Instructor: Homer Ladas (Cristina was ill)
December 13, 2008, La Pista, San Francisco
Note: Video was not taken for this lesson.
In this class, we played a series of games to improve how we connect and our musicality in tango. The Follower is luna, or the moon, as the Leader is la tierra, or Earth.
Game 1: Capture the Moon. Leader and Follower don't touch. Leader does weight changes left to right, and right to left, and Follower follows. Leader walks forward, Follower follows by walking back. Make it easy, do not move too quickly or with large steps. Leader sends Follower (the moon) into orbit by the intention and movement in his shoulders/upper body. Follower does continual molinetes around Leader as Leader continues to walk forward slowly but without hesitation and in small steps. At some point, Leader captures Follower again. There are two phases to this game: (1) the orbit phase, and (2) the capture phase. The Leader needs to make short steps because it's more difficult for Follower to do molinetes around him if he is taking long or fast steps. The Follower must pay attention to the Leader to be successfully captured after being sent into orbit. Leader captures Follower with a combination of eye contact and intention in his body.
Game 2: Tango Tag. We began with the idea of stepping on the strong beat only during the song. Then we picked two people who are "it". Rules were that you can go anywhere, any direction, any step (forward, back, side, diagonal), but you can only step on the strong beat, not any faster or slower. If you get tagged twice, you need to tag two people. The goal of the game was not to be "it" in the end. We played this game to DiSarli's Don Juan. Next, we made the game more challenging by stepping on every other strong beat. We practiced this to a vals (Biagi's Paloma), then played the game for real to Biagi's vals, Mañana por la Mañana. This game was to help us get to know the song so that we can predict the end, and adjust our timing and movements accordingly.
Game 3: Tango Serenade. Here, the Leader and Follower "seranade" each other by humming and dancing freestyle, with both having their eyes closed. We were to hum what we heard in the song, and express the music in our body to each other. We did this game to Donato's Triqui-tra. Afterward, we shared what we discovered: There were times when one partner picked up on things that the other partner didn't hear in the music and interpreted in the dance. Some couples had a true lead/follow exchange. Some couples had one partner who was dancing/humming entirely off on his or her own. For most people, this exercise made us appreciate the music a lot more. For some others, it showed that we need to be aware/considerate/respectful of our partner's hearing/interpretation of the music a lot more. For the couples that had a true lead/follow exchange, this represents the essence of Tango, to communicate with each other and the music, and gave a glimpse of what tango would be like if you are harmonious with each other, and also illustrated how we influence each other.
Game 4: Blind Tango Game. This one was an exercise in floorcraft and awareness of surroundings and communication. We were to dance tango and navigate around the line of dance with our eyes closed. We were not to dance too fast, and any forward or side steps were to be taken with care. If we feel that we've bumped into another couple, we were to adjust accordingly. The music played was a slow country western tune. Most of us did OK with that. Then, the dance floor was made half the size, which proved trickier and more problematic. We can use certain cues/physical sensations to help us navigate besides our eyes-- for example, we can hear and know where the speakers are; we can smell (like when we know we are coming close to the kitchen/snack area), or by the brightness of the lights as we get nearer or farther away from them, or by heaters or open doorways to feel heat/coldness/breezes. Dancing in the line of dance develops an ability to move in a more circular or square way. Maestro discussed the concept of the "tango train" -- or the art of floorcraft and navigation. Some people are space hogs (those who stop the line of dance) or space jammers (those dancers who are tail gaiters and dance right up behind you). You need to create a buffer so that the couple in front of and behind you have a couple of steps to dance. At a minimum, two couples are needed to form a tango train to create a buffer and bring order to the dance floor.
Game 5: Here, we were to look at each other in the eyes for 20 seconds, trying not to laugh. It can be a little uncomfortable and we don't do this in tango, but the exercise was to give us empathy with someone and to reconnect with them. So try looking at your partner once per song (you might have to start once per tanda; looking at your partner 2-3x per song might be a bit much).
Notes courtesy of Anne at http://scoutingtour.blogspot.com