What is an Alegrias

Alegrias means joy in flamenco and is a happy & carefree toque (rhythmic form in flamenco) which can express intense happiness but tinged with sadness.  It is in the 12 beat compas of Solea but without the angst of the Phrygian mode as it is in the major scale with western sounding tunes.  It is one of a group of toques called Cantinas from the sea-port of Cadiz, maybe an adaptation of Jotas sung by sailors. It  is supposed to be the origin of the bulerias which is the fast jolly dance that ends many flamenco dances.

It is quite easy to learn and improvise because it naturally falls into several sections:

After and Introduction on the guitar there is danced a moderate speed section in the major key, ending in a  llamada (break). The music goes into the next section which is called Campanas (bells) on the guitar.  This is slow and in the minor key and after another llamada the dancers go into to next Escobilla (or speeding-up section) often starting the footwork (Zapateado) very slowly without music (Silencio) which joins in later.  As the music picks up speed it suddenly goes into the Bulerias section which is great fun and then ends.

Depending on how the dancers and musicians feel each section can be long or short and can be repeated.  Each section can be clearly defined and learnt independently but with the 12 beat compas going throughout. For example, there could be several Zapateados and Escobillas for several dancers each speeding-up and restarting slowly, before finally going into the Bulerias for everybody together.  The Bulerias can be danced on its own.  Improvisation can be introduced by learning as few as two different step patterns for the compas of each section and alternating them with a bit of variation. Either the dancer of the musician can do a llamada to indicate that it is time to move on to the next section of the dance.

Press <BACK> on your browser to return.