What is Tablao?

Like the atmosphere once created when beat poets gathered to recite verses, Tablao refers to the milieu in which flamencos showcased their dancing until the art was institutionalized in theatrical performances. Flamenco Tablao emerged as a unique art form in the 15th century. Spanish Gypsies (or Roma) danced flamenco privately in their rural homes.

The dance gradually migrated from the countryside to south Spain’s cities, where Gypsy artists performed on the streets and in plazas. By the 1840s, nightclubs called “cafes del cante” began to host flamenco tablao, giving flamencos the opportunity to demonstrate their extraordinary skills at improvising movement within the confines of rigid rhythmic structures. The cafes were the first enterprises to pay flamenco dancers, singers, and musicians.

Commercial flamenco was born. From the mid 1800s-early 1900s, highly acclaimed flamenco artists danced in cafes del cante. Tablao performances helped flamenco to grow in expressive range and aesthetic precision, exposing non-Gypsy audiences to the art.

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