Welcome to my free beginner flamenco dance tutorial page. Here you will find the must-know basics of flamenco dance. The concepts on the mini tutorial videos below are taught and practised at my entry level courses and contain short exercises. Repetition is the key to learn dance. Think of these mini videos as building blocks.
Flamenco Footwork Basics
The Flamenco footwork, the “taconeo” or “zapateado” is created by dancers through a variety and combination of sounds and tempos. To make each of these sounds, the dancer uses different parts of the shoe. Theses sounds/movements are: planta, tacón, golpe, punta and latiguillo.
Translates as: strike or hit in Spanish. In flamenco the golpe is the loudest of the percussive sounds a dancer can make with one foot. It is a movement in which the dancer drops the lower leg, making the entire surface of the shoe strike full upon the floor.
La Planta y el Tacón
Planta translates as the ball of the foot, it also means “plant”. In flamenco it means the sound/movement made as the ball of the foot hits the floor. The tacón is the heel of the shoe and in flamenco it refers to the sound made with heel of the shoe . Both of these sounds are best achieved with flamenco shoes, specially the planta, because of the nails on the front part of the flamenco shoe. To learn more about flamenco shoes check out my Shoe guide for Beginners
The Hands (Las Manos)
On this video:
0:10 What is the planta and how to hit the floor with it
00:21 Wrist exercise to adquire full range of movement (adentro, inwards)
00:46 Wrist exercise to adquire full range of movement (afuera, outwards)
1:07 Moving the wrist with the arms in 1st position
1:34 Finger movement right hand (mano derecha)
2:40 Finger movement left hand (mano izquierda)
Moving the hands while doing footwork, turning and moving the rest of your body is perhaps one of the hardest concepts to grasp and get used to in flamenco. The method to teach hands varies greatly from teacher to teacher, often depending on personal taste and aesthetic.
Traditionally the hand movements were a lot more elaborate and flowery for female dancers, and men used less curling of the fingers and straighter lines. Those lines are a lot less defined today and it is up to the dancer’s personal preference.
Flamenco Shoes are a dancer’s percussion instrument.
If you are serious about flamenco, you will eventually need flamenco shoes. Check out my flamenco shoe guide
Beginner Flamenco Dance Terminology
- Compás: the rhythm of a flamenco song
- Contratiempo: offbeat
- Falseta: guitar melody
- Letra: verse (as in the lyrics of a flamenco song)
- Palma: handclap
- Zapateo: footwork
- Planta, tacón, golpe: ball, heel, strike – percussive footwork sounds
Translates as hand clapping. The palmas provide the backbone of flamenco music and dance. Dancers use them often in choreography. Practising palmas will help deepen your understanding of flamenco rhythm. There are two kinds of palmas:
- Palmas sordas or cerradas (muffled or closed) create a muffled sound achieved by cupping the palms of your hands.
- Palmas claras or abiertas (clear, high or open) create a crisp, loud sound achieved by hitting the flattened fingers of the right hand on the palm of the left hand.
Marcaje which translates to ‘marking’ are steps used by the dancer to mark the rhythmic patterns (the compás) of the music . These steps are used particularly when the singer is singing and involve very little to no footwork. They are mainly used during the parts of a song that contains singing. Flamenco dancers refer to a marcaje as a group of steps that form a pattern, and to marcajes as a group of various marcaje patterns.
Marcajes de salida: to start the dance (walking in compas)
Marcajes de espera (on the spot, we are waiting for the singer to start, or we choose to keep a holding pattern through a letra (verse of a song) or falseta (guitar melody)
Marcajes de baile: more elaborate, include movement, more action, more arms
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The word ‘llamada‘ comes from the Spanish verb llamar – ‘to call’. In the flamenco dance context, it means a “cue” and/or a “moment of emphasis” in the dance, usually defined by strong footwork or gestures and a change in the flow of the dance. It can have various functions, specially during improvisation, for example:
- to announce the start or end of a dance
- to emphasize the end a melodic or a footwork section
- during improvisation, to indicate to the musicians (singer, guitarist) that he/she is going to continue, finish, change tempo…etc
- to fill in the brakes in the singing (respiros del cante) with footwork
- to let the singer know when to start singing – llamada al cante
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