The Guajira 

Palos Flamencos Series: Your Guide To Learning Flamenco Dance

The Guajira is a flamenco style that emerged from the fusion of Spanish and Central American cultures, resulting in a mix with a cadent melody, a slow rhythm, and a joyful and sensual, seductive character. In flamenco, it belongs to the  “cantes de ida y vuelta”. 

The term “ida y vuelta” is used due to the belief that these styles reached America through Spanish emigrants. They transformed there, and upon the return of these emigrants to their roots, the palos took shape, adopting the forms known in Spain. Besides the Guajira, other “ida y vuelta” palos that originate from Hispanic-American folk music are milonga, rumba, vidalita, and colombiana. 

The Guajira follows a 12-beat compas (rhythm), akin to that of the alegría, with a similar pace. Dancers often wear light colors such as off-white and pastels and lace, reminiscent of Central America costumes.

The dance is traditionally accompanied by a fan, introducing a sensual element that is irresistibly charming. This requires a special technique, which includes learning how to open, close and move the fan while dancing.

The dance, with its music and melody, combined with the fan and light attire, creates a visually appealing spectacle as dancers rhythmically tap their feet, seemingly effortlessly. Unlike many flamenco palos, whihc involve strong emotions, the Guajiras is pleasant, flirtatious, sensual and sweet in its manner, reflecting the sweetness, beauty and easy of the tropical island.

As with other flamenco palos, traditionally the Guajiras are danced as a solo, however it can be choreographed as a group dance. Below is an except of a Guajira I choreographed for my company dancers. On the video you will see they start with 2 fans and then they move on to one. 

Characteristics of the Guajira:

The Guajira’s melody is sweet, reminiscent of a lullaby, and its lyrics often speak of Cuba, especially Havana.  The lyrics often vividly depict the singer’s everyday life, offering a glimpse into a disappearing, nostalgic and yet suggestive past filled with references to sugarcane, tobacco, and the captivating beauty of the island an exotic and tropical setting, with mestizo Havana providing a captivating back dropportraying a rhythmic and melodic expression

Play Video about Dancer from aria Osende Flamenco Company performing a guajira

Guajiras from SUBLIME by Maria Osende Flamenco Co.

Dancers from left to right: Francesca Nardi, Michelle Raiche-Marsden, Colleen Power
Guitar: Jose Vega
VOCALS: Enrique “el Henry” Rojo
Percussion: Ian MacMillan
Choreography: Maria Osende

Play Video about Maria Osende Guajira ©Roselyne Rheaume
Find out more about flamenco  fans on my Guide to Buying your First Fan.

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