The following flamenco dance tips were born out of a longing to be back in class with Mercedes Ruíz. Because I love it there. I love how we learn, the focus on technique, the repetition, watching Mercedes move.
So here are eleven tips I’ve learned studying with her over the years. Each tip includes a brief exercise to help you apply it.
You asked me to analyze more videos around here to better understand how flamenco dance works, so today I will deconstruct another bulerías of Pastora Galván. So here is a video (that you’re going to LOVE) followed by a breakdown of each component of the dance and when it happens:
Here is an observation activity to help you understand bulerías more deeply along with a letra and a video from the Peña la Bulería caseta during the Feria de Jerez.
Sound made with the feet in flamenco is most commonly called zapateado, coming from the word zapato (shoe.) It can also be called taconeo coming from the word tacón (heel). Here are the basic flamenco footwork techniques that are used to create sound patterns with the feet.
Ever find yourself getting stuck in your head during class?
I know how you feel.
Today I will share with you four things you can do when you find yourself in this situation and I’ll show you a video you’ll LOVE of Beatríz Morales.
But first, a story.
Did you set a flamenco (or any type of) resolution last January?
How’s that going?
If the goals you set feel like distant memories, read on. Today I will tell you how you can get back on track and explain why you don’t want to beat yourself up for having let things slide.
I love asking flamenco artists I admire what advice they have to offer to the flamenco student. Here are thirteen suggestions from some of the best:
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.
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 …
Why dance flamenco?
Flamenco offers all kinds of benefits: physical, emotional, intellectual, cognitive ... It is perfect for those who never considered themselves to be dancers and for those who have done other forms of dance. And the best part? You can start learning when you're seven or when you're seventy, (no joke)!
Here are twenty five reasons to do it,
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
Read on for my seven biggest takeaways from this month's workshops with flamenco maestro Jesús Carmona followed by a challenge for you.
Jesús is all about working hard, breaking things down, and holding high expectations all while having fun. A true master teacher. He sees everybody and expects maximum effort from all. He worked us HARD during the workshops in Portland. It was truly satisfying to see and feel the progress that we made in just four days. How can something be semi-torturous yet completely wonderful at the same time?
Here are seven pieces of advice from Jesús that will help you become a better flamenco dancer.
Does the thought of taking a flamenco workshop with a master artist from Spain fill you with excitement or fear?
If you're anything like me you feel a little bit of both.
Here are some steps you can take before, during, and after a workshop to help manage any overwhelm that comes up:
Before the workshop
1. Decide what you want to get out of it
Set a workshop goal.
Do you want to master the choreography? Improve upon a specific technique? Get inspired? Become a better learner? Implement the teacher's personal styling? Simply have a fun experience?
Flamenco lover, this post is dedicated to you.
Last week I asked some students what they loved about flamenco. (I asked myself too.) Our answers became the list below. Following the list you'll find the video that inspired one reader to begin dancing flamenco along with a downloadable valentine for you.
What We Love About Flamenco:
- The challenge
- The community
- The emotion
- The elegance
- The passion
- The boldness
- The rhythm
- The beauty
- The focus
- The complexity
Do you have a hard time finding the motivation to practice?
I hear you.
. . . And I want to help!
Here are twenty ways to bring new life to your flamenco practice
The following ideas will not only spice up your practice but will also make you a better dancer. Apply them to a full choreography, part of a dance, a combination, or even a single step.
1. Do it while singing (or humming) the melody.
OBJECTIVE: Connect the music to the dance. Move your focus away from the steps. Improve your memory. Improve your focus.
2. Do one part over and over.
OBJECTIVE: Solidify and perfect a given part.
3. Do it facing different directions in the room.
OBJECTIVE: Stop relying on the mirror. Focus. Test your knowledge of the dance. Learn to adapt to different situations. Prepare for performance.
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 ...
Want to amp up your flamenco progress in 2018?
Here’s a two part formula to get you going:
Part One: Reflection
“The more reflective you are, the more effective you are,” Hall & Simeral
Consider the past year in flamenco, and ask yourself:
- What kind of flamenco activities did I participate in last year?
- Through which experiences did I grow the most?
- Which experiences were the most fun?
- What’s one thing that didn’t go the way I wanted it to, and what can I learn from that?
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 ...
In the first installment of the flamenco cuplé series I'll explain what a cuplé is and show you a video example. But let's begin by looking at this one that Ani sang one day during bulerías class on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. It was so pretty, so I asked her to tell me the words:
¿Quién se ha llevao mi amor?
¿Quién me ha dejao sin nada?
¿Quién se ha llevao todo el sol
que entraba por mi ventana?