Do you wonder where to go to learn about flamenco history? Flamenco singing? Flamenco styles? The terminology?
Below you’ll find a variety of resources to assist you on your quest for more flamenco knowledge.
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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.)
No sé por qué será
me duelen más que las mías
las penas de los demás
Today I'm going to talk about how the same letra can (and definitely will be) interpreted in different ways by different singers. I'll also talk about why, as dancers, we need to pay attention to this. And finally, I'll share a tangos letra with you. (Oh, and at the end of the post I give you an activity to do from the comfort of your own home.)
Depending upon who is singing, how they like to sing a given letra, and even how they are feeling at a given moment, one letra can be interpreted in many different ways.
Let's look at some examples:
Yesterday I received an email from a reader, Max Herzog, a guitarist based in San Diego, who came across today's letra on my blog. (I originally posted it about four years ago. I struggled with the translation then, and I'm still struggling with it today.) Max had some great insights along with a smoother translation which I wanted to share with you. You'll find his translation below (with just a couple of small changes from me).
Los ojos como las moras
y los dientes de marfil
y tu boca es una fuente
donde una noche bebí
agua con ansias de muerte
Dancing to the cante. It is what every dancer from Jerez does, professional or non.
It is the dancer conversing with the singer.
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.)
I'll be honest. In the beginning, I wasn't a huge fan of flamenco singing.
It wasn't that I didn't like it.
It intrigued me that's for sure. But I didn't feel inclined to sit around and listen to it a whole bunch.
It didn't take long before that changed.
And actually, while I was initially drawn to the baile, the cante played a huge roll in getting me hooked on flamenco ... and keeping me in it.
Just like the compás.
Well, you know how it is now.
Which brings me to the letra:
My main obstacle to bulerías has always been fear.
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:
People are feeling nervous.
Nervous and anxious about the Student Showcase on Saturday.
I know this feeling. Well.
So I thought I'd repost these tips today, performance tips.
Whether you're performing in front of your friends in class,
at a show in front of the public,
or even just in your own bedroom in front of your cat,
There are things we can do to ease our nerves ...
I've told you before about how much I learn from flamenco. And I don't mean how much I learn about flamenco. Naturally I learn a lot about flamenco. But I'm talking about other things. Flamenco has kind of become one of my mentors.
Sí, un mentor para mí.
I have some issues when it comes to following my intuition.
I want to hear it. I want to trust it. I want to act on it.
If only it were that easy.
Fortunately flamenco has a lot to tell me about that.
Bulerías especially. Because with bulerías there are certain things I need to do. And as it turns out, these things also assist me in going with my gut.
Focus and attune to what is happening with the palmas, guitar, cante, jaleos. Be there, truly be there.
To the compás. To the guitar. To the palmas. To the cante. When I'm dancing and when I'm not. Listen and really get to know it.
I must let myself feel the music. And let myself feel whatever I'm feeling.
Follow what's happening with the music. Respond to the signals I pick up on. When the singer resolves, let my body reflect that.
Flamenco requires trust. If I don't trust while dancing, well, then, I’m only kind of sort of doing it. And, by the way, I still find myself there often. But, it's okay. Because each time I do and notice and reflect on it, I learn something about myself.
Your thoughts? I'd love to hear them. You can leave a comment.
An interview with flamenco dancer Emilio Ochando and a video:
I can't wait to ask Emilio a million things once he gets here. I asked him some questions last year. But I have so many more! Like how did he get to be so good? And who are his favorite dancers? And what are his favorite practice techniques and strategies?
So I warmed him up with a few quick questions the other day. And here is what he had to say.
Qué debe saber la gente que quiere aprender a bailar flamenco? Deben saber que no deja de ser un arte y que ello te lleva a emociones. Tambien le tienes que sumar la constancia y ganas.
What should people who want to learn flamenco know? They should know that it will never stop being an art and that it will bring up your emotions. Also you need to be consistent and approach it with enthusiasm.