Saturday, January 10, 2009

Organic Leader's Back Sacada

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
January 8, 2009, La Pista, San Francisco

Note: The videos below are from a previous class courtesy of Miles.

Demo Only


From close embrace via shortened entrance

Slow motion

We began with one dance, trying to do lots of turns and Leader's back sacadas so maestros could see where we were skillwise.

For Leader's back sacadas, the molinete (turn) technique is very important. So we began with Followers doing counterclockwise molinetes, the goal of which was that the Follower take big smooth steps around the Leader, and employing good technique during her reach, collect, pivot, and weight transfers. Follower should always be behind Leader, and make steps as even and smooth as possible. For the Leader, there is a pull lead in his left hand (as opposed to a push lead). This Leader's left hand pull lead is important because for the organic back sacada, the lead is also from the pull of the Leader's left hand (as felt by Follower's right hand).


For the organic back sacada, we began with the Leader doing a linear grapevine pattern of FWD - SIDE - BACK (big pivot) (and here where it should be a SIDE step) BACK SACADA. The Follower takes big, equal steps, especially on her side step, where she receives the Leader's back sacada. For the Follower, her steps are BACK - SIDE - FORWARD - SIDE (on this side step is where the Leader does his back sacada through her legs). The Leader must really engage his left arm lead so that Follower feels his pull during his back sacada (this was emphasized repeatedly throughout the lesson). At the point of the Leader's back sacada, the Leader lets his right arm go to give Follower room to get around because he is coming into her space. The Leader's back sacada might not be directly on the line (but should be very close to being in line). You can also try this on the other side (pull would be from the opposite arm).

For Leader's technique, he can practice the grapevine pattern alone:
- Walking in a line.
- Practicing the pivot: for the pivot he should keep his spine very straight to keep his axis, and not tilt his head forward or back or in a strange way as it will throw his balance and posture off.
- Working on his upright posture and straight forward walking and solid foot placement by imagining he is on a balance beam in the Olympics.
- This grapevine pattern is more difficult to do alone because we give each other balance when we dance together.

For Follower's technique, she must keep her spine straight, chest up, have no forward lean in her posture to create space for each other, but not be too far away from each other.

Because we weren't getting enough torsion when we attempted to do the Leader's back sacada, we did some muscle memory EXERCISES to work on our pivots and hip rotation:

(1) The Turn Game: We were to do molinetes (turns) with each other, and on the BACK step (of FWD-SIDE-BACK-SIDE-REPEAT) we were to see who could pivot more (the goal was to get lots of pivot in our hips).
(2) The Walking Game: Followers did maximally overturned back ochos while Leaders did maximally overturned forward ochos; then we switched roles with Follower doing maximally overturned forward ochos and Leaders doing maximally overturned back ochos.

Then we went back to trying the original liner organic back sacada from the grapevine. We improved and went onto the next back sacada:

For the Leader:
(1) Leader steps side left (Follower steps side right) as if he is getting on the balance beam.
(2) Leader right foot steps straight forward.
(and) Leader pivots, with hips coming around 70% of the way, and right hand needs to let go and drop. At this point the Leader's left hand compresses in to stop Follower from stepping, because any pressure will make her step to the side too early.
(3) Leader's does back sacada with his left leg as his hips pivot around the rest of the way (30%).
(4) Collect.

For the Follower:
(1) Follower steps side right.
(2) Follower left foot steps straight back.
(and) right foot collects.
(3) Right foot steps side right, curving around Leader.
(4) As Leader does his organic back sacada, her left leg peels away as a consequence to exit.

We can do this in close embrace, but Leader must let Follower go to her axis by letting go. Leader lets go with right hand, while left hand stays fixed.

For the exit when Follower receives the sacada, there are options for her free left leg:
(1) She can do a floor fan, which opens out and away, fanning with the arch on the floor, and fan out with either the toe or heel on the floor.
(2) She can receive the sacada and have her leg peel away with her knee up, raised but keeping her leg close to the Leader's body. Her toes should be pointed down to the floor, and she should not open up her hips, but keep them close.
With both of these options, the Follower needs to be strong and supportive in her standing leg so that the free leg can be articulate (and she has more control over the movement and aesthetics of what the free leg is doing).

For the Leader during the sacada, his heel should be where it normally is when walking backward. Since many leaders do not walk backward at all, as a reminder he would use the same technique as Followers use when walking backward: Stretch the leg back, don't lift heel too high, and don't bop up and down, but try to have body remain on one constant level.

Maestros concluded with a demo to DiSarli's Nada with vocals by Alberto Podesta.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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