The Tanguillos is a flamenco dance that takes me to Cádiz, the city in Spain that is blessed with endless stretches of beaches, sunny blue skies, inviting waters and tantalising Spanish food.
It all makes for a way of living that cheers heart, spirit and outlook.
Arriving in Cádiz, I couldn’t help but be charmed, seduced even, by its ambience. People are alegre (happy) and nothing can take it away from them.
Culture, lifestyle and environment influence the expression of its people, and this aire is what you can sense with the Tanguillos.
Feel playful, dance with wit
I’ve been rehearsing my students for a little performance. The choreography is what we’ve learnt when I organised my maestra, Paloma Gómez’s workshop in Singapore.
What I love about her creation is that it’s stylish, sprightly with a touch of playfulness.
Now, it never fails to bring a smile to my face when I dance it or teach it!
We use our imagination to transport us from our Singapore studio to the seashore of Cadiz.
We use our eyes to speak and the curves of our hips for subtle sensuality.
We play with our shoulders in cheeky ways, and exaggerate moves for a sense of humour.
Life Outlook – the Spanish way
I love how when we embark on learning any style of Spanish dance, in this case, this flamenco Tanguillos, it opens another path to exploring Spanish culture and getting to know its people.
You can also appreciate their life outlook – that inviting spirit of alegría, joy of living (which is quite different from that of my own society and maybe yours too 😉
A lot of my learning, beyond school and university, is about getting to know different perspectives on life, and the way societies around the world lead their lives.
4 Inspiration from the Tanguillos
Here’s a look at what the Tanguillos prompts us to do:
1. Hey, look on the lighter side of life
2. Not to take all things or ourselves too seriously, at all times
3. Laugh at ourselves or at situations
I guess this can be some coping mechanism, allowing us to step out of situations we can’t change, and look back or reflect at it.
Lest you think that life is hunky dory in a seaside town, it is not always so.
Andalusia’s economic doldrums have affected its people for a long time.
There are barrios which are poor. I’ve seen the conditions of homes on documentaries, and it’s definitely a stark difference to perceptions a passing tourist seeking leisure may have.
The Andalusians find ways of enjoying the moments, living life, going on in good spirit despite it all.
Not stoically like some societies might go, but with great vibrance and expression.
4. Critique society
Things don’t always go as they should, socially, politically, and highlighting them in a satirical way or with parodies can raise awareness for change.
Stories and Parodies
Some of you might wonder what flamenco songs are about.
Well, the Tanguillos we danced to has a lighthearted story.
The singer recounts a time when some antique coins were found by the shore of Cádiz. The coins were valuable, so if you wanted to strike a lottery, what would you do?
You’d do what half the Cádiz population did – turn up with shovels, get to the shores and start digging!
You can imagine what an unusual sight this would be!
The singer captures this with amusement, perhaps mocking the situation – however you choose to interpret it. Considering its connection to the Tangos of Cádiz famous carnivals (Carnaval), it’s a small wonder the Tanguillos expresses some spirit of the carnival.
Tanguillos, by the way, means little Tangos!
And apparently this was to distinguish it from the Tangos of the Carnival, which aren’t necessarily sung flamenco style.
If you’ve asked why is flamenco sad and heavy, well, it is not always the case. That’s another history and background to share.
For now, know there are heaps of other styles. So if you are looking to enjoy a lighter flamenco dance or music for your personality or occasion, then the Tanguillos can be one of your consideration
And perhaps its culture and life outlook can inspire you too!
And finally, for more on the alegría expressed through flamenco, read my other story: Alegrías, joyous Flamenco seaside style.
Here, as I show you the behind-the-scenes of producing flamenco video instructional courses, you’ll catch sights of Cádiz from our location shoots.