El Amor Brujo

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Written by Manuel de Falla, the ballet El Amor Brujo (Love, the Witch) depicts an Andalusian gypsy girl, Candela, who is haunted by the ghost of her dead husband, Carmelo. At one point her band of gypsies perform a ritual fire dance to rid themselves of the ghost. The following is a flamenco version of the fire dance, a dance form particularly well-suited to displays of witchcraft. The incredible Cristina Hoyos dances as Candela:

The flamenco trend

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A friend of my parents whom I met recently asked if interest in flamenco was on the rise in the United States. I said I wasn’t sure–enrollment seems fairly steady at my flamenco school (some people have been dancing at this studio for decades and there is no overwhelming influx of new dancers)–but that I wouldn’t be surprised if certain events had increased its prominence around the world, such as Franco’s death in 1975 (he was a staunch opponent to Spain’s unique cultures) and the opening ceremonies for Barcelona’s 1992 Olympics in which famed dancer Cristina Hoyos performed:

This past summer while taking flamenco lessons at Carmen de las Cuevas in Granada, I was astonished by the range of countries represented at the school. The group of people I spent the most time with were from Germany, France, Holland, Finland, Iceland, and Spain, but I also met people from Russia, the Czech Republic, Japan, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, Norway, and on and on. I was the only American. For an art form that is so closely tied to one very specific region of the world, it was strange to realize how far its influence has spread. So perhaps my parents’ friend was right to believe that flamenco is far more popular now than ever before. It does show up in unexpected places, like in the following music video by Iron and Wine. I never would have joined Iron and Wine’s folksy music with flamenco, but it fits beautifully: