The sevillana is not, strictly speaking, «flamenco.» It belongs to the Andalusian repertoire; it is the traditional, folkloric dance of Seville. However, since Seville is also the cradle of flamenco, the sevillana bears an evident flamenco influence.
The origins of the sevillana remain obscure. It may have derived from the chaconne or the saraband of the 15th and 17th centuries, as well as from the seguidilla, being initially called «seguidilla sevillana» then «sevillana» for short.
In Spain, you cannot escape dancing the Sevillana. It is danced everywhere, during parties, in nightclubs, in the streets, and mostly during the “ferias” when one can admire the performances of Spanish women of all ages and social classes, impeccably dressed with their combs and mantillas, carnations in their hair and a shawl on their shoulders, dressed in magnificent polka-dotted layered dresses, parading on horses or dancing the sevillana.
A couple, several couples, in a circle, or in a group, can dance the sevillana.
Four, clearly different coplas (movements or verses) form a sevillana. They are, from the easiest to the most difficult:
At the end of the 4 coplas (verses), the couple strikes a pose, arms in the air, immobile for a few seconds. This final move, that must be clearly executed, is called the bien parado.
The sevillana is the ultimate dance of seduction: the woman advances, retreats, flirts and teases raising the hem of her dress. The bodies touch but do not meet, the eyes, however, are firmly locked into the other’s gaze. It is only during the last moves of the parado that the woman surrenders into the arms of her male partner.
The sevillana may seem, at first, less difficult than flamenco proper. It requires, nevertheless, lots of hard work in learning the rhythms (compàs) and the choreography of the 4 movements.