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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.

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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Where To See Flamenco Dance in Madrid

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Where To See Flamenco Dance in Madrid

It’s pretty easy to find places to see flamenco in Madrid. The challenge is knowing where to find quality flamenco. (Yes, you can see plenty of mediocre flamenco even in Spain, and if you’re in Spain, you definitely want to see the good stuff!) So today I'll tell you about four places you can go to see quality flamenco in Madrid, show you some videos of fantastic dancers in action, and address the idea of the 'touristy' flamenco show.

The Flamenco Tablao

One of the best ways to experience flamenco in Madrid is to visit a tablao, a place where flamenco is performed. Here are four tablaos where you can (usually) count on seeing good flamenco in Madrid:

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How To Learn From A Mistake

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How To Learn From A Mistake

Mistakes are an inevitable part of learning and provide us with opportunities to grow. An absence of mistakes means we are not trying. However, repeating the same mistake means we are choosing not to improve.

Today we’ll look at how to learn from a mistake.

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Eight Flamenco Dance Lessons Learned From Emilio Ochando

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Eight Flamenco Dance Lessons Learned From Emilio Ochando

Last weekend we studied flamenco dance with Emilio Ochando. In class we were reminded that learning steps is one thing while learning how to execute them and use our bodies well is another thing. Below find eight lessons I took away from the workshops with Emilio: 

1. Accent

Create accents with the body, the hands, the feet. This gives your dance dynamics and personality.

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Fifty Life Lessons from Flamenco

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Fifty Life Lessons from Flamenco

During last weekend's Flamenco Retreat at the Oregon Coast (which I'm still on a high from by the way and which you can see pictures of below) we all agreed that flamenco teaches us about life and about ourselves

So, today I share with you fifty life lessons I've gleaned from flamenco.

Fifty Lessons:

(This list is full of links in case you'd like to dive deeper into some of the lessons.)

  1. Listen to your intuition, and trust your instincts.
  2. Express your true feelings
  3. Be present.
  4. Stand beautifully in your power.
  5. Prepare. (Really prepare.)
  6. Take risks.
  7. Focus.
  8. Act with intention.
  9. The answers are in the mirror, so look.
  10. Show up.

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How To Follow Through With Your Flamenco (or any) New Year's Resolution

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How To Follow Through With Your Flamenco (or any) New Year's Resolution

Raise your hand if you want your flamenco new year's resolution to be about more than just January. Raise your hand if you want to make it stick. My hand is raised, and I'm guessing yours is too. So today I'll give you one more tool to help you follow through with your resolution. (If you've not made one yet, no problem. The energy of the new year is still upon us.)

As I've been taking action on my flamenco resolution in this new year, I've noticed something (in addition to my plan) that is really helping me to stick with it and that's an awareness of why I want it. I'll tell you more about my resolution later, but first, let's go deeper into this why stuff.

When setting your resolution, or when reflecting upon it, it's important to consider your why.

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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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Flamenco Holiday Gift Guide: Eight Gift Ideas For The Flamenco Lover

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Flamenco Holiday Gift Guide: Eight Gift Ideas For The Flamenco Lover

What’s on your flamenco holiday wish list? And more importantly, have you shared it with your friends and family because, the truth is, they might not know how to shop for a flamenco lover such as yourself. 

Not quite sure what to ask for? See below for eight holiday gift ideas for any budget:

1. Gift Certificate for Flamenco Classes

Gift certificates for flamenco lessons in Portland are available in any amount, starting at just $5. Contact us to purchase.

(And right now, $100 buys $115 toward classes! In other words, a $115 gift certificate costs just $100; that's 13% off. Find out about the Holiday Gift Certificate Sale Here.) 

2. Online Flamenco Classes

For the dancer who’s looking for supplemental instruction or who’s unable to make it to in-person classes, online flamenco lessons are a great option. Both Flamenco Bites and Rina Orellana Flamenco offer excellent online instruction. You can read my full article about online learning here.     

3. Metronome

Without a doubt, every flamenco student NEEDS a metronome. And thankfully, they’re easy to find. Any local music store will have one.

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How to Turn Physical Strength Into Mental Strength

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How to Turn Physical Strength Into Mental Strength

Every time I return home from the Flamenco Tour to Jerez I feel stronger. (It’s impossible not to after all of that time in class with Mercedes Ruíz.) I've learned how to turn the physical strength gained through dancing flamenco into mental strength to help me face challenges in my life. At the end of this post, I'll lead you through an activity to help you do the same.

Let’s begin with an excerpt from my journal a few years ago upon returning home from The Flamenco Tour:

I am home, and I feel it,

The strength.

I feel it in my body, and I feel it in my being. (I always forget how this happens.)

The thing I wasn’t strong enough to do before I left. I can now do it. The thing I tried so many times to do before but couldn’t. The thing I kept trying to do but told myself I wasn’t strong enough to do.

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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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Four Ways To Improve Your Flamenco Class Experience

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Four Ways To Improve Your Flamenco Class Experience

There's going to class. And then there's going to class and getting the most out of it. Today I'm going to talk about the latter, about how to get the most out of your flamenco class (or workshop) experience.

Ricardo López is constantly giving us tips when he comes in town for workshops. Perhaps just as helpful are little phrases I hear him say over and over again in class. He doesn't really intend them as tips. They are reactions, spoken in the moment. But, oh, these little comments have a lot to tell us.

So, here you go, four comments from Ricardo and four pieces of advice gleaned from them:

ONE

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Wrap-Up : The Importance of Repetition [Flamenco Home Challenge]

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Wrap-Up : The Importance of Repetition [Flamenco Home Challenge]

For ten days we simulated being in class with Mercedes Ruíz. We touched on breathing, keeping the shoulders down, maintaining plié, using the hands and fingers well, practicing slowly and deliberately, skirt and non-dominant arm awareness, posture and engaging the core, keeping the arms round, dancing (really dancing), and putting forth effort.

The challenge may be officially over, but I encourage you to keep working on these skills. They will serve you for the rest of your flamenco life, and through repetition they will get better and better.

Read on for some thoughts on repetition, reflection, and guidance on how to continue the challenge on your own.

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Day 10 : What to do When You Think You Can't [Flamenco Home Challenge]

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Day 10 : What to do When You Think You Can't [Flamenco Home Challenge]

It’s the final day of the challenge. Olé, you made it!

How did yesterday's activity go? Did it feel good to just put the music on and dance not worrying about all of the other stuff? For me, letting go and dancing in this way is a great form of therapy. 

Let's get on with the final challenge.

Day 10

Today’s exercise is designed to help you keep the challenge going in class or in your home practice.

I remember when I first studied with Mercedes. I felt so overwhelmed with all of the classes I was taking, coming in toward the end of the year, perhaps trying to do too much. So many things felt impossibly hard. ‘I can’t,’ ‘No way,’ ‘Impossible,’ Thoughts like this were constantly running through my head. I even declared them out loud. “No puedo,” I would tell Mercedes. Or, I would just stop dancing.

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Day 9 : When to Dance [Flamenco Home Challenge]

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Day 9 : When to Dance [Flamenco Home Challenge]

We’re almost done with the challenge, can you believe it? This series was born out of a longing to be back in class with Mercedes Ruíz. Because I love it there. I love how we learn in her class, the focus on technique, the repetition, watching Mercedes move. 

(I’m not the only one who loves being in her class. Check out this post from Julie where she writes about her time with Mercedes and our private show on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez.)

Most of all, I love the feeling I get from dancing in her class.

And that's what today's challenge is about,

Dancing and feeling good.

Below I talk about when in the learning process we should start to dance, and I give you an activity focused on dancing. (I know, hasn’t this whole challenge been about dancing?) Yes, but read on to find out more.

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Day 8 : How to Achieve Good Flamenco Posture [Flamenco Home Challenge]

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Day 8 : How to Achieve Good Flamenco Posture [Flamenco Home Challenge]

I’m very excited for today’s activity not just because of how it will serve you as a flamenco dancer but for how it can benefit your life and health far beyond the studio.

But before we get to that, let's reflect.

I don’t know about you, but during the past several days I’ve had greater awareness of all of the skills we’ve covered thus far in the Dance Like You’re In Class With Mercedes Home Challenge in all of my dancing (both within and outside of the activities). In class I hear Mercedes in my head giving me little reminders . . .

'Brazos redondos,' I heard her saying during my kids’ class yesterday. 'Mantener el mismo plié,' she called during Sevillanas class last weekend. In practice it’s the same, 'Todos los deditosLaura,' I heard her saying today.

I can’t seem to get away from the challenge, nor do I want to because receiving these little reminders without my trying is one of my desired outcomes of this experience. Woo-hoo!

So, let’s get on with today’s challenge.

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Day 7 : Finding Roundness in the Arms  [Flamenco Home Challenge]

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Day 7 : Finding Roundness in the Arms [Flamenco Home Challenge]

Today I’ll guide you through activity for finding roundness in the arms.

Day 7

Brazos redondos,

Round arms,

we hear Mercedes Ruíz say in class.

Ricardo says it all of the time too, redondo. 'You’ll like her, she’s muy redondo,' he’s said to me so many times referring to various dancers. Round, he means, by the shapes created when someone is dancing. It doesn't matter what shape your body is, you can create roundness.

For today’s challenge we’ll focus on finding roundness in the arms.

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Day 6 : Use Your Skirt Like Mercedes Ruíz [Flamenco Home Challenge]

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Day 6 : Use Your Skirt Like Mercedes Ruíz [Flamenco Home Challenge]

How did the slow practice go for you yesterday? 

Today, on our sixth day of the challenge, I'll share with you an activity to practice using the skirt with our non-dominant arm. (You'll also find a video below of Mercedes Ruíz doing just that.)

Day 6

Mercedes in huge on using your skirt in class. Not twirling the skirt around as you dance or doing a million things with it but holding it, being aware of it.

During our beginning of class exercises the back arm is almost always holding the skirt. 

Yes, that back arm that we can tend to forget about. 

Holding the skirt inspires us to pay attention to the placement of that arm.

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Day 5 : Three Reasons To Practice Slowly [Flamenco Home Challenge]

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Day 5 : Three Reasons To Practice Slowly [Flamenco Home Challenge]

Today I'll share why we need to practice slowly and give you an activity to help you do that, but first, some reflections: 

I’ve been working with the same combination throughout the challenge, and I’ve found that with each new daily focus I also revisit all of the prior days’ areas of focus. In other words, I go through each new activity and (without a conscious plan to do so) layer the skills addressed in the previous challenge activities. It actually seems to have become impossible for me not to be aware of them when in challenge mode, and I’m loving that. How about you?

Now let’s move on to today’s challenge.

Day 5

As you know, Mercedes Ruíz is big on doing things slowly.    

As are so many other professionals

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