Last week in preparation for my show, I practiced improvising more than usual as I wasn’t sure just what Alfonso would be singing for me.

I wanted to help myself to feel comfortable in the moment, in the compás, and to increase the chances that I wouldn’t just do the same thing over and over again.

Did I improvise during that show?

Yes, a lot. (See below for more on this.)

This is something I could stand to practice daily.

You too?

Following today’s bulerías letra and video of Rancapino Chico I’ll guide you through an activity to enhance your improvisation skills and train your ear.

Bulerías

Cuando te veo por las calles
tú no me agaches la cabeza
cuando te miro a los ojos
tú no me mires con tristeza
yo sé lo que a ti te pasa
llévalo tú con paciencia

When I see you on the street
don’t bow your head
when I look you in the eye
don’t look back with sadness
I know what’s going on with you
have patience

You can hear Rancapino Chico sing this one at about 7:45 in the video:

A Dance From Home Activity for You:

All you need is a little bit of space and the ability to play this video clip. There’s no need to put on your flamenco shoes.

  1. Stand up and play the above video.

  2. Dance (for part or all of the clip). Notice how your body does or doesn't respond to the caídas in the cante.

  3. Now go just to today’s letra, about 7 minutes 45 seconds in.

  4. Dance to this letra.

  5. Sit down and play the letra again. Notice the remates, the caídas, notice the spaces, and think about how you'd like to dance with all of that in mind.

  6. Get up and dance to it again.

  7. Repeat as many times as you'd like.

I find it is more challenging to hear the caídas in this letra and most others that he sings in the video, making this a really good bulerías to practice to. It keeps me on my toes, and it familiarizes me with different types of letras.

If you would like to practice to a more traditional sounding letra, I recommend this one.

Improvisation Reflections:

At last weekend’s show there were moments of improvisation during every single piece I danced.

There was a lot more improvisation during my solo than I had thought I would feel comfortable with, but it ended up being so. much. fun. Listening to the music, responding, connecting with the musicians, the audience, and basking in the moment.

During the guajiras I danced with Melinda there ended up being a good deal of improvisation too. I didn’t feel as good about that one and know I could have done more interesting things at certain parts, but it wasn’t horrible, people still enjoyed it, and I still had fun. It makes sense because I practiced my solo a lot more and tired out more options even though in some moments of improvisation things I’d never practiced surfaced. I think this was because I was better prepared overall and felt more relaxed because of this.

The fin de fiesta was, naturally, completely improvised. A couple of students from the audience came up and joined us. I LOVED watching them. Everybody did. (I always want the fin de fiesta to continue after the show is over. Don’t you?)

About this letra:

I don’t know if this is a traditional verse or if the author is known. If you have any information about this letra, please share with me in the comments below.

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