Friday, February 20, 2009

Tango Accident, Tango Now & The Art of Improvisation

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
February 19, 2009, La Pista, San Francisco

This class was done in game format to spawn creativity, encourage experimentation, and to help us think outside of the box.

We began with one dance dancing as we normally would.

Game 1: Tango Accident
There are two levels to this game.
Level 1: We walked, and at some point, the Follower randomly crosses (the Leader does not lead her to cross). The Leader has to think what to do to get out of it (i.e., behave as if he led the cross). Follower can do left over right foot crosses or right over left foot crosses.
Level 2: Follower can do any move accidentally (Leader does not lead it). Here, the Leader has to recover from it. We do this continually, with Follower doing different accidents and the Leader recovering from it gracefully and smoothly.

Game 2: Tango Now
There are two levels to this game.
Level 1: While the Leader and Follower dance together, periodically the Follower says "now" in the middle of a move that Leader is leading. The Leader has to come up with a creative way to get out of it, instead of continuing to complete the move as usual. Follower should say "now" during a move Follower can predict so that she gives Leader a fair opportunity to get out of it. The Follower should follow and observe what the routine is before she says "now."
Level 2: When the Follower says "now" the Leader breaks the thought and does something entirely different.
Some problems we encountered here were that sometimes there is a lot of momentum to the move, and to stop it midway. The challenge was that when Follower says "now", it's like stumbling. The Leader should try to make the change smoothly. This game enables the Leader to try to lead something he's never tried before, to break patterns and habits.
When we give constraints, it forces us to become more creative. If there are no restraints, it is difficult to be creative.

Game 3: Tango Blind
Constraint: Leader and Follower dance together with eyes closed.
- Who is around me?
- How can I be careful?
- It can generate some very interesting things.
- Be careful.
Here, we develop increased sensitivity to our partner, and develop creativity.

Game 4: 5th Step
Level 1: Every 5th Step of the Follower must always be a back step. Follower helps Leader by counting steps out loud. Boleo is counted as 1, and leg wrap is counted as 1.
Level 2: After the 4th step, but before the 5th step, the Follower calls out a move, such as a back step, forward step, molinete, leader sacada, follower sacada, leg wrap, volcada, colgada, soltada, calesita, etc., and she can be specific (left foot, right foot, clockwise, counterclockwise, overturned back ocho, overturned wrap). This game got us to start thinking about the flow of movement. Often the Follower has a better sense of what flows nicely, and she can help the Leader to be more sensitive to the flow of the movement, giving him feedback and permission to try something new. In this game, the dancers can slow down and think about it, figure out how to do it, before moving. Follower can help Leader discover new moves.

Game 5: Leader and Follower switch embrace
(Follower's left hand and Leader's right hand become the open side of the embrace and Follower's right arm/hand and Leader's left arm/hand become the close side of the embrace; line of dance remains the same, and Leader typically walks forward and Follower typically walks back as normal). We danced, doing very basic moves like the 8CB, ochos, etc. Here, the dancers will find that the difficult side becomes easier and the easier side becomes more difficult.

Game 6: Moliono X Factor (named after a maestro named Moliono)
Maestros only demo'd this; we did not try it because no students were skilled enough.
Leader and Follower switch roles so the Follower appears to be leading, but the Leader is back leading. The goal is to back lead the Follower to look like she is leading the Leader while he does ochos, ganchos, etc. New things open up, brainwise.

Game 7: No Side Step
Constraint: We danced with no Leader or Follower side steps.

Game 8: 3 Elements
The Follower picks three elements, and the Leader had to do them in that order with no separation between the movements. Examples: side, back ocho, back boleo; half back ocho, volcada, leg wrap; soltada, calesita, colgada.

Game 9: Sacada Twister
In groups of three, we held hands and had our legs open. One dancer began by doing a wrap or sacada between one or two people's legs, and then someone else goes. We tried to keep connected with our hands, but it was OK to change the embrace (let go of hands) if we needed to. We were to try to get more than one person with our foot.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

1 comment:

Jette said...

Nice games, folks.

I realised that i often play games with my leaders without letting them know - i just give them a chance to be creative. Some like it and lough, others find it really disturbing - although i normally slow down before and try to hint at their chance to change their decision nonverbal. Improvisation seems to be a question of serenity in most cases. Well, but for the next time maybe i'll just explain the rule and then try it out. ...

hugs from Weimar!