The Spanish Language Blog

Increasingly popular, also in the Netherlands, are the Spanish dances. Flamenco and salsa, we have all heard of them. But where do these dances come from, are they real Spanish dances or did they originate elsewhere in the world?

Flamenco is one of the most complex dances in the world. Flamenco originated in the second half of the nineteenth century in Andalusia, southern Spain. When people think of flamenco they often think of flamenco dance, but flamenco is more. Flamenco is a combination of baile (dance), toque (guitar playing), cante (singing) and palmas (hand clapping). It is a spirited, expressive and powerful dance and is characterized by its footwork, rhythms, attire and castanets. Today flamenco is one of Spain's most important cultural exports.

Another dance thought to be Spanish is salsa. In the Netherlands, salsa dancing is very well known and therefore there are many opportunities to learn this dance. Salsa is a collective name for different types of dances and rhythms such as son, mambo, guaguancó, cha-cha-cha and the dázon. The rhythm of the dance consists of 8 beats divided into two times four beats, where of every four beats one beat is rested.

When you dance salsa, you don't have to memorize complicated choreography; you can certainly improvise as well. So you don't have to be a professional dancer! With the right rhythm, basic steps and turning technique you will come a long way. The footwork is fortunately not complicated, with these you make the basic steps and the rest of your body does the remaining (dance) work, such as graceful arm movements that are characteristic of salsa.

Salsa is found both in Spain and in the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America and is a melting pot of different cultures of peoples who came to Cuba, each bringing with them their own music and dance style. African slave music and Spanish singing were especially influential in the creation of salsa. Today some 15 million Latin Americans dance salsa.

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