This week we’re back in Cadiz. There is general consensus that the Province of Cadiz and especially the area around Jerez de La Frontera must be considered the cradle of Flamenco as we know it today. Any list you could make of Cantaores, Bailaores, Guitarists and other flamenco artists and styles would inevitably show the importance of the area. The styles have developed and progressed all over Andalusia and beyond of course, but Cadiz is where most palos started.
We are going to take a more detailed look at many of the styles that originated and are still sung and danced in Cadiz.
This group of palos menores are all quite similar styles that started in Cadiz originally to accompany dancing that have since developed their sung versions. They are made up of:
Las cantiñas (a style in themselves)
Las alegrías (we saw these in our first post)
These styles are often named either after their subject matter or the Cantaor that created them. So you get, for example the cantiña de la rosa.
Fernando Peña Soto, Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera’s grandfather, was born in Utrera in the nineteenth century. Utrera is on the way from Seville to Cadiz. He is remembered as “an excellent Cantaor and creator of personal cantiñas”.
Las cantiñas were an opportunity for the great Bailaoras of the time, such as La Macarrona and La Mejorana to show their worth. The latter was famous for singing the Cantiñas she danced to.
Here is a sung version from Fernanda y Bernarda de Utrera:
The name seems to derive from a corruption of one of the expressions included in the chorus. ¡Mira, Blas! (Look, Blas!) became “Mirabrás”. Some authors prefer to call them “Alegrías Largas” because of the long succession of free form saucy couplets and hawkers’ cries. The lyrics are made up of three parts: the first is said to be an adaptation of popular songs from time of the Cadiz Constitution of 1812, the second a hawker’s cry included by Antonio Chacon called La Frutera y La Verdulera and the third is a three line cantiña called juguetillos (which we saw in the Alegrías post).
This is a cante to be danced, originally only by women.
Here is a version sung by Chano Lobato (who had a real talent for this type of saucy lyrics) and danced by the elegant Flamenco Bailarina Manuela Vargas from Seville.
This style is close to the Alegrías and even more to the Mirabrás. Like the others it uses a Soleá beat and owes its name to the repeated use of the word “Caracoles” in the chorus. This is probably associated to the idea of the traders calling out their wares in the street markets. (Remember the Jaberas from our Málaga post?)
Here is Rocío Márquez showing us just why she won the Lámpara Minera at the La Unión Festival at such a young age!
The Romera owes its name to its creator Romero “El Tito” a Cantaor from the first half of the nineteenth century. If the Alegrías, Mirabrás and Caracoles are urban styles, the Romera is their rural equivalent. This is a cante that is especially well suited to dancing given the use of a continuous, unbroken rhythm, although it conserves the lightness and grace of the other Cantiñas.
Here is a danced version from Rosa Durán from Jerez de La frontera. The overall feel is far more Gitano than the Mirabrás. Notice the dynamism and strength, especially in the zapateado as well as the rhythmic finger clicking:
Next week: More from Cadiz.