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Andalusian Sevillanas

By Gabriela Noguez |

Sevillanas are a popular regional dance and part of the music heritage of Andalusia, Spain. Dance them and wear the typical dress of Seville’s April Fair.

DISCOVERING ANDALUSIAN FOLKLORE

The region of Andalusia has always been known for its warmth, and we’re not just referring to its weather but to the coziness of its environment and the friendliness of its inhabitants. Seville is, without doubt, one of our favorite destinations when we want to plan a great vacation. That’s why today we invite you to learn about one more of its many treasures.

Seville is known as a city that has a festive atmosphere year round; no wonder in 2006 it became the first City of Music listed by UNESCO. In order to prove why it’s so valued as a center of creativity and musical activity, there’s nothing like planning a nice evening at a tablao–they derive from old Cafés Cantantes where people used to have a drink while enjoying music performances– or going to fair and relishing in exquisite gastronomy and traditional dances.

HISTORY OF THE SEVILLANAS DANCE

Although the song and dance we currently know as sevillanas comes from the 18th century, they find their origin in music compositions called seguidillas castellanas, which were very popular in the 15th century, in times of the Catholic Kings.

They’ve been known as sevillanas since the Seville Fair was founded, although formally, the term was recognized by the Royal Spanish Academy until 1884. Nowadays they represent the most popular Spanish regional dance in its country of origin and abroad, so learning how to dance them will be the best souvenir you can take home.

FLAMENCO DANCE AND SEVILLANAS

Tablaos –places where they perform flamenco shows– are part of the main touristic attractions in Seville. In fact, we recommend scheduling an evening at this destination to attend a flamenco performance and take a break from the scorching sun while you delight in a glass of wine and a passionate dance.

However, flamenco, which was declared World Cultural Heritage in 2010, possesses mainly a dramatic essence that could be defined as cultivated and stylish. This marvelous art form native to Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia that includes the popular cante (singing), toque(guitar playing) and baile (dancing), might seem similar to sevillanas for people who are not very familiar with both genres, but flamenco and sevillanas are not the same.

HOW TO DANCE SEVILLANAS

Sevillanas are part of Andalusia’s folklore and, as a popular dance, they mirror the jolly spirit that engulfs events like the April Fair or Seville Fair –celebrated after Holy Week– romerías and other festivities.

Sevillanas are danced in pairs or groups and they follow a pre-established routine of steps. They’re divided in four parts so the choreography also has four movements, which are classified as: pasíllospasadascareos and remate.

The music usually involves guitar playing and the lyrics tell stories of love and loss, as well as regional pride.

SEVILLANA DRESSES

Long ago, gypsies and peasants wore work clothes to which they added frills when they wanted to give them a different touch during the celebration of the livestock fair. As time went by, this garment that accentuated the female body became fashionable among sophisticated ladies. So, in order for you to really participate in the fiesta sevillana, it will be convenient for you to look for a boutique or costume store where they sell Sevillana or flamenco dresses. You’ll get the chance to choose among different styles with many or just a few frills, bright colors and patterns. The costumes are accessorized with hair ornaments like flowers, combs, big earrings, bracelets and necklaces, all of them matching the dress.

If you don’t know which to choose, we recommend opting for a classic dress in red, royal blue or white with colorful prints.

TIPS FOR VISITING SEVILLE’S APRIL FAIR

Follow these tips by DINKtravelers and avoid looking like a tourist when you visit this famous fair in Seville.

  • Arrive after noon because earlier than that the venue is usually empty. The festive environment and the attractions become alive late in the evening.
  • Try the traditional beverage: rebujito –a mix of fine wine or manzanilla (a variety of sherry) with lemon-lime soda. As a snack, order pescaitos fritos (fried fish) or tortilla de patatas (a type of potato and egg pie/omelet).
  • If you wear a flamenco dress, do so only during the day. At night, wear a cocktail dress and, if you’re a guy, wear a suit.

In your next trip to Seville, don’t forget to participate in this music folkloric celebration that will enthuse your senses and urge you to dance.