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Elements of Flamenco

Watching and dancing Flamenco, there is so much going on! There is the impetuous footwork, the posed torso and head, the elegant movement of the arms and fingers, and the raw expression which surfaces during live performance.


Elements of Flamenco

Posted By : Natalie Solgala On 1st February 2022

A few years into my own Flamenco journey, I pondered about the ancient elements sewn into this art form and I reflected on how the five elements: air, water, fire, earth and spirit are demonstrated through Flamenco. This is not something generally talked about within the Flamenco community, it is something that naturally came to me when connecting to the dance in a deeper way.

Here´s a little breakdown of the elements expressed through Flamenco dance.


Your hands and fingers are the antenna or feelers which channel universal energy. They are moving around your body the whole time you are dancing, as though to feel out your immediate environment and also to create a magic circle around you, literally drawing lines with your fingers and creating magic. Early on, I was always fascinated by the pose with the two hands above your head, middle finger to thumb, echoing what looked to me like a Stag´s antlers, which are a channel for recieving intuition through your crown chakra.


Sensitivity is key in dancing Flamenco. One misinterpretation of a show is that it´s all about the dancer. But the dancer is constantly interpreting what the musicians behind them are doing. There are times when a dancer might be disappointed as the musicians have misinterpreted or forgotten a musical component that the dancer has asked them to play, so maybe they then miss out on dancing that bit. That´s ok -in fact, that´s the beauty of Flamenco. A dancer´s performance is less about the dancer alone and much more about the solidarity and union of the whole group on stage. For that to work, the dancer must be sensitive. If an unexpected part of music starts being played, it´s vital to relax, take a breather, and either change the direction of where you and the group are going musically (by clearly indicating to the musicians what you want them to do next), or melt into the moment and embrace it.

Also, aside from the fiery elements of Flamenco dance, there are parts which are soft. The guitarists´ falsetas are usually some of the most beautiful parts of a performance, and they inspire a dancer to connect deeply and merge with the music and soften their movements, to surrender and be vulnerable.


When people think of “Flame-nco”, they literally think of FLAMES. It´s undeniable that one of the things that makes the performance so different to other art forms, is how cathartic and furious it can be. So what is behind those flames and how can we ignite our own? Fire symbolises creativity, and the best way to authentically express what you´re feeling inside is if the dancing really comes from you. A lot of students learn a choreography in class and then perform those steps, which is great during the learning process. But there comes a time when there is only so much you can connect to the steps made up by another person. An emotional reaction is evoked from the audience when the dancer is truly showing who they are, and that comes from dancing their own creations. When you dance your own ideas, it´s easy, it comes out naturally, and it allows a dancer to do it with sass and show their personality which is where so much passion resides. Nothing is more beautiful to encounter, than seeing the real you.


Flamenco footwork is like nothing else, it´s full of rage, rhythm and robustness. But it also grounds you: the vibration made by the feet rise up through the body, shoots up through your legs, all the way up to your skull. There is a deep alignment and connection from the earth to the skies. And even the mental process of working out the timing of a step, which requires concentration, brings you down to earth.

The hips are also very earthy. There are certain Flamenco styles (“palos”) like Tangos, which typically evoke more sway in the hips, which always seems reminescent of the Mother Earth energy, all things feminine, and connecting to all things beautiful about being a woman.


Finally let´s talk about “Duende”. “Duende” is a mythical word and concept that many have tried to define in Flamenco. It consists of the unique, undefinable moments which involuntarily inspire the audience to exclaim “Oleeeeee”. It´s when the dancer or musician have an out of body experience and everybody feels it. In the Flamenco world in Spain, people don´t seem to be too worried about defining this phenomenon, as some Flamenco enthusiasts are abroad. Here, it´s much better not to define it, that´s what makes it so magical. One thing´s for sure though, when that magical moment arises from a performer, they are connecting to a higher plain and channeling something that all of mankind recognises, comprehends and feels.


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