They file in slowly, their costumes aflame in red, they have attitude - backed by over two hundred years of cultural tradition. The raspy voice of a Flamenco singer rises over the strumming of a Spanish Guitar. The music is rich! The sound pulsates over the audience as the staccato of the dancer's shoes raps on the wooden dance floor and mesmerizes the audience. The dancers obey a choreography that has stretched from the old country to America as they clap their hands in unison to the fiery music of Spain.

These performers are students of Salli Gutierrez ‘s dance school, They provided a stunning performance at Jester’s Dinner Theatre in Longmont, during a recent event presented annually by the school. The colorful dances ranged from Sevillanas to a Fandango, a Garrotin, a Solea por Buleria, and a Tango.

Salli has danced since the age of 10. She became involved in ethnic dance forms, while a student at the University of Colorado. While studying at the Pan American University in Texas, she danced with the university’s nationally acclaimed Ballet Folkloric de Pan American. After finishing her masters degree in ESL and Spanish, Salli went abroad to study dance in Spain. She was trained by a number of well known instructors, including: Marisol Moreno from Madrid, Mercedes Ruiz from Jerez De La Frontera, Rocio Marquéz and Alicia Marquéz from Sevilla, and Pacita Tomás y Joaquin Villa from Madrid. She also studied with Debra Belo "La Furia" in Washington D.C., the late "Tibu" of New York, José Molina of New York, "Quique" of Argentina, and Manolo Vargas and Maria Elena Anaya of Mexico.

Salli teaches Flamenco Classes at her own school, located in Longmont, Colorado, which offers multiple levels of dance training ranging from beginners through advanced techniques and provides performance opportunities for students. She also teaches at the Theatre and Dance Department at the University of Colorado on the Boulder Campus and continues to perform Flamenco professionally .

Salli Gutierrez

More information about
Flamenco classes
is available from Salli’s website:


Although its origins are unclear, Flamenco is thought to have originated with nomadic Gypsies, who lived in India. As they moved from place to place, they adopted local music to their own style. Flamenco evolved over time and took on a Spanish influence when Gypsies intermingled with Moorish culture from Andalucia, a region in southern Spain. Flamenco is also influenced by Jewish, Catholic and other ethnic musical traditions. Legend also suggests that the soldiers of the Spanish-Belgian territories influenced Flamenco. These Flemish soldiers were known for their self-confidence, style, and pride - an attitude which embodies the spirit of Flamenco, a characteristic Gypsies also possess.

In Spain in 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella initiated the Reconquista One, a new law that stated everyone living under their domain was to convert to and live under Christianity. Anyone who resisted would be punished with the most severe punishment, being death by fire.

According to legend, during this time of struggle, minority groups, including Muslims, Gypsies and others came together and supported each other under the new rule. As a result of this social interaction and cultural blending, flamenco evolved further and began to be recognized as a style.

The first literary reference to flamenco appeared in 1774 in the "Cartas Marruecas," in the village of Cadalso. Jerez De La Frontera and Triana created the first flamenco schools, between 1765 and1860. The flamenco became popular in music cafés and bars during its Golden Age, between 1869 and 1910. Over the centuries, flamenco has changed and transitioned into what it is today.

Flamenco is composed of cante, the song; baile, the dance; and guitarra, the guitar. Other components include: palmas, hand clapping; zapateado, rhythmic toe and heal clicking; and jaleo, finger snapping.

There are three main forms of flamenco: Grande or Jondo, meaning grand or deep; Intermedio, meaning intermediate; and Chico, meaning small. Grande flamenco consists of, "intense, profound songs, tragic in tone, and imbued with duende - the transformation of the musician by depth of the emotion." Intermedio flamenco is less serious than Jondo - occasionally possessing an "oriental sound." Chico flamenco is made up of light songs of enthusiasm, love, and nature.

The singer is the center of the flamenco group. The dancer acts as the physical interpreter - through body movements - of the words and emotion expressed by the singer. The dancing can include strategic footwork - with heal and toe tapping, hand clapping, and intricate arm and body movements. The guitarist accompanies the singer and dancer with melodies. The guitarist generally follows a classical guitar technique by plucking the strings with his fingers. Often, flamenco guitarists will shape their fingernails in such a way that when the string is plucked in a certain way, a very distinctive sound and tone is created. Another unique aspect of the flamenco guitarist is the strumming pattern, in which the guitarist uses only one finger at a time to pluck a specific string and then uses the back of the fingernail to pluck the string in the opposite direction.

Information for this story was gathered from web sources.



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