Alegrías is such a fun rhythm. It’s a mid to fast tempo with a 12 count compás. The aire is happy and light and danced by both men and women. Many times it’s danced with mantón and/or bata de cola.
Even though the aire is happy, there are many dancers that sink their teeth into it and get funky with it. If you can’t identify it right away by its melody, one way to know that it’s Alegrías is when the singer usually starts singing, instead of singing a regular entrada of ay, ay, ay, the singer sings “tiri ti tran tran tran, tiri ti tran, tran, tran…….”
Alegrías has the standard flow of other dances with letras, escobilla and Bulerías with few different elements:
- Entrada for singer (titi ti tran)
- Letras (usually two singing verses)
- After the second letra, there’s generally a little footwork that finishes with a subida (tempo build up)
- Silencio (slow falseta specific for Alegrías)
- Castellana (optional letra that’s a fast estribillo that leads into the escobilla)
- Escobilla (footwork)
- Bulerías de Cádiz (letra of Bulerias that’s only sung at the end of an Alegrias)
- Estribillo (ending chorus)
As usual, there are variations with possibly more falsetas, extended escobillas and multiple letras of Bulerías.
What can be tricky for many dancers is understanding the compás and the changes of accents throughout the dance. The dance is, of course, in 12 count- and it has the traditional accents of 12-3-6-8-10. But then the silencio starts on 1 with accents of 1-4-7-10. Plus the traditional escobilla has a specific melody with the guitar.
The escobilla should start on 1 just like the silencio. But then the dancer must switch the accents with her footwork to 12 so that the guitarist changes the melody from Alegrías starting on 1 to Bulerías starting on 12. (Read that sentence over and over!) If this is performed in tablao and there is no rehearsal, then it’s up to the dancer to be very clear with that transition to 12. I tend to to turn slightly towards the guitarist to make sure they are watching me and “with” me on this.
Here is my own Alegrías solo performed at the Feria en Los Alamitos in 2022 with the complete breakdown below. Follow along and see if you identify the parts as well. 😉
- 0:00 letra sung “aire libre”
- 0:58 llamada
- 1:15 first letra
- 2:12 llamada
- 2:26 second letra
- 3:06 subida
- 3:25 silencio
- 4:40 escobilla (por Alegrias)
- 5:23 transition to escobilla por Bulerias
- 5:52 palo seco- marcaje
- 6:28 palo seco- escobilla
- 7:08 bulerias de cadiz
- 7:42 estribillo
Did you notice all these parts? I teach this sort of breakdown of dances, the structure of flamenco and the breakdown of the particular letras inside my Online Flamenco Studio. Click here to join the waitlist for the next open enrollment.