DANCER’S GUIDE TO FLAMENCO VOCABULARY
There are, of course, endless terms in flamenco because you know, it’s another language! There are words that are just the Spanish equivalent from English, but there are many terms specific to flamenco.
Here is a compilation of vocabulary that every flamenco dancer student should know.
Abanico Fan- large fan dancing is also pericon
Aire Literally “air”- in flamenco an approving reference to the general character of, or manner of performing, a flamenco form- i.e. “This dancer has a lot of aire when she dances Alegrías” ; also the general emotion of a dance- “The aire of Solea is very somber and profound.”
A palo seco Without guitar accompaniment
Bailaor, bailaora Flamenco dancer (male, female), as opposed to ‘bailarin’, which is all other dancers.
Baile Flamenco dance; other (non flamenco) types are referred to as ‘danza’
Bata de cola Dress with a train (literally: “gown [of/with] a tail”)
Braceo A dancer’s use of the arms
Cambio Change; a change in the cante
Cantaor, cantaora Flamenco singer (male, female); other singers are often called cantantes
Careo A passing movement, usually made facing partner (face to face; cara a cara) such as the careos in Sevillanas
Castañuelas Castanets, also known as palillos
Chico Small; used in cante chico to depict the lighter emotions and feelings of flamenco rhythms.
Cierre Close of a series of steps or a line of song
Compás Flamencos use the word to mean (a) to stay in Compás, to stay in rhythm, in time; (b) the count of a particular rhythm, i.e. the Compás of Tangos is 4; (c) a measure or bar, i.e. “This particular step is 4 compases long”- it’s 4 measures or 4 counts of 12 (if a 12 count palo)
Contratiempo Counter time
Cuadro flamenco a flamenco performance group with guitarist(s), dancer(s) and singer(s)
Desplante Usually denotes a step in the rhythm of Bulerías that the dancer strongly steps on 1-2-3 to accent in the letra. It’s also used as a llamada
Duende or tener duende (“to have duende“) is a Spanish term for a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity
Entrada Entrance, beginning of a song or dance
Escobilla The section of a dance in which the bailaor/a does an extended zapateados (footwork)
Estribillo Short phrases sung repeatedly at the end of a song; the last section of a dance done with singing, where the dancer completes the dance
Falseta Solo passages on the guitar, short melodies played at the start of a dance and between verses of a song
Golpe The whole flat of the foot; the movement of striking the flat of the foot against the floor
Hondo/Jondo Serious, deep or profound. Cante hondo and baile hondo are song and dance that depict the more serious feelings and emotions of flamenco
Jaleo Vocal encouragement given to performers, when the audience calls out phrases such as ¡eso!, ¡arsa!, ¡olé!, ¡toma!, ¡vamo!
Juerga A flamenco party where there is casual singing and dancing
Letra Verse of a song; section of a dance when the cantaor/a is singing the lyrics
Llamada A call or signal used by dancers to communicate a change in the dance; llamadas are commonly used to signal a dancer’s entrance or salida, the closing of a section of dance (cierre)
Marcaje Travel steps done by bailaor(a)s, usually while the cantaor(a) is singing
Palmas Hand clapping
Palo Song form or rhythm; literally, a branch. Common palos for dancing include Solea, Alegrías, Bulerías, Tangos and many more
Pasada A particular step in Sevillanas in which the partners pass by each other
Paso Step, as in taking a step, or a particular “step” in a dance
Pellizco Those little nuanced moves that reflect the personality of the dancer and adds life to the dance
Planta The ball of the foot; the movement of striking the ball of the foot against the floor
Remate An accented, decisive move
Salida Start of the baile (literally, going or coming out)
Tablao The venue for a flamenco show
Tacón The heel; the striking of the heel against the floor
Taconeo Heelwork; sometimes used to refer to any footwork
Vuelta A turn; there are many different types of turns used in flamenco dance.
Zapateado Footwork; more specifically, the striking of the different surfaces of the foot against the floor