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jaleos

A Piece of Advice From Jesús Carmona (Improvise)

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A Piece of Advice From Jesús Carmona (Improvise)

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

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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.

The basic structure of bulerías

Bulerías, like other flamenco forms, has its own language. When we dance we are in conversation with the singer, the guitarist, and the palmeros. The structure offers a formula for clear communication, and it looks like this:

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Flamenco Verses by Palo | The Weekly Letra

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Flamenco Verses by Palo | The Weekly Letra

Sometimes you want to know a song to go along with the dance form you're studying in class. Other times you want to know the words to that particular flamenco song you like so much. And sometimes you long to know what those words mean.

I'd like to help you with that

Below you'll find a collection of letras (flamenco verses) organized by palo (flamenco form.) 

After over four years of translating and posting flamenco songs, and not quite as many years of writing them out and turning them into things like this, there are quite a number of flamenco verses (and often accompanying videos) to be found around here.

I've learned a lot about Spanish, a bit about Caló, and much about flamenco through the process of doing these translations, very often getting help along the way. Some of the translations are better than others, and the letras rarely convey the same feeling in English as they do in their original form. Still the translations give a general idea of what the verse is about.

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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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How I Overcame my Fear of Bulerías (and why I used to hate this dance)

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How I Overcame my Fear of Bulerías (and why I used to hate this dance)

My main obstacle to bulerías has always been fear.

Not trusting my instincts.

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:

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Sleeping with Bulerías | Viernes con una Letra

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Sleeping with Bulerías | Viernes con una Letra

Below find a snippet of my journal from Jerez, a video of Mercedes Ruíz dancing bulerías, a letra por bulerías, and a short activity for you to do while watching the video.

October 30, 2013

I played bulerías to help me fall asleep during siesta time.

Bulerías with lots of palmas and jaleos of course.

Who does that?

Someone who is in Jerez I guess.

Someone who is in Jerez and  just can't get enoughIt's a good thing I'm going back.

I listened to one that I recorded at the peña last night.

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You Can't do Flamenco and Not do Jaleos

You can’t do flamenco and not do jaleos.  You just can’t. It can feel awkward at first, I know.  No te preocupes.  I have some ideas on how to become more comfortable with this whole jaleos thing.

First, a few and how to pronounce them:

como es eso  [coh-moh eh eh-so]

vamos allá  [vah-moh ah-yah]

que toma toma toma toma toma  [kay toh-mah...]

Here is a list of some common (& simpler) ones, along with some embarrassing admissions of accidentally giving them in English.  Oops.

I used to be afraid to give jaleos

I thought I would sound stupid.  I thought people would laugh at me.  But mostly, it just felt so unnatural.

But not anymore.

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I Almost Didn't Go

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I Almost Didn't Go

I left almost immediately after the show ended last night.

And people said,  ¿Te vas Laura, Ya? 

"You're leaving, now?"

Sí, me voy.

Even though the show just ended. I wasn't even waiting to see if something exciting happened next.  I wasn't even staying to socialize some more. I was going home as early as 12:30 am...

Sí.

It was a peña show last night. At Peña La Bulería.

Read on for a video and a story

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A Show in Jerez on a Saturday Night

La Gitanería is having these Saturday night flamenco cante shows.  There was one last night.  It started at 10:30.  Only, it didn’t actually begin until 11:30, maybe even a bit later than that.  We didn’t even start walking there until after 11. As we came in we walked by Diego del Morao.  He was not performing, just hanging out...

The first set was excellent.  Two young guys, a singer and a guitarist.  Sorry, I don't know their names.  The first set also ended up being the only set.

It was one of those Jerez shows where most of the people in the audience are Jerezanos.

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The Accidental Jaleo...and a list of some common ones

We know that jaleos are words of encouragement to call out to the dancer, singer, guitarist,  to anyone participating really.

And flamenco is not flamenco without them.

So, below you'll find a list of a few common ones.

Every now and then this weird thing happens and a jaleo in English sneaks out of my mouth.

What in the world?!   I can't help it.  English is my first language, and it happens.

Like the time in class when I suddenly heard someone say enthusiastically, "This is!"  and quickly realized that someone was me.

Yep.  We still laugh about that one.

I guess the question is,  Is that still technically a jaleo?

I'm going to say yes because it was heart-felt and encouraging, and

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Viernes con una Letra | Jaleos

Here I am at the 25th anniversary of the Festival Flamenco Internacional de Albuquerque. Seeing fabulous artists perform every night.

Taking classes from some of them, Pastora Galván and Olga Pericet.

And doing it with friends.  The very best way to do it.

I've been wanting to tell you about it all week.  I'll definitely tell you more later...

We've been working on jaleos in Pastora's class.

Here is one of the letras we're dancing to and a video of Pastora Galván dancing.

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I Used to Hate Bulerías (While Secretly Loving It)

My main obstacle to bulerías has always been fear, not trusting my instincts.  It's no different from my main obstacle in life.  It is what makes me so indecisive.  No wonder bulerías has always been so hard for me...I don't trust.  Wah! This realization was profound. In a moment I'll share with you some things I've come to know about bulerías…things that have made it easier, less scary to dance.  (There is also a Workshop coming up where we'll cover this in-depth...) The truth is, now I kind of can't get enough of bulerías.  It is not that the fear has been eradicated completely, but the excitement and fun usually push it off to the side now.  Gracias excitement and fun.

So, I used to haaaaate bulerías (while secretly loving it.)

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