Ayer y Hoy (Then & Now)

This presentation demonstrates how Flamenco was traditionally performed and how it has changed and evolved as it has moved onto the world stage.

The Past/Then

In the past flamenco was performed as family entertainment, after work, at weddings or social gatherings. By the mid-1800s, flamencos started entertaining for commercial purposes in “Café Cantantes” where one could find food wine and other types of folk music. From that time, Flamenco developed a format, which one still can find in Spain today: all performers are on a small and smoky stage, seated on a row of chairs, with no sound amplification, each dancer waiting for their turn to perform.

The guitarists and singers accompany all of the numbers, while the seated dancers add percussion (palmas) and verbally respond to the one that is performing with the traditional shouts of encouragement – “Olé”. In the modern day tablao (flamenco nightclub) the lighting is basic, the stage small, the music unamplified and the room smoky. The artists often interact with the audience and vice versa, sometimes dedicating their artistic offering to someone in the crowd who might hire some of the artists to stay after the tourists have gone home to perform for a small number of friends. Often this is when the best Flamenco occurs.

Today/Now

Today with Flamenco front and centre on the world stage, it has become a more sophisticated production. Lighting effects, more instrumentation, larger floor areas, and theatre producers have increasingly focused on the more visual aspects of the presentation. The choreographer’s efforts have become closely tied to the complex musical arrangements. Costumes have also changed over the years. Traditional polka dot and ruffle type dresses have been replaced by a more contemporary dress. Different rhythms are used in single dance to achieve the choreographic vision.

But the soul of Flamenco is Spirit: that remains unchangeable.