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Most Popular Spanish Dances


Reflecting the tumultuous history of Spain, the Spanish dances have gained much popularity worldwide, from the gypsy communities of the south to the Celtic heritage of Galacia in the north. Spain’s rich and diverse culture is perfectly captured in our top traditional Spanish dancing. Before diving into the types of folk dances, let’s first go through the history of Spanish Dance.

History of Spanish Dance:

The phrase “Spanish dance” immediately brings to mind images of flamenco, with its pounding feet, strumming guitars, and vibrant costumes. While many people associate Spain with flamenco, a wide range of regional traditional dances from Spain have been incorporated into the long tradition of Spanish dance. For instance, few people would ever anticipate travelling to Spain and hearing bagpipes and tambourines fill the air, but that is the traditional music that Spanish dance in northern Spain is accompanied by!

Man has used dance as a means of expression and communication for almost the entire time that he has existed. Spain is by no means an exception. The first ritualistic dances were those honoring battles and other war-related themes, and centuries later, in the Middle Ages, it was possible to recognise ritual dances with structured religious themes.
The distinction between the various genres was established in the 15th century. Popular and folk dance made significant advancements in the history of Spanish dance during the Renaissance and even received recognition on a global scale. In Catalonia alone, there were once more than 200 traditional dances! Gypsies began to arrive on the Iberian peninsula in the Baroque era, and the gypsy music and dance known as flamenco quickly became a part of the history of Spanish dance.

Want to know the different types of traditional Spanish dances and their origins?

The most famous Spanish folk dances are the Flamenco, Canary & Bolero dance. These dances from Spain have inspired many of the Latin, Philippines and American dance forms.

1. Flamenco Dance

The most popular Spanish folk dance is called the Flamenco.  During the 19th century, it was developed in Spain by fusing components from various traditional dances. The first recorded performance of the Flamenco was in 1845 at the Royal Palace of Madrid. In the early 20th century, this dance of Spain spread throughout Europe and North America. Today, Flamenco is performed worldwide.

2. Canary Dance

The Canary Dance is one of the oldest traditional dances in Spain. This Spanish dance originated in the Canary Islands and has been passed down through generations. This dance from Spain consists of two parts: an introduction and a main part. During the introduction, dancers perform a series of steps with their hands and feet while singing. This is followed by the main part where dancers move their bodies rhythmically.

3. Bolero Dance

The bolero is a type of Spanish folk dance that originated in Cuba. It was brought to Spain during the 19th century when Cuban immigrants arrived in Spain. The Bolero dance is characterized by its fast tempo and strong beat.

4. Aragonese Jota

This popular dance originated in Aragón, a region in the north of Spain. Couples perform it while holding castanets high above their heads and dancing quickly.

5. Sevillana

Flamenco-inspired lively and joyful dance with four distinct parts that is a Seville specialty.

6. Sardana

In this traditional Catalan dance, numerous couples join hands and move in a tight circle.

7. Muñeira

This traditional “Miller’s Dance” is performed in pairs or by one person to the sound of bagpipes all over Galicia and Asturias.

8. Zambra

The zambra was originally a Moorish dance, but after King Fernando and Queen Isabel reclaimed Spain, the Moors were able to preserve it by modifying it to fit Spanish dance traditions.

9. Fandango 

Fandango is a lively Spanish dance, usually accompanied by guitar music, which involves clapping and stomping. It is often danced by couples who move in a circular pattern, with the man leading.

10. Pasodoble

Pasodoble is a Spanish dance that originated in the early twentieth century and is characterized by its dramatic, passionate movements and its theatrical interpretation of a bullfight. It is performed to music in a 2/4 time signature with a strong and steady beat. The pasodoble is popular in Latin America and Europe, often performed in competitions and special events such as school dances, wedding receptions, and more.

Costumes for traditional Spanish folk dance

The intricate costumes worn by traditional Spanish bullfighters today, which were   inspired by the flamboyant Andalusian fashion of the 18th century, have not changed over time. The use of sequins, gold and silver threads, and intricate embroidery make them known as “suits of lights” (traje de luces) and make them simple to identify. In addition to these Spanish costumes for particular performers, each Spanish region has its own traditional attire. Although they are not frequently worn, you can frequently see them in local parades and celebrations.

The mantilla, peineta, and gilet are the most typical items of clothing for traditional occasions and celebrations that are still in use today.

The mantilla– is a customary piece of Spanish veil that is frequently worn during religious events like Spanish weddings. It is a thin silk or lace scarf that is pinned in place over the head or shoulders and worn with a high comb.

The peineta- a large decorative comb called a peineta is inserted into the hair to support the mantilla. Its typical color is tortoiseshell, and it has a curved body and long prongs to add height. The peineta is a customary article of clothing in Spain that is worn on special occasions and dates back hundreds of years.
The Gilet- the Spanish word jaleco, or chaleco in modern Spanish, which is derived from the Arabic word yalka, is the source of the word gilet. It is a waistcoat-like sleeveless jacket that is an essential component of traditional Spanish attire. The gilet was a bodice shaped like a man’s waistcoat in the 19th century, and historically they were embroidered. Modern gilets are worn outside to add to the warmth.

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