Friday, June 3, 2016

Colgada into Leg Wraps with Back Hook Exit (Advanced)

Song: Down by Jason Walker
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 29, 2016, Ardingly College, England 

Exploring Colgadas
We began with doing a back step over with no Colgada, turning to the left of the Leader (counterclockwise), in open embrace using the teapot embrace.

The Leader captures the Follower’s back step whereby he gets the inside arch of his left foot to her outside foot in her left foot back step, then gets her to step over with her right foot.

We also tried this on the other side: Leader captures Follower’s right foot back step by stepping inside the arch of his right foot, so that she steps over with her left foot.

The Leader uses pull energy as he leads Follower to go around him in her turn.  Follower uses both sides of her embrace to remain connected with the Leader.  The Follower will feel contact with the Leader’s foot when he captures it.  She can cross in front, and then step over to step over as gracefully as possible. 

Next, we learned out to create counterbalance to be stable.

At the point of our feet meeting, the Leader prevents the Follower from stepping over.  He steps in so his feet are parallel.  He then becomes like a mountain (Mount Teapot) and the Follower hangs away.  The exit is a side step together.  The counterweight should feel like you are both stable, so it is not a huge Colgada. 

The Leader sends the Follower away by leaning toward her a bit, and then leaning back to create a stable counterbalance.  Here we learned how to hold each other.  If things aren’t going well, and the Follower feels like she is falling, she can employ the Golden Parachute (put her foot down).

The Follower can play with her right leg/foot as she is strong on her left foot with the 4 corners of the feet pushing into the floor.  The Leader can get the Follower to lift her heel off the floor by leaning back a bit more so he can sway or pivot the Follower on her standing / supporting leg.  Follower’s hips should be under, but she should not sit.  Follower should not open her hips.

How do we build trust?  How do we initiate the Colgada?

Someone interrupts the Follower’s step.  The Leader changes his body to create the Colgada.  The Leader interrupts the turn at the Follower’s back step.  The Leader creates the off-axis orientation of the dancers by employing the Line of Power, going from his back foot to his forward foot.  He comes in and sends her back and she allows her body to keep going back until the Leader counterbalances her weight.  Follower should keep her hips back.  

Some Followers are afraid to go back.  She needs to trust the Leader and their embrace.  The Leader should not collapse his left hand.  We backed up to doing the counterbalance exercise in sugar bowl embrace.  Followers should be like tigers and really send their hips back.

She Goes, He Goes
If the Follower goes into Colgada, the Leader can step through as well. This is the “She goes, he goes”.  Leader steps forward with the Follower with his inside foot after she does her Colgada.

The Follower should have lots of pivot in her back step so the Leader can easily capture that foot. 

The Leader steps over to the open side of the embrace.

If things are going well, you can add the Baby Boy Gancho.

Baby Boy Gancho (from left foot to left foot colgada)
Leader’s left foot gancho after his right foot forward step in the She Goes, He Goes, whereby he holds Follower so that she does not completely change weight on her right foot forward step (so she is about 80% on her right leg, 20% on her left leg) and Leader does a left foot back gancho between her two legs after his right foot forward step.  The Leader locks the Follower in place with his left hand during his left foot gancho and he embrace changes so dancers are closer.

Follower’s Boleo into Spin (from right foot to right foot colgada)
Spin (Hurricane) or Boleo into spin because of the nature of the embrace.

In the process of the dance, be there, look at your partner, do not look down but use your peripheral vision.  Do not just be focused on the pattern/step.

Outside leg wrap
After the Colgada, the Follower’s free right leg wraps around the Leader’s left leg to hook behind her right foot against her left foot.  Here the Leader’s left thigh makes contact with the Follower’s left thigh (“the thighs have eyes”).  The Leader can lead this wrap by giving her linear energy (Homer’s preference, forward-backward energy) or circular energy.  Follower can shape the wrapping leg, trying to be as elegant as possible.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and demo to Jason Walker’s Down.

Notes courtesy of Anne at 

Four Corners of the Feet and How We Connect to the Floor (All Level)

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 29, 2016, Ardingly College, England

Cristina led the class first.
In bare feet, we stood with feet hip width apart, with our feet parallel, making an “11” shape instead of in a turnout “V” or pigeon-toed “A”.
Spread your toes.
Keep your hands by your side.
Shoulders are down
Get head up and back (not tilted forward).

Look to your right. Hold.
Roll left shoulder back gently.
Look to the middle.
Look to the left. Hold.
Roll right shoulder back gently.
Look to the middle.
Try to touch your right ear to your right shoulder, and roll your left shoulder forward three times.
Head in center.
Check your feet.  Are they still in the center?
Try to touch your left ear to your left shoulder, and roll your right shoulder forward three times.
Head in center.

Pump knees softly as if they have hydraulics in hem.  Roll knees forward and back.
Notice how the weight goes down from one foot to the other, front to back.
Get everything to move: shoulders, hip joints, ankle joints.

Stand on the right leg, putting all the weight on your right.  Put weight on the ball of the foot, pressing into the floor.
Roll the wrists forward.
Change weight.
Stand on the left leg, putting all the weight on your left.  Put weight on the ball of the foot, pressing into the floor.
Roll the wrists forward.
Shake it off/out.

With feet still hip width apart, and the feet parallel in an “11” or “H” shape.  Shift the weight to the front of the foot by flexing your arches.
Gently shift the sternum to the heel/tailbone with the toes lifting.  Do not fall back.
Move the weight back to the front.  Wiggle your toes.

When we dance, we try to keep our toes spread out.  Do not curl them in.

Bring the sternum to the middle of your two feet (the arches).

Each foot has 4 corners: 2 in the front toward the ball and 2 in the back toward the heel.  These four corners are like suction cups, whereby they push down to get a pulling up, without locking, to create length in the body.

Put the left foot on top of the right foot.
Hold arms out as if holding a big bowl of fish, with your elbows in.

Change the weight to the right leg, imagining that the right leg is a big tree trunk. Active the right leg by pushing down on the 4 corners of your feet and turning on the suction cups, but try to create length by pulling up. Imagine the right thigh is turning in.  The belly button wants to go back to your spine. This turns on the lower belly muscles.
Hold out your arms as if holding a fishbowl, gently rolling your arms out. This turns on the lats.

Really feel the back of your neck trying to stay long.
Keep squeezing your inner thighs to turn on the lower belly muscles.
This turns on our core and back muscles without tightening or locking them.  Do not pike back or lean forward.
Shake off right leg.

Put the right foot on top of the left foot.
Hold arms out as if holding a big bowl of fish, with your elbows in.
Active the left leg by pushing down on the 4 corners of your feet and turning on the suction cups, but try to create length by pulling up. Imagine the left thigh is turning in.  The belly button wants to go back to your spine. This turns on the lower belly muscles.
Hold out your arms as if holding a fishbowl, gently rolling your arms out. This turns on the lats.

Really feel the back of your neck trying to stay long.
Keep squeezing your inner thighs.
This turns on our core and back muscles without tightening or locking them.  Do not pike back or lean forward.
Shake off left leg.

Now we can start moving.

The Reaching Game
Both legs are working, but doing different things, using different muscles.

Activate the right leg.
Get the left leg to come in as if the inner thighs have magnets and they are trying to meet.  The left leg is like a pendulum, hanging long.
Push with the right leg/foot into the floor.
Reach with your left foot.  The leg bones should really point forward.
Push with your right leg.
Turn on your inner thigh magnets as the thigh pulls back in collection.

Do the same with the left leg on the floor and right leg reaches forward. 
Do not lock anything.

Next, activate the right leg and the left leg reaches to the side. 
Think of the opposing energy to keep the body stable and to create length with the right leg.  Keep a long line on your standing leg.  Be fluid.  Breathe.

Do the same on your left leg, with your right leg reaching to the side.

Next, active the right leg and reach back with the left leg.  The foot can be straight or turned out, but not turned in.

Do the same with the left leg with reaching back with the right leg.

Next, we were to take two steps forward and 2 steps to the side.

Active the right leg. 
Reach forward with the left leg.
Start rolling slowly from the back 2 corners of the right foot to the middle, then to the arch to transfer the weight.
Activate the left leg.
Turn on your inner thigh magnets.
Activate the left leg, etc.
Activate the right leg as we reach to the left.  Use all of the right foot from the outside to the inside as you roll toward the center of the left foot.  Turn on inner thigh magnets to collect.

Active the right foot.
Reach back with the left foot.
From the front of foot, start to roll the weight by pushing back.

The other foot starts to receive the weight.
Active the 4 corners of your feet. 
Roll through.
Active your thigh magnets to collect.

Homer then joined in the teaching.
In partnership, we did the statue exercise.

Here, one person is still on one foot, while the other person gently pushes against him with one palm in various locations using consistent pressure – the middle of his upper chest, the side of his arm, at his hip, etc.  The person remains stable by pushing against the person pushing him.  Do this slowly to allow the person being pushed enough time to recover.  Each time the person creates resistance, he should think about squeezing his inner thighs, as it immediately turns on core engagement.  Have a long neck.

Next, in partnership, we built on this exercise, where one person walks back while the other person has his palm to that person’s chest and pushes them back with consistent pressure to walk back.  The same person walks forward with the person in back pushing him with his palm.  We also did this walking to the side, both left and right.  The recipient of the push always opposes the direction of the movement by using his core muscles, his inner thighs, and the 4 corners of his feet.

Note that the lead comes from the earth first, and so we need to become aware of how we relate to the floor.

Be very limited with what we lead or follow.  We need energy and space to lead and follow.  Using psychological energy and presence.

In no embrace, we did a lead – follow exercise just doing very simple steps of walking forward, backward, side steps and weight changes.  Both people took turns at leading and following their partner.

We were to be active in activating our leg and proposing the direction.  Do not have/make sudden movements. 

Next, we put our shoes on.
In partnership, but still not touching and without an embrace, we were to do the lead-follow exercise, but also include simple things like turning, ochos, paradas, pivoting, and turns/hiros/molinetes.

The Follower should not look at the Leader’s chest as it changes her posture.  She will get more information by keeping her head up as she will have more in her field of peripheral vision.  Leaders and Followers should not look at their feet.  To have psychological presence, and to be there for each other, you should look at the whole person.

Next, we played the Capture the Moon game
The Leader is the Earth and the Follower is the Moon.  The Leader (Earth) walks forward in small steps, and sends the Follower out around him as the Moon.  As the Moon orbits around the Earth, the Follower does hiro/turn steps.  The Leader stops her by capturing her in a snap back on her side step.  Then he reverses her in the opposite direction.

The Leader can capture two ways:
     (1) Dramatically, by using his body.
     (2) Subtly, by using his eyes only.
We were to practice this by orbiting twice in one direction, Leader capturing Follower and sending her back in the other direction and the Moon orbiting twice from there.  After the Leader captures the Follower twice, the Moon can become the Earth (they switch Leader/Follower roles).  The Earth should take small steps so the Moon can go around him doing her turn steps without difficulty.

The Leader captures the Moon by turning his shoulders to the left or the right to send out the Moon, then snapping back and start walking forward.

We explored the practical application of this exercise, still with no embrace.
From a side step, how can the Leader lead the Follower to take a forward step or a back step?  (aka, How to Start Turns or Creating and Blocking Space)  By tilting his axis.  By going away, he invites her to step forward and the focus is on his axis.  By going forward toward her, he blocks the space so she goes back and the focus is on her axis as she does her ocho step.  The Leader tilts the axis by using his feet.  We explored this idea via the Capture the Moon game, still in no embrace.

Next, we did this exercise using the embrace. The Leader was to focus on his axis.  Remember to use the 4 corners of the feet, inner thigh magnets, and axis tilt. Capture the Moon. Dance simply. Focus on the music. We should be in tune with each other.  Because we did not use our hands/embrace previously, it sharpened our senses and awareness of each other.

There is no such thing as a Free Leg as we still use muscles to create articulation. 

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and short demo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Theory and Technique of Alterations with Front Boleos (Beyond Intermediate)

Song: All of Me by Ray Boudreaux
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 29, 2016, Ardingly College, England

We began by first getting our legs ready to do Boleos.

Stage 1
First, our free leg goes across in front of the outside of the other leg, with our feet making an “A” shape.

Stage 2
Next, we were to strike our feet like a kitchen match, making a straight boleo or a more turned out one. Putting energy into he floor and using our hips to rotate.

Stage 3
We can lift our thighs a little bit to clear the other thing to get the “thwack” sound, a snapping noise.  We do this by lifting at the thigh as you strike the kitchen match.

          (1) Back to floor with feet
    (2) Lift knee, caress leg and then back down the other side.

Open embrace technique doing turns to get us warmed up and connected
Capture the Moon
Follower takes long reaching steps around the Leader.  Both dancers keep their head up. 
Make 1 change in axis. 
Follower is the Moon.
Leader is the Earth.

Leader takes step with partner to establish the new center of the earth.  Then he changes the direction of the turn. 

Follower:  there is no ocho in the change of direction, just a step forward (or step backward).
Capture the Moon
Change the Axis
Change the orientation of the orbit
The Leader can capture all three steps of the Follower (forward, side, back). 
The Leader makes just one step to capture the Moon.

Next game: Follower calls out 2 steps and the Leader has to capture her on the first step, using the second step that she calls out. So,
1st step: her step where Moon is captured
2nd step: his step that he takes to capture the Moon

Examples: forward, back; back, forward; side, forward; side, back; back, side; forward, forward, etc.

We added the embrace at this point.

The Leader can block the Follower with the embrace to block the A.O.R. (automatic ocho reflex).  We want to avoid the A.O.R. because another possibility exists other than the ocho: that is, the alteration.

The drawback of the embrace is it is harder to capture some steps (like back to back).

From the turn/hiro/molinete, the Follower should do good open embrace turn technique, and all slow steps (no automatic QQ on the back, side step).

Next, we were to add spice.

Alterations are like tango slingshots that help us to navigate on the dance floor.

When the Leader captures the moon, he gets close to her.

1st alteration: Follower Forward step, Leader Side step.  The Leader steps in front of the Follower’s foot, then collects.

The pattern is the cadena, or chain or link.

The Leader captures the Moon on her forward step by stepping in front of her foot to block her, then do the alteration by sending her in the other direction.  The Leader’s energy is he is leading a turn, then interrupting it, and then leading a turn again.  Keep this in the line of dance.  The turn is going clockwise.

Follower’s left foot forward step, Leader blocks this step with a left foot side step. Follower goes right foot back as her body is sent back like a slingshot, Follower does side step and right foot forward step in a clockwise turn, where the Leader can do a right foot sacada of Follower’s trailing left foot, powering the Follower’s big pivot, at with the Leader can lead a left foot boleo to the outside of Follower’s right standing leg.  Then he can link this and do the pattern all over again (starting with Follower’s left foot forward step).

For every transition/alteration, there is a change in the embrace, but do not completely let it go.  Be elastic, but remain engaged in the embrace.

The Followers hips are ocho factories, amplifying the spiral rotation of the Leader by at least 3x. 

Since the Moon can make three steps (forward, back, side) and the Earth cane make three steps (forward, back, side), there are 9 possibilities on each side, so 18 possible different types of alterations.  We can play with each permutation.

Meastros concluded with a class quiz and a demo to Ray Boudreaux’s All of Me.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Adding A Nuevo Flavor To Your Dance (Intermediate)

Song: Beautiful Tango by Hindi Zahra
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 28, 2016, Ardingly College, England

Our work began with the most subtle wraps in tango, which Maestros have dubbed “The Ismael Wrap”.

This wrap is a nice surprise for the Follower.

We began standing with split weight facing forward. We then pivoted forward and then the other way to feel what this felt like to still be at split weight while pivoting.

In partnership, we walked together, and the Leader led the Follower to do a right leg wrap of the Leader’s right leg on her left foot back step.  He did this by settling on his left, then step past the Follower’s forward leg, in a deep step so that his right foot heel is behind the Follower’s right foot heel, then twisting his body to the open side of the embrace.

Note here that his left leg is free to come up, and he twists the other way to lead the Follower to wrap that leg with her same right wrapping leg.

The Follower feels the presence of the Leader’s left leg. The Leader slowly settles the Follower on her left foot.  She feels his twist, which is the invitation to wrap, of first the Leader’s left leg, and then he changes weight so that his left leg is free.  He then lifts this free left leg and invites the Follower to wrap it with her same right leg.

Then he can invite her to wrap again his original left leg (so do 3 wraps in a row).

The lead is the Leader squeezing his thighs together.

The lead for the third wrap is the Leader bringing the Follower’s right foot back with  his left leg.

The Follower should emulate a tiger in being very grounded when doing these wraps.

In the first wrap, the Follower will feel the Leader’s lead with his spine and rotation in it and he will lift his knee.

The second wrap is done with the Leader’s joint manipulation and surrounding the Follower’s thigh, so she wraps.

Then he sends the Follower’s leg back immediately back out to the third wrap as he steps back down and slightly back.

The Leader squeezes the Follower’s thigh from the first to second wrap.

The Follower’s goal is to Follow the articulation of the Leader’s leg.

If these wraps are easy, try the other side.

The exit after the Leader steps down and back with his left foot is a left foot forward step (so his left foot stepping down is a touch step, not a complete weight change step as he will step forward with that same left foot afterwards – so his weight is on his right foot the whole time).

Part B
Returning to the 1st idea of the split-weight pivot.

The Leader gets into the cross system way of walking in close embrace by doing a sneak attack weight change, then Leader walks inside and around the Follower starting with his right foot forward to Follower’s right foot back step, then transitioning into an open embrace as he does a left foot cowboy side step around the left foot of the Follower.

Here the Leader stops the Follower just before the middle of her weight change as he cowboy side steps around her, and she pivots on her right foot into her left leg wrap as she transfers the weight.

The Leader is in Captain Morgan stance with his left, whereby his heel is off the ground and his knee can swing both ways, in and out. 

The Follower’s outside wraps with her left leg around the Leader’s right leg on his left foot side step around the Follower as he transfers her weight and rotates his chest and does the Captain Morgan stance of his right leg.

There are two exits from this wrap, which is basically a Follower’s forward boleo:
     (1) Follower collects.
     (2) Follower’s knee goes up and then slides back down so that feet collect. 

In either exit, the Follower needs to commit to it, and she needs to collect with either exit.

We then had a class quiz followed by Maestros’ demo to Hindi Zahra’s Beautiful Tango.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Sustained Volcadas Explored & Expanded (Beyond Intermediates)

Song: Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 30, 2016, Ardingly College, England

Since it is really important in Volcadas to make the Follower feel comfortable, we began with hugging each other, one arm on top, other arm on the bottom so arms are in an X pattern.

The Leader and Follower side step to put the Follower on one leg.
Leader engages a bigger hug with a bit of lift from his rib cage (not just his arms)
Follower pushes down with her shoulder blades as if trying to get out of a swimming pool: pushing down to lift up.
Leader takes a few steps back
Leader and Follower breathe with intention (check that hug is still engaged)
Follower pushes down with her standing leg, but her knee is still soft, with hug engaged and still pushing down with her shoulder blades, using her lats to protect her back. She should use the whole fit to create a very strong line from her standing supporting foot to her opposite shoulder.
Leader walks forward.

There are two characteristics of Volcadas that change with the Sustained Volcada:
(1) Leader is always tilted forward (Leader is straight in sustained)
(2) Leader does not change height (Leader changes height in sustained)
In Sustained Volcadas:
      (1) Leader is not always forwardly intended (he is at times vertical)
      (2)  The Leader’s height changes to get into and out of the sustained volcada

The Sustained Volcada is a more advanced concept where the Follower is at split weight and her legs go out in an inverted Y and Leader drives Follower across the floor.  Leader goes down, and does not lean toward Follower. Leader uses power of his legs to maintain weight. The Follower moves through space easier this way. Follower goes into split movement with both feet on the floor. 

In the Standard Volcada hug, Leader and Follower do side steps, Leader walks back a few steps, then walks right foot forward, driving the Follower’s free leg back into a forward cross of her left foot over her right foot.
We drilled the standard volcada.
The Follower needs to really engage to protect her body.

In the Sustained Volcada, the Leader and Follower do side steps.  The Leader is upright with no forward tilt.  He hugs and slightly lifts the Follower. The Leader steps back and goes down a little bit in height by bending his knees (NOT by bending at the waist).  The Follower’s left leg starts to have weight (it is not completely free) as both Leader and Follower axis are vertical.  Leader and Follower spines are vertical.  Both Follower’s legs are working as she paints the floor.  She needs to zip up her middle throughout.  As Leader walks backward, but comes up, and Follower feels this change in height, her legs come together in collection.

Note that Leader remains vertical the entire time.  We can move this in any direction and on any step.  Leader should be consistent with his hug and suspension of Follower.
Leader and Follower should be close and vertical the entire time.
Follower should have more hold rather than less hold.
Follower uses her inner thigh muscles to collect.
Follower:  There are 2 activations.
The right leg, then the right leg and left leg are both activated in the split.  All inner leg muscles and core muscles are turned on.  She should press against the floor to create a zipping up sensation.

The Leader’s height goes down as he walks in a tangent, and when he exits, he goes back up. 

In all volcadas, the Follower’s technique should be that she presses down to lift herself up.

We drilled doing this from the Follower’s hook behind (right foot), going into a sustained volcada, back into the cross.  We also switched going from one form to the other (Standard versus Stained).

There are two ways to start the sustained volcada: from the Follower’s right foot hook behind, or from a rock step.

Next, we worked on the Funny Volcada

The Funny Volcada is still a standard volcada because there is still lean and the Leader does not change height.
Maestros showed us what it looks like.
The Follower falls sideways instead of forward.

On the close side of the embrace, the Follower is on her outside right foot and her inside left foot is free and embellishing.  This move can be made small or big depending on how far way the Leader steps around the Follower.

The entrance/setup is from the Follower’s right foot back ocho step, which the Leader uses a right foot side step to catch. The Leader settles the Follower on her right foot when he is on his right foot.

Leader's footwork

Follower's footwork
Left foot forward on close side

Left foot back
Right foot side

Right foot cross (back ocho)
Turn partner as if calesita, but off axis

Remain on right foot as Leader walks backward around (left foot is free)
Walk backward around Follower

Left foot embellishes
Keep this in the line of dance when going in and coming out.

Leader: Do not squeeze too much as you walk around backward.

Follower: Completely arrive on your right foot back step with confidence.  Be sure the standing supporting leg is strong and stable.  As you pivot, do not go up or be on the ball of your foot.  Be sure you have control of your spine.  You can flex through the ankle so you don’t have to be so high, because it becomes more difficult to manage your spine.  Don’t lift the heel too high; it can just caress the floor.  There is no need to be on your toes, and it will make this more difficult.  Do not pivot on your toes; pivot on the ball of your foot.

In the Funny Volcada, the dancers are at right angle, perpendicular to each other.  The Leader walks around the Follower’s right foot.

The Leader’s step needs to be near the Follower’s right back foot so that he can be close enough to walk around her without making her/them compromise their posture.

If you are able to do this and are getting bored, try this on the other side.  The open side is the hard side and the Leader needs to have a more flexible embrace.  It is small and challenging on this side.  Follower will be on her left foot and her right leg/foot is free and embellishing.

In stepping around the Follower, the Leader should start by making 3 back steps around the Follower starting with his left foot, then getting out with a side step right to exit.  He could add more steps as he walks around the Follower, but the needed to be odd numbered (5, 7, 9, etc.), and always respecting the line of dance.

So his three (or any odd number) back steps and exit are:
Back Left
Back Right
Back Left
Side Step Right
To exit (Follower pivots)

The preparation for the Volcada is in the embrace, where the Leader hugs and lifts, and the Follower compresses as if getting out of a swimming pool (pressing down to push up).

The Leader’s step needs to be near the Follower’s standing foot.

The Follower’s body needs to be straight (not bent in a weird way).

The Follower falls completely sideways in the Funny Volcada, and needs to have a very strong line across her body from her right leg to her left shoulder, and again using the swimming pool compression: pressing down to push up.

During the volcada, the Follower’s free embellishing foot should always collect at the conclusion so that she doesn’t hit the Leader’s foot.

We drilled this with the Leader making a sustained odd number (7, 9, 11, etc.) of steps around the Follower, giving time to the Follower to practice her embellishments. 

We were to talk to each other during our drilling, with Leaders asking if he is lifting her too much and Follower asking if she is not lifting enough (pressing down to push up).

Funny Volcada tip:  Leader is leaning slightly toward the Follower and does not go down.

Adding the Sustained Volcada after the Funny Volcada

We drilled this going from the Funny Volcada on the close side, into the Follower’s Sustained (split linear) Volcada.

The Leader transitions from a circular (during the Funny Volcada) to linear (in the Sustained/Extended Volcada), as he is first walking around the Follower (Funny Volcada; Follower’s free leg embellishes), and then walking away from the Follower (Sustained Volcada; Follower is at split weight and both legs are straight).  So the Leader first walks circularly, and then linearly, tangent to the circle.  The Follower’s free leg always tracks the Leader, whether he is doing a circular or linear walk, so as they go from the Funny to Sustained Volcada, her leg goes from inside in front of him to outside of him on the close side of the embrace.

As the Leader comes up, that is the signal for the Follower to collect. The Follower collects before going out. 

Maestros concluded with a class review and demo to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s Falling Slowly (from the motion picture Once).

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Rhythmic Cross-Foot Rock Steps and Other Oddities (Intermediates)

Song: El Puntazo by Juan D'Arienzo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 30, 2016, Ardingly College, England

The music for our entire class was D’Arienzo.

Rock Steps
We began with doing rock steps. Don’t move your body too much, and do not do too much back and forth. Do not collect all the way in the footwork.

The first movement is a reach, put weight onto the front step, but not too much, the back step lefts.

So it is:
Touch  Quick   Forward Step (not with all weight, but to enter the new space)
Lift      Quick   Back Step (heel lifts)
Step     Slow    Forward Step (with all the weight)
Touch  Quick   Forward Step (not with all weight, but to enter the new space)
Lift      Quick   Back Step (heel lifts)
Step     Slow    Forward Step (with all the weight)

We did this in walk forward, interrupted by a circle pattern, where we were to be mindful to keep our back heel off the ground.

In a circle, we were to do the same exercise, but now walk backward:
Reach  Back    Sink a little bit
Lift     Forward
Step    Back    Take a tiny step back

We were to make small steps.

In partnership in open embrace, in the line of dance, we did the rockstep:
Reach  Quick
Lift      Quick
Step     Slow
Reach  Quick
Lift      Quick
Step     Slow

Next, we tried to funkify it.
We were to keep it in parallel, but take it to the side inside or outside, and try turning (both open ad close side), while keeping rocksteps tight.  We drilled these parallel rock steps, both inside and outside, on the open or close side of the embrace.

At the limiting case, there is no back step, just all forward steps.  We can add a little bit of going back.  This was an exercise in control.

Next, we did the Snake Walk. 
Leader does sneak attack weight change.
In open embrace.
Leader’s right foot forward / Follower’s right foot back
Leader’s feet touch the inside edge of Follower’s feet
Follower walks straight back and not too long in stride, but just makes the perfect back step.  If her step is too long, she will pull the Leader to her / off axis. Follower should pay attention to how much of a reach the Leader is asking of her
This is called the Snake Walk because the Leader’s step go across his body with each step to go across the Follower’s path.

Leader should use the “I have to pee” way of keeping his upper legs/inside thighs together as they go across his body.
Follower should employ the perfect back step (in reach, weight transfer, and collection, walking in a straight line).

We drilled this.

Next, in close embrace, we were to do back ochos with no pivots (walking back cross).

In open embrace, Leader does sneak attack weight change, then walks forward while Follower does no pivot back ochos.

Then we added in the rockstep and included the Leader’s snake walk.

We can do this in parallel or cross system, outside or inside, at any point in the tango.  This is complete freedom.

We drilled with the Leader going into and out, parallel to cross system, and turning in both directions.

The easiest way for the Leader to do the sneak attack is to do two steps with his left foot. 
And (weight change without Follower feeling it so she does not do a weight change)

Eye Candy
This is nice in vals and milonga, and you can make it travel.  It starts and finishes in the line of dance.

Starting in cross system, do rock step outside, then go inside in snake walk, then go back out in parallel in a counterclockwise turn.

Leader and Follower start with left foot.
Follower has additional side step when it start to turn

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and demo to D’Arienzo’s El Puntazo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Open Turn Sacada, Barrida, Parada, Pasada Experience (Intermediate)

Song 1:  Cordobesita by Osvaldo Fresedo
Song 2: Indio Manso by Carlos DiSarli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 28, 2016, Ardingly College, England

In circle formation, we began with two exercises doing the Greek Dance using the forward, side, back, side footwork of the turn/hiro/molinete.  We did this with the circle going to the left and then to the right, and used the same timing for each step, with no automatic QQS on the back, side steps.  Keep your head and chest up and torsos straight.  Look at the person across from you. Do not look down at your feet. 

Then in partnership, in hand to hand embrace, we turned together doing  forward, side, back, side steps.  There was no Leader or Follower.   We were to finish where we started, and then reverse the direction.  Both dancers do forward, side, back, side footwork. Heads should be steady. Chest should be open and wide. Take long, even steps. Be controlled and clean when making each step. Both dancers should try to stay together. Take your time.  The dancers should relate to each other.

Next, we added the Leader and Follower relationship.  To do this, we used the teapot embrace with Leaders hands generally where the opening of his front pants pockets are. 

To lead the turn, the Leader should use more of his back instead of his arms.

For the Leader’s footwork in the turn, he has three options:
  1. Pac-person feet (the gender-neutral term for footwork reminiscent of how the 1980s video games Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man’s mouths would open and close).
  2. Turn like a block in his body, but kick his heel around.
  3. Spiral by turning his rib cage, then let his hips come around a bit past his rib cage.  Then he can spiral again from the top, and let his hips come around again, etc.  Here the ribs pull the hips.  This is a spiral turn rather than a block turn
We practiced the Leader doing all these three different turns in partnership, with the Follower holding the Leader’s bicep/tricep as he does the sugarbowl embrace.  The Follower should not be too far away so her hips are near the Leader.  The Follower’s arms should have a natural bend in them.  In the turn, the Follower keeps steps even, long, and around the Leader.  The Follower trails the Leader a bit in timing, rather than being exactly with him and never ahead of him.

Next, we added the Barrida. The Barrida is a drag illusion.
The Leader needs to kick his heel around so he has one free leg to make contact. 
The Follower’s speed around the Leer is on the slow beat, so there is no auto QQ on the back, side steps.  She should keep all steps even in length and time so the Leader can catch any of the Follower’s steps.

The Leader wants to catch the Follower’s side step after her back step.  They should enjoy the ride together, but the Leader still must lead the Follower to turn.  The Leader slides his foot in at the Follower’s back step and sticks with her side step foot.  The Leader leaves his foot (parada) put turns his body, so the Follower natural steps over in a pasada.

Leader: Do not cut the Follower’s side step by stepping in too soon, as she will feel like she might trip or fall.  Let the Follower take her normal step.  Give the Follower time to pass over by pointing foot and gently touching the Follower’s foot with the Leader’s foot.

The Leader’s barrida leg needs to be weightless, with all of his weight on his back standing leg, so his sweeping leg is free to sweep in the barrida.

When the Leader catches the Follower’s step, he should have the same size barrida as the Follower’s normal step so he doesn’t cut her step short. 
Then the Leader waits.

Follower needs to have room for both hips to pass when she steps over. 

Leader retracts his foot after the Follower passes over it, so he does not change the center of the circle.

Next, we explored different options for the Leader’s foot and the direction of the circle.
The Leader and Follower mechanics are the same, whatever option is chosen, though ergonomically it might feel different.  In our exercise we were to focus on refinement and control, still in teapot embrace, and trying different directions.

The Leader keeps Follower on original foot and reverses the direction of the barrida (so doing 2 barridas in a row).

One: Leader just rotates his leg, but his weight is still on his back leg so he sweeps from right to left, then immediately left to right.  The Leader’s chest rotates as little as possible on this change.

When the Follower steps over in her pasada, she can adorn it for rhythmic purposes by taking a tiny step back to create room for her to step over elegantly. So the timing of this tiny back step would be QQS.  So it is two tiny steps back, and then a long and around step over.

We then had a short mid-class quiz followed by Maestros’ demo to Fresedo’s Cordobesita.

For the second part of class, we went on to more challenging barridas.

We started by refining the connection.
Leader leads Follower to his right foot Barrida of her back right foot on the her left foot forward step in a counterclockwise turn/hiro/molinete.
And asking Follower to collect with her right foot cross tuck behind her left foot, then change her weight so that her forward foot is free to step forward.  Here the Leader shifts slightly to change the weight so she settles and so that it frees her forward foot to either (1) step forward or (2) do a back ocho pivot to change direction.

We are to practice this at home.

The Leader needs to lead the Follower to collect by turning his body.  The Leader touches the Follower’s ankle, not her heel, to give her gentle guidance (sweep her ankle gently) to do her back cross tuck against her other foot. 

Going back to the original Barrida, instead of the Leader retracting his foot at the end, he arrives on it to shift the axis of the turn, doing a sacada after the Follower steps over.  Then there is a pause so the Follower and Leader can face each other again after pivoting.

We drilled the Barrida into Sacada, being mindful to keep turning.

How does the Leader lead the Follower to take a forward step or back step?  It depends on where the Leader’s weight is, to block or create space for the Follower.  To lead the Follower’s forward step, the Leader leans back a little.
To lead the Follower’s back step, the Leader leans forward a little.

After the Follower completely arrives on her side step, don’t wait for her to collect.
Leader: Don’t transfer weight too soon in your sacada so she has room / time to step over.  The weight transfer happens together, not with the Leader going before (Leader should not transfer weight before, otherwise he will block the Follower pasada).  Hold the position after her pasada and his sacada.

The Follower’s fundamental movement is the turn around the Leader with long, even steps.  The forward step is long and around the Leader.

Next we drilled doing the Leader’s Sacada with no parada / Follower pasada.  This was a continuous Sacada exercise with Leader using his left foot or his right foot in his Sacada.  He was always turning with his chest and hips, moving the axis of the circle so that it keeps changing and Follower should feel the new axis every time she collects.

In the sugarbowl embrace, the Leader does a Sacada of the Follower’s trailing foot to shift weight to there, shifting the center of the axis. The Leader skips one of the Follower’s steps so he does not disturb her turn.  Because the axis changes, the Follower steps to slightly different places, but still does even steps around the Leader so he has room to do his Sacadas.  He is always the center of the circle and she should always be walking around him (not away from him).

Next we worked on doing 2-1/2 Sacadas in the line of dance from the cross.  We could do these with either foot, and do them either with all left foot Sacadas with a quick weight change, or with all right foot Sacadas with a quick weight change.

We separated the class, Leaders behind Homer and Followers behind Cristina. 

The Leader starts his Sacada by leading the Follower into the cross and then into the clockwise molinete, doing a left foot sacada at her right foot forward step of trailing her left foot, immediately into a Leader’s right foot sacada into a big 1.5 pivot.  He should not spill out outside of the line of dance. 

We then had another class quiz followed by Maestros’ demo to DiSarli’s Indio Manso.

Notes courtesy of Anne at