Earlier this year I recorded a bunch of different videos that look at coordinating arm movements with flamenco footwork.
Everything was recorded quite quickly (no time for do-overs) and when I got a chance to sit down and look at them I wasn't entirely pleased. By that I mean I didn't feel happy presenting the videos as something you could look to as how these movements should be done.
So I sat on them and got busy doing other things.
This past Sunday I was thinking about them again and then had the idea that I could edit the videos and add the critiques I would give myself to show you how I use video in my training when I am away from classes (and Jose) and need to keep working.
When you do this for yourself it is important not to be mean. There are so many things I could comment on in this video (and others) but they would in no way help me to improve or to have the confidence I need to keep trying and keep dancing.
Everyone watching will also have their own opinions, that is cool too. We learn by watching each other and trying to figure out what a dancer could do to support their movement better is a great way to see what you might need to work on also.
This video demonstrates zapateado por tangos with a very basic arm and head movement. We have posted about this footwork before.
In the video below José demonstrates the footwork, have a look and learn it if you don't have the step yet.
Now have a look at me doing the same footwork with added arms and head. For the first half I keep my hands on my hips and then I bring them in for the second half.
I have added notes to the video to highlight what I think I can improve on.
Here is what I thought...
Wobbling - I am wobbling a lot. If you look at the image above I have overlaid two video frames and then played with the colours to be able to see the difference in the movement. That white stripe is the amount I move to one side, when I change legs I swing back the other way. That is a lot of movement!
When you do flamenco footwork you should be working on controlling the upper body as much as possible. You shouldn't be moving up and down (thankfully I have that under control) and you shouldn't be wobbling when you change from one foot to the other. This has to do with not being grounded enough and possibly not lifting the upper body up out of the hips.
Not smiling - although I do smile eventually.
Not every dance is a seguirilla and if you are lucky enough to have people watch you dance one day they will want to see the life in your face. It will also change the way you feel about what you are doing even if you feel like you just aren't getting it.
Smile and let your joy shine though.
Slow arm - In the second half of the video I start to use my arms and my head (more on the head later). What I noticed is that I was a bit slow to bring my arm forward for the first beat of the compás so the whole thing doesn't look very complete or organised. Your arm doesn't need to shoot out like a bullet from your hip but if you are working on moving the arm in compás and in combination with your feet then that is what it should be.
Head swings too far - as I bring my arm forward I change the position of my head to look over the same shoulder on the diagonal. I have a tendency to wrench my head from side to side so you end up looking at my ear. Since my ears aren't really my favourite part of my body I'm not sure what compels me to put them on display but it is something I am working on making more subtle.
The head moves to the diagonal (not the side) and if done in combination with the arm the movement of the head looks bigger than it actually is. So it can be a small but defined movement and it will look great.
If I was organised I would have an after video for you so you could see the difference in the step with these corrections incorporated. In any case I hope that this has been a helpful exercise to show you that you can be your own coach when you need to be.
It is not about ripping yourself to shreds, it is about becoming aware of your own body and movement style and then using that awareness to move how you want to move. With clarity and good technique.
Above all, it is a work in progress for all of us.