Beginning Flamenco: The Basic Foot Steps in Flamenco
- Flamenco Underground | Denver
Flamenco dance classes, shows and dance studio. Art gallery and artist co-op.
The Role of the Dancer
A Flamenco dancer is drum and drummer rolled into one: the music takes its rhythm from the beat of the shoes. The palmeros (rhythmic clappers – more on that in a subsequent post) may help keep the compas, the tempo, but the dancer leads the speed. For that, her footwork must be clear, and the accents must ring through louder than the rest. And she must keep the compas consistent. For that, I recommend practicing with a metronome until you have internalized the pace.
Three Basic Steps
There are three basic foot steps for Flamenco: planta (ball), tacon (heel), golpe (stomp). The punta (point) is also often used, as are several other positions such as the chaflan (bouncing the ball of the foot against the floor – looks like a shuffle, but there is no glide – more on that in a subsequent post.)
For all steps in Flamenco, draw your foot straight back making a right angle with your knee. You need the force of your foot dropping for the accents; without the accents, a guitarist will get lost. (According to my Flamenco teacher, Natalia, really arrogant guitarists will actually stop playing if they can't follow your lead!) If you are wearing a skirt, your lifted leg will likely vanish; either way, channel the flamingo the dance is supposedly NOT named after.
For the planta, arch the foot to its maximum; you want the ball of the foot to strike squarely, but you also want enough room for the heel to drop with a forceful tap. In your flamingo position, drop the foot so the ball strikes. Do not slide; the planta should drop squarely and stay. "There is no shuffling in Flamenco," as Natalia would say.
The tacon will come one of two ways. If your foot is in the arched planta position, drop your heel with a sharp crack. You are not releasing the position as if tired; you are dropping the heel deliberately. An accent will often come from this move. If you are in your flamingo position, drop your foot while flexing sharply; the heel of your shoe should dig into the floor. Need I mention it is to dig and stop? There is no shuffling in Flamenco. With practice and shins of steel, you should even be able to walk digging your heels into the floor with feet flexed clear off.
Lastly comes the golpe. From the flamingo position, drop your foot flat to the ground. The sound should be a distinctive stomp. This is harder than it sounds; gravity naturally wants to draw the foot forward, blurring the sound. There is no shuffling in Flamenco, so you must practice to keep the foot still and the sound clean. Try marching, but instead of goose-stepping, draw back in the flamingo. It feels awkward at first, but I can do entire walking videos now flamingo-style.
Basic Escobilla Step
A classic step for escobilla, footwork, is the planta-tacon(heel drop)-tacon(heel dig)-planta. Alternate legs: planta-tacon(heel drop), tacon(heel dig)-planta. Repeat en compas until you are ready to lead even the most arrogant of guitarists!