SEVILLE, Spain, April 17, 2006 – Grab your castanets and your dancing shoes. The Museum of Flamenco Dancing, (Museo del Baile Flamenco) has just opened in Seville in Andalusia, birthplace of this centuries-old art form. Cristina Hoyos, one of flamenco’s most acclaimed stars and the brainchild behind the new museum, founded it in her hometown in southern Spain to “spread the gospel of flamenco dance.” Conceived as a meeting place for aficionados and a dance school, visitors will be able to learn more about the history of flamenco and its “immortals” and even try their hand, or rather feet, at a zapateado.*

The $4.8 million three-story museum sits in the historic heart of Seville, between two of the city’s most striking monuments: the 14th-century Gothic cathedral and the 10th-century mudéjar-style Royal Palace. Designed for visitors as well as professionals and housed in a lovingly-restored 18th-century building, the museum will have galleries for exhibitions and offer performances, master classes and courses in dance, singing and guitar. During the day visitors can relax and enjoy a snack in the central patio. In the evening the space will be transformed into a café cantante, the 19th-century predecessor to today’s tablao, the stage where flamenco is performed.

The director and choreographer of Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía, Spain’s renowned repertory company, Cristina Hoyos has been dancing in the peñas (private clubs for aficionados) and tablaos of Spain – and in theatres throughout the world – for 38 years. For twenty years she was the first dancer of the Antonio Gaddes Company and in 1989 she formed her own dance group. Her performances in the renowned flamenco films of Carlos Saura have inspired generations of flamenco aficionados and she has been awarded the National Dance Prize, Golden Medal for Fine Arts and the Andalusia Prize for Culture.

The scents of jasmine and orange trees fill the air of this lovely city of wide avenidas, grand plazas and lush gardens. One of Spain’s most popular destinations, Seville offers splendid monuments, the picturesque Barrio Santa Cruz and plenty of places serving the region’s signature tapas. The city’s immense cathedral – bigger in volume than St. Peter’s – was begun in 1434 on the grounds of the 12th century Almohad mosque. The landmark Moorish bell tower, or famed Giralda is all that remains. The old port area, El Arenal has arguably the world’s most important bullring and a bullfighting museum. Triana, the old gypsy quarter, is still considered the spiritual heart of flamenco tradition. Seville will host the 14th Biennial de Flamenco (9/13-10/15) and will be the site of the World Fair of Flamenco (9/27-10/01).

The region’s tourism board, Turismo Andaluz is going all out to ensure that Andalusia retains its position as flamenco central. “We’ve developed five flamenco routes and visitors can attend free performances and concerts for five consecutive nights including several at the new Museum of Flamenco Dancing,” says Ana Gomez, General Director of Tourism for the region. “And throughout the year, visitors can see flamenco in theatres, tablaos and peñas in almost every city and town. Besides we have wonderful year-round sunny weather, lots of interesting cities with historic sights like Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Jaén and Málaga and charming villages in the countryside,” she explains.

The Museum of Flamenco Dancing, or Museo del Baile Flamenco, is located at 3 Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos, 41.004 Seville. Call: 011-34-954-34-03-11, fax: 011-34-954-34-03-64 or email: info@museoflamenco.com. Detailed information in Spanish about performances and classes is on www.museoflamenco.net. From April to October, the museum is open from 9 AM to 7 PM and from November to March from 9 AM to 6 PM. Admission is about $12 for adults and about $7.25 for children.

For more information about the region of Andalusia contact: the Tourist Office of Spain at 212-265-8822 or www.spain.info or go to www.andalucia.org.

(* Zapateado – Rhythmic combinations of sounds from stepping with toe, sole and heel)

Flamenco!