At first, around 18th century or even earlier, it was but a song without any instrumental accompaniment. Then came the solo guitar, which led undisturbed the dancers’ steps until half through 19th century. Today the flamenco is a musical performance, beside being a world renowned dance style, and it has proved capable of preserving its peculiar features through its many transformations and although the close vicinity of other European folk traditions. In 2010 UNESCO declared this art an oral and immaterial world heritage and its popularity spread all over the world, in such a stunning way that nowadays there are more flamenco schools in Japan than in Spain.

Flamenco performers (photo by CameliaTWU)

Flamenco’s birthplace is Andalusia, southern region of Spain, and its main town Seville is the culprit of this ancient tradition. Every April, two weeks after Easter, the Andalusian people celebrate the Feria de abril de Sevilla – Seville’s April Fair – and artists from all over the country meet here to perform in front of a jubilant audience.

Officially, the fair starts on Monday at midnight and lasts for six days, ending the next Sunday. There are daily parades with chariots that take the local authorities to the bulls arena – La Real Mastranza – where the poor animals are protagonists of bloody corrida shows. During the whole fair a large area of the Guadalquivir river bank hosts the so-called casetas – wide tents richly decorated that are used to stretch the parties until early morning.

Chariot during Seville's April Fair (photo by Julia Folsom)

Although flamenco is the most popular Andalusian dance in the world, during the fair you may also assist to performances of sevillana, a different dance style rooting to Castilla’s seguidilla and which today, being often performed by professional flamenco dancers, is usually performed with the rhythmic stomp typical of flamenco. It is a very sensual and lively dance style, enriched by the dancers’ colourful dresses. It may be performed by couples or by groups, and it follows a fixed pattern of steps. It originally was a dance linked with courting, since the Spanish Kingdom’s young ladies were held firmly secure from the suitors’ aims, and an invitation to dance sevillana during the fair was the only chance to show one’s feelings.

A group of sevillana dancers (photo by Rafael Gomez)