Learning Sevillanas, and preparing for feria

Have you ever heard of woman/man meet (1), woman/man seduce each other (2), then they fight (3), and finally, they make up (4).  Well that is what Sevillanas is all about. LIFE!

Sevillana Students happy and ready to dance

Sevillana dance is not flamenco, it is folklore, but it is also the gateway to flamenco, since it is almost always included in flamenco dance schools. Practically everyone who likes to participate in the spring festivities, dances Sevillanas.  Whether self taught or learned, it is a necessary survival skill for enjoying yourself at Feria. Many women learn sevillanas at dance academies and men, well... aren't really interested, until they find a girlfriend, so men are late bloomers.

Good arm posture is important,
for it is the first thing everyone sees

Every year, right after the New Year holidays, dance academies initiate sevillana lessons. You must start early, because it does take time to learn the steps, somewhat difficult, but not impossible, you have to learn how to sync arms, feet, and music.  All this must come together, for Feria in late April, early May. Women have to work extra hard to move the hands gracefully, while men have to work on their "Don Juan" attitude/face.  Sevillana dancing is not hard, you just have to practice a billion times, create muscle memory, and then, come up with the courage to dance in Feria. Piece of cake! Ha, ha.  

Sevillanas have to be expressive 

Sevillanas are composed of four dances, la primera, la segunda, la tercera and la cuarta, meaning first, second, third and fourth. Each dance has a choreography, with some variations from town to town, and even from dance school to another, but not so different, that you are unable to dance with a stranger. However, you should always dance all four in order.

It is better if dancers establish a connection when dancing

Each sevillana is divided itself into three parts, each third ends when you switch sides with your partner (pasada). When you study sevillanas in a dance school, the sevillanas are more refined and elegant. The more popular sevillanas (self taught and Feria style) are less complicated, they have been stripped of extra steps and turns, making it easier and simpler to dance even for the not so gifted dancer. However expression/passion is the one thing that one must not lack.  I have danced with men that barely move on the dance floor, but the attitude/face, their presence on the dance floor, owning it, is enough for onlookers to believe that he's a master.

During sevillana lessons, you will learn the basic "paseillo" or sevillana step. It is important that you learn it well, because every sevillana builds on the previous one, so learn it well before, you move on to the next one. The last move you learn, is to incorporate your arms. Easier said that done, all of the sudden, you realize, you cannot chew and walk at the same time. It is very frustrating for most people, and it certainly it is the make it or brake it point.  Once you reach this milestone, do not quit, you must hang on, after all, you worked so hard to learn the steps!  Seriously, don't give-up, be patient it will all come together, trust me, thousands of people dancing in feria will prove me right.

Dancing Sevillanas step by step

If you like to count when learning a dance, then go ahead, count the steps. 

  • All four Sevillanas fit in a 3/4 time or counts of six (1-2-3-4-5-6, repeat) 
  • Follow music with claps of, 1-2-3, 1-2-3…
  • Every Sevillana step fits in six counts. Paseillo, pasadas, turns, "mata la araña", even the full arm circle fits in a six count.
Well, enough with the numbers, trust me it is very square.

Once you learn all four choreographies, it is time for Feria.  Now your hardest task… Facing Spanish dancers!  For some reason, when Andalusians find out you are a foreigner, immediately they want to teach you how to dance on the spot.  It is very nice even cute, smile and thank them, and focus on your choreography. Later on, when you feel you have enough confidence in your dance, look around and take in all the styles, by then, you should be able to recognize who is a good dancer, and who's not.  Learn and "steal" steps from the pro's.  Happy dancing.

Students enjoying Feria and dancing for the first time

The more you practice the better.

Update 3/15/2016: I have included my sevillana videos, that I share with my students, my  YouTube channel, they are a bit old, but I hope they are helpful.

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