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 ...
In 1998 I traveled to Spain to study flamenco. My plan was simple (and not very well thought out): Travel around, settle somewhere in Andalucía, find flamenco classes, find work. I had no contacts in Spain, no leads on where to study or work. I didn’t even know what city I was going to live in.
I just knew that if I wanted to learn flamenco I needed to go to Spain.
Today I'll tell you about finding flamenco in Sevilla, what it taught me about perseverance, and how it can help you.
I didn't plan much before I left for Spain. In part because I wanted to get a feel for the different cities before choosing where to settle. In part because thinking it through felt too overwhelming, and the more I thought about the details, the more I thought about changing my mind and staying put. I spoke Spanish, I had a strong desire to learn, I had saved enough money to hold me over for awhile, I felt ready for an adventure, and I knew I could figure things out once I arrived.
You already know about the two main settings for flamenco.
Today I want to discuss the five main elements of flamenco,
I’ve chosen to share one video and discuss the five main elements of flamenco within it.
Let’s take a closer look:
Me and the bata de cola.
You could say that there’s really no excuse for me not being able to dance well with the bata.
Because I’ve had several experiences, various opportunities to learn.
I'll tell you about a one of my favorites today, and after the story, I'll tell you why you should study the bata even if you don't ever want to dance with it, and I'll share with you another bata need-to-know.
A [very] brief history of my bata experiences
You know about the first,
People are often asking me about my how I got started with flamenco, about my first experiences. And awhile back I told you I’d tell you some stories from that first year in Spain. So I’m going to tell you a story from that time today. At the end of the story you’ll find a tip on dancing with the bata de cola, it's an essential, and you can work on it anywhere, in the bathroom, in the bedroom ...
But first, Spain
Telling you about my first year in Spain means I have to talk about Matilde Coral.
Porque es una figura.
I didn’t know it then, but my exposure to Matilde and her way of dancing would end up being kind of huge for me. Yesterday I had a big realization about the significance of her academy having been the first flamenco school I was sent to in Sevilla.
Last night Mercedes danced in a way that was basically unbelievable. To be expected, as it’s her usual way. We already know that she eats, sleeps, and drinks flamenco.
But last night was even more unbelievable than normal.
So today we begin with a new round of interviews with Mercedes Ruíz. In today's interview, Mercedes talks about the longest amount of time she's gone without dancing, how she interprets a letra, and shares who some of her favorite flamenco of today dancers are.
I found this letra in the Antología del Baile Flamenco. (Gracias, Angel por haberme regalado este libro.) It was written for Matilde Coral. She was one of my first teachers.
I really ought to tell you about my first encounter with her. In Triana, on La Calle Castilla, at her academy.
I had no idea who she was, other than that she was a flamenco dancer, when I went to see her. We met in her office.
She had a lot to say,
but I only understood bits and pieces.
That's kind of how it was that whole first year in Spain. Most of the time I only partially understood people. I did however understand what Matilde wanted me to do. And I did not want to do it. In fact, I refused to.
But, I'm not going to tell you about that today...
For today, just this letra and a video of Matilde Coral dancing alegrías
A Matilde Coral
Daniel Pineda Novo