Flamenco dancing: braceo, floreo and marcaje

 In Flamenco in Seville

Flamenco dancing is part of the idiosyncrasy of this pure art. The dancers leave their skin on the boards and manage to transmit passion, joy, sensuality, love, in short, feeling.

The movement of arms, hands and even feet, fit in harmony within the rhythm and compass of each style of flamenco, making each dance an expression that speaks for itself. Although many flamenco artists improvise on the flamenco tablao, the technique is fundamental to know which flamenco style you are in.

The most essential part is the braceo, the movement of the arms, which is accompanied by the movement of the hands and fingers, whose most basic displacement is the semicircular movement from top to bottom, or vice versa. In the bailaoras, above all, this `meneo´ is done above the waist, having, thus, the arms always a little elevated, seeking at all times naturalness.

Next to them are the hands, whose rotation is not the result of chance or improvisation, but follows certain patterns. Both hands and fingers transmit all the beauty of flamenco dance and make it unique, adorning it with elegant movement.

A very common phrase among flamenco instructors is “the hands must move like pigeons”, with delicacy and ease, making the energy flow through the arms and hands until it reaches the fingers.

Braceo and floreo in flamenco dancing

Well, the basic braceo, as you’ve just read, is when the arms move semicircularly from top to bottom outside the torso or from bottom to top around the center of the body.

The wrists, while performing these movements, rotate in a circular fashion and the fingers open and close, “like the wings of a dove”. This way of moving the fingers is called floreo.

If you’re a beginner in flamenco dancing that’s the first thing you’re going to practice. If you dare, you’ll see that it’s not as easy as it seems, as the greatest complication lies in getting the movement to be natural.

In addition, all this choreography accompanies the movements that take place in the flamenco tablao, as well as other movements, such as zapateado.

Within this technique, there are small differences between men and women. Flamenco is an art that seeks to allow the person who interprets it to express themselves freely, which is why there is room for so many interpretations, whether of singing or dancing.

flamenco dance show seville

  • Some examples of hand movements of Flemish artists that have become the norm are:
  • Do not peel off the fingers, while women make movements from the little finger to the index finger.
  • Peel off only two fingers, in the case of men, index and heart.
  • Form a circle with the middle and thumb fingers, or doing spins, in the case of dancers.
  • Do with your hands as if you were holding a handful of something, with your hand open calling someone or totally tense and open, like a rebuff.

Marcaje, steps and zapateado 

As we have already told you at the beginning of this article, in addition to arms and hands, flamenco dance also includes feet. Among flamenco dancers this part is known as “dance the lyric” or marcaje, as they move to the beat of the cantaor.

In this part, to the movement of the feet are added those of the arms, with steps in the same place or in walks (when the dancer moves around the stage).

The marcaje also includes torsions of the body (very characteristic of the high point of the flamenco show), turns and movements of the hip and shoulders. Here, the bailaor or bailaora explores himself, enjoying the improvisation and letting the music take him.

Along with the marcaje, the zapateado or zapateo is used, which, on the boards, makes a noise that emphasizes certain flamenco dance notes. They can be made in brief combinations or in a more extended form, also known as escobilla.

flamenco museum seville

Marisa Risu, flamenco dancer in Cuna del Flamenco.

In this way, the bailaor communicates with the cantaor and the guitarist. It is a proper language in which one can make a call to the singing, change the rhythm or close a dance.

Thanks to the movement of sole, heel and toe, flamenco artists make their feet dance during the show.

Handclapping during flamenco dancing

We’ve told you before that once again it’s not the same to applaud as to follow the beat, that’s why the rhythm of clapping in flamenco is another element of the dance.

Each palo has its own rhythm that makes it different and that marks the structure of the movements of the dancers on stage. The palms can be sonorous or deaf and both have their own meaning and express different feelings.

As you can see, flamenco dancing is a mixture of movements and techniques that, combined, make it unique, different, pure. To enjoy it, the best thing to do is to go see a flamenco show in Seville, and let yourself be carried away by everything that the artists express on stage.

Book your ticket online and come and see “Seducción Flamenca” at Cuna del Flamenco.

We are waiting for you!

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