Flamenco is a musical genre and dance dating back to the 18th century that can be danced alone, created by the Andalusian people, on the basis of popular folklore from the various cultures that will flourish over the centuries in Andalusia.
Flamenco originally consisted of a simple a cappella cante (song), established in the triangle formed by Triana (Seville), Jerez and Cadiz. The word cante applies essentially to flamenco singing, because the usual word in Spanish to say canto is canto. The traditional name for flamenco is cante jondo (or "deep song", an Andalusian variant of hondo Spanish). Flamenco singers are called cantaor or cantaora (Andalusian variant of Spanish cantador: "singer", or cantante: "lyrical singer").
The clapping of the hands to accompany this song is called palmas, and the dance is called el baile (bailaor: "dancer"; bailaora: "dancer", terms reserved for flamenco dancers, because the generic term in Spanish for "dancer" is bailarín in the theatre or dancing in a procession). Percussion, in addition to polyrhythmic palmas, is often done with the feet: the zapateado, a kind of tap dance inspired by the traditional group dance called chacarera, still practiced in some Latin American countries. As percussion, castanets, a heritage of Roman antiquity, are still sometimes used, followed by wrist movement. The hands and fingers also feature highly worked and expressive figures called floreos. The dance represents a stylistic fusion between the chacarera, the artistic movement of the salon toreo, and the belly dance; it is also probably a distant source of some Indian dances, perhaps brought to Andalusia by the gypsy people, who are at the heart of the cultural construction that flamenco represents, itself an intimate part of the Spanish soul.
The French classical guitar is similar to the flamenco guitar, even if the latter is thinner, lighter and gives a clearer, metallic, brilliant and less velvety sound. The music that accompanies singing or dancing, or that plays alone, is called el toque (guitar playing mainly, although today, in new flamenco, there are also piano and other instruments). The flamenco musician is called tocaor, by dialectal andalusian deformation of the Spanish tocador (guitar player, musician). In contemporary times, percussion is often also done with the cajón, an instrument of traditional Peruvian music since the 18th century; it was brought back from Peru by Paco de Lucía.
Flamenco was registered by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity on 16 November 2010, at the initiative of the Autonomous Communities of Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia.