Today was Linden’s first private lesson with me. I began the lesson by talking about the elasticity of movement required to dance flamenco. Each action is both impelled and compelled to move. For example, while lifting your arms, not only are you feeling resistance from the air above, you are also being pushed from below. It is as if a set of imaginary arms (think of having Shiva arms) is pushing your arms down from above and lifting your arms up from below. This causes a visual sense of tension that should then become fluid and elastic.
I explained the basic rhythm pattern for 12-count rhythms: 12,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12… This can be seen as 2 sets of 3 (1,2,3; 1,2,3) and 3 sets of 2 (1,2; 1,2; 1,2). Using the concept of elasticity, you can feel the pull from 1 to 3 in the sets of three and 1-2 in the sets of two. Never get tot he beat ahead of time. always jump on it before it is too late.
Basic Marking Step:
looking forward, hands on hips, feet in basic “T” with front foot slightly pointed at 11 o’clock and the back foot pointing in the direction you are walking.
No. 1: Step on back foot (on “12”), touch front foot and then step on it (this is a “3” pattern)…12,1,2-3,4,5
No. 2: Step on back foot and then lightly step on front foot (this is a “2” pattern)…6,7-8,9-10,11. The front foot kind of pops up from the knee as it makes it’s step, while the back foot, heels heads towards rear end and it stamps down as it takes it’s step.
How to Hold the Body: The flamenco back is formed by doing a back bend in the upper back. It can be taught by using the basic structure of Tadasana and Upward Tadasana
Also necessary for the flamenco body is the use of the yoga bandhas: Mula and Uddyana. I explain it by first grasping the muscle in your rear end (as if to stop yourself from going tot he bathroom), then you grasp the muscle to stop yourself from peeing, then you grasp the lower abdominal muscle and that creates a sense of strength holding you to the ground and at the same time lifting you to the sky.
**Note** If your wrists start to hurt from being kept as fists against your hips for a long time, then shake them, press the palms together and lift elbows and also press the back of the hands together and drop elbows to create a nice stretch.
Next in the construction of the flamenco body is the use of your armpit muscles. To get the correct lift in your body, you need to start by lifting the side rib muscles, then your arm pit muscles. You shoulders are lifted by this action, not by the action of shrugging your shoulders. At that point, feel a weight being hung from each bottom point of the scapula. You need to broaden your chest from the center (think of cracking open a lobster) and at the same time, widen your back by adding breath into your muscles and letting everything open up. From there, the “weights” on your shoulders pull the shoulders down and out of the way. You want there to be a flow of air that can pass through your arm pit, not created by lifting your elbows, but by lifting your arm pit muscles (here is where I usually use the visualization of putting a small apricot into your arm pit, not closing your pits so as not to squish it, nor opening your arm pits to allow it to drop. Instead, create a pocket in your arm pit to hold the apricot safe.
Use of the Arms: Braseo
When using the arms, imagine a clock face:
12 o’clock: Arms are up, above the head (at 12 o’clock on a dial)
3 o’clock: One or both arms are open, like a capitol letter “T”
6 o’clock: One or both arms are down (at 6 o’clock on a dial)
9 o’clock: one or both arms are directly in front of the body, no more than 1/2 way across the body.
Basic Footwork: Tacaneo:
flat foot (knees are slightly bent, lift foot as if to kick self in rear end; drop full foot to floor)
double flat foot (first step is a full footed touch, no weight, second stamp takes weight)
Ball (make sure all toes are landing on floor equally)
Heel (use gluteus muscle for a strong sound)
Ball Heel (work for the definition of the two sounds so you do not get a squashed sound)