|“Tablao Flamenco” by Fernando Botero
You know this cuadro is backing her up!
So, you have your solo. It’s choreographed. You know it inside and out. Maybe you even allow yourself some breathing room for improvising. Or maybe you improvise everything (ole tu). Nothing could go wrong, right? WRONG!
As flamenco dancers, we work so hard on perfecting our own craft: technique, choreography, costuming. But then we perform and we can feel so flat from the experience. We want catharsis, but we then we feel unsettled, uninspired. Why?
Have you ever heard of “it’s not you, it’s me?” Well, it’s true. Sometimes it’s NOT you. It’s the cuadro (the musicians, dancers/palmistas that back you up) that supports you that can let you down. The singer doesn’t sing a normal letra. The guitarist plays too melodically to support your escobilla when you want it. (Of course you should be able to deal with that because you’re in charge of your solo. But still!)
But the worst, the absolute worst is when the cuadro (meaning the other dancers/singers sitting on stage with you) can’t or won’t have your back with strong palmas and more importantly JALEOS. These are all the exclamations of encouragement like “ole, toma, arsa, eso es.”
With jaleos, you feel energized and helps you really dig in to give more of yourself while you dance. You technically could do “nothing” but the jaleos make it special. It adds to the whole AIRE of a flamenco show.
Of course, it could be “you” and you really aren’t prepared to dance, too nervous, having an off night or whatever. But let’s just say for now that’s it’s not.
What happens when the cuadro doesn’t support you with jaleo? It’s either because they don’t know how or don’t want to. I’ve worked with and seen plenty of others that just don’t do it. They just don’t know how! Sad, but true. That would be for the non Spanish folks in the cuadro, though.
The flip side is they just won’t because they don’t care, don’t like you, aren’t “feeling” it or just don’t give it their all with with someone they don’t have a personal relationship with.
Pretty sucky, right?
So, what’s a poor dancer to do? If you do gigs, well, it’s just a gig. Just plug along. If you’re performing on a big stage and you’re “creating art” and you don’t have a cuadro that has your back, well, that truly sucks. Find a new cuadro! If you’re starting out performing on stage and you feel insecure about it all? Know your own part when you’re dancing and carry on.
For all dancers, though, make it a point to support EVERYONE with strong palmas and lots of jaleos no matter what! Don’t know how? Study other videos and recordings and practice!
It’s your duty to give and support the soloist. It’s part of being a flamenco!
Enjoy this video of most excellent dancing, music, palmas, jaleos, the works! Of course we can’t be as brilliant a dancer as Farruquito. But, if only we could all be so lucky and have a cuadro like this to back us up.
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