When José and I started flamenco bites we wanted to concentrate on providing solid information for dancers with a focus on the beginner level dancer.
Recently we have had some emails from people with absolutely no experience in flamenco dance looking for some guidance. I came back the to website to see what we had and found that we could do better to help people coming to flamenco with no previous knowledge or experience.
We have decided that the month of November will be dedicated to the complete beginner so if that is you we hope you will follow along with us!
As a complete beginner to flamenco dance what do you need to know?
1. Flamenco is not something that can be learned quickly.
Flamenco is a very challenging art form and is immense in terms of the amount of information there is to be discovered. While the exact history of flamenco is much disputed, what is not disputed is that it has been influenced by many different cultures from all over the world. It is rich and varied and the more you learn the more you will realise that you will be learning for the rest of your life.
2. A flamenco dancer does not dance alone.
We accompany a flamenco singer along with a flamenco guitarist and a large part of our studies are spent trying to learn and understand the relationship between these three elements.
3. Flamenco is rhythmic art form.
Everything we do as dancers is performed in the context of flamenco rhythm and we strive to develop our own sense of rhythm. Every exercise that we do, every subtle (or not so subtle) movement of the head or shoulder is done 'in compás'.
Compás is the term used to describe rhythm in flamenco. The term can be used in a few different ways which we will go into more as this series goes on.
4. Flamenco dancers do not dance to the music.
Where as with other styles of dance you will hear the rhythm of the music and move your body in response to in with flamenco dance this is turned on its head.
The flamenco guitarist watches the dancer and follows them. That means if we stop - the guitarist stops, if we speed up the guitarist will speed up. We are required to have excellent control of rhythm and express it with the sound of our feet and the movement of our bodies.
When you are dancing with a singer things become slightly more complicated. In this case both you and the guitarist are required to listen to and follow the singer. This does not mean you are just dancing to the music. This means that you have studied the cante (song), your ears and body are open and you interpret and embody what you hear.
If that sounds complicated well... it is : ) But when you start to understand these relationships it is extremely rewarding and like no other style of dance that you have tried before.
Stay tuned for our next post where we take a look at what flamenco dancers spend their time studying.
Thanks for stopping by!
Renae and José