In the fifth century, the King of Persia realising the poor could not afford to enjoy music, asked the King of India to send ten thousand musicians - men and women so the story goes ....
After they arrived, they were given provisions to support themselves in order to play music for the poor but soon wasted their resources and returned to ask for more. The King, furious, retaliated, ordering them to pack their bags and leave. From that point on, disgraced, they had no choice but to wander, finding work wherever they could and thus .…FLAMENCO was born.
Flamencologists believe the dance originated in Rajasthan, Northern India, migrating with the first gypsies into Europe and North Africa. When they arrived in Andalusia, the dance was further influenced by the Roman tradition of uninhibited female dance.
Spanish gypsy music persisted through the centuries, soaking up influences from the Moors and Jews and a seventeenth-century wave of Irish immigrants contributed percussive footwork with African influences soon following from the Colonies. FLAMENCO is fusion.
In the late eighteenth century, encouraged by visitors from abroad (and astute landowners noticing their migrant workers' potential money-making talent), the genre began to acquire an identity and by the end of the nineteenth century FLAMENCO was a thriving, commercial art form, providing employment for groups of travelling performers who might otherwise have starved on the land.
Under the Franco regime, women were discouraged from playing guitar and channelled into the more ‘feminine’ pursuit of dance. The shawl-whirling, castanet-clicking 'Señorita' rapidly became a stereotype.
As to the varying claims of ‘authenticity' of gypsies and non-gypsies, professionals and aficionados .... these matters remains hotly debated but FLAMENCO remains an important feature of Andalusian culture and most towns have their own Peña Flamenca (Flamenco club). Flamenco runs in families, with children learning it from an early age (often before they can speak) and in 2011, the art form was recognised by UNESCO as part of the intangible heritage of mankind.