Dancing flamenco is never just about the dancing (unless there is no music). It is a conversation between the dancer and the musicians. As dancers we need to hear where the changes and resolutions are in the music (especially the cante) so that we can respond with our dancing. Below find an activity that you can do from home to train your ear to dance with the cante.

And speaking of cante, we worked with the following letra during the Flamenco Retreat at the Oregon Coast last weekend. (See some pictures below). We looked at where the cante resolved then put in remates with palmas and later baile to reflect that. Watch María Toledo sing it por tangos and Marina García sing it por bulerías below:

Tangos (& Bulerías)

No me pegues bocaítos
que tú me haces cardenales
y cuando yo voy a mi casa
a mí me los nota mi madre

Don't bite me
for you give me hickeys
and when I go to my house
my mother can tell

Watch María Toledo sing it below at 5 minutes 30 seconds in. 

As we've learned, letras are versatile and changing. This is how Marina García sings it por bulerías below:

Que no me pegues bocaítos
Que tú me haces cardenales
Cuando voy a mi casa
A mí me los nota mi padre 

You can watch Rocío Segura sing it here about five minutes in, and you can hear Niña Pastori sing it por bulerías here.

An Activity To Train Your Ear:

During the Flamenco Retreat we took some moves (marcajes and remates) from a longer choreography we were studying and adapted them to dance to this letra por tangos. In order to dance well with the cante we need to understand where the caídas fall. In other words, we need to hear where the changes and resolutions are so that we can reflect those changes with our movements and sounds.

So, let's train the ear:

In both videos above the musical instruments can help us to hear the caídas (resolutions) in the cante as they change how they play based on the singing. Using the guitar and/or percussion as guides, we will respond with our palmas. Being able to respond with palmas will help us to respond with our dancing later on.

  1. Go back and listen to María Toledo sing the letra in the first video. Play along with palmas. When you hear the percussion and guitar accent or stop, reflect that with your palmas by doing a remate.

  2. Now go back and listen to Marina García sing it in the second video. Again, play palmas along with the music. When you hear the guitarist change how he plays, do a remate with your palmas.

Hearing the caída is step one. Marking it with palmas is step two. Reflecting it in your dancing is step three. (I'll address how to do this in the bulerías and tangos workshops coming up in July.)

And now, here are some pictures from the Flamenco Retreat at the Oregon Coast:

(This letra was originally posted here many years ago.)

You MIght Also Enjoy:

Fifty Life Lessons From Flamenco

Tangos de Granada

Different Palos, One Letra

EDIT: I changed the second line to “hickeys” from “bruises” (See comments below.)