Thursday, January 8, 2009

El Huracan Colgada

Song: No Vuelues Maria by Alfredo DeAngelis
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
January 7, 2009, Cellspace, San Francisco

For the technique of the colgada, it has a feel similar to a turn (molinete) in terms of outwards (centrifugal) force/intention. We began with a partnered exercise where Leader and Follower faced each other toe to toe; Leader gave Follower energy to push her out while still holding on to her; both Leader and Follower were to hang on to each other with equal balance. For the posture, dancers should have hips back but under rib cage so body and spine are fairly vertical, while Leader and Follower legs are more in a V line away from each other, with knees soft. This is a small movement, with just a little bit of hanging away (not a huge amount). The Leader and Follower counterbalance each other with their body mass, engaging their core muscles, not just arm strength. It is important that the shoulders do not roll forward, and you should not plank, or stick your belly in, and that you should send your hips out, but don't stick your butt out.

For the figure, we began with a rock step. Then Leader walks around to right, collecting each time he steps, or stepping continually. The goal here is to suspend the Follower on her axis as she is on her right leg. The Follower is in a colgada even though it doesn't look like it. This is a somewhat subtle, smaller colgada, without a lot of hang away from each other. The Follower bends her supporting right knee a little, and her hips go back to sit a little, and her back goes into Leader's right arm, while her free left leg goes back as a result of her hips being in alignment with each other and going back. The Leader gets outside of Follower's right foot with his left foot, then his right foot steps in the middle of her two feet. He steps around in a counterclockwise manner, going R - L - R- L , etc. As the Leader's right foot steps around, the left foot has to draw in; otherwise, the Follower's foot will tangle in his. So for the Leader, it is not a planting or jamming, but a true stepping around.

Because colgadas are a circular movement, in every moment your body needs to make adjustments to maintain the proper posture and connection. The Follower needs to use both arms in the embrace, and has to pull to make it feel equal in her arms and energywise with the Leader to maintain the hanging action. In tango music, the "Hurricane" Colgada can be done at the climax of the song or during the 1/8 note runs. It is called "Hurricane" because it is a very fast, spinning colgada. Our goal at the end of this and all colgadas is to slow it down, collect, and exit gracefully. For the Follower, she needs to focus on one spot on the leader and stay on it. For the Leader, the walk around the Follower is like penguin sashay as he spins around fast around the Follower.

For the more experienced students, we did a variation that was basically a backward one done in sweetheart embrace. Here, the relationship between dancers changes, and dancers do not face each other, but forward in the same direction, with the Leader behind and to the left of the Follower. The Follower is on her left leg, and her right leg is forward and out as the Leader walks around behind her.

For the less experienced students, we did an exercise to get us used to the colgada energy intention. Here, the Follower stood with her legs about 2 feet apart, and Leader stood with his feet inside and touching hers. Then the Leader sent Follower out and around while still hanging on to her. Here, we experienced the semicircular energy, playing in a half circular motion. This is also called the Batman & Robin exercise. We were to go back and forth, side to side, with bodies slightly bent (upper bodies out and away from each other while we slightly sat as our legs were in a V with each other since our feet were touching), then step through. This exercise was to help us get used to hanging from each other in this position. To lead Follower to step through, Leader plants his weight on his right leg, and step left, which leads Follower to step left simultaneously as she feels the energy intention.

For both groups of students: We did a rock step of Leader rocking forward (Follower back), then step side left (Follower right), to do a regular colgada (like a step over pasada with more outward, centrifugal energy). Then, we did a colgada where the Leader's left foot steps outside of Follower's right foot, to send her left foot out and around Leader to step. Or, Leader can step around quickly so she remains suspended in the colgada (step over pasada).

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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