La Zambra from Granada, firmly rooted in the Moorish traditions of pre-reconquista Al Andalus, is timeless and has always been regarded as one of the deepest and most ancient musical forms in Spain. Over the centuries it was preserved by the Gitanos (Gypsies) in the Sacromonte Caves opposite the Alhambra in Granada. It achieved great popularity in the fifties and sixties when the famous Gypsy Cantaor Manolo Caracol included it in his shows with Lola Flores that played to a worldwide audience.
This first clip is an imaginative recreation of the original Moorish dance. The dance is based around slow, tango rhythms and the percussion is provided on a hand held bass drum (pandero), tambourines (sonajas) and the bells sewn into the dancer’s dress. Halfway through she is joined by a Bailaora and the fusion of the two cultures is shown.
Here is a short clip from a film with Manolo Caracol and Lola Flores dancing the well known Zambra “La Salvaora“
The Zambra is now part of the repertoire of most modern dancers of Classical Danza Española. Sara Baras is one of the best known and here is her choreographed version of the dance from one of her recent shows with her dance troupe.
Fortunately the Flamenco side of things is in very good hands. Estrella Morente has followed her father Enrique’s lead in preserving and popularising less well known forms. Here she sings and dances a true Granada Gypsy Zambra in the truest Sacromonte style.
And here’s an added bonus for the guitarists among you. A step by step lesson in (Andalusian) English on how to play La Zambra from the Maestro Juan Serrano.
Next week: Regional variations.