Dancing to the cante. It is what every dancer from Jerez does, professional or non.
It is the dancer conversing with the singer.
I'll give you some ideas on how you too can do this in just a minute (along with an invitation to a FREE cante class with José 'El Mijita').
But first, here is what dancing to the cante (singing) looks like:
That's José 'El Mijita' singing for Carmen Herrera.
You can see another great example of dancing to the cante here.
In order to dance to the cante,
You must become familiar with the letras (song verses) and engage with the singer when dancing.
To gain familiarity with the letras:
1. Listen a lot.
2. Take a cante class, and study the letras.
To engage with the singer when dancing:
1. Observe what other good dancers do. (Hint: Notice the way Carmen responds to José in the video above.)
2. Connect with the singer by looking at and listening to him (or her) while you're dancing.
Learning to dance to the cante takes time and requires a lot practice.
Naturally, the more you do it, the easier it becomes!
If you don't have any cante to practice to where you are, you could join me on the Flamenco Tour where you'll be given LOTS of opportunities to practice this skill. And don't forget, the more you observe how others do this, the better; so definitely watch the video links in this post, and have fun exploring YouTube for other examples.
Studying the Cante
On the past two Flamenco Tours to Jerez we've added a flamenco singing class with José 'El Mijita.'
José sings in the style of La Plazuela, El Barrio de San Miguel. (That's where we stay!)
He comes from a long line of flamencos. (His father was 'El Mijita')
You can see José singing with his father and his brother here. Mind you, this took place during the last Flamenco Tour at Peña La Bulería after Los Zambos had performed. (You can see a snippet of that show here.) The following Monday when I saw Zorri in bulerías class he informed me that I had missed a great fiesta as I had chosen to go home and sleep rather than wait to see if something happened. Anyway, watch the end of the video where Carmen dances a bulerías that is not to be missed.
But back to the cante classes with José,
There is always a lot of laughter. And quite a bit of shyness. Even those who do not speak Spanish and have little flamenco experience happily give it a whirl.
Perhaps you should too . . .
A Free Cante Class For You
I am offering the next three people who sign up for the October Flamenco Tour to Jerez a free class with José. (Don't worry, I'll be there too, and so will Carmen who does a great job of explaining anything and everything about what is going on and how what he sings relates to the baile.)
Why do we study the cante?
Well, for the reasons mentioned above, of course. We also do it to expand our understanding of flamenco as a whole. To better comprehend the language of flamenco. To become better dancers. To learn something new. And, of course, we do it to have fun.
In Jerez people listen to the singing, and they dance to the singing. The more we understand the singing and the letras, the better able we are to dance.
How do you experience the cante while dancing?
Do you pay attention to the singer or is this new to you? What do you notice Carmen doing in the video above that indicates her engagement with the singer? Have you ever taken a cante class? What was it like? Let me know below in the comments.