Saturday, February 21, 2009

Back Volcada Explored‏

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
February, 20, 2009, Just Dance Ballroom, Oakland, CA

A didactic demo was not filmed for the February 20, 2009, class. The August 20, 2007 "Tokyo Drift / Back Volcada" video illustrates many of the same concepts; thus, places in that video are referenced in the notes below to illustrate similar things we did in class.

First, we began with some exercises:
Exercise 1: In circle formation at the perimeter of the room, the class practiced moving forward using back crosses to the center of the circle.
Exercise 2: Then the reverse: In the center of the circle formation, the class practiced moving backward using forward crosses to the outside of the circle.
Exercise 3: The Leaders practiced walking forward using rollerblading footwork in a straight line, as if walking on a railroad track, while Follower maintained back cross footwork walking back.
Exercise 4: We worked on Follower's back ocho technique, doing tight crosses with minimal hip rotation in order to build to the back volcada from the back ocho. We practiced this in open and close embrace.

Leader's Volcada Technique:
The Leader gives a tight embrace with a slight lift.
The Leader creates the volcada feeling by supporting and lifting the Follower more.
The Leader controls how loose or tight the the Follower's back cross is.
We practiced with the Leader leading consecutive tight back crosses while trying to preserve the connection as much as possible, and have tight, compact crossing in the Follower. See 2:07-15 in the video for examples of Follower doing a series of back crosses (looser and larger than the ones we get in class).
Leader does not move feet, but does arch his body, taking care not to rotate his shoulders.
Leader does not go back on his axis, but maintains a forward and upward intention in his chest, as does Follower, so both dancers maintain good connection to each other.
Leader should not go down at all, and really be forwardly and upwardly intended in his chest. This was reiterated several times.
For the Leader's footwork, he goes back on his right foot while still keeping a forward intention in his chest, not going back to vertical axis.
The Leader can lead a tight cross or more open cross depending on the range of communication between the dancers, the music, mood and space available to dance.
If a more open cross is used, there needs to be more suspension and lift from the Leader as it would require more support.

Follower's Volcada Technique:
The Follower tries to stay in front of the Leader as much as possible.
The Follower compresses down on her left side, digging down with her armpit.
Follower should not hesitate, and should have a lot of power in her supporting leg, digging down into the floor to push up and against the Leader. She should use her relationship to the floor and have groundedness.
Her body needs to be stable and strong, with her core muscles engaged so that she does not have a noodle or rag doll body and so that she supports herself and her body does not break or collapse against or onto the Leader.
The Follower's right foot crosses behind the left foot, and the left foot unwinds out forward, out to the left, and back as the Leader steps forward. The Follower's foot traces a half circle on floor, and Leader can track/feel where her foot is. The goal is to have a deep and big movement.
The Follower's left leg is free, but controlled. She should pay attention to how it articulates, and she can project her foot a lot forwardly if it's a big volcada. She should pay attention and think about how her foot unwinds, trying to make it as elegant, articulate and stable as possible.
It is important that the Follower stay in front of and square with the Leader at all times during this back volcada. This was reiterated several times.
After the volcada, the Follower should not kerplunk back with her footwork; she should ease back into her normal position, rolling through her feet.
See 1:43 and 1:51 in the video for examples of the simple back volcada.

Potential Pitfalls:
If both don't keep their forwardly intended axis.
It works better when neither dancer goes down.
If Leader rotates his shoulders or chest, the Follower will be in trouble because she will peel off the Leader.
If Follower is not aggressive in terms of pushing up against the Leader, and does not really push against him. In the volcada, the energy is always up or straight ahead.

For the Leader, there are three volcada killers:
(1) If he goes down.
(2) If he rotates his shoulders.
(3) If his posture goes back to fully vertical from forwardly intended in the chest.

For the Follower, she must maintain good technique:
(1) Holding or pressing down on her left side of Leader's right side.
(2) Stay in front of the Leader.
(3) Maintain her body position, being very stable and supported in her standing leg and with her chest forwardly and upwardly intended and connected to the Leader.
(4) Engage her core muscles so that she does not have a noodle or rag doll body and supports herself so that body does not break.
(5) Don't take big steps if they are not led.
(6) Don't kerplunk in the exiting footwork.

As a treat, we also tried to do the Volcada-Plus:
From the simple tight back volcada that we worked on, the Leader brings his feet together, takes his axis back and down, which causes the Follower to do a split with her legs, and then he drives her left leg back into the forward cross.
The Follower uses her supporting right leg to have lift and have the left leg open up out to the left side.
See 2:59-3:00, and 3:02-03 in the video for similar examples on the left side, which is what we attempted. 2:20-22, 2:30-34, and 2:48-50 are examples of the right side, which we did not attempt.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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