I Climbed The High Mountain (I Actually Did) | The Weekly Letra

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I Climbed The High Mountain (I Actually Did) | The Weekly Letra

This week's letra made me think of an experience I had years ago which has nothing to do with flamenco. It has to do with dishonesty and fear. It started with a question, which led to a lie, which in turn led to facing a fear. The facing fear part actually helped prepare me for flamenco where I'm forced to confront my fears over and over again. To my surprise, all of the practice meeting my fears in flamenco has only made it easier to do so in life outside of the dance.

More on that in a minute, but first let's take a look at the letra and watch a video of Mercedes Ruíz, our teacher on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez, dancing caña, all in red, with bata and mantón. 

Caña
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Subí a la alta montaña
buscando leña pa’ el fuego
como no la encontraba
al valle bajé de nuevo

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The Two Biggest Flamenco Hand Movement Mistakes & How To Fix Them

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The Two Biggest Flamenco Hand Movement Mistakes & How To Fix Them

Have you given any thought to what you want to get out of your flamenco experience this year? If it has to do with making your hands look better, read on, for today I'll tell you about two common mistakes I see with flamenco hand movements and how to fix them. I'll also show you a video of Mercedes Ruíz, our teacher on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez, demonstrating how to move the hands correctly.

Sometimes we get so focused on learning the steps that we neglect details like hand movements. “I’ll get to it later,” we say. We may think we don't have time, that it’s not that important, or find it boring. 

But practicing 'manos'  is a must for every flamenco dancer

The good news is that there is not one right way to move the hands. Like other stylistic elements of flamenco dance, there is plenty of room for individuality in this area. Watch a few video clips of different professional dancers, and you'll see how personal hand and finger movements tend to be. Matilde Coral reminds her students to make their hands look like doves, Mercedes reminds us to open and use every finger

While there may not be one right way to move the hands, there are wrong ways ... 

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How To Attain Flamenco Success in the New Year

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How To Attain Flamenco Success in the New Year

Want to amp up your flamenco progress in 2018?

Here’s a two part formula to get you going:

Part One: Reflection

“The more reflective you are, the more effective you are,” Hall & Simeral

Consider the past year in flamenco, and ask yourself:

  • What kind of flamenco activities did I participate in last year? 
  • Through which experiences did I grow the most?
  • Which experiences were the most fun?
  • What’s one thing that didn’t go the way I wanted it to, and what can I learn from that?

And...

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Bonus Cuplé (Part 6) | The Weekly Letra

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Bonus Cuplé (Part 6) | The Weekly Letra

Today I wrap up the flamenco cuplé series with a bonus post, one more song, and a few more videos:

Un Compromiso
Alfredo García Segura y Gregorio García Segura 

Sin firmar un documento,
ni mediar un previo aviso, 
sin hablarnos, ni mirarnos
ha nacío un compromiso. 

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Bulerías de Manuel Moneo | The Weekly Letra

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Bulerías de Manuel Moneo | The Weekly Letra

Flamenco singer Manuel Moneo passed away earlier this week. 

The huge mural of him that you see in the picture above was steps away from where we study bulerí­as on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez in the historic flamenco neighborhood of San Miguel. (You can see a video on the making of the mural below.)

Manuel was known for his siguiriyas and soleá. Here you can watch him singing martinete in Carlos Saura's movie, Flamenco.

To sing flamenco well one needs to be able to feel and to love,

~ Manuel Moneo

He talks about this concept in the video interview below where you'll not only hear some of his story but also learn about the importance of el Barrio San Miguel, La Plazuela, to flamenco. 

But first, let's listen to him sing por bulerías (con mucho arte). Here is one of the letras you'll hear:

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How To Dance to a Cuplé (Part 5) | The Weekly Letra

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How To Dance to a Cuplé (Part 5) | The Weekly Letra

You've heard many examples of different artists singing cuplés in the previous four posts. Now it's time to see how one dances to a cuplé, and I've got one of the best possible examples for you, Carmen Herrera. Following the video I'll talk about how to dance bulerías to a cuplé then share one of the songs you'll hear and its translation.

Let's begin by watching Carmen as she dances to the singing of father and sons Alfonso Carpio "Mijita," Alfonso Carpio "Mijita Hijo," and José Carpio "Mijita." They are at a juerga at Peña de la Bulería in Jerez. The video is queued to begin where Carmen starts dancing at 4 minutes 30 seconds (though I'm pretty sure you'll want to go back and watch the whole thing at some point.) Today's song begins about five minutes in. The guys share in the singing, and it's kind of impossible not to get excited watching the interplay between them. 

While you watch, notice how Carmen's dancing changes as the song progresses. Notice how she reacts to her three singers and where she puts her remates. Notice when she brings the energy up ...

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The Juerga Cuplé (Part 4) | The Weekly Letra

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The Juerga Cuplé (Part 4) | The Weekly Letra

Today I share with you a video of Manuel Lombo doing his thing at a juerga in Spain. While the previous posts in the flamenco cuplé series have featured more polished videos, this one is completely raw. Not only in its quality but in the nature of the singing. It takes place at a juerga, spontaneous and natural. Manuel begins singing letras then moves to cuplés, with plenty of dancing in-between. He is backed by a chorus of jaleos and palmas that help us to feel the energy in the room. 

But before we watch anything, here are the words to the final song, written by Mexican composer and songwriter Álvaro Carrillo. I love the part of the video where Manuel sings this song. From the collective olés upon hearing his first line, to the crowd joining him in singing at the end to the part where he dances himself off ... 

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The Flamenco Cuplé (Part 3) | The Weekly Letra

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The Flamenco Cuplé (Part 3) | The Weekly Letra

You've now learned what a cuplé por bulerías is, you've seen the transformation of popular song to cuplé, and today I want to show you one more example. It's Adela la Chaqueta's interpretation of Voy a Perder La Cabeza Por Tu Amor. (I know you'll enjoy her opening and closing dance moves, and if dancing is your thing, stick around because the next two posts will have plenty of that.) 

Voy a Perder La Cabeza Por Tu Amor
Manuel Alejandro (music) /Ana Magdalena (lyrics)

Voy a perder la cabeza por tu amor
porque tú eres agua, porque yo soy fuego
y no nos comprendemos.

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From Copla to Cuplé (Part 2) | The Weekly Letra

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From Copla to Cuplé (Part 2) | The Weekly Letra

For this second installment of the flamenco cuplé series, I want to show you the transformation of a song from its original form into a cuplé por bulerías. So here is a song famously interpreted by Rocío Jurado. First watch her sing it directly to Lola Flores (watch it all the way through to see what happens between the two of them at the end) then see how Fernanda de Utrera adapts it as a cuplé por bulerías.

Se Nos Rompió El Amor
Maria Alejandra Alvarez-Beigbeder Casas / Manuel Alvarez-Beigbeder Perez

Se nos rompió el amor
de tanto usarlo. 

De tanto loco abrazo
sin medida. 

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What's a Cuplé? (Part 1) | The Weekly Letra

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What's a Cuplé? (Part 1) | The Weekly Letra

In the first installment of the flamenco cuplé series I'll explain what a cuplé is and show you a video example. But let's begin by looking at this one that Ani sang one day during bulerías class on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. It was so pretty, so I asked her to tell me the words:

¿Quién se ha llevao mi amor?
¿Quién me ha dejao sin nada?
¿Quién se ha llevao todo el sol
que entraba por mi ventana?

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I'm Like An Open Book | The Weekly Letra

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I'm Like An Open Book | The Weekly Letra

Here's a caña letra for you followed by a video of Jesús Carmona (who is coming to Portland in the spring for a show and workshops) dancing.

Caña
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Yo soy como un libro abierto
todo el mundo puede leerme
tú siempre me estás leyendo
pero no has llegado a comprenderme

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My Heart Shook Inside My Soul | The Weekly Letra

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My Heart Shook Inside My Soul | The Weekly Letra

One more Canastera for you to watch, María Terremoto. I can't stop listening to it, especially this coletilla she frames everything with (From Paco de Lucia's Almonte ... I love this chorus so much that I've included two other video versions following hers for you to check out.)

En la marisma con la candela viene el romero
Cantan por Huelva y a la Pastora
los almonteños
y el corazón se me estremeció en el alma

cogí la manta la eche en el suelo

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What Life Is Like For A Dancer on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez Part Two

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What Life Is Like For A Dancer on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez Part Two

After a full week in Jerez flamenco no longer simply surrounds us; it lives inside of us. Sounds from our dances play on repeat in our heads. We unintentionally walk up the steps in compás, the rhythms from class guiding us. We find ourselves dancing bulerías in our sleep. There’s no escaping it,

We are definitely in the midst of a flamenco immersion…

That’s what life was feeling like a week into the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. I’m now back home in Portland, and Jerez feels worlds away. Here’s a summary of the second week of our trip. 

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Do You Wonder What Life is Like for a Dancer on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez?

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Do You Wonder What Life is Like for a Dancer on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez?

Flamenco is everywhere here in Jerez, in our classes, at the peñas and bars, and, then of course there's the spontaneous and casual flamenco that is a part of every day life here in Jerez. We see it as we walk past the bars and even as people greet each other on the street with palmas and a song. Olé. We can't get away from flamenco. We hear it as we walk to our rooms; we dance it in our sleep. (I've been doing steps and hearing sounds in my dreams which I know is a good thing.)  Flamenco, flamenco, and more flamenco. 

We are one week in to the Fall Flamenco Tour to Jerez, and I can hardly believe it. So much has happened and there is still so much more in store! People often ask me what happens during the Flamenco Tour, so below you can read about the first week of the fall tour, see photos, and even watch a video from one of the peña shows . . .

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Be Careful | The Weekly Letra

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Be Careful | The Weekly Letra

Today's letra(s) comes from Cuatro Soneto de Amor by Rafael de León. This is the second part, which you can see Mayte Martín sing live (Ten Cuidao) in the video below.

Me avisaron a tiempo: ten cuidado,
mira que miente más que parpadea,
que no le va a tu modo su ralea,
que es de lo peorcito del mercado.

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Válgame Dios | The Weekly Letra

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Válgame Dios | The Weekly Letra

I've got a whole song for you today along with a video of Niña Pastori and Falete singing it.

Válgame Dios
J. Jimenez "Chaboli" / M. Rosa García "Niña Pastori" 

Y es la verdad
Querer así es un pecao
Válgame Dios
Que me perdone el santo Padre pero yo
No sé vivir si no te tengo ya a mi vera
Y es la verdad
Que quererte más no puedo
Y el pensarlo me da miedo
Tú no te vayas ya a equivocar
Y es que es tanto lo que te quiero
Que no lo podría aguantar

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