Rhythms from Rajastan to Spain.

From his earliest  experience of life, man must have discovered himself as instrument: foot stomping, clapping, vocalizing. As early humans could make tools, it was inevitable that they would create instruments from materials found in their environments, perhaps at first, to imitate the calls of the animals hunted. A pan pipe -like whistle was excavated from a cave site in France. We shall never know whether a woman or a man made the first instrument, but it is now thought that some of the handprints found blown onto cave walls belonged to female artists, based on the small size of the adult hand. Spirituality accompanied early humans. Could it have been a woman’s realm?


In ‘Dances of the “Roma”Gypsy Trail From Rajastan to Spain: Flamenco’, Miriam Peretz states:

Early Flamenco cante was accompanied by palmas alone without any instrumentation. Only later did the guitar develop. The Flamenco guitar developed from the kithara asiria from Egypt and the guitarra morisca (known as the oud in Middle-Eastern music.) As was the case with the dance, the first truly professional and accomplished guitarists began to appear during the period of the cafes cantantes. One of the first true guitar virtuosos was Francisco Diaz, or Paco Lucena. Sabicas, or Agustin Castellon, was another. Ramon Montoya was considered a great pioneer in bringing Flamenco guitar into its modern period and style. Enrique Morente, (from Granada) is another very famous guitarist, raised surrounded by Flamenco. Paco de Lucia is one of the most well known Flamenco guitarists of today. Early in his career, he made several great recording with the singer Camaron de la Isla, and later he became more experimental, fusing elements of Jazz and other styles.

Some records show that Hindu dancers entered Spain through Cadiz as early as 500 BC performing for royalty at festivals. These dances became part of the ceremonies in Roman temples and then later incorporated into the practices of the Christian church. Later with Moorish [conquest] the dances were performed in public, in a secular manner by the Moors themselves. The dance emphasized the upper body of the female; the torso, arms, and hand movements. There was much less emphasis on the legs and lower part of the body (because of Islamic influence.)

I wish to attempt to demonstrate how closely related Indian and flamenco dance are in rhythm and in design. From India:

To begin, here are excerpts from the Aditti Mangaldas  Dance Company in 2012:


‘Kathak’  is performed by Nrityabarathi Dance Academy. Kathak is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dance. It traces its origins to nomadic bards of ancient northern India called ‘kathakars’ or ‘storytellers’.



Meghranjani dances ‘Sudha Nritya’ a kathak dance. Note the rhythms set up in her feet.



‘Nataraja’ dance was a traditional Tamil concept. Shiva was first depicted as Nataraja in the famous Chola Bronzes and sculptures of Chidambaram. The dance of Shiva in Tillai, the traditional name for Chidambaram, forms the motif for all the depictions of Shiva as Nataraja. He is also known as “Sabesan” which splits as “Sabayil aadum eesan” in Tamil which means “The Lord who dances on the dais”. The form is present in most Shiva temples in South India, and is the prime deity in the famous Thillai Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram. [Wikipedia]



‘Bho Shambho’, a song in praise of Lord Shiva. The Rangoli Dance Company demonstrates some male dancing:



To Spain:


Carlos Montoya plays  flamenco guitar: rare video



Paco de Luca (1947-2014)




Rajamani’s singing may sound like flamenco, but it portrays the ancient roots of Roma/Gypsy music in Tamil folk India.



Compare Baile Eva’s astonishing rhythmic feet with those of Maghranjani (above). This dance from the region of Andalusia includes cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), baile  (dance) and palmas(handclaps).


Flamenco directed by Carlos Saura:



Finally, in ‘Blood Wedding’, based upon Federico Garcia Lorca’s play (1932) , a modern flamenco choreographer (Carlos Saura) brings us full -circle to the  ‘Kathak’ dance  tradition of storytelling. ‘Blood Wedding’ was to be part of a” trilogy of the Spanish earth”. The dancing shown  here depicts a conflicted Bride forcing herself to marry the Groom, in spite of the fact that she still loves another.


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