Marcaje which translates to 'marking' is a step that is used throughout a flamenco dance but it is particularly used when the singer is singing.
It refers to the marking of the beats of the compás (rhythmic cycle) by the dancer.
You can mark the beat of a compás just by walking in compás and that is something you should be able to do but marcaje also refers to certain steps or movements that are commonly used in different choreographies.
A very basic marcaje is the one demonstrated below.
A 3 beat cycle is marked by tapping one foot in front of my body and opening one arm to the side on count 1 before returning the arm to 5th position and the foot returning to the starting position on count 3.
There is one particular marcaje step that is traditional in flamenco and that is the marcaje that moves from side to side across the floor.
This step is typical for a compás with a 12 beat cycle such as soleá.
Here is a video of José demonstrating the basic marcaje for soleá. Can you see that the step accentuates the accents of the compás? For soleá they are counts 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12.
Marcaje por soleá
Here is a variation of the soleá marcaje. José is using some percussive elements (palmas and footwork) to accentuate the accent on count 6.
Some more examples of marcaje for a 12 beat compás.
Marcaje por alegrías
The feet to accentuate the rhythm and the knee lifts up on count 10.
An accent doesn't always have to be marked by sound, it can also be a movement but the movement you choose needs to be very clear so that any guitarist or anyone doing palmas will understand your compás.
Marcaje por bulerías
Because of the increased speed José has made this step much smaller but it still follows the same sideways movement pattern shown in the marcaje por soleá.
Marcaje por guajira
The compás is marked without travelling across the floor by the sound of the feet and movement of the hips then finishes with a turn on count 8 and a little jump on count 10.
Marcaje por soleá por bulerías
José uses a turn (vuelta) on count 6 and then has very clear movements from his feet and body.
Like anything in flamenco there are many possibilities for marcaje.
The main thing to remember is that marcaje refers to the action of marking the rhythm as well as the type of movement (or step) that you are doing.
Technically every step in flamenco marks rhythm, but these steps which are called marcaje can be danced with a singer.
If you have any questions - let us know in the comments we'd love to hear from you.
Renae and José