What is a flamenco tablao?
The best place to enjoy a flamenco show is a flamenco tablao in Seville. But why? Historically, they were places where the artists gave free rein to their art to the delight of the public who gathered there to see them.
However, from the beginning, the tablao flamenco had both a commercial and informative purpose for this art. Called “singing cafés“, the shows were held on a daily basis, and combined those considered to be the three parts of flamenco: singing, dancing and guitar playing. For this reason, they began to be considered as emblematic places where the flamenco tradition was preserved.
The singing cafés consisted of a large hall, in the centre of which was the tablao. Around it, there were chairs and tables for the public who normally not only attended to see a live flamenco show, but also to eat and drink. This period is considered by many to be the Golden Age of Flamenco, understood to be at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The flamenco went from being an art form restricted to a family and private environment, to a part of popular culture, which was very well received.
Why is it called flamenco tablao?
The word “tablao” refers to the stage on which the flamenco show is performed. This tablao is made of wood, a material that has a double mission: to enhance the sound made by the dancers during the show, especially when they are tapping their feet, and to protect the artists’ joints.
The truth is that these places have been considered “sacred” by those most passionate about this art, hence they are also known as “temples”. Although they proliferated throughout the Spanish geography, Madrid, Cadiz and Seville were the main places where they settled.
In fact, it is considered that the first singing café was the one opened by Silverio Franconetti in Seville. It was here that Enrique el Mellizo and La Niña de los Peines took their first steps, among others.
In the evolution of the flamenco tablao we also find a sample of its growth. Flamenco began as a cante (considered today as cante jondo) to which dance and guitar playing were later added. It is believed that the first flamenco cantaor was the Jerez-born Tío Luis de Juliana, of whom there are some references, although there are few documents that even confirm his existence.
Later on, some of them stood out, such as El Fillo and El Planeta, both artists from Cádiz and singers of tonás and siguiriyas, two of the oldest flamenco forms.
The flamenco tablaos have been and still are the birthplace of artists and places where great flamenco artists have been born, some of which we have already mentioned and others such as Paquera de Jerez, el Lebrijano, Beni de Cádiz, la Terremoto, Camarón, José Mercé or Enrique Morente, among many others.
In this period of flamenco emergence, dance took on a special role, becoming the main attraction for the public who attended the singing cafés. It was also the time when the flamenco guitar appeared on stage, a little smaller than the classical or Spanish guitar and with a slightly different sound, all of which helped the singing to continue to be the true protagonist of flamenco shows.
We enter the stage known as “Ópera Flamenca”, between 1910 and 1955, when flamenco shows filled stadiums and large installations. It is the splendor of some flamenco palos, like the fandango, and the settlement of the guitar as an instrument that accompanies the flamenco shows.
From this moment on, flamenco evolves one step further and the flamenco tablaos as we know them today appear on the stage. Andalusia continues to be a bastion of this art, although it is beginning to be recognized worldwide and valued by foreign countries, such as the United States, France and Japan.
Flamenco tablao in Seville: school of great artists
Although today many names of great flamenco artists are known, especially from Seville, flamenco was really a minority art, so it is difficult for us to establish its origin.
Seville was one of the three most important schools of flamenco, the other two being Jerez de la Frontera and Cadiz. In fact, it is the Triana neighbourhood, located in the Andalusian capital, one of the nerve centres of flamenco and is considered by many to be the cradle of this art form. It even has its own styles of singing and dancing that bear its name, such as the “soleá of Triana“.
In the tablao Cuna del Flamenco we recover the primitive essence of this genre, with an intimate and close show that makes a journey through the origins of this art. During one hour, six artists step on the stage of an emblematic theatre, dancing different flamenco styles. Three daily passes full of grace and duende.
Purity, duende, quejío and a lot of improvisation are the basis of this flamenco show in Seville. Book your ticket online and get to know what a good flamenco juerga is and feel the vibration of a zapateado, the movement of the mantoncillo and the firm sound of the castanets. We are waiting for you!