Flamenco: History and Dance

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Course Information
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 


Additional student cost: 



This course studies flamenco as music, dance, and spectacle. Students examine the history of flamenco in the context of Mediterranean culture, and the culture and ethnicity of Andalusia. The influences of flamenco in literature, theater, classic and popular music is also studied. Students learn the basic steps of flamenco and attend flamenco performances in Granada.

Watch this short video to get an overview for this course!

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory for all IES Abroad classes, including course related excursions. Any exams, tests, presentations, or other work missed due to student absences can only be rescheduled in cases of documented medical or family emergencies. If a student misses more than three classes in any course 3% of the final class grade will be deducted for every unjustified student absence. Six absences in any course will result in a failing grade.

Method of presentation: 

This course combines;

  • a practical learning of flamenco dance,
  • a theoretical approach to its history, focusing on its evolution,
  • the different styles danced today,
  • the basic steps of flamenco and its expressive character,
  • field study visits to local flamenco performances.
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Active participation and knowledge of basic flamenco steps - 35%
  • Projects - 25%
  • Final written paper - 20%
  • Final dance performance - 20%




Session 1

History of flamenco: its origins.

  • Brief introduction to origins of flamenco. Influences on other music.
  • Andalusia as the birthplace of flamenco and the Andalusian folklore from which it developed.
  • First written documentation and first public performances. Bailes de candil.

Required reading: Orígenes musicales (extract from Diccionario enciclopédico del flamenco de M. Ríos Ruiz y José Blas Vega).

Session 2

Rehearsal of flamenco: introduction to tangos meter and singing.

  • Different forms of clapping and singing the meter. Basic positions to begin a dance.
  • Coordination of feet and arms at tango rythm.
Session 3

History of flamenco: professionalism. Los Cafés Cantantes.

  • Birth of the first academies and ballrooms as antecessors of los cafés cantantes.
  • Los cafés cantantes
  • Birth of the flamenco group, antecessor of the actual tablaos.
  • Codes for communication between the guitar, the singer and the dancer.

Required reading: “Café Cantante” (extract from  Diccionario enciclopédico del flamenco de M. Ríos Ruiz y José Blas Vega).

Reccomended readings: “La etapa de los cafés cantantes” in El baile flamenco de Ángel Álvarez Caballero.

Session 4

Rehearsal of flamenco: explanation of the basic choreographic structure, different palos, important terminology for different flamenco elements (calling the singer, lyrics, escobilla, falseta, ending, etc).

  • Videos to explain different flamenco elements.
  • Attendance to a flamenco tablao performance from which students will do a reaction Project recognizing elements previously learnt in class.
  • Start of Granada’s tangos choreography: Study of arm-leg coordination and space.

Required reading: Additional dance structures. Written and distributed by the instructor in class.

Session 5

History of flamenco: its arrival at theatres.

  • Concept of bailarín-bailaor and its repercussion in the development of flamenco.
  • Introduction to more elaborate flamenco steps.
  • Influences of flamenco in classic Spanish dance and vice versa.
  • Videos to study the differences between a tablao performance and flamenco theatre (concept of scene, choreograph, use of lighting, plot line, links among different groups, etc).

Critical analysis of the elements seen on the videos.

Session 6

Rehearsal of flamenco: continuation of Granada’s tangos choreography.

Introduction to fandangos de Huelva. Zapateado technique.

Session 7

History of flamenco: Differences between men and women dancing styles and their historical development.

  • Videos to see the evolution of both styles throughout the years.
Session 8

Rehearsal of flamenco: flamenco technique in terms of rhythm (tangos and fandangos).

Continuation of tangos choreography as a basic referential structure. Simple feet variations.

Session 9

History of flamenco: modern day flamenco.

  • Music and its fusion with jazz and other styles.
  • Dance and assimilation of contemporary and classic dance elements.
  • Music of Chano Domínguez, Jorge Pardo, or Paco de Lucía among others.
  • Videos of contemporary dancers’ performances such as Belén Maya, Fernando Romero, Isabel Bayón or Eva la Yerbabuena among others.
Session 10

Rehearsal of flamenco: introduction to the twelve-beat meter.

  • How to recognize the meter and clapping.
  • First “pasos por alegrías”.
Session 11

Rehearsal of flamenco: classification of palos flamencos.

  • Detail study: character, meter and other differential elements.
  • Recognition of “palos”. How to clap.
Session 12

Rehearsal of flamenco: flamenco technique using tangos music, fandangos and alegrías.

Continuation of Granada’s tango choreography.

Session 13

History of flamenco and its development: Connection of flamenco with theatre, other styles and poetry.

  • Reading selections of Theory and Play of the Duende, by Federico García Lorca.
  • Videos of extracts from the Blood Weddings film, by Carlos Saura and Antonio Gades. (Based on Lorca’s work).
  • Music of  Amor Brujo by Falla, with orchestrated flamenco rhythms.
Session 14

Rehearsal of flamenco: recognition of elements studied in class through a flamenco performance.

  • Attendance to theatre and tablao performances.
  • Critics: Scene concept, musical language used and appreciation of instruments played.
Session 15

Rehearsal of flamenco: Ending of the tango choreography.



Required readings: 
  • Ríos Ruiz, Manuel (2002), El gran libro del flamenco: Historia, estilos, intérpretes. Madrid: Editorial Calambur.
  • Ríos Ruiz, Manuel y Blas Vega,  José (1988), Diccionario enciclopédico ilustrado del flamenco. Madrid: Editorial Cinterco.