Bulerías is a fiesta-style dance from Jerez, Spain. It is the most improvisational form of flamenco and probably the silliest as well. The following video from a produce shop in Jerez gives you a picture of what bulerías is all about …
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What should you do if if you have just 15-20 minutes a day to practice?
That’s what a student asked me to find out when I interviewed Jesús Carmona last month.
Here are the five recommendations he shared along with videos to help you get started on your own at home. (Some of what he advises might surprise you.)
1. Abdominal Exercises
The first thing Jesús mentioned was the need to strengthen our abs. Don't know where to start? Try this:
When Jesús Carmona was here he recommended that every student of flamenco improvise a little bit each day. In honor of that, here's a guided exercise in improvisation along with a video and examples of how a letra can vary.
First, the letra:
In the video example the singer interprets the same bulerías letra in two different ways, which makes it great to practice to.
Version One (5 minutes in)
Dime niña hermosa
quién te peina el pelo
RESPIRO (one compás break, 12 beats)
lo peina un estudiante
te lo riza un artillerooooo... de la artillería
que con gracia y salero
con gracia y salero
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:
El sitio donde te hablé
ganas me dan de volverme
y sentarme un ratito en él
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).
My main obstacle to bulerías has always been fear.
It's no different from my main obstacle in life
I know indecision well.
No wonder bulerías has always been so hard for me,
Not enough trust.
In a moment I'll tell you how I've let go of a lot of my bulerías fears (and how you can do the same).
Because the truth is, now I kind of can't get enough of bulerías.
It is not that the fear has been eradicated, it's that the excitement and fun usually slide it over to the side now. Gracias excitement and fun.
But before I get into any fear eradication techniques, let me give you a bit of background:
On the wall of her studio Mercedes has a photo of herself with Marco Flores when they were young. I wish you could see it. In the interview that follows Marco mentions how they danced together when they were starting out. They still do.
You'll also find out about how Marco grew up with flamenco in his family, how he began his career, and about his process of creation. He even shares some direct tips for us as students, though bits of advice can be found in all of his responses.
I originally posted it in 2011 and repost it today after watching snippets of his latest espectáculo from the 2014 Jerez Festival. Oh how I want to see that show! Further down you'll see a video of him dancing solo por siguiriyas.
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...