Possible origins of the bata de cola

Origens of the bata de cola

The female flamenco dancer's form elongated by the bata de cola is one of the most emblematic images of flamenco dance.  

To mark the addition of our new technique class for the bata de cola (now available for all deFB members) we thought it might be fun to explore the history of the bata de cola in flamenco dance.

Possible origins of the bata de cola

Of course when it comes to the history of anything to do with flamenco dance there aren’t many definitive sources of information.

The following is what I have been able to glean from online research but unfortunately there isn’t much to be found.

According to Matilde Coral the bata de cola possibly originated from the dresses worn to parties by women in the 19th Century. They carried the skirt picked up to one side and then let it go when they reached a clean area.

The picking up of the skirt and then lowering it again is one of the first movements that became incorporated into flamenco dance.

She also states that the first batas de cola to be worn [on the stage] at the beginning of the 20th century were by Malena and La Macarrona.

Following written clues

In this article (written in Spanish) the author describes two characters of a sainete from the late 18th century who are to be married and borrow the gown and suit that they would never be able to afford from local nobility for the celebration.

Grands Magasins Pygmalion, Catalogue Saison D'ete 1879 | Formal outfit (as shown by the lady holding a folding fan) with a relatively long train.

Grands Magasins Pygmalion, Catalogue Saison D'ete 1879 | Formal outfit (as shown by the lady holding a folding fan) with a relatively long train.

The author also shares an account, published in Paris in 1862, from a French traveller to Spain who describes seeing the local majos and majas renting special clothes ‘in the style of Paris’ to spend the day at the Fiesta de Torrijos.

The supposition is that in the same way that the young couple for their wedding and the ladies who rent dresses for the fiesta want to change their appearance to cause admiration from those around them, the flamenco dancers would also have chosen these robes to try and stand out on the stage and in the art world of the time.

Once this fashionable style made it’s way from the fiestas to the stage the work began to discover how to dance with this majestic garment.