Basic marcaje part 3 - changing directions

Basic marcaje part 3 - changing directions |

Today's tutorial introduces another layer of movement that can be incorporated with  the basic marcaje we looked at last month.

Today we are going to look at changing the direction of the body while you are dancing.

But firstly what have we covered up to this point?

In the first part we covered moving the arms through clearly defined positions, combining movement of the feet and arms with a transfer of weight and adding in the movement of the hands to create a basic marcaje movement.

Basic Marcaje - Technique for the arms and body

In the second part we added a movement of the head to the basic marcaje. It seems like such a simple thing but it actually changes everything about how you feel when you are doing any movement.

Basic Marcaje Part 2 - Movement of the head

Now we are going to add a change in direction!

OK so let's get to it. How does this movement work?

What we are really saying here is that we are going to add in a turn. But today only a half turn. However the same principles apply.

Turns require you to understand where your centre of gravity is. 

When we a standing normally (no flamenco shoes), our centre of gravity is considered to be just below the belly button and if you dropped a straight line to the floor from this point it should be in the centre of your two feet. 

This is the ideal location, there are many reasons why you might be holding your centre might be in a different place but that is something you'll need to explore for yourself. 

When our centre of gravity shifts outside out base of support (our feet) we either fall over our we have to move out feet to support this new position of centre. 

Putting on flamenco shoes shifts our centre forward which we correct by flexing the knees.

In order to turn successfully you need to be in a perfectly balanced position. That means your body needs to be aligned vertically with your centre and your base of support. 

With that in mind lets look at the movement we are going to do. 

Movement of the feet.

  1. The marcaje starts as before by sending the right leg to the right diagonal and shifting some weight on to that foot.
  2. The right leg then comes back to its starting position and takes the weight of the body so you can step out on the left foot.
  3. The left foot steps out to the left diagonal and some weight is transferred on to the foot.
  4. Now the left foot comes back to it's starting position but at the same time the body turns to the back (half turn) before the left foot is placed back on the floor.
  5. This sequence then repeats to the back. 

For this movement to be successful the weight of the body needs to be transferred back on to the right foot and the body needs to be upright. So there is a shift and then a turn. 

Shift your weight then turn. 

Be careful not to shift too much. You don't need to use a lot of force to get the body into the right position. 

Have a look at this first video which shows the pattern of the feet with the turn. First the marcaje is done starting of the right leg and then in the send half of the video changes to the left.

Practice the pattern of the feet for a while until you feel comfortable with the idea of the half turn. 

Movement of the head

When you are turning using your focus will help you immensely. If used well it will stop you from getting dizzy and make the overall movement appear much more defined. 

  1. As the right foot steps to the right diagonal the head follows and turns to the right diagonal.
  2. As the right foot returns to it's starting position the head comes back to face front.
  3. The head follows the left foot as it steps to the left diagonal by turning to the left.
  4. The head come back to face front as the left foot comes back to it's starting position. This happens in combination with the half turn. Now you will be facing the back. 
  5. Repeat the sequence to the back.

Spending time working on your focus now with a relatively simple action like a half turn will help you so much when you come to do all the other fancy flamenco turns out there.

Take a look at the video below to see how this works.

Movement of the arms

Moving your arms add another layer of difficulty to this marcaje. If your arms are out of control, you'll find they'll throw off your balance (by shifting your centre) and make it impossible for you to turn. 

To start with we keep things simple by having our arms at a low level.

  1. The right foot steps out to the right diagonal and the same arm (right) follows, the left arms stays next to the left hip. Both arms are rounded (with elbows lifted!).
  2. As the right foot comes back to it's starting position the arms remain in the same position.
  3. When the left foot steps out to the left diagonal the arms change. The left arm follows the left leg and the right arms come back to the right hip.
  4. The left foot comes back to it's starting position with a half turn the the back before the foot is placed on the floor. The arms do not change their position during the turn.
  5. Repeat the same sequence to the back.

Watch the video below to see this movement in action.

*If you like you can remove the hand movements and just move the arms until you are confident with the pattern.



Now we have the basic pattern above and we have practiced it by starting with either the right leg or with the left.

Now we can make life more difficult by creating different variations of the movement.

For the first variation we start marking to the front on the right leg as normal but when we turn to the back instead of repeating the movement on the right leg we swap to the left.

So it would be...

Right - centre - left - centre (half turn) - left - centre - right - centre (half turn). 

After the first turn we repeat the marcaje to the left diagonal. 

Take a look at this in the video below.

In the next variation we are going to make life even more difficult.

That means more turns.

Here we start to the right diagonal then immediately turn to the back, then mark to the left diagonal and immediately turn to the front, mark left again and turn to the back then mark right and turn to the front.

Right - centre (half turn) - left - centre (half turn) - left - centre (half turn) - right - centre (half turn)

With so many more turns in quick succession you really need to be sure of where your centre is and where you focus is. If either one is out you'll fall out of balance.

There are infinite possibilities with this type of exercise, you should also try to make up your own variations and see what you can come up with. 

A couple of things to note..

I haven't got the sound of the compás overlaid on these videos because at first you need to figure out how to turn with out the added stress of being in time. When you've got it you could do this movement with a 3 beat cycle just as I've used in the first two basic marcaje tutorials.

Occasionally I lose the clarity of movement with my head, this is what happens when you stop thinking! Try at all times to keep everything as clear as possible. And if you like, watch the videos above and see if you can spot where I lose it.

I also lose some height when I lift my feet to the back before I step forward as the difficulty level increases. 

I am weaker turning on my left side than my right. You'll see me wobble from time to time.

I personally struggle with turns and I have found that working on simple exercises like this has helped to build my confidence. 

Take the time to play with these, it's ok if you fall over in fact it is to be encouraged. This is also perfect for practicing at home, no dance studio required just move the family crystal out of the way before you start.