One of the highlights of my study abroad experience has been participating in an interest group about Flamenco through CIEE. Contrary to popular belief, Flamenco is not native to all of Spain, but rather the Southern autonomies of Andalusia, Extremadura, and Murcia. Flamenco as an art includes dancing, singing, guitar, and “jaleos” or shouts and clapping by the crowd. As part of my interest group, I was able to participate in several activities related to Flamenco as well as an overnight trip to Málaga.
The first activity our interest group participated in were visits to a guitar factory and a flamenco dress shop. At the guitar factory, we learned how guitars are made from start to finish. The process is extremely technical and a high quality flamenco guitar requires high quality wood. Professional classical guitarists from all over Spain come to the guitar factory that we came to. The second part of our activity was a visit to a flamenco dress shop. The owner of the store showed us how the dresses are designed and contain a plethora of elements. I was amazed to learn that each flamenco dress is one of a kind. A lot of Sevillian households own at least one flamenco dress for the Feria de Abril which is a celebration of traditional Sevillan culture.
Another activity our interest group participated in was shadowing a dance class at a flamenco studio. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this event as I had class during the
scheduled time. Luckily there was an event shortly after which involved seeing a professional flamenco show. We went to Teatro Flamenco Triana and were able to see all the elements of Flamenco combined. I was blown away by the stamina, endurance, and precision it requires to be a professional flamenco dancer. It was also incredible to see how large of a role facial expressions and passion play in the dances.
The best perk of joining an interest group is going on an overnight trip to a city of CIEEs choosing and participating in activity with your friends from the semester. This semester we went to Málaga, a stunning city along the Atlantic coast of Spain. While in Málaga our interest group attended a flamenco lesson at a local studio. Our instructor was “gitana” or Roma, and explained how flamenco is an artform native to the Roma culture. She then taught us a short dance. Trying out my hand at Flamenco made me gain a whole new appreciation for the technical skill required for this art. After our Flamenco lesson, we took in the sites and sounds of Málaga like its historic cathedral, the Pablo Picasso museum, and the beach. I am immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to learn about an art so integral to the culture of Andalusia and Seville.