Beginner Level Steps, Turns, and Arm Movements (Faldeos)
Students should always warm up before beginning dance. Please see our section on Warms Ups before starting any dance practice.
CLOTHING - Students should dance in comfortable clothes. Dancers wear leotard and tights or stretchy clothing so that they can clearly see the lines and shapes their bodies make and protect their muscles from injuries!
Hair should be in a bun so it is not a distraction.
PRACTICE SKIRTS - In order to build arm strength and to execute faldeos (arm movements) correctly, students will want to wear practice skirts when they dance. (Josefina practice skirts can be purchased online from Mariachi Connection for about $40)
How to put on a practice skirt
To avoid tearing/damaging your skirts, put your skirt through over the head, if you can manage.
First tie the back strings in the front at waist level. Don't tie so tightly you can't breath easily, but your skirt will slip down if it isn't just right. Then tie up the front strings in the back.
See the video on the right for tips on putting on your practice skirt.
Beginners should master these basic building blocks of Ballet Folklorico before moving on to more complicated steps or faldeos:
Faldeo - skirt movement involving grasping with fingers, rotating wrist and arms.
Zapateado de tres (the basic steps of Ballet Folklorico in three alternating stomps with your feet)
Vueltas (turns)– a small well-shaped or round circle made both to the right and the left.
Giros (spins) – turning on the toes, but staying the same spot.
HOW TO PERFORM A FALDEO
A faldeo is a basic move that involves swirling large skirts (Jalisco, for example) with the arms to create a pleasing undulating pattern. It is a key move and should be mastered before adding footwork.
Extend arms parallel to the ground.
Make grasping moves with hands/fingers x 10.
Flip wrists up and down approximately 10 times.
Turn wrists around in circles in one direction and then the other x 10.
Rotate entire arms in small circles x 10.
Bend arms at the elbows and make small circles with the hands. 4-5 forward and 4-5 backwards.
Rotate entire arms in big circles that encompass the shoulder x 5-10.
Raise arms bent at the elbows to the chest and turn gently to right and left to stretch waist and back x 5-10.
With wrists flexed, bend to the left and right x 5 on each side, alternating one side and then the other .
Holding the skirt
Grasp with your fingers one side of the skirt near where ruffles begin. Have your palms face up. Do not hyper extend the arm. Your elbow should be slightly bent. Keep the skirt away from the body. If it gets too close you lose the shape. Practice gathering with one and then both hands.
Initiate movement of the skirt with a wrist flip; arms should be extended but not hyper extended. Flip the wrist back and forth (shoulder level. Don’t cover the face. Minimize shoulder movement. Arm should be straight in back when extended at the full range of the movement.
Grasp with fingers the ruffle with both hands, keep shoulders down and “quiet.” Initiate the wrist flip in both hands at the same time, making smooth faldeos of the same shape and size with both hands.
This movement is sometimes called a butterfly faldeo as it mimics the wings of a butterfly going up and down on both sides at the same time.
Alternate the wrist flips from side to side. When the right wrist is in front, the left is in the rear and so on. The skirt should move constantly. Keep the skirt away from the body and keep shoulder movement to a minimum.
Zapateado de Tres
Zapateado means to tap dance and comes from the Spanish verb zapatear – to stomp or drum. Thus, zapateado de tres, means to tap or stomp three counts. These rapid small steps, made almost in place, are the basic building blocks of dance. You’ll find them in El Son de la Negra, for example.
With the first step make a plie as you lift the knee and make the first step. Follow with a second and third step, stomp stronger number 1 stomp (Note: Some regions require you keep the feet completely flat. Jalisco and Colima use a zapateado with a heel (con taco’n) hands are at the waist, with elbows bent.
What does it convey? At times dancers use zapateados to “show off” or attract attention as part of storytelling.
Practice slowly and then increase speed.
Vueltas – Turns
Walk your body to your right or left making a well rounded small circle.
Giro (spin) -
Move your body to your right or left making a pivot with one leg while the other. One leg is lifted with the movement.
● Drills - Practice slowly first with 4 times stopping ¼ of the 360 spin. Then increase speed.
How to put on a practice skirt & perform basic arm movements (faldeos) with a Jalisco skirt.
Faldeo 101 with Kareli Montoya. (English)
Video – Faldeo tutorial 101, Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjYbagZBXEM
Video – Instructions for Jalisco Faldeo (by Ballet Folklorico Artistic Director Luisa Zaragoza): https://youtu.be/gph4rOMAA2k
Video – Faldeo tutorial 101 #2,
Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles: