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About Sevillanas

An essential part of any flamenco repertoire, Sevillanas is closely associated with Seville's
April Fair, Fria de Abrl en Sevilla. This light and lively song and social dance has roots that
extend deeply into many parts of Spanish culture. The dance exudes romanticism, and has
a joyous, flirtatious air.

Sevillanas first emerged as a distinct form in the late 18th Century as a variant of the
Spanish song form seguidillas,appearing simultaneously with the Escuela Bolera, a
formalized approach to studying and performing a variety of Spanish regional dances. By
the 19th Century, Sevillanas were an important form in the Escuela Bolera.

The names of many of the steps in the Sevillanas (e.g., el paseo, la pasada, el zapateado, el
careo, and las vueltas)are from Escuela Bolera practice. An important detail Sevillanas
retains from the Escuela Bolera style is the pose the dancer takes at the end of each copla,
known as bien parado, or "standing well."

Sevillanas was eventually folded into the flamenco repertoire, and in the process
became aflamencada - "flamenco-ized."

Because it is a partner dance, Sevillanas is often the only Spanish dance non-dancers have
learned, contributing to it's social role within Spanish-speaking and flamenco communities.

The Sevillanas is associated with El Rocio, an annual pilgrimage to a sacred shrine in the
Coto Doana. Many of the letras of the Sevillanas are associated with this and other
religious subjects.

Although Sevillanas have passed through various periods in the evolution of Spanish culture,
it's important to know that these facets of Spanish culture are still alive today, and that
Sevillanas is very much a part of each of them.

Form

The dance form Sevillanas consists of a series of coplas (verses), each of which share the
same basic traditional structure:

1) Salida (entrance, generally a rhythmic pattern on the guitar)

2) Cante introduction (an important moment that flows into the dancer's opening
cue)

3) Vuelta normale and/or opening pose

4) 1st dance variation (which includes pasos sevillanas and other steps)

5) Pasada (the partners switch places here through a series of short steps)
6) 2nd dance variation (steps and patterns vary)

7) Pasada (identical to the first pasada)

8) 3rd dance variation (steps and patterns vary)

9) Cierre (closing/ending, which can include a turn or bien parado)

This traditional structure remains the same for all four coplas. The music and cante can vary
in each copla, and the choreography before, between and after each pasada differs in each
copla. The pasada, a sequence of steps in which the dancers pass each other, occurs twice
in each verse as noted above, and is identical in structure each time it occurs. This unique
and clear structure allows dancers who have learned different variations and styles
to perform the dance together.

Comps

Sevillanas is a driving 3/4 rhythm with an accent on count 1 and a through rhythm
on beats 2 and 3. Choreographic sequences are built on series of 3 or 6 count
phrases (1 set of 3 counts or 2 sets of 3 counts) throughout each copla, and pauses
often occur on the 6th count (step on counts 1, 2, 3, 1, 2 pause 3).
Rhythms
There are no palmas patterns associated with Sevillanas. Instead, there is a
standard rhythmic pattern performed on both the guitar and castanets that uses
rasgueados (guitar) or rolls (castanets) to emphasize beats 2 and 3.

Castanets are often included in theatrical and folkloric versions of the dance, and
the basic castanet pattern, a double triplet roll surrounded by a series of glpes
(single hits on the left or right hand, i.e.: hit left, roll right, hit left, roll right, hit left,
hit right) is standard practice in this dance as illustrated in the above example. The
above phrase is described by castanet players as: TA (left hand gple/hit) RIA (right
hand roll followed by a left hand glpe) RIA (same as previous example) TI (right
hand glpe/hit). Other patterns are often included in the dance, though the above
example is the primary castanet phrase.
For Dancers
This partner dance is performed throughout the world at the annual Fria de Abril, as well as in flamenco and Spanish
dance concerts, tablaos, films, and dance competitions in Spain and around the world.

Contemporary and modern Spanish and flamenco dancers often vary the choreography of Sevillanas, forever adding
new poses and steps for heightened theatricality. However, the structure detailed below applies to almost all versions
of the Sevillanas:

Salida/Sala A rhythmic introduction on the guitar during which the dancers


perform a quick series of passes, changing places with one
another repeatedly. Dancer's may also simply stand in place
waiting for a cue from the singer or guitarist.
Cante introduction, The guitar introduction finishes with a cue signaling the singer
vuelta normale, and to sing the opening phrase. The dancers perform a turn, usually
opening pose a vuelta normale, during the last beats of the singer's opening
phrase. The singer and dancers end the phrase together, with
the dancer ending in a pose or with a stamp of the right foot. If
the singer performs this opening phrase libre, or free of the
comps, the dancer waits for the appropriate moment to begin
either the turn, perform right glpe, or take the first step of the
paso sevillanas.

Dancers may choose to forego the turn, and simply wait for the
cue from the singer to begin the first dance steps, the pasos
sevillanas.

1st Dance variation This variation includes standardized steps and choreography,
particularly pasos sevillanas. There are many different versions
of this variation. The specifc steps one performs depend on
who's teaching it and the traditions within which they teach, and
whether what they teach includes original choreography.
1st Pasada This consists of a series of steps in which the dancers pass each
other, front to front or back to back, switching places as they do
so. In traditional versions of the dance, the pasada always ends
with one paso sevillanas.
2nd Dance variation This variation has different steps than the first variation, but
lasts the same number of beats.
2nd Pasada 2nd Pasada - identical to the 1st pasada.
3rd Dance variation This variation differs from the first two variations and ends with
and Cierre the cierre, which can include a final turn or a closing dance
gesture that is a highly stylized and personalized series of steps
ending with the bien parado - a traditional pose.

Each copla is approximately 1 minute to 90 seconds long depending on the tempo, making the entire dance 4-6
minutes long.

Common Sevillanas Steps


Paseos/Pasos The most common dance step performed in Sevillanas includes
Sevillanas a front and backward stepping pattern:

Step forward with the left foot, then tap the right foot
directly behind the left;

Step back with the right foot, tap the left foot in front of
the right;

Perform a Rodozan (Rond de jambe), a rounding of the


leg from front to back in which the left leg circles around
front to back.

The same pattern can then be performed starting on the


right foot. In the first copla, this pattern is performed
five times at the beginning of the dance.

Pasada/Pasadas Passing steps. Partners switch places with each other twice in
each verse.
Paseos Panaderos A continuous series of Pasadas ending with a stamp, turn, or
pose.
Vueltas normales Regular turns - upright, pivot turns. To executive the turn:

1. 1. The right foot crosses in front of the left.

2. 2. The dancer swiftly turns to the left by pivoting on the


balls of both feet in 3 counts.

3. 3. A back turn is performed by crossing the left foot


behind the right, then pivoting.

Vuelta/s de paso/s Stepping turns, similar to a slow tour chan (chain turn) in
ballet.
Pas de Basque Basque step. A waltzing, 3-count step:

1. 1. One foot steps in place

2. 2. The opposite foot rocks front

3. 3. The original foot steps in place a second time,

4. 4. The dancer performs the above three sequences on


the other side and vice versa.

5. 5. If this pattern is performed in the 2nd copla, it occurs


five times.

Redoble Double up. A sharp, rapid triplet followed by an accented beat


(1-and-a 2):

1. One foot performs a single glpe,

2. The opposite foot performs a double glpe (doble),

3. The original foot performs a single glpe.

Redobles can also be performed with plantas (balls of the foot)


and tacns (heel drops). Redobles always retain a sharp triplet
sound.

For Guitarists
In playing Sevillanas, guitarists either accompany singers, strumming chords in a
fixed rhythmic pattern, or play composed instrumental Sevillanas coplas that fit the
form of the coplas as performed by dancers.

Contemporary soloists such as Paco De Luca, Gerado Nuez and Moraito Chico have created
some beautiful concert solo versions of Sevillanas. In general, the guitarist's primary role in
Sevillanas is to accompany singers and dancers.

Instrumental Sevillanas:

There are three parts to a traditional instrumental Sevillanas: the rhythmic introduction,
the salida, and the melody and cierre:

Accompanying Sevillanas Cante

Accompanying singers por sevillanas is largely a matter of strumming the chords for the
particular sevillanas being sung, using the rasgueado pattern described above.

The sample below demonstrates how this is done.

Sample Cante
Here is a sample of a traditional Sevillanas copla.
We perform two coplas, and the chords shown below.

The lyrics included below have to do with the beauty of the Giralda tower, an ancient
minaret attached to the Cathedral of Seville dating back to Moorish culture and the mosque
that pre-dates the cathedral. Also mentioned is the golden tower, the Torre de Oro, which is
where ships returning from the new world stopped to drop off their gold and riches. Also
mentioned is the beauty of guitar music and singing in the city, alluding to all things
wonderful and beautiful that exist in the music and dance culture of Seville.

To help guitarists understand how to accompany Sevillanas, we offer two versions.

For the first version, the guitar plays the first beat of each bar to hear how the chords line
up with the words.

In the second version, the guitar plays the traditional Sevillanas rasgueado
described above. Compare this to the rhythm of the Verdiales.

Rubato a tempo
(Capo 3) ( (E) . . F . . . F . . . . . . . ...E E
Salida La Giralda Reluce, que maravilla
|F . . . |E . . . . |F . . . .|E x x |

|E...........|E..........|E ..........|E..... .|
Copla Que maraviila la Giralda reluce
|E.....|E.........|F.......|
La Giralda reluce
|F.....................|G7........|F.........|E E.....|
La Giralda reluce mi'alma que maravilla
2nd verse
Que Maravilla cuando toca Martinez
Cuando toca Martinez
Cuando Toca Martinez mi'alma por siguiriyas

3rd verse Viva Triana que contesta cantando


Que contesta cantando
Que contesta cantando mi'alma por sevillanas

El Rey Moro en Sevilla mi'alma deja un tesoro


Salida

Copla Deja en un tesoro El Rey Moro en Sevilla


El Rey Moro en Sevilla
El Rey Moro en Sevilla mi Alma Deja en un Tesoro
Deja en un Tesoro una torre de plata
Una torre de plata
Una torre de plata mi alma y otro de oro

Y una Sultana con dos torres gemelas


Con dos torres gemelas
Con dos torres gemelas mi alma la de Santana

Sevillanas Accompaniment
The sevillana is originally an Andalucan folk dance and is a central feature of
Sevilles spring fria. Sevillanas can be sung or played on a single or multiple
guitars; all of these forms can be danced. Sevillanas are typically danced in sets of
four.

The sevillana is a good place to start thinking about dance accompaniment not
only because it is the form many dancers begin with, but also because it is a set
palo with a pre-determined structure. Moreover, sevillana provides a good
starting point for a discussion of the difference between which components of
accompaniment can be varied and improvised and which ones need to stay put.

Structure & Comps


The basic sevillana has three pre-defined sections: a rhythmic introduction, a
salida (a melodic departure), and a three part copla (containing verse or melody
sections). The sevillana can be counted in 3s throughout with the accented beat
on one: 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 (etc).

Some flamencos will count the sevillana beginning on three: 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2


(etc). This is also correct. Remember that counting is secondary to the actual
music: whatever works is correctas long as it keeps you in comps.

The examples that follow are from a traditional sevillana in A major.

Introduction
The introduction of the sevillana as played for dancers typically covers seven bars
of three beats each. It is common for the first accented one-beat to be silent:
As with every part of the sevillana, you want to be sure to feel the accent of the
first beat of each bar. These accented beats create the vital pulse which drives the
sevillana. Playing in contratiempo (literally counter rhythm) can give your
toque a more modern feel, but even if you dont play every accented beat you
need to know where those beats areyou might think of it as playing those beats
silently. Notice the chord change from E7 to A maj: it happens one beat before
the accent. This gives sevillana its bouncy, rocking feel (that is, "rocking" like a
pony, not "rocking" like Sammy Hagar).

Salida
The next part of the basic sevillana is the salida. In the introduction you have
established the time, key, and aire (feel) of the sevillana; the salida is where you
establish its melodic theme. If youre accompanying a singer, this is where the
singer will begin his or her letra. In cante accompaniment, the salida may be very
sparsely played or even silent (letting the cantaor/a instead provide the
sevillanas departure). The salida spans six bars (eighteen beats):
Copla
The copla, which is the main body of the song, follows the salida. In the musical
example here, youll notice that the copla is composed of both melodic lines and
chording. Some sevillanas have coplas composed entirely of chords; some coplas
are all melody. The first two sectionsor terciosof the traditional copla have
twelve bars.

You may notice that in this example the phrasing both of the salida and of the
copla actually begin with pickup notes in the previous bars. Remember that the
accented beat here is not on the actual beginning note of the copla melody, but on
the "one" count of each bar.

The last tercio of the basic sevillana form ends on a one beat: think of it as
picking up the one beat you played silently in the beginning. Youll also notice
that it is slightly shorter than the first two tercios: it is not followed by the brief
rhythic sections found after tercios one and two.
As in this example, the final section of the copla may be a melodic variation of the
first two sections. In cante accompaniment the chord progression may also
change.

Interpretation
There are really no rules for melodic and rhythmic variations within the
structure of sevillanas. As long as you stay in comps your playing will be
"correct" and a dancer will be able to follow you. As such, the salida and copla are
prime areas in the sevillana to begin working out your own interpretations. Youll
need to remember where beat one is (that is, stay in comps) and be aware of the
tercios twelve bar structure, but otherwise be creative: try building on or altering
the traditional melodies and progressions in order to work out your own musical
ideas.

For instrumental accompaniment, each of the four individual sevillanas in a set is


often in a different key. Key changes should relate to and build on each other. For
example you may move from a sevillana in A major to one in A Phrygian, then to
E Phrygian, ending with the final sevillana in E major. You will also want to be
attentive to the melodic relationships between individual sevillanas. While its not
necessary to repeat themes or phrases from sevillana to sevillana, it usually
sounds awkward to mix very traditional sounding sevillanas with ultra-modern or
jazzy sounding sevillanas.
So, you might be asking, if I simply play sevillanas as its written here and accent
the one beat, that will be good dance accompaniment? It would certainly be a
good startit would be correct in any case. By correct, Im not making a
judgment on what is or isnt flamenco: if youre playing sevillanas
accompaniment, you need to stay in comps. Its that simple. The same can be
said for most other palos. You could break comps for your own artistic reasons,
of course, but then it might be more accurate to say youre playing in the style of
sevillanas, or that what youre playing is inspired by sevillanas. In any case, such
variations will not be of much use to dancers.

Some people refuse to consider sevillanas flamenco, claiming instead that its Andalusian folk
dance origins preclude its flamenconess. I prefer to leave this one to the academics. Whatever
the pundits decide, however, the sevillanas is often danced in flamenco classes and will be part of
many dancers repertoiresif for no other reason than because it is a veritable catalogue of
common steps which can be used in other palos. In short, whether or not the experts consider
sevillanas a true flamenco form, as an accompanist you should know it!

In the next part of this series on dance accompaniment, well explore the alegras.
Alegras also has some common structural elements, but it is nowhere near as
rigidly set as sevillanas. Once you know the basic parts and how to put them
together, alegras offers even more room for creativity and individual expression.