Student Resources


Flamenco Vocabulary/Terms

Palmas – rhythmic handclapping: “sordas” and “claras”
Palo – the song form; i.e. “tangos” or “bulerias”
Compas – the rhythmic pattern
Golpe – striking the floor with the whole foot
Planta – striking the floor with the ball of the foot
Tacon – striking the floor with the heel from the planta position
Paso(s) – step or sequence of steps
Llamada – the “call” indicating that something is about to change
Letra – the sung “verse” during which the dancer should interpret and reinforce the music,
refraining from loud footwork
Marcaje – marking steps
Remate/Cierre – a strong footwork pattern that “closes out” a section; may be a short “accent” passage during a singer’s respiro
Respiro – a break in the singing usually within a letra.
Salida – exit, it usually has a strong melodic and rhythmic “theme” that is slightly different than everything that came before.

Web Resources – Just a Few of Many Available in English, this website is a terrific clearinghouse for all kinds of flamenco information and has an extensive store offering music, shoes, costumes, books, etc. Only drawback is that their merchandise is expensive and takes a long time to arrive from overseas. Available in English, check out the “for dancers” tab in the upper right. A well-organized resource for flamenco topics including thorough descriptions of palos, flamenco history, what to wear and more. This site is not the most functional but you can order their catalogue with an unbelievable number of Flamenco CDs and related music. In English. Check for class schedules, performances and sign up for the email newsletter.

Recommended Flamenco Music for New Dancers

Look for CDs of live performances with dancers on the recording, Solo Compas CDs, or anything that says, “con baile”. The “Baile Flamenco” (Jose Galvan) series is particularly useful because it contains very traditional versions of many different palos with and then without the sound of baile. I also recommend Paco Pena’s “Flamenco Puro Live”, the soundtrack to (and the movie) “Vengo” and any of the Solo Compas series by various artists. Listen to as much and as many flamenco recordings as you can but just know that recordings done for recording’s sake without dancers are designed to highlight the guitarists and singers. When they are not performing with dancers, they are free to follow the compas and structure that they feel like following for their own artistry – which will most likely not match the structure that you, as a dancer, are learning. So don’t feel like you aren’t “getting it” if you can’t hear where the llamada goes or if the letra is many more compas long than what you learned. Flamenco is improvisational and about self-expression. The rules are made to be bent and broken!

Recommended Books

Edwards/Haas 2000 Flamenco! New York: Thames & Hudson, Inc.

Gomez, Emilio Garcia; translated by Franzen, Cola 1989 Poems of Arab Andalusia San Francisco: City Lights Books

Hayes, Michelle Hefner 2009 Flamenco: Conflicting Histories of the Dance McFarland & Company

Kirkland, Will 1999 Gypsy Cante: Deep Song of the Caves San Francisco: City Lights Books

Lalaguna, Juan 2001 A Traveller’s History of Spain, 5th ed. New York: Interlink Books

Leblon, Bernard 1994 Gypsies and Flamenco University of Hertfordshire Press/Centre de Recherches Tsiganes

Lorca, Federico Garcia 1955/1995 In Search of Duende New York: New Directions Books

Lowney, Chris 2005 A Vanished World: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Medieval Spain Oxford University Press

Pohren, D.E. 1962 The Art of Flamenco Westport, CT: The Bold Strummer

Sevilla, Paco 1999 Queen of the Gypsies: The Life and Legend of Carmen Amaya Sevilla Press

Totten, Robin 2003 Song of the Outcasts Portland, OR: Amadeus Press

Williams, Gretchen Fae 2005 Buen Metál de Voz: The Calé Blacksmiths and Flamenco Cante Jondo Albuquerque: University of New Mexico