FLAMENCO DANCE TECHNIQUES: PIECING IT ALL TOGETHER
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Flamenco dance consists of three main segments, i.e. it can be divided into three different main techniques: body-work , footwork and hand-clapping .
All these techniques make a typical dance routine.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into each of them.
EL CUERPO (THE BODY)
The coordination of the body movements in flamenco dance is something quite original and unique.
Flamenco dancers usually first study the different postures of the upper body, along with braceo (arms work) and floreo (hands work or the circular movement of the hands and fingers).
Then they focus on footwork, turns, and shifting of the body weight in order to be completely anchored and stable throughout the dance. (You probably saw flamenco dancers' bodies twisted or bent almost to the point of breaking or falling, to portray intensity of emotion. )
You will need to learn how to coordinate movements of your arms, wrists, head, shoulders with those of your feet – as often they will be moving at a different speed or in opposite directions.
For example: The footwork might be dramatically fast, while the head is turned in the opposite direction and the arms work is deliberately slow - or they are completely still, to create a dramatic contrast.
LOS PIES (THE FEET)
Pies in flamenco refers to footwork technique, which makes a large part of all flamenco dance classes.
If you are an absolute beginner, you will need to concentrate on simply feeling your feet and learn how to position your body when doing steps. You will soon realise that your feet are rhythmical instruments and you will learn to use them as such.
Unless you have previous experience with tap dance, you've probably never used your feet in this way; so, you will need to give yourself plenty of time to adapt to this new way of expressing rhythm.
Once you master footwork and have full control over your feet, you can then experiment with different steps (and sounds!), and ‘play’ with your feet like a true percussionist.
Sound made with the feet in flamenco dance is called zapateado, coming from the Spanish word zapato ( Spanish -shoe) It is also called taconeo if it’s made by your heels (tacón – shoe heel).
LAS PALMAS (THE HANDS)
Palmas in flamenco refer to hand-clapping.
Hand-clapping is used to reinforce the rhythm and that way hand-clappers accompany the rest of the flamenco performers: a singer and a guitarist.
As you master your dance routine and get to truly enjoy it, instead of focusing on the steps that you need to do next, clapping to the rhythm of music and your own feet will come to you naturally.
You will probably find yourself also shouting a hearty ‘Olé!’or ‘Vamo!’(Spanish - Let’s go!) here and there.
And, that will be the crowning moment or your flamenco journey – the moment you will finally unleash your inner flamenco dancer.
Because, flamenco is really all about dancing with passion, with abandon, wild and free, like a modern-day Gypsy.