One of the most important garments of the flamenco dress is the skirt: it must have the necessary flow and flare to accompany the dance in a harmonious and aesthetic manner, while also being comfortable for the dancer wearing it. Do you want to know more about the flamenco skirt? In this post, we’ll tell you everything.
What is the origin of the flamenco skirt?
The flamenco skirt was the typical attire of women from more modest classes in the 19th century: the long dress accompanied by a ruffled apron was a comfortable garment for their daily tasks, and women also wore it when accompanying their husbands to cattle fairs, where they eventually caught the attention of women from higher classes. These women adopted the attire, improving the quality of materials and adding more delicate and exclusive decorations.
This was contributed to by the 1929 Seville April Fair, the first occasion when this event took on the festive character that it retains today, and when the flamenco dress became the typical attire for the event.
Evolution of the Flamenco Skirt in Fashion
Although the flamenco dress has a marked typical and timeless character, easily recognizable even to the untrained eye, it is the only one among the Spanish regional costumes subject to trends: year after year, major designers adapt the latest trends to the flamenco skirt and gitana dress without losing its essence.
We can say that this trend began in the 1950s, when satin ribbons and bows began to adorn the gitana dresses, which were also sewn with large ruffled sleeves.
With the arrival of the 1980s, the flamenco skirt suffered from an excess of patterns and decorations, much like other women’s clothing of the time. At the same time, waistlines became narrower, and skirts became more fitted around the hips.
The 1990s completely reversed the trend, removing excess adornments. This gave way to lighter and airier flamenco dresses, less fitted and in solid colors. With the arrival of the new century, we have seen flamenco skirts of all styles, fabrics, and patterns on the runway and in the streets, at typical flamenco events such as the Seville and Malaga Fairs, but also at events like weddings, film premieres, and exclusive parties.
When is the Flamenco Skirt Used?
Today, the flamenco skirt, combined with a blouse, is mainly used in two distinct contexts: in the context of a pilgrimage or on stage. It is more common in choirs and flamenco groups, aiming to unify the appearance of the artists, and less common for solo singers or dancers, who usually opt for a full-length “bata de cola.”
For pilgrimages, the flamenco skirt is paired with a blouse of the same or different color, a scarf tied at the nape of the neck, and a straw hat to protect from the sun. On the feet, there are country boots or espadrille-soled shoes that allow for comfortable walking and horseback riding.
Cascade Skirt and Canastera Skirt
Traditionally, the canastera skirt is designed for walking during a pilgrimage, rather than for enjoying a day at the Fair. It consists of a single ruffle, divided into as many sections as the seamstress chooses. It is also known as the “falda rociera.”
In contrast, we have the cascade ruffle skirt, more traditional for dancing and, therefore, for the fair. In this style, each ruffle is independent of the others and all are sewn onto the skirt. This type of skirt adds volume and movement.
Flamenco Skirt Fabrics for Dancing
Another major contemporary use of the flamenco skirt is as practice attire for female dancers. In this case, when choosing the right skirt, attention should be paid to the fabric, which will influence the weight and movement of the skirt. Some of the most common fabrics for practice skirts are:
- Knit fabric: very suitable for beginners, as it prevents runs from occurring when the heel gets caught in one of the ruffles, which is common when starting to dance.
- Viscose: finer and more elastic, it adapts well to the dancer’s body and doesn’t generate as much heat.
- Lycra: skirts made from this material are fitted and highly elastic, with great durability.
- Crepe: a more expensive fabric, usually reserved for professional skirts or creations by master seamstresses, due to its body, drape, and lightness, which create beautiful movement during dancing.
- Velvet: reserved for high-quality professional costumes, velvet adds body and spectacular reflections depending on how the light hits it, although it also generates more heat during dancing.
Complements to the Flamenco Dress
However, the flamenco skirt alone does not complete the dancer’s outfit. To become the spectacular attire we all know, the dress is complemented with accessories that contribute to the movement and spectacular nature of the dance. Here are some of them:
Shawl or Scarf
Also known as “manton” or “mantoncillo,” the shawl is an essential complement to the flamenco dress. While originally used to protect against the cold, it now complements the dress, adding a touch of color. An experienced dancer will use the drape and movement of the shawl to add more drama to their dance.
These are the typical earrings used by flamenco dancers to complement their attire. They are usually large and in bright colors, matching the flower in the hair. Well-chosen earrings can completely transform the outfit.
In the world of flamenco, the fan has a much more significant role than merely accompanying female attire: while originally used to combat the summer heat, women quickly developed a unique language in which different positions of the fan in the hand conveyed different messages. In flamenco performances, the fan contributes to infusing intentionality and sensuality into the dancer’s movements.
Choosing the right flamenco shoes is crucial for female dancers, as their comfort largely determines their ability to perform with the “duende” and artistry that characterize flamenco. Flamenco shoes should be made of flexible leather, have a few centimeters of heel, and may include nails in the sole and heel to enhance the sound and spectacle of footwork.
If you want to understand the importance of the flamenco skirt in dance and enjoy how our dancers convey all their strength and movement on stage, don’t wait any longer and book your tickets now for any of the shows that Gran Gala Flamenco offers at the Teatro Poliorama or the Palau de la Música Catalana. You’ll be amazed!