Nowadays, we cannot imagine a flamenco show without a good zapateado that accompanies the music and the dance, almost like another instrument, but this hasn’t always been the case… Join us to discover the history of the zapateado flamenco and how it should be performed so that it becomes a key element of the show.
What Is the Zapateado Technique?
The zapateo, also known as taconeo, works as one more percussion instrument. Its name comes from the Spanish word taco, which means heel. However, the sound comes from the rhythm that the dancer makes with both the heel and the tip of the foot, thus adding strength and passion to the dance.
It is also considered one of the styles of flamenco, found in all kinds of performances of the other styles. Besides, it is polyrhythmic, since it combines different sorts of beats.
What Is the Origin of the Zapateo of Flamenco?
Nearly every part of the world has a dance or rhythm similar to the flamenco zapateado: although its beat may resemble the African tribal dances, we also find similar dances in Mexico, Colombia, and Cuba. It can also be compared with the American tap dance, which matches perfectly with the picture given of flamenco as a multicultural dance.
What we know today as flamenco taconeo is thought to have its roots in Cadiz, in the work of Josefa Vargas, regarded as one of the first female dancers to include it in her performances, though it was soon adopted by the rest of the artists.
How Is the Zapateo Performed?
Whether it is performed by a man or a woman, a bailaor or a bailaora, the zapateo is danced wearing pants, with the aim of displaying the movements of the artist’s feet to the audience.
Although the experience and art of the dancers may suggest otherwise, it is not an easy technique. It requires a lot of practice and know-how to perform it with the required grace and power. Experts advise to heel with the knees slightly bent and to put the weight of the body on the sole of the foot, rather than on the heel.
What Are the Steps of Flamenco Zapateo?
Flamenco taconeo is based on different combinations of heel-heel and heel-sole strikes, trying to achieve a similar intensity and sound when striking with the heel as when striking with the sole, always bearing in mind that the steps should be performed from the waist down, since the torso should not move when performing a zapateado. Once they internalize the basic variations, the dancers practice them tirelessly, with the goal of performing the steps faster.
What Shoes Are Worn for Flamenco Dancing?
It is necessary to distinguish between the footwear used by men and women to dance flamenco: while women wear heels, men dance in boots.
Female dancers, bailaoras, usually wear 2 to 7-centimeter heels, with a strap that goes across the foot to secure the ankle. This footwear is usually made of leather and suede, although sometimes they are synthetic. There are heels with and without nails (the latter are designed for practice) and, depending on their quality, there are amateur or training heels, semi-professional, professional, and elite flamenco footwear, which are worn by the best bailaoras.
On the other hand, the boots, which are usually black, are also often made of leather and have a small Cuban-style heel, which helps the dancer show off during his performance.
In What Styles of Flamenco Is Zapateo Most Typically Performed?
As previously mentioned, the zapateado can be considered a style of flamenco in itself, because of its development and the important role it plays in a performance. However, it is true that some flamenco forms are better suited for this type of dance and it is while watching them that it is more likely to enjoy the zapateado. But, if there is one with which it overlaps especially well, it is the tanguillos gaditanos, because they share beat and meter.
Do you want to enjoy an authentic flamenco zapateado and vibrate with the pace and the duende of the best dancers of Spain? Book any of the performances that the Gran Gala Flamenco company offers at the Palau de la Música Catalana and at the Poliorama Theater to attend an authentic flamenco show full of talent. Come and meet us!