Thursday, December 2, 2021

The footprint and the gitano soul of Flamenco

March 7, 2021
The footprint and the gitano soul of Flamenco

The transcendence of this art has crossed all international borders, universalising it and sowing seeds in every corner of the world, where it is considered one of the most precious jewels of music and dance. But we cannot ignore the fact that gitano hands were involved in the shaping of this treasure, giving it the status of paternity and upbringing. The gitanos, as demonstrated by all the written documents that give credibility to the birth, codification – set by experts in the middle of the 19th century -, development and consummation of flamenco, were – and still are – the main and necessary protagonists of its creation, preservation and evolution.

That is why there is a responsibility to vindicate the memory of our ancestors, to pay tribute to them and to do them justice. Many of them, non-professional artists whose innate sense of creativity and rhythm were initially manifested in the ordinariness of their homes, in family celebrations and intimate parties; later moving on to the stages where flamenco, as we know it today, consummated its process of definitive professionalisation during the last decades of the 19th century. It is clear that the written documentation that makes up the chronology of flamenco places the gitano as an inherent protagonist in all the episodes that lay the foundations of the birth of our art and authenticates that he was a direct participant, with the testimonial certificate of those who witnessed and told the story.

As documented by the historian Julio Mayo, in Seville, as early as 1564, the gitanos formed part of the Corpus Christi procession, enriching the procession with the so-called “Danzas de Gitanas”, which are considered part of the pre-Flamenco period, their own creations that achieved the recognition and protection of the ecclesiastical and municipal authorities, in whose choreographic organisation our predecessors were present until well into the 18th century. The aesthetic and artistic value with which they provided such an important celebration, despite the situation of marginality and persecution to which the gitano people were already subjected at that time, led to royal decrees authorising the release of some of the protagonists imprisoned by the Inquisition so that the aesthetic richness of the procession would not be diminished.