Saturday, December 27, 2008

Leg Wraps

Song: Solitude by Astor Piazzolla
Album: Piazzollissimo (1974-75)
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
December 26, 2008, Allegro Ballroom, Emeryville, CA

Advanced Seminario on Leg Wraps with Homer & Cristina Ladas @ Allegro's "El Garaje" Space.

Maestros passed out their information sheet on the topic of the evening:

Intro: Leg Wraps in social tango dancing are one of the most versatile and fun tools of the advanced dancer. They require a high level of communication, awareness, timing, and musicality between partners. They can be sticky (aka Pulpo-esque), dynamic, bouncy, slow, and otherwise form an articulate means of expression. For the Leader (and Follower) they represent a good sense of partner awareness (axis, etc.) as well as timing and placement of movement. For the Follower, the complete execution of a wrap from beginning to end (your exit answer/shape) is a skill that requires a highly developed knowledge and confidence in yourself and the music.

Vocabulary Notes (according to Homer & Cristina):
1. "Ganchos" are in the family of Low Wraps
2. " Piernazos" are equivalent to High Wraps

Most wraps can be done (among other places) from:
1. The Cross - whether follower crosses in front or behind
2. Turns - Open and Close Embrace after each step (Forward, Backward, Side)
3. Ochos - Regular and Overturned
4. Sacadas - Leader/Follower regular and Quatro (4th) sacadas
5. Back Step-Overs - Either Side (Left or Right)
6. Colgadas - Side or Circular
7. Volcadas - before or after cross
8. Soltadas - Sweetheart, Reverse Sweetheart, Other Embraces

Other Qualities of Wraps:
1. Usually you can lead multiple ones from the same leg (bounces) or alternating.
2. Warps can be caught/trapped with hand or thighs.
3. Social Lifts are easy to execute after a wrap.

Example of Warp Combinations for Advanced Class (F=Follower, L=Leader):
1. From Ocho in forward promenade position - F low rap of L (single & double leg)
2. From open Turn to L right - left then right 'Intermittent' F low wrap
3. From open Turn to L right - F gancho on her back step, the overturned F gancho to L fwd cross step
4. From open Turn to L right - L sacadas F fwd cross step, F wraps
5. Overturned F back gancho to F high wrap to F step over gancho
6. F overturned gancho to L fwd cross step - Trap & Lift
7. Colgada/Volacada F mutli-wraps
8. Ocho-Soltada-Turn F wrap
9. Reverse Sweetheart, F sacada, turn and wrap on F fwd step.


Seminario Notes:

We began from the ocho, going into forward promenade position, and doing a single leg wrap of Follower's right leg around Leader's right leg. The options for the Follower after this is to (1) caress the Leader's leg, or (2) have her foot remain low on the floor as it returns, or (3) have her leg go up higher off the floor as it returns. Technique: Leader lefts his heel during the wrap. It is a full ocho lead, but his leg is in between hers, which causes the wrap. There is a different Leader's option whereby he can get both of his legs into the wrap, so Follower warps around his whole body and wraps higher up on his body (somewhat like a front or forward piernazo of Follower's leg wrap of Leader's hip). Follower needs to remain on her axis since she will be on one standing leg and needs to be solidly on it, otherwise she will fall/tip over/wobble.

Next wrap: From the clockwise molinete, on the Follower side step, the Leader sacadas with his right foot of Follower's right foot, forcing her right leg to wrap his right leg. For the Leader, a little bit of his weight is forward in the sacada, and then more of the weight shifts forward as she moves around him as she wraps. Here also the Leader's thigh is open. We practiced this wrap in the counterclockwise molinete as well, with Leader's left leg sacada of Follower's left leg on her side step, forcing her left leg to wrap around his left leg. On these wraps, the Leader needs to be in just the right place, the sweet spot. If the Leader's sacada is too deep, the Follower has the potential to knee herself (right heel to left knee). If the sacada is too shallow, Follower won't be able to have full range of motion in her wrap, wrapping at the wrong spot on Leader's leg. Leader should be off his heel to maneuver more. This is a continuous motion of the turn/rotation for Leader as he moves around the Follower to get a smooth wrap effect as he remains on his axis.

Next wrap: Also, from the molinete Follower side step, the Double Intermittent Wrap. Here, the Follower does two wraps immediately, one after the other, never collecting in between wraps. Follower's right leg wraps around Leader's outside leg (left hip), then immediately gets led to wrap his right leg, all with her right leg as he steps forward. She cannot collect in this move, and Leader needs to slow her down to get good quality of movement and control in this move. This can be done in open or close embrace. There is an element of softness to this double wrap, and the second wrap is not gotten off of impulse energy; it is more a continuation of his turn energy.

Next wrap: From the overturned back ocho, the Follower's right leg warps (does linear boleo) back in between Leader's legs. This can be done on both sides. Here the energy is linear, and it is up to the Leader to position his body in the right place. The Follower needs to feel a definite stop so that she does a linear (in-line) boleo and not a circular one. Leader's right knee is up, heel off the floor, so that his hips open up; Leader uses femur (thigh bone) to get in correct location. The Follower needs to have lots of torsion and counter spiral to feel the stop energy, but should not over rotate.

Next wrap: From the counterclockwise molinete, the Leader sacadas during Follower's forward crossing leg. As they pass side by side, she does gancho across her body of her right leg of his left leg. Or on the other side, of Leader's right leg of Follower's Left leg while doing clockwise molinete.

Next wrap: With dancers side by side, Leader uses Colgada energy to lead Follower's left leg out to the right side of her right standing leg, then lead Follower to come back in, doing a low rap using her free Left leg of Leader's right leg or high wrap (piernazo) of Leader's left hip. The difference in leading a low or high wrap is in the energy intention employed by the Leader. If using low energy, the effect would be a wrap of Follower's left leg of Leader's right leg. If using high energy, the effect is a Piernazo of Leader's left hip/waist around his back (Follower should aim for the bottom of his lat muscle). We also tried this on the other side, which was trickier.

Next wrap: Maestros only showed us this, we did not try it. From the Follower's forward sacada, Follower wraps outside Leader's body of her right leg.

Next wrap: A combination of colgada/volcada. We began with a regular straight back colgada to send her out a little bit, and get her more on her axis and to prevent too much lean. Then Leader leads Follower to do regular volcada of her free left leg, but at the finish as he drives her left leg forward and across her body, he catches and wraps it with his right leg, and then leads her to do another wrap of his right leg using Follower's right leg.

We then practiced some more, just trying to free up our minds, discover the possibilities, and to work on etching our muscle memory. Here we worked on multiwraps with the same foot, or with alternating feet, or doing single, double or triple wraps, or with trapping her leg during the wraps.

Next wrap: Maestros only showed us this, we did not try it. From the 4th sacada, Follower's left leg wraps outside of Leader's body as he walks away from her. This looked like a very twisty piernazo.

Final wrap: From the embrace. We did back ochos, then a molinete to right (back, side, forward), to soltada, then wrap of Follower's left leg of Leader's right leg as she faces away

Practica Notes: For the supervised practica, we attempted to execute all that we learned, just trying to free up our minds, discover the possibilities, and to work on etching our muscle memory. Here we worked on multiwraps with the same foot, or with alternating feet, or doing single, double or triple wraps, or with trapping her leg during the wraps.

Milonga Notes: The food, catered by Cristina, was delicious as usual: grilled veggies, sliced fresh red/yellow bell pepper, steamed asparagus, dried figs soaked in cognac, bread and grilled mushrooms, gingerbread trifle with mango, apple pie, homemade apple cider. Daniel Peters premiered and did the sound mixing on the spot for his movie, Dance (Tango) Your Own Way. It was a very inspiration piece, filled with shots of many local tangueros/maestros, Tango Con*Fusion and their male dance partners, SFTX, among others. Daniel co-DJ'd using vinyl, alternating with Homer's DJing from computer. There is now a full bamboo floor in the garage, and from the looks of it, plans on finishing the rest of the walls with sheetrock. So it is transforming itself from a garage to a large dancefloor/ballroom. It was an excellent night.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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