festivals, this dance always tells a story. Themes range from romance to revolution, so the audience must pay close attention; the ending isn’t always happy!
Similar to the Bolero, El Vito is a dance so lively and infectious it is jokingly referred to as an “illness”. One of the older dances on this list (16th century), El Vito traces it’s roots to the folk music of Andalusia. Primarily a women’s dance, it depicts the movements and flair of bull fighting, with the whirling skirts of the dancers perfectly mimicking the toreador’s cape.
Flamenco is the only dance on this list to be officially designated a UNESCO ‘Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’. Originating in the south of Spain, Flamenco owes much to the borrowed style of Romani (gypsy) dances of the 18th century. A combination of guitar music, swirling movement, and hand-claps, Flamenco has captured the imagination of dancers worldwide.
This is the rare Spanish dance that wasn’t actually created in Spain. First performed in Central American Spanish colonies, the dance was first recorded as far back as 1539. It migrated back to European shores with returning adventurers and proceeded to take the mainland by storm (not necessarily in a good way). Alternatively praised and banned, it became symbolic of all that was depraved in ‘modern’ society, with the author Cervantes declaring: “Sarabande was invented in hell”. As with most risqué arts, it eventually became an accepted court dance and is still performed to this day.
Here we are, the granddaddy of all Spanish dances. Why? Because Zapateado, though infinitely Spanish in style, was originally a Roman dance. Known as ‘Lactisma’ in the ancient Roman Empire, this is a lively dance most notable for it’s dramatic and lively foot tapping. It’s not the easiest dance to master, but never fear! After imbibing the proper amount of Spanish wine, anything is possible. (Maybe)