Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Close to Open Transition via the Back Boleo

Song: El Pensamiento by Adolfo Carabelli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
August 17, 2009, The Beat, Berkeley, CA

This topic focused on communication in the context of a dynamic idea. How do we communicate this idea clearly? How does the Follower receive this idea?

In close embrace, we were to transition enough to lead a back boleo. The goal was to lead and follow comfortably, and to transition smoothly into the open embrace. The most important aspect is communication. We began in close embrace with chests touching, and then lead Follower to do back ochos, and then back boleos. The point between the back ocho and back boleo is where the transition to open embrace happens, and is where the Leader asks the Follower to do a back boleo. At the point of the back boleo, the Follower should take her axis, and not fall forward.

We practiced this lead in the kettle embrace for the Leader (both his hands are at the base of his back, with both arms to the side, and elbows bent), with the Leader leading back boleos on both sides/legs. Follower has the responsibility of receiving his communication through the embrace. She should actively hang on to his arms with horizontal energy, but not push down on the Leader at all. In the teakettle embrace, we are all symmetrical; so it will show our unevenness -- our strong or weak side, our better or worse side.

In the teakettle embrace, the Leader’s shoulders turn 30-45 degrees to lead a good back ocho. Follower needs to do much more active pivoting, as she needs to be able to amplify the Leader’s spinal energy by about 50%, and not be lazy about doing an ocho. Leader collects his feet at the ankles as part of the lead of back ochos. For both, it is important not to fall into each other.

Discussion of potential errors: If the Follower’s nose either falls in, or is too close, then she is too forward on her axis. In the open embrace, such as at the point of doing a boleo, the Follower needs to be perfectly on axis where everything (ribs, hips, ankles) is aligned, and the weight is in the middle of the foot between the ball and heel (on the arch of the foot). She only needs to release her heel to pivot, her weight does not need to be forward. Her heel can skim the floor and she will still be able to pivot (i.e., her heel does not have to be way off the floor to be able to pivot).

Leaders: pay attention to the timing of leading the ocho and leading the back boleo.

In the transition, when the Leader lets the Follower out, he does not let her out very far. He just lets go of her to give her enough space so that she is able to take her axis to be maximally stable (if she is leaning forward she is not maximally stable).

The energy in the boleo is back energy, so the Follower hangs back a little, somewhat like a little colgada energy. The Leader must also keep his axis too the whole time. The Leader can use his breath to help with the back boleo lead, as the natural movement of his spine/core twisting in the lead of the back boleo will cause air to come out of his lungs, like wringing water out of a wash cloth.

It was noted that in the boleo, the free leg is not completely free. There must be some control so that you can give shape to it. There are four different boleo shapes:
(1) on the floor
(2) razor – where knees are together
(3) circular – where one thigh is behind the other
(4) in line / linear

If the Leader leads the boleo circularly, the Follower’s answer should also reflect circularity, either high in the air (space permitting) or on the floor (if the social dance floor is crowded).

Boleos do not need to be high, and should be kept on the floor if there is no room to do them high on the social dance floor and doing so might cause injury or irritation to your fellow dancers.

At the moment of the Follower boleo, the Leader is still as it’s a big pivot the Follower has to do on one leg (he needs to wait for her to finish the boleo). Here, the Leader just provides support for her, with his left hand strong and solid like a wall for her to hang on to. He does not throw his arm out when leading the boleo; the lead comes from his spine/chest.

We then again attempted to do this in close embrace for several songs.

This lesson was important in that being able to do good boleos (and good back ochos as a foundation for them) is a simple tool to build into something even bigger. If you can communicate a boleo, you can lead almost anything. The goal is to be more dynamic.

The next two Mondays will build on this material.

Several followers asked about exercises they could do to improve while they are alone at home. Since the back ocho is the foundation for nice boleos, Maestra recommended perfecting ocho technique:
Behind a chair, practice the back ochos to work on posture, balance and weight transfer.
After a while, don’t hold on to the back of the chair all the time.
Then add the low boleo to these back ochos.
Then try them higher, in increments.
Also work on leg pendulum exercises to see how high the leg can go.

To work on the response to the lead in the Leader’s upper body, Maestra recommended thinking about/perfecting the arm push-pull energy at the barre, pulling with the right or left and pushing with the opposite left or right while doing ochos. In the beginning, this will be a coordination exercise, but after a while it will come naturally.

Maestros concluded with a nice demo to Adolfo Carabelli’s El Pensamiento.

Notes courtesy of Anne at http://scoutingtour.blogspot.com

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