If you were to go to your very first flamenco dance lessons, there are a few basics I would cover. I would start by teaching you the fundamentals of flamenco footwork. This is the language that the flamenco dancer uses to tell a story. Your feet are a musical instrument. The sounds you make with them and they way they integrate with the rhythm tells a story. Before we care learn to talk, let us learn the alphabet or the building blocks we will use to weave tall tales from.
In these flamenco dance lesson we will cover only three. These are the three most common footwork sounds in flamenco.
Flamenco Dancer Performing
Stomp (golpe in Spanish) is the loudest and most assertive of the sounds that you can make with your feet. It is also the most common sound you will be making when you dance. You goal is to hit the floor with your whole foot (heel and ball) making a crisp sound. You need to experiment with the level of force that you apply to your stomp. Too much force will hurt your feet, too little will rob you of energy. You want to achieve an effective and light impact that will create a loud enough sound while keeping your foot light enough to keep on moving.
If all our footwork is loud then it will all sound the same and will not communicate much. Dig (planta in Spanish) is a softer sound. It is a sound that communicates volumes by modulating the strength of a stomp. The trick for executing an effective dig is a flexible arch in your feet. You need to be able to flex your foot quickly so that you can hit the floor with the ball of your foot while keeping the heel raised up. The higher the heel is, the better the sound will be. Same as with the stomp, you want to experiment with the level of force applied. Too much force can drain your energy. You want an effective dig which is light enough so that you are ready for the next dance move, yet rooted into the floor to be making a distinctive flamenco statement.
Once you executed a dig, the natural sound to make next is to let gravity do its thing and allow the heel to drop to the floor making a sound. Heel (tacon in Spanish) should sound somewhere between a stomp and a dig. You can have no fear applying force to this one. Heels in flamenco footwork can be loud or soft depending on the context. The trick is to train the arches of your feet to be able to lift your heels up as high as possible while keeping the balls of your feet firmly rooted on the floor. With lots of practice you will be able to increase the range of motion in your feet towards this purpose.
It is important when doing flamenco footwork to keep good posture. Stand up straight. Push your shoulders down and keep your chest up. The most important aspect is to avoid bouncing when doing flamenco footwork. You want your head to stay leveled. You can achieve this, by bending your knees just a little and watch yourself in the mirror while practicing. A micro knee bend is enough to achieve this goal. You also want to create strength in your abdomen area to help with balance.
Flamenco Arm Movements
Start by standing up straight, feet hip width apart. Pull your shoulders back, suck your tummy in and lift your chest up proudly. While dancing flamenco, you need to move your arms with tension, as if you are making an effort. Imagine that you are moving your arms through thick liquid and you need to apply force for every inch of movement you make. While moving your arms practice keeping your elbows up. This is one of the fundamental stylistic elements of flamenco. When raising and arm up, keep the elbow up for as long as possible and only let it come down when it is physically impossible to keep it so. It is important to do these arms exercises slowly initially so that you can be sure that you are doing them correctly. Try practicing in front of a mirror. Overtime you will be able to do these moves quickly and correctly at the same time. Your arms will lock in the right position automatically without you having to think about it. After doing this exercise for 5 or 10 minutes your arms should feel tired. If you are not feeling tired at all it means that you are not applying enough tension in your arms.
Flamenco Dance Lessons
Each lesson is a youTube playlist with a sequence of videos. Follow in the order I set for you or mix it up according to your preference. That is the advantage of online dance lessons. You get to choose what you focus on.
Flamenco Dance Lessons #1
Flamenco Dance Lessons #2
Flamenco Dance Lessons #3
Flamenco Dance Lesson #4
Here is the music so that you can practice on your own
These are the basic building blocks. It’s up to you to practice, practice, practice. The more you practice the better you will get. Listen to lots of flamenco music. Watch youTube videos of famous flamenco dancers online. Good luck in your flamenco dance adventure.