Friday, September 19, 2008

The Ocho / Parada Experience

Song: Cicatrices by Carlos Di Sarli Sexteto
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
September 18, 2008, La Pista, San Francisco

We began with open embrace forward ochos, with the emphasis on the Follower being over her axis, getting good spiral, her chest being up and open to maintain better axis. Follower should try to place feet close to Leader to keep her axis, and should keep her hips close to Leader during the ocho, since feet will follow what hips do. With Leader in teapot embrace (right hand behind back, left hand regular, done so that lead comes from chest), he proposes the parada on each side. Leader collects, changes weight back over on main axis, then extends foot (unweighted, with no transfer of axis), with the outside edge of foot (where the little toe is) to the floor. Leader should stay well below her knee when he extends his foot, since the "rule of the knee" is that if Leader's leg is at her knee or higher, she can't get over (he's led a block).

For the Follower, it is her job to be perfect in her spiral, pivot, and axis; if she is not, it will show obviously if there is something wrong with any one of those three things. Follower should try to keep her feet on the floor as much as possible; this will help her stay on axis; her heel is still on the floor during the pivot (but weight is forward on the foot so she doesn't break with it). Leader needs to stay over his own axis to give Follower a good idea of where she should be. For the lead, smoothness is key (no jerky surprises). Leader rotates his chest to the right, then right foot comes out; Leader rotates his chest to left, left foot comes out. The Leader foot extension comes in the middle of her step, with Leader making contact with his foot before her pivot. She needs to feel his foot so that she knows something is there. Her options at this point are to get over or around his foot.

Three Follower pasada options:
(1) Step over it regularly.
(2) Rhythmic Step: Follower takes a little 2" step back with the free leg, then a side step that clears the front of Leader's foot by an inch or two, opening up a channel for her to step through forward with her free leg (in this pasada, the Follower's step around lands in exactly the same place as if she passed over regularly -- i.e., close and around Leader). The timing of this pasada option is QQS.
(3) Big fan where Follower's foot fans out to touch the back of Leader's back foot.

All of these pasada options can be combined.

Though Leader usually waits for the Follower to do her pasada, he can lead her to step over if he needs to because of traffic or if she takes too long to get over.

We did a variation: with Leader and Follower ochos to parada so that the Follower pasadas outside leader (instead of the usual inside pass in front of). Leader does a half turn counterclockwise and snakes right foot out, starting the spiral in his chest to release the hips.

Finally, maestros showed us the most challenging variation, whereby Leader paradas with a back ocho sacada-like leg extension.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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