Here’s a peek at what happened during week two of the Flamenco Tour to Jerez …
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José 'El Mijita'
Dancing to the cante. It is what every dancer from Jerez does, professional or non.
It is the dancer conversing with the singer.
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.)
It is a mouthful.
Not. easy. to. sing.
Getting all of the words in the last line out of your mouth, number one, in compás, number two, while playing palmas, number three, and following the melody, number four.
Like I said, not easy to do. But we sure had fun trying.
See for yourself in the following video snippets
On the past two Flamenco Tours to Jerez we've had a cante class with José 'El Mijita.' Exciting, Scaaaary, and FUN! You can see video of that at the end of the post.
Above is one of his favorite letras to sing por bulerías; it's one we worked on in the classes.
Why do we study the cante?
We do it to expand our understanding of flamenco as a whole. Because as we know, the dance does not exist on its own. We do it to broaden our understanding of the language of flamenco. To learn new things. And, of course, to have fun...
During the class last spring Lily, one of the students, held onto Héctor Raúl for the duration of the class. She wasn't quite sure why, but I'm pretty positive it was a subconscious act done for support.
Because this experience took people out of their comfort zones.
I am in Sevilla where the bells of the catederál keep ringing and the birds keep singing. That was not meant to rhyme, it just did. In Jerez there were lots of birds but not so many bells. And speaking of Jerez, last Saturday we went to hear José Carpio, "El Mijita," sing at a new little bar called Zoniquete. I mean it when I say that the place was small.
It was verdaderamente íntimo.
We were on our way home from dinner. Still on a high after our private show with Mercedes, Santiago Lara, and David Lagos earlier that evening. Everyone was sleepy from the classes, the shows, from everything. We could have gone home. And some did. But Cherie, Frieda, Stefani, and I decided to stop by the bar to see if anything was happening yet.
It was only 10:00, and there was nothing going on. Except that the performers were there. So we got something to drink and waited. The show was supposedly set to start at 10:30. Of course we knew it wouldn't start until well after. Still, I figured I'd ask when the singing would begin.
Cuando llega la gente.
"When people get here."