Introduction to bata de cola technique

Introduction to bata de cola technique | www.flamencobites.com

Today we thought we’d take a little look at what is required in terms of technique in order to control the bata de cola when you dance.

The word control isn’t really appropriate to use because as José says, the bata is something that will never move in the same way twice.

There is no way to really control it but as you dance with the bata you learn to work with it and more importantly you learn how to improvise and solve problems in the moment that they occur.

The structure of the bata de cola

Firstly let’s take a look at the structure of the bata de cola.

As you can see from the photos below the bata de cola is a regular flamenco skirt (fitted at the waist/hip) which gradually becomes fuller and extends into a train at the back.

The art (I believe) of constructing the bata de cola is balancing the weight of the train against making something that you can dance in.

You really do need a bata that has a certain amount of weight and body. If the bata is too light it will be a lot harder to stop the train from flipping over and getting tangled up in your legs.

Equally, you don’t want to be so heavy that it feels like you are dragging a semi-trailer around the stage : )

The body as a dynamic support structure

When you start learning how to dance you spend a lot of time learning dance technique. The technique is developed so that you can present a certain image to the audience, so you can move safely and efficiently in compás and so that you can build your movement vocabulary to give you more tools to express yourself though movement.

When you add something like the bata de cola (or mantón de Manila) you need to continue thinking about what the audience will see and then change the shape and movement of your body to become the support structure to this new facade.

Excuse me here because I’m falling into using structural engineering terminology.

The way I see it the body becomes a dynamic support structure for the bata de cola (or mantón etc).

The body becomes a dynamic support structure for the bata de cola.

When you think about it that way you start to realise the importance of learning the correct way to hold and move the legs underneath the bata de cola.

You can swing your leg under the skirt with no forethought about what you are doing and the bata could look like a 'trapo de cocina' or you can use your leg to provide support so the bata de cola will look elegant, majestic and like an extension your body.

All of the exercises that José teaches in our technique class are focused on building your awareness of this and of building your awareness of where the bata is at any point in time.

Attitude

Demonstration of the attitude position to support the bata de cola

Attitude is a name that is used to refer to a position of the leg in classical ballet technique.

Although here we aren't going to use the exact same technique (and even with classical ballet there are different schools with different techniques) we are going to use the basics.

To begin with let's look at the leg when it is lifted to the back which is when you would lift the leg to pick up the bata.

Firstly you have the leg that is not lifted, your supporting leg. This leg (as you can see from the photos of José above) has a slight plié. It's important to maintain this plié at all times.

The leg that is lifted to the back is bent at the knee at an angle of 90 degrees. The leg is also turned out at the hip so that the knee is higher than the foot.

The upper body remains upright, you do not tip forward to compensate for the leg being lifted.

If that means you can't lift your leg very high that is ok.

It's better to have a strong, clean position of the leg at a height you can manage than a high leg with your chest pitched forward.

It's better to have a strong, clean position of the leg at a height you can manage than a high leg with your chest pitched forward.

If you have never done any ballet before this position can feel quite odd especially at the hip.

When the leg lifts (and later moves) the hip (pelvis) should not lift or become involved in the movement.

It's the difference between the leg and pelvis moving together (not ideal) and holding the pelvis still and allowing the leg to move independently via the ball and socket joint at the top of the femur.

Take things easy and just get used to holding your leg in this position and imagine your thigh moving freely in the ball and socket joint.

Moving the leg in attitude (rond de jambe)

We're going to borrow another ballet movement and adapt it to our needs.

Rond de jambe (round of the leg) is a circular movement of the leg.

As the leg moves, the pelvis remains stable and the leg rotates freely in the socket joint of the hip.

When the leg moves from back to front (so we can move the train of the bata) it moves in a circle. From the back, out to the side and then to the front.

As the leg moves, the pelvis remains stable and the leg rotates freely in the socket joint of the hip.

Watch the video below of José demonstrating this movement.

We're going to leave it there for today. Play around with this information and we'll be back with more later in the week.

 
Technique for the bata de cola now available to all danza estudio Flamenco Bites members.

Technique for the bata de cola now available to all danza estudio Flamenco Bites members.