Thursday, September 25, 2008

Close Embrace Turns

Song: Jueves by Juan D'Arienzo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
September 24, 2008, Cellspace, San Francisco

Our class music was entirely D'Arienzo, the King of the Downbeat, and our goal was to be tight with the rhythm and be comfortable in the close embrace and still turn.

We began with an exercise in body connection by dancing together without using our hands at all, doing basic steps like walking, weight changes, forward and back ochos, and turns to the left. The goal was to maintain consistency, connection and forward energy, with no air bubbles in the embrace, to think about our breathing and lift our chests at the correct angles. Follower's technical point: Be strong in the legs on the floor; take your time; get good reach; transfer weight as smoothly as possible. Leader technical point: Start the turn off with a rock step to prepare Follower for it.

We did another exercise where we walked, with the Leader turning in even tighter circles, with just our chest connection.

The Sequence: First turn to the left and do the Vanilla Bean back Ocho (no pivoting in hips); Leader plants foot then turns 180 degrees to left (which is a half turn) when Follower does left foot ocho, then Follower takes side step with her right foot, pivots it, then left foot steps into tight front cross. When Leader starts the turn, he must keep his body and intention forward, and not peel off unnecessarily from the Follower.

We did another exercise/training technique of the Leader's Paddling Feet, whereby the Leader plants his left foot, and his right foot paddles around his axis and does not pass or get in front of his hips. Here it is important for the Leader to have one center and be on his axis, so that Follower will go around him. We incorporated the Leader's paddling feet to the turn so that there was more than a half turn (full turn, several turns). We also did the sequence going in the other direction.

Follower's technical point: In this tight turn, the forward and back steps end up being front and back crosses, short and truncated, because it's in close embrace when there is no space on the dance floor. The side steps can be long, but still need to be around (and not away from) the Leader. The goal of the Follower is to place her feet around Leader in a comfortable way, and to do this she should be utilitarian and practical. The Follower's process of stepping around Leader is getting smart feet, and all steps in the molinete are important, including the side step (not just the back step where we try to get a lot of rotation around near leader).

Technical point for both: There is slight forward tilt in both the Leader and Follower. To really practice this, you can try the figure in the close embrace hug (both arms around each other hugging).

We then played a game, with all the dancers in one big circle, the goal of which was to walk forward by using back crosses. The flip side was to try to walk backward while doing front crosses.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

1 comment:

Pantina said...

Thank you for your blog! The notes and videos are really helpful. =)