A taste of flamenco

Saturday, July 28, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:21 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Norberto Aguado poses and plays his guitar on May 5 at Gaucho's, where he performs regularly.

Norberto Aguado rediscovered his love for flamenco 14 years ago when he moved to the United States. He hadn’t played anything but The Beatles since the local barber in his hometown of Marchena, Spain, taught him how to play guitar when he was 12.

Today, Aguado, a Spanish professor at MU, is one of the handful of people in Columbia who knows flamenco.

Did you know?

Among the many dances in flamenco, some of the most popular are: • Sevillanas • Tangos • Alegrías • Bulerías • Peteneras 3 main components: • Singing (cante) • Music (toque) • Dance (baile) Flamenco guitar: • Made of cypress wood • Both string and percussion instrument • Strings closer to frame, which create short and dry sound Source: Norberto Aguado

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“Being a flamenco is a way of life,” he said. “You can’t play flamenco (music) if you don’t know what flamenco is.”

Although he doesn’t have a music group in town, he performs whenever he can. He will also be recording a CD with other flamenco artists from Columbia and St. Louis.

Accessories of flamenco

Headwear - The hair is put up in a bun to highlight the woman’s figure. The accesories include a flower and an ornamental comb, called peineta. Also, the earrings usually match the color of the dress.

In Spanish: peineta (pey-ne-tah)

Castanets - These percussion instruments are made out of strong wood, and flamenco dancers usually play them when dancing. Lately, fiberglass has been the preferred material for its durability and resistance to temperature and humidity changes.

In Spanish: castañuelas (kas-tah-noe-las) or palillos (pah-lee-jos)

Dress - The dress is made of percale or cotton. The V-neck and the ruffles on the bottom accentuate the dancer’s body. A shawl is usually worn around the neck and tied down with an ornate pin. There are many color, pattern and sleeve-length variations, but they are all intended to showcase the woman’s beauty.

In Spanish: vestido (ves-tee-doh)

Shoes - The shoes are made specifically for flamenco. Their unmistakable sound comes from the nails on the heel and toe, which require a particular method of nailing to ensure a clean, strong sound.

In Spanish: zapatos (sah-pah-tos) or tacones (tah-ko-nes)

Sources:; (website in Spanish)

The past and future

Origin of flamenco is unknown, but it is thought to have come from the Gypsies, particularly in Andalucía.

• In the 19th century, Silverio Falconetti developed the dances, called palos, in flamenco.

• In the 20th century, flamenco became an elite music. It was not performed in public, only for private parties.

• In the 1950s, the flamenco cafes, today’s tablados, began to emerge, and flamenco was performed in public.

• In the 1960s, with his extraordinary guitar skills, Paco de Lucía gave more importance to the guitar in flamenco.

Today Flamenco continues to gain popularity around the world. New music influences, including jazz and pop, contribute to its evolution.

Source: (Web site in Spanish)

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Carrie Tyler January 26, 2008 | 1:18 p.m.

Very nice. Myself and a few others are looking for Flamenco dance classes. Are there any in Columbia?

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