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bulerías tips

How To Dance to a Cuplé (Part 5) | The Weekly Letra

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How To Dance to a Cuplé (Part 5) | The Weekly Letra

You've heard many examples of different artists singing cuplés in the previous four posts. Now it's time to see how one dances to a cuplé, and I've got one of the best possible examples for you, Carmen Herrera. Following the video I'll talk about how to dance bulerías to a cuplé then share one of the songs you'll hear and its translation.

Let's begin by watching Carmen as she dances to the singing of father and sons Alfonso Carpio "Mijita," Alfonso Carpio "Mijita Hijo," and José Carpio "Mijita." They are at a juerga at Peña de la Bulería in Jerez. The video is queued to begin where Carmen starts dancing at 4 minutes 30 seconds (though I'm pretty sure you'll want to go back and watch the whole thing at some point.) Today's song begins about five minutes in. The guys share in the singing, and it's kind of impossible not to get excited watching the interplay between them. 

While you watch, notice how Carmen's dancing changes as the song progresses. Notice how she reacts to her three singers and where she puts her remates. Notice when she brings the energy up ...

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The Ultimate Bulerías Goal | The Weekly Letra

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The Ultimate Bulerías Goal | The Weekly Letra

The moon is almost full, so I've included a lunar themed letra for you. (Though this one would make more sense on a new moon...) And since yesterday's video analysis was a hit, I decided to do another. Below you'll find a video of Beatríz Morales dancing to today's letra and giving many clear examples of what it looks like to dance to the cante along with my description of where each component of the structure occurs within her dance. Check it out, and find out what the ultimate bulerías goal is.

Bulerías

Esta noche la luna a mí no me acompaña
Me voy solo pa' casa
No espero al alba
La luna se ha enfadado por no llevarla
anoche a la verbena de Santa Ana
No me enfades luna, tú no me enfades.

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Bulerías Made Simple [The Structure of a Bulerías Dance & How It Relates to the Cante]

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Bulerías Made Simple [The Structure of a Bulerías Dance & How It Relates to the Cante]

Bulerías is arguably one of the hardest flamenco forms to dance due to it's improvisational nature, complex rhythm, and nuanced cante. But dancing bulerías is less mysterious than you may think. Once you understand the components of the dance and how they relate to the music (the singing and the compás) you'll be well on your way to obtaining bulerías freedom.

Below l explain the basic bulerías por fiesta structure and how it relates to the cante. After that you'll find a video of Pastora Galván along with an analysis describing where she dances each component of the structure. Finally I give you an activity to help you internalize the information.

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Four Steps To Making a Flamenco New Year's Resolution Happen

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Four Steps To Making a Flamenco New Year's Resolution Happen

Happy New Year!

Did you know that people are more likely to follow through with a commitment to change set at the onset of the new year than at other times of the year?

In light of that, let’s talk flamenco new year’s resolutions. Below I’ll guide you through a three step process to putting a flamenco new year’s resolution into place for 2017. 

But first, let’s reflect briefly on 2016. 

  1. How has your flamenco improved during the last year? Write down or make a mental note of all of the ways you progressed over past year.
  2. How did you make that happen? Review your list, and consider what accounted for each improvement. What actions did you take to get better? (Remember those; you might use them in step two below.)
  3. Congratulations! 

Now it’s time to look toward the new year and start thinking about flamenco new year’s resolutions.

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Practice Bulerías With This (Video) | The Weekly Letra

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Practice Bulerías With This (Video) | The Weekly Letra

If you like exploring how letras can vary, if you're looking to practice bulerías to cante at a comfortable speed, or if you just want to get better at bulerías, then consider today's post a treat. You'll find a video with examples of one letra interpreted in two different ways along with a short activity to help you train your ear and get better at improvising.

First, the letra:

Bulerías
Popular

El sitio donde te hablé
ganas me dan de volverme
y sentarme un ratito en él

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Dance Bulerías With Greater Ease (One Important Concept to Help You)  | The Weekly Letra

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Dance Bulerías With Greater Ease (One Important Concept to Help You) | The Weekly Letra

After today's letra you'll find that video I promised you of Mercedes Ruíz dancing at this year's Fiesta de la Bulería (and really getting into it) followed by an explanation of what's happening at the end between the dancer (Mercedes) and the singer (David Carpio) along with an important concept to understand that can help you when dancing bulerías por fiesta by yourself. (I've also included a short activity for you to do at the end.)

Bulerías
Popular

No sé por qué será
me duelen más que las mías
las penas de los demás

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How I Messed Up Dancing Bulerías, What I Learned & How it Can Help You | The Weekly Letra

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How I Messed Up Dancing Bulerías, What I Learned & How it Can Help You | The Weekly Letra

I want to share a story with you about how I messed up dancing bulerías last weekend, how it left me feeling not so happy about my dancing, eight important lessons about flamenco (and life) I learned in the process, and how those lessons served me when I applied them to a sticky situation in my life.

So last weekend I took a workshop with Alfonso Cid. He shared bunches of bulerías letras with us (you'll find one below) and gave a very informative introduction to flamenco, with a focus on cante. He had us all singing and doing palmas and even got some of us up dancing.

Toward the end of the workshop someone asked Alfonso to address how to dance bulerías por fiesta, how to dance to the cante. (As you know, this is one of my favorite things.)

Yay! (and Olé).

Some people got up to dance, mess up or not mess up, and learn along the way. 

I was one of those people.

And here is what I learned:

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Two Take-Aways from Two Days of Class in Jerez

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Two Take-Aways from Two Days of Class in Jerez

I've got two flamenco learning tips to share with you today. One from Mercedes and one from Ani. We're on day two of Flamenco Tour classes, and the classes have been going like this:

Technique with Mercedes in the morning. Bulerías with Ani right after. Then choreography and castanets with Mercedes after lunch and siesta. 

Everybody loves Mercedes. Everybody loves Ani. All is well.

Class with Mercedes

The ladies go in and out of concentrating on the steps and being mesmerized by Mercedes and her magnificence.

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How to Dance to the Cante

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How to Dance to the Cante

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.)

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How to Improvise in Por Fiesta Flamenco Dances

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How to Improvise in Por Fiesta Flamenco Dances

Improvisation in flamenco. It's not as tricky as you may think.

Today I explain how to improvise in fiesta style flamenco dances.

The truth is, if you follow certain principles, you can improvise no matter what your level. So if you think you're not ready to do this, think again, and read on to find out how.

Improvisation Por Fiesta

In order to 'improvise' when dancing bulerías and tangos, you must understand the structure. And in order to truly have a conversation with the singer and the other musicians, you need to do a bit of improvising. Since flamenco is a conversation between the singer, dancer, guitarist, and palmeros, improvisation is an important skill to develop.

(Plus it's fun.)

But don’t worry,

Improvising por fiesta is not making up a dance from scratch as you go.

It is not coming up with brand new moves in the moment.

It’s actually much easier than that (as long as you know the structure).

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3 Essential Elements for Learning to Dance Por Fiesta

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3 Essential Elements for Learning to Dance Por Fiesta

This week I learned about daylilies. And as it turns out the process I went through in learning about this flower led me to a mini-formula that is perfect for learning to dance por fiesta palos like bulerías. (I'll share that with you in a moment.)

But first, my lesson on daylilies

On Monday morning Stefani and I were on a walk when we happened upon bunches and bunches of bright golden daylilies. I’ve been noticing them everywhere this summer, including in my garden. I did not know what these flowers were called, and I’d never bothered to find out. I didn’t even bother to notice that their petals and shape look very much like ‘regular’ lilies. I guess because their colors, golden, yellow, red, orange, peach . . . are so distinct.

“I have those flowers in my garden,” I said to Stefani, “I cut some and put them in a vase, and the next day they were dead.”

“Well yeah, those are daylilies,” she responded. “They only live for a day.”

And this is how I came to learn why the ones in my vase at home had lasted, well, one day.

She proceeded to tell me more about the flower, information I won’t bother sharing with you because learning about flowers is not the point of this story.

(I’m getting to the point.)

Before I became aware of their name and the whole one day of life thing, I had already decided that I was not going to go around cutting more of these flowers and putting them in vases inside my house. Before Stefani told me about their life span, I had discovered on my own through trial and error that these flowers would be better enjoyed in the garden.

For the time being at least . . .

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Part 2: How to Simplify Your Bulerías (And Your Life)

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Part 2: How to Simplify Your Bulerías (And Your Life)

This is a story about how doing less in bulerías can serve us well. It's the follow up to the previous post on observation. Read on, and find out how to simplify your bulerías and perhaps even your life a bit too.November 2013, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

She said she was going to show them how to dance on a losa.

Pequeña,

Y por fiesta.

Small,

And party style.

It was Ani who said that. Ana María López. She said it on a Monday morning in Jerez.

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Part 1: Four Dance Tips Learned from Monday Morning Observations

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Part 1: Four Dance Tips Learned from Monday Morning Observations

A story on the value of observation from a past Flamenco Tour (followed by four bulerías take-aways):

Sunday night I was writing

About flamenco and Jerez and what I'm doing here and what I want to learn here.

And I set some intentions for the week.

I had a few.

One was to Observe

To observe people dancing bulerías. Especially people whose dancing I liked. In class and out. Anywhere and everywhere.

To watch them, really watch them. And to notice what was happening.

To notice how they responded to the cante.

To notice how they danced with the compás.

To notice when they did what they did.

To notice the things I liked.

To notice the things that worked.

Maybe even to notice the things I didn't like.

And to notice the things that didn't work.

On Monday morning I went to bulerías class

That was the day Ani taught the ladies about dancing on a floor tile. I'll tell you about that in the next post.

It was also the day she read my mind.

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Three Things to Remember When Dancing Bulerías

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Three Things to Remember When Dancing Bulerías

I have some more bulerías advice from Ani for you about feeling good today. But first,

Let's talk briefly about steps

Because you learn a lot of steps in in bulerías class.

You could say they are just steps.

To play with.

To practice.

To try out.

To hold on to. (Or to let go of.)

They can even be thought of as tools for understanding how the conversation works.

But going back to the liking them thing...

One day in Jerez

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Bulerías de Jerez in Jerez

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Bulerías de Jerez in Jerez

Bulerías doesn’t exist anywhere as it does in Jerez.

It’s just its own thing there

And that's that.

That's why they call it Bulerías de Jerez.

I'm not saying you have to be in Jerez to do bulerías or anything like that.

Not at all.

You can find and do bulerías all over the place.

Nor am I saying you have to be from Jerez to do awesome bulerías.

Not at all.

(Many of you know how Ricardo first got me with his bulerías back in 2006. )

But, anyway, bulerías de Jerez, in Jerez

In Jerez you hear bulerías all over the place.

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How to Use Bulerías to Strengthen Your Trust

Today in Part Two of the Trust & Flamenco Series I share with you how I use bulerías to strengthen my intuition. It's actually not all that difficult.

Because bulerías invites me to trust.

To trust me.

I don't always accept the invitation, but when I do bulerías becomes my teacher.

It teaches me to listen to and honor that instinct that talks to me. To follow it instead of questioning it. Questioning it gets me into trouble, I tend to question, but following it leads me to good and truth.

Trust is something I’ve been working on for quite some time.

And I’m not talking about trusting others,

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Five Things You Need to Know About Dancing Bulerías  

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Five Things You Need to Know About Dancing Bulerías  

Bulerías.

It is the thing that everyone dances, even the guitarists and the singers.

It is the thing that, besides Mercedes, keeps calling me back to Jerez.

It is where we really let our personalities show.

It is SO MUCH FUN.

But there are certain must-knows for doing this dance.

Perhaps the first is that we all need to do it.  I'm not joking about that.

You can’t do flamenco and NOT do bulerías, even though I used to think you could.

It is not easy.

We know that.

So let's look at five essentials, five things we need to know in order to dance bulerías:

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How Bulerías Helps Me Learn How to Learn

So, I've been talking a lot about bulerías over the past several days.  I guess because there is a lot to say, and today shall be no different. For me, doing bulerías is kind of like taking a happy pill.  Simply put, it makes me feel good.  Even when I do it for just five seconds, a quick remate out of the blue, a moment of palmas, stuff like that.

Playfulness.  Perhaps this has something to do with my obsession.  Bulerías is about having a good time.  Who doesn't want this?  And let’s face it, it’s much more fun to watch someone dancing who is having a good time with it.  The energy is contagious, if we’re open to it.  I wonder, if we aren’t enjoying ourselves, are we even really doing bulerías?

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A Few Cositas About Bulerías

Ok, so getting back to bulerías... I already told you about how I happened to get hooked on bulerías.  And there are many stories to go along with that.  Both Happy Tales (like seeing El Torta perform in Jerez last April...in a place I wasn't supposed to be, but where I went anyway) and Horror Stories (ok, perhaps not horror stories - all of the Halloweenness appears to be affecting my language - we'll call them Crying in Bulerías Class Stories.) But those can wait for later.

Right now let's just focus on some important things to know about Bulerías de Jerez, some of the cositas I referred to the other day...

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