Foto: El Espina


What are the advantages of this notation for the zapateado?

  1. Bach 's notation is widely used throughout the world, and wherever music and rhythm are being created, this system is used to write them down. It is also the basis of this flamenco notation.
  2. Using individual and personal abbreviations has always caused problems when rhythms, and not only simple combinations of steps, were concerned. Bach's notation makes it possible to record any variation of rhythm. Therefore even musicians who have never played flamenco can immediately understand the zapateado rhythm.
  3. By learning this type of notation right from the start, the dancer knows exactly what steps he is performing. This is essential if you want to correct yourself, as well as others, and it will help you to pass on what you have learnt in a didactically efficient way.
  4. Writing down the notation initiates a process of awareness which considerably shortens the time you need to learn a zapateado. It is also a lot easier for students to catch up on a lesson they have missed if they have sheet music to work with. Now dancers can "read music" as well.
  5. Students who participate in different workshops using this notation will eventually be able to recognise the individual teachers' styles, very much like musicians who also learn to identify composers by the graphics of their notation.
  6. Learning and practising this notation on a daily basis not only means faster and more accurate learning but also helps the student to concentrate better, work more precisely and to develop a better understanding of rhythm. Later on you will be able to hear the rhythm already when learning a new zapateado. Whilst at the beginning you will only be hearing individual notes you will then recognise triplets, dotted notes, quintuplets, appoggiaturas, you will know when to expect a rest, etc.
  7. This notation also makes it possible to record zapateados for later generations as part of our cultural history. Wouldn't it be beautiful to be able to dance the zapateados of an artist like Carmen Amaya? All the great flamenco dancers of our times have their own individual zapateados. How interesting it would be to write them down and compare them! It could be fascinating to record the zapateados of famous dancers like Cristina Hoyos, Manuela Carrasco, Manolete, Manolo Marín or Juaquin Grilo or the zapateados of gifted young artists like Israel Galvan, Andres Marín, Antonio Canales, Yerbabuena, Sara Baras or Juana Amaya. Well, at the moment we only have the zapateados of Bettina Castaño.
  8. If as many dancers as possible learn this notation they will be able to pass their steps on to others. This means that it is up to the dancer whether he or she wants to contribute to the cultural history of the flamenco zapateado. Learning the zapateado faster is not only more fun, it also helps you to concentrate on other important parts of the dance.
  9. Many years have passed since I first developed this notation in 1982, and I have been able to improve it considerably. Today it is more efficient than ever, even if it is not suitable for recording the zapateado choreography. That, however, was never my intention. Having said that, it is possible to write down the choreography by using a few additional symbols.
  10. If you are a dancer it is essential that you do not only keep flexible by doing the right exercises but also warm up your ankle joints. Thus you will be able to dance without pain, whatever your age, and considerably reduce the danger of hurting yourself. Bettina Castaño has therefore included a warm-up and strengthening exercises for the zapateado in this course. The warm-up is also a great opportunity to learn the notation at the same time.

Have a look on YouTube:

Zapateado Notation Part 1
Zapateado Notation Part 2

"Sensing the music frees the dancing muse."

Bettina Castaño (Foto: Anja Beutler)