The ‘Palos’ of flamenco are the styles of this art. There are more than fifty and each student groups them in a different way, either by origin, according to their metric, whether they are accompanied or not by guitar or dance, but we’ll review only the most common ones.
To understand them, it is important to know that each of the flamenco styles has a structure, with a fixed part and a variable part (because in a flamenco ‘tablao’ anything can happen, and you have to leave a space for improvisation). As all the artists of a flamenco scene know this structure, they all go “at the same time”.
The Most Common Flamenco ‘Palos’
Let’s start off with ‘Alegrías’, as its own name implies; this is a compass that indicates party and joy. Its compass is the same as that of the soleá, but it goes faster. Bulerías, because there is no flamenco party that doesn’t finish with bulerías. ‘Bulerías’ is the most flexible singing and dancing of the flamenco styles, and it seems that it comes from the gypsies of Jerez, in Cádiz. The compass is (again) the same as that of the soleá, but fast-paced! The bulerías transmit noise, fuss.
Fandangos are next. Of Arabic and Portuguese origin, this compass reminds us of fado and the mixture of cultures. Each zone has made its own style, and today we have the fandangos of Huelva, the fandangos of Málaga (or malagueñas), among many others. Seguiriyas (or seguidillas, depending on who you talk to) has a singing full of feelings, sad and painful, which reminds us the most of cante Hondo. Its dance is usually very solemn, without ornaments, and full of emotion.
Next up are the Sevillanas. This is possibly the most widespread flamenco dance; It is danced throughout Andalucia and has the uniqueness of dancing in pairs. ‘Du llú anderstan?’ Is possibly the most heard phrase in the Seville Fair. Foreigners love to be taught to dance sevillanas, and there are those who are already launching themselves as teachers. Soleás or soleares have been the center of a discussion in whether its name comes from solitude, or from to sun, that is, putting on the sun. It is also a solemn cante, with feeling, and is one of the pillars of the flamenco styles, and to close the list, Tangos. Tangos are like soleares, they are one of the fundamental flamenco styles.
The dancing of tangos is possibly the eldest, although later this ‘Palo’ has become independent to sing alone. This is where a flamenco dancer can show all his or her mischief, grace and ‘salero’ so the spiciness of the dancer is shown here.
How to differentiate the flamenco styles?
Oh, dear friend, there is the crux of the matter. Most flamenco ‘Palos’ are grouped into families, and that means that many are practically the same… Only they are not. And almost always depends on where the accent is placed.