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This flamenco glossary will help you understand one of the most beautiful arts performed in Spain. Flamenco dance was born in Andalucía, probably by the end of the 18th century and it has been part of our culture since then.
Fortunately, flamenco crossed our borders long ago and has become one of Spain’s best ambassadors.
Madrid is one of the best cities in Spain to enjoy an authentic flamenco show.
Please note that this flamenco glossary is by no means exhaustive but it will give you a general understanding of some of the most common terms related to flamenco. Each word has either the translation or a short explanation.
Aire – Air. Term describing the expressiveness or atmosphere of a flamenco performance.
Baile – Dance.
Bailaor – Flamenco dancer.
Braceo – Movement of the arms during the dance.
Cantaor – Flamenco singer.
Café Cantante – Coffee house with flamenco shows (originally starting with flamenco cante but eventually covering all flamenco forms).
Cajón – Percussive instrument similar to an empty wooden box. The performer sits on it and beats on the front face.
Cante – Song.
Cante Chico – Literally, “little song”. It’s the 3rd of the flamenco songs general classification. This kind of song is lighthearted, festive, folkloric and even frivolous.
Cante Grande – Literally, “big/important song”. It’s the 1st of the flamenco songs general classification. This kind of song is usually deep and dark.
Cante Intermedio – Literally, “intermediate song”. It’s the 2nd of the flamenco songs general classification. A subjective middle between the previous two.
Cante Jondo – Deep song or singing style covering both the dark and the serious aspects of flamenco. Usually perceived as harsh and primitive by less experienced listeners, jondo style songs are passionate and profound. The performer conveys very powerful emotions.
Castañuelas – Castanets. Small pair of wooden plates held together in one hand which is clicked to form the dance’s base rhythm. They aren’t used in pure flamenco.
Copla – A song’s verse. Also used to describe the sections of sevillanas.
Cuadro – Group of flamenco performers (dancers, singers and guitarists).
Duende – The soul force inspiring flamenco art.
Falda – Skirt.
Flamenco Puro – Synonym of “genuine” or “traditional” flamenco.
Floreo – Hand movements of dancers.
Gitano – Gypsy.
Hondo – Literally, “deep”, “profound”.
Jaleo – Approval and encouragement shouts. It will help you recognize of the duende.
Jondo – Variation of the Spanish word hondo.
Juerga – Flamenco party.
Letra – Lyrics.
Mantón – Embroidered silk shawl with long fringing. This item was originally known as mantón de Manila (located in The Philippines, former Spanish colony until 1898). However, its origin is in China.
¡Olé! – Exclamation of approval or encouragement.
Palillos – Castanets or castañuelas.
Palmas – Rhythmic hand clapping used to accompany flamenco song and dance. It seems very simple but after several years trying it, I’m totally unable to do so (fail!).
Palmeros – People of the cuadro clapping while the musicians play. They can be men and women.
Pasada – Act of passing a partner during the course of a dance. De pecho is a pass chest-to-chest, whereas de espalda is back-to-back.
Payo – A non-gypsy.
Quejío – Deformation of the word quejído (lament or cry).
Sevillanas – Popular festive, folkloric Andalusian dance. It has a structured format consisting of a group of four short dances. Within each one, a melodic theme is played three times and ends with a sudden stop. Right then the dancers strike a pose. Sevillanas are the usually danced during the Feria de Abril.
Tablao – Low stage. It’s also a nightclub or cafe where flamenco shows are performed.
Tocaor – Flamenco guitarist.
Tacón – Foot heel.
Taconeo – Flamenco footwork, where the heel hits the floor in rhythmic patterns. Pay attention carefully because this is the most difficult part of the dance.
This article is part of a complete tutorial about flamenco in Spain where you can read all the information you need to enjoy this typical Andalusian folklore.
Here is a complete summary of all the guide:
1. What Is Flamenco?
2. Where To See Flamenco In Madrid?
3. The Best Flamenco Show In Madrid
4. How To Enjoy Flamenco Dancing In Madrid
5. Where To Take Flamenco Lessons In Madrid
6. Flamenco History And Origins
7. Understanding Flamenco Singing (Cante)
8. Understanding Flamenco Dance (Baile)
9. Understanding Flamenco Guitar (Toque)
10. The Different Flamenco Styles
11. A Flamenco Glossary