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Identity Through Dance


By Esther Cha

        Flamenco originated in Southern Spain, in the area that our ship had docked. Aside from this fact that flamenco had originated from Southern Spain there are still debates on who actually created flamenco. Maria Papapavlou writes about in "The City as a Stage: Flamenco in Andalusian Culture" how the Gitano and non-Gitano groups are still engaged in a debate on which group is justified as the "cultural owners and natural heirs of flamenco."

       Here in Spain I explored Cadiz for a day, then caught a train to Seville where I only wandered around long enough to exchange US Dollar to European Euro, then finally ended up in Granada. With "aqui en Granada! ~ ..." as our maxim, my friends and I hit both the popular tourist spots such as the spectacular Alhambra to the vernacular hole-in-the-wall spots where intense flamenco dancing occurred.

       The very least you can expect from such people who dance passionate dances with such ferocious intensity are personalities to go along with it. The dancers that we happened to see danced both for the cultural significance and simply because it was great fun. They didn't seem to worry too much about whether or not Gitano or non-Gitano groups had "cultural ownership" of flamenco. Perhaps this was because they were not directly part of either group and as many young people today do, they dance and play the way they do for the sheer joy of it, oblivious to whom the dance may "belong" to.

       My experience in Spain, whether making friends with the local Kabob restauranteur or watching passion in motion, made me realize that what matters is living in the moment and being able to enjoy the company of those near to you, not ownership titles.

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