How to See a Flamenco Show in Seville

Flamenco dancing
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With its percussive dance style and emotive accompanying vocals, flamenco is a unique art form that is recognized the world over. In its most natural form, the essence of what makes flamenco unlike anything else in the world is that it’s an improvisational musical style rooted in the rich history of the Iberian peninsula. But don’t be fooled: like any improvisational art, flamenco requires dedication to practice and in-depth study.

Flamenco is something that needs to be experienced in person to be truly appreciated. If you’re planning a trip to Seville and looking to include a flamenco show in your itinerary, this primer will guide you in the right direction.

History of Flamenco

Flamenco was born in Andalusia from a mix of cultures that have come to define the region’s identity. Throughout Andalusia we can see and feel the influences of Arab and Jewish culture, but when it comes to flamenco, it’s the Roma who are historically attributed with creating (or at least perfecting) the art form. Due to its association with the Roma, who have historically been ostracized throughout Spain, flamenco was for a long time considered a vulgar and low-brow activity among the Spanish elite. According to the writer and musicologist Blas Infante, the word Flamenco comes from the Arabic term "felah-mengus," which most closely translates to ‘wandering peasant’, which makes sense given the nomadic nature of the people who performed it. But despite the Catholic Church and staunch critic’s objections, flamenco has come to define Spain in a way that no other Spanish-born art form has. In fact, it’s been recognized by UNESCO as part of the World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. Flamenco is here to stay, and its impact on history and culture is undeniable. 

Styles of Flamenco

Flamenco is a dance. It’s also guitar playing, poetry, hand clapping, finger snapping and singing. One of the most defining characteristics of the genre is the sound that the guitarists make by striking their thumb on the guitar to the rhythm of the music—this is known as "el toque." The dancing, or "baile," is completely improvised and lends flamenco its striking visual appeal. But the flamenco dancer is more than a visual accompaniment; their bodies become instruments as they stomp and tap their feet on the floor and snap their fingers in harmony with the guitar playing. The cantaor (singer) makes their contribution to the scene by performing a cante. And when it comes to singing, there are 50 varieties of palos, categories or subsets of the cante itself, each made up of its unique set of rhythms. Some of these styles include bulerías, alegrías, fandangos, tangos, and sevillanas.

The Best Places to See Flamenco in Seville

Seville is home to three types of venues for enjoying flamenco: tablaos, theaters, and peñas—the latter of which is more of a loosely formed gathering for celebrations. Tablaos tend to be more tourist-centric spots; there you can watch a good show but at a higher price tag. If what you’re looking for is authentic flamenco with top-notch artistry at a budget friendly price, then a theater or a peña is what you should be out on the lookout for. To get you started on your quest to experience a piece of history while in Seville, this is a great list of places you can visit to watch live flamenco. Just remember to always check their websites or call ahead to ensure availability during the season you’ll be traveling. 

Peñas

  • Peña Torres Macarena: This is where the city’s most die-hard fans go for their flamenco. Here you’ll find that they schedule more concerts and recitals than anywhere else in the city. You can always check their Facebook page to see what’s scheduled. 

Theaters

  • Fundación Cristina Heeren / Teatro Flamenco Triana: Founded in 1996, their objective is to promote, preserve and teach flamenco both in Andalusia throughout Spain. It serves as a flamenco and also as a theatre where you can witness shows filled with passion and art. 
  • Other theaters in the city such as Lope de Vega, La Maestranza, and Central also offer flamenco programs but their seasons begin in mid September, so plan accordingly.

Tablaos

  • Flamenco Dance Museum: Founded by flamenco dancer Cristina Hoyos, this tablao regularly schedules shows that run about an hour long. The audience size is usually limited which makes it an experience as intimate as it is special. The museum is spread over four floors entirely dedicated to highlighting the magical world of flamenco through interactive installations, documents, photographic exhibitions and performances. 
  • Tablao los Gallos: The oldest tablao in Seville and one of the oldest in the world, enjoying the best flamenco in Seville is as easy as showing up here for one of their nightly shows. This is a space where you can experience flamenco in its purest form up close. Their performances last up to 1.5 hours and their sold out performances can be scheduled from 8pm to 11pm, so be sure to make reservations ahead of time.
  • El Mantoncillo: This place is the meeting place for flamenco artists, both amateur and professional. It provides a very authentic atmosphere where it’s not uncommon for the night to explode into spontaneous flamenco performances by the crowd. El Mantoncillo is situated on 29 Betis Street in the Triana neighborhood.

Festivals

No list would be complete without the summer flamenco festivals that are celebrated throughout the region in places like Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, and Seville. 

  • Solera y Compás, Noches de Flamenco: This festival reunites the most important artists of the flamenco world in the city of Jérez. It starts in July and runs until the end of August. You can check their program to see what’s scheduled, and ticket prices are pretty wallet-friendly too. 
  • Cante Grande Fosforito: Celebrated in the town of Puente Guenil, the 54th edition of this festival begins on August 14th of August. Tickets can be purchased at the Casa Ciudadana until August 13 and cost 17 euros for individuals, 25 euros for couples and 10 euros for kids and seniors.
  • Fiesta de la Bulería de Jérez: This Festival has been a benchmark in the world of flamenco since 1967 and was created by the flamencologist Juan de la Plata. If you plan on attending, you can buy tickets for the entire festival; day passes are alsoavailable.
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