Sevillanas, the most danced style of flamenco
Sevillanas are one of the best known and danced styles of flamenco, especially at the various fairs, such as the Seville April Fair and others that are held throughout Andalusia from spring and summer, as well as the El Rocío.
Their choreography, with some marked steps, makes it a matter of practice to be able to dance them, although we must add the grace of each one in the braceo. They are one of the most colourful dances thanks to the movements, which make the flounces of a good flamenco costume shine their purpose.
Sevillanas are part of Andalusian folklore, together with verdiales, fandangos, boleros, etc, being one of the most danced regional dances.
Origin of sevillanas
The origin of the sevillanas dates back to before the arrival of the reign of the Catholic Monarchs. However, they were not known by this name, but as “seguidillas castellanas”, although they were a little different from the current version, with another structure and with a dance similar to the jota aragonesa (with small jumps).
In fact, most of the current style of flamenco (it is said that there are more than 50) derive from a few, considered “old”.
“The strumming of the guitars, the tapping of the chopsticks, the graceful songs and the undulating movements of the couples dancing sevillanas were observed everywhere”. La Izquierda Liberal Newspaper.
In 1847, the Cattle Fair was inaugurated, which later became known as the April Fair. It is when three verses of chorus are added to the Castilian seguidilla, becoming called seguidilla sevillana. It is during this century, the 19th, when they began to take shape until they had the current steps, more aflamencados, although they were still not completely defined.
In fact, it was not until 1884 that the Dictionary of the RAE gave it the name of “sevillanas“, which is when it began to become popular as the favorite dance of the Andalusian fairs.
Five years later, in 1889, the sevillanas made their press debut, when on April 25 this commentary was published in the newspaper La Izquierda Liberal: “The strumming of the guitars, the tapping of the chopsticks, the graceful songs and the undulating movements of the couples dancing sevillanas were observed everywhere”.
Classification of sevillanas
The sevillanas have a classification according to the thematic of their letters, as the rocieras or religious, and their rhythm.
- Historical Sevillanas: the lyrics relate important historical moments, especially related to Seville. One of the best known are those of Queen Isabell II’s passage over the Triana Bridge, which bears her name and was inaugurated in 1852. “The queen passes through the Triana Bridge, juí. The queen passes through the bridge of Triana, pick up the tail that drags you, through the bridge of Triana, juí, the queen passes”.
- Sevillanas religious/biblical: this typology was popularized by the Huelva brothers Toronjo, during the 60’s. They usually refer to Old Testament themes and characters.
- Sevillanas to listen to: their rhythm is very slow, which makes their dancing difficult. They are sung to be listened to and to be delighted with the form and lyrics of the cantaor.
- Sevillanas corraleras: they take their name from the corrales de vecinos, houses distributed in circular constructions with a central patio very typical of the area of Seville. In these places, among neighbours, relatives and friends, a very rhythmic type of sevillana was sung that animated the celebrations and meetings. They are the most popular, as they were transmitted orally.
Among the best-known lyrics: “I married a dwarf, salerito, pa jartarme to laugh”. As a curiosity, between verses, to fill in the silences, the onomatopoeia of the castanets is used, which you have surely heard without knowing what that was: “riapitá”.
Sevillanas is one of the most widespread styles of flamenco and is usually the first to be learned in Academies. We encourage you to take a note and let go at the next Andalusian party to dance them. Olé!