Sevillanas, the most famous folk Spanish dance
The Sevillana is a colourful and exciting style of song and dance somewhat similar in style to Flamenco. Flamenco purists, however, disregard Sevillanas as an impure dance form (the dance is choreographed to a pre-established routine), often confusing tourists that believe it is Flamenco.
Considered the most popular dance style in Spain today, it can trace its origins back to the era of the Catholic Monarchs (Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon) around the 15th Century, in Castile.
It is believed that the Sevillanas were developed from the Castilian version, Seguidillas. Over the centuries, and especially in the 18th Century, the Sevillanas mixed with other Spanish dance forms, like Flamenco, to produce the large variety of dances you can find today (Sevillanas Boleras, Corraleras, Biblicas, Rocieras, and Marineras to name just a few).
Sevillanas consists of 3 elements: the dance, the song and the music. The music that accompanies the Sevillanas dancers tends to be rather simple, although songs have a wide variety of lyrics and themes, mostly based on the countryside, the daily life in the neighbourhood, the marvels of Seville and the famous annual Sevillano pilgrimage to El Rocío, including criticisms, warnings and funny stories.
Los Hermanos Reyes from Castilleja de la Cuesta, near Seville, were revolutionary in this field as they continually changed the entire melody, yet managed to be original every time, never repeating a Sevillana.
Listen to 'Sevillanas de Triana' by Los Hermanos Reyes.
As for the dance, it can be very erotic and sensual, although the pair will never touch each other until the final moments when the man will put his arm around the waist of the woman to finish the dance. The sevillana was originally a courting dance where the man sets out to woo the woman in a display similar to two mating flamingos.
Today it is performed at weddings, family gatherings and all kind of parties throughout Spain, but especially during ferias in Andalucia, when women wear their authentic Traje Gitanas, the colourful polka-dot dresses that add a swirling character and grace to the dance.
It is always amazing to see a whole dance floor erupt with people performing the Sevillana, no matter what age. Children are encouraged from a very young age, and there is no embarrassment involved, just a passion for the dance.
In case we have convinced you to go to Spain and discover this incredible music/dance style, the Seville Fair every year in April is a great time to go! Alternatively, the exciting and lively 524 year-old Jerez Horse Fair will take place between the 10th and 17th May this year, near Seville.
This event gives ample space for the displays of the finest horses of Jerez, as synonymous with the city as sherry and Flamenco. People eat, drink and dance Sevillanas, Rumbas, Bulerias and other traditional dances in one of the beautifully decorated casitas (small bars) until the early hours of the morning, resulting in an incredible atmosphere.