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Transnational Flamenco

By: Danica Taylor

What an amazing country Spain is. From the history, to the beautiful architecture to the fabulous food--our favorite tapas restaurant was called "Giralda"-- Spain was truly a wonderful place to end this voyage of discovery. Here more than anywhere else I got a feeling of heritage and vernacular architecture. Specifically, I thought of vernacular elements when in the Cathedral of Seville. Construction of the Cathedral began in 1184, but it was originally built as a Mosque. It wasn’t until centuries later that the Mosque became a Christian Cathedral. There are so many different forms of architecture, from a minaret representing the Islamic faith, to the gothic style arches and the beautiful stained glass windows with depictions of the Christian bible. In my mind there are few places we’ve been where I had more of a vernacular feeling than here, the discoverer of America, Christopher Columbus’s tomb is within these walls.

In addition to the Cathedral of Seville, we also saw a traditional flamenco song and dance in a local bar one night. Although in the article, “The City as a Stage: Flamenco in Andalusian culture” author Maria Papavlou makes a clear argument that Flamenco began in an Andalusian area of Spain called Jerez de la Frontera, it is still a main part of Spanish culture. Many Flamenco artists describe Flamenco as “running through your blood, through your veins…you are born with it and it can be naturally inherited to the next generations” (Papavlou, 15). As we were watching the show, I could feel that these dancers love what they do, that it truly is a part of them and a way they unite themselves with their cultural past. We talked to one of the dancers and she said that flamenco has been in her family from as far back as they can trace. It’s interesting to me to think that at one point in time they were performing for enjoyment and pleasure simply a way to exercise, perform and please their peers. However, as the world has become more transnational and the Spanish economy and government has become open to the world, so have all the cultural traditions. Now although locals still enjoy a traditional song and dance, it is as much for them as it is a way to earn a living by performing to the tourists that have begun visiting Spain by the thousands.

There are few foreigners I’ve talked to who have traveled to Spain and have not seen a Flamenco show, or who have traveled to Sevilla and not seen the cathedral. Spain has definitely adapted to, and customized its offerings to appeal to a transnational audience. From the British guys who were at the Flamenco show, to the Heineken sign outside the Cathedral, to the group of over 100 Chinese tourists at a club in Madrid; Spain offers something for people from around the world to enjoy!

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