Sensuous hand gestures in flamenco dancing are mesmerizing to watch. Sometimes languid, sometimes frenetic and wild, the circular movements of the hands and the fanning of the fingers and the snapping, (either combined or separate) have a hypnotizing effect on the audience.
I love the passion of the movements, the spiraling spine, the hip rolls and hip juts, the finger snapping and clapping, the castanets, the rapid heel work, the shouts of the encouragement, in short, the drama of it all.
I have not sketched hands before but I have completed other travel sketches while abroad. Whenever I leave home, I must have with me a few painting tools to satisfy the urge to make art even when I am away.
Andalucia in southern Spain is the home of flamenco, but this dance has been influenced by the different cultures of that region over many centuries.
Seville, a city in the south of Spain, hosts the flamenco festival each year. A few years ago we visited a “tablao flamenco”, a nightclub where flamenco is performed on a wooden stage, but this, time, as we should be in Seville around the final weeks of the festival, we should be able to see dancers on the streets of this charming Spanish city.
Truly, flamenco music is a fusion of seductive music from the different cultural groups present in that area over the centuries.
When attitudes towards gypsies began changing in the mid 1800s, this type of music and dance caught the attention of writers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and people who had no gypsy blood in them, popularized the dance and the accompanying music.
Many variations of the dance were found and afficionados could visit a café cantante, similar to the tablao, where there was a stage for the performers and tables for the audience.
Over the years, flamenco reinvented itself many times. In the late 1990s, a new craze for flamenco was ignited with the guitarist Francisco Sánchez Gómez (Paco de Lucia) who accompanied the greatest flamenco dancer, José Monge Cruz. They were to influence a new generation of musicians and dancers who are still on the scene today.