The sevillanas are usually the first dance that is taught. The main reason for this is that it is the only palo (form) that has a set choreography, even though some steps may be different depending on what school you go to. It is one of the dance forms that is most complete; it includes zapateado, rotations, marcajes (emphatic, slow majestic movements that mark the lyrics, predominantly using the arms), cierres (signals that indicate the end of a part of the dance and the start of another)… and, furthermore, it is also the best dance for learning to coordinate the arms and feet. Sevillanas also represent a good way to get used to following the music because they have a simple and well marked meter that is easy to follow and to learn, because the coplas (poetic compositions, in verse, used as lyrics) and choruses are repeated several times. Another advantage is that it is a dance for couples, which makes it more enjoyable and quicker to learn. It is also one of the dances that can be used most often outside of the dance school. Once they have learned them properly, students can focus on their castanet accompaniment.
The fandango de Huelva is the next dance that is usually taught. It shares some steps with the sevillanas, and has the same three-beat meter. It is also a popular dance which includes several coplas (poetic compositions, in verse, used as lyrics) and a chorus, which are easy for our ears to get accustomed to. Like sevillanas, it too can be accompanied using castanets.
Another palo (form) that is easy to follow are tanguillos. Learning this dance, you make progress in the technique of the zapateado, and you also come into contact with the four-beat meter for the first time. The rumba also has the same meter, but it is not usually taught in dance schools because it is a dance form that lacks flamenco depth and is better suited to improvisation.
Medium difficulty dances
The tangos and tientos also follow a four-beat meter. With these dances, a greater degree of expressiveness and elegance is required when it comes to their execution. The meter is easy to follow, but the movements are more elaborate, and it is important to execute them in a natural and fluent manner.
The next step would be to go into the group of the cantes de Cádiz to study the twelve-beat meter. The alegrías, cantiñas, romeras, mirabrás, and caracoles belong to this group. With these dances, it is possible to go deeper into the structure and the order of execution of the different flamenco steps (llamada, cierre, remate, escobilla, marcaje, desplante). The zapateados start to get more complicated.
Following a twelve-beat meter, we come to the soleá and we reach the part that is most difficult in flamenco, that is, executing the dance with feeling and solemnity. In addition to the structure of the dance and the complexity of the zapateado, now there are also arm movements, ondulations of the hips and swerving waistlines that are laden with majesty and artistry. It can be danced with a shawl. Within the group that has a twelve-beat meter and a similar level of difficulty, we also find other dances like the martinete, guajira, caña…
Another dance that has a twelve-beat metre is the bulería, a festive dance that can only be approached once the ear has grown very accustomed to following the meter. Furthermore, in this case the ease with which we are able to improvise or execute movements gracefully comes into play. If we intend to zapatear, we must do so at speed, as the rhythm is faster than in other dances.
The seguiriya is another twelve-beat palo (form), but it follows a mixed or alternate meter. The measure is somewhat complex, and it takes time to get used to. Furthermore, it is a stylised dance form that does not allow easy adornment and that must be performed in a sober manner. It switches between several kinds of steps and, to cap it all, it can be complicated further by adding castanet accompaniment, or by using the tailed gown or the shawl. It is among the most difficult dances.
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