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The Relationship Between Flamenco and Literature

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The Relationship Between Flamenco and Literature

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  • November 1, 2012
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The first references to Andalusian singing and dancing are found in Romantic literature, particularly in the texts of foreign travelers. In the beginning of the 19th century Spain was a part of the itinerary of travelers in Europe, and Andalusia was inevitably included (especially its most emblematic cities: Seville, Granada, and Córdoba), and was often the subject of the greater part of the narration of these travelers. The characteristics of Romantic literature, such as the preeminence of emotion over rationalism, and the preference of the exotic over the ways of the past, made Andalusia and its infinite remains of former cultures a constant source of inspiration. In the hundreds of books written on travel in Andalusia we find that a stereotypical image was created and has been maintained, with slight and logical adjustments, practically up to modern times.

In events such as public celebrations, festive gatherings, fairs, Easter celebration, etc., popular artistic expression was to be found in greater abundance. These situations were described time and time again by the Romantic writers. What generally attracted the attention of those writers was Andalusian dancing: "The Andalusian dancers have an advantage over our classical dancers seen in theaters throughout Europe. Their free and fluid body movement can be found in no other place. It is clear that they dance for their own pleasure, and the movements of their arms and bodies are different from the stiff, rhythmic, and geometric movements of the most important Parisian dancers..." (Barón Ch. Davillier : "Viaje por España", 1874). "The greatest thing to be found in Spanish theaters is the dancing of this country. There is no possible comparison or imitation; it is unique, and can only be interpreted by Andalusians". "There is nothing indecent in this style of dancing. No one tires of seeing it (pity he who does). If any defect is to be found it is its brevity" (Richard Ford: "Las cosas de España", 1846)....