Song: Hotel Victoria by Francisco Canaro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
September 25, 2009, The Beat, Berkeley, CA
The goal of this class was to work on the concept of transitioning from close embrace, to open embrace, back to close embrace, smoothly, naturally and elegantly. The goal is to go back and forth between open and close embrace 3, 4, or 5 times during every song we dance to.
We began with a simple sequence of a side step, into the Follower’s forward ocho, to Leader parada / Follower pasada, out to resolution. Here, we were to work on refinement and understand where our axis is. We practiced this to one or two songs.
Next, we did a connection / transition / mirror and matching exercise: The Human Magnet exercise. The Leader and Follower stand face to face, and Leader leans in and Follower leans in to match his lean. Follower needs to be on her whole foot the entire time (not just on balls of the feet), and she bends from the ankle. Then the Leader separates back from Follower, and Follower separates simultaneously from Leader. The Follower tries to match the energy/lean of the Leader. Then we switched with the Followers initiating the forward lean or pull away, and the Leader matching her.
Next, we worked on changing the embrace to open as we get to the cross. The Leader gives the Follower energy as she goes into the cross by letting go of his right hand a little, and coming back on his axis (staying back). The Follower senses before the cross that the Leader is taking his axis. This sensation is reinforced by the release of his right hand.
For the “Part A” sequence, we began with a side step (Leader’s left, Follower’s right) in open embrace. Then in close embrace, we walked to the cross, during which the embrace opens as noted in the prior paragraph. Then Follower steps forward with her right foot to the outside of the Leader’s right, to do forward ochos. Leader does right leg parada with Leader's and Follower’s hips close. Then the Leader opens up on his left for the Follower to step around and near him with her left foot, and they transition back into close embrace, by the Leader coming forward/ tilting toward the Follower in his upper body to meet her back in close embrace. The Follower should practice taking long steps around the Leader as she steps in front and around the Leader with her left foot in the pasada.
For the “Part B” sequence, which is more advanced, we continued our exploration of the transition, energy, and ochos. Again, we were to walk to the cross, during which the embrace opens as noted above. Then the Leader steps to his left slightly forward and around the Follower with his left foot, while also opening his right shoulder, to lead the Follower back sacada of her right foot, into a Follower clockwise molinete footwork of side, forward, at which point he paradas with his right foot, she pivots, and then steps over as usual for her pasada.
In the "Part B" sequence, for the Follower back sacada to work, she needs to maintain good molinete/ turns technique, especially as it relates to the back ocho and how she maintains her left hand hold on the Leader’s right bicep. We quickly refreshed this idea with the Follower holding onto the Leader in teapot hold (his right arm is behind his back, and only his left arm/hand is available to the Follower to hold on to). Followers need to get used to getting the information / lead from the Leader’s body (not his arms). Also, the Follower needs to hold on for her back sacada, especially with her left hand on the Leader’s right bicep, using the horizontal energy of pull/push to get lots of pivot in her hips to do the overturned ocho/back sacada. Also, for this to work, there is a Follower weight change at the cross to be completely on her left foot, so she can pivot completely on her left foot, with her right foot collected at the point of pivot, and then completely free to send out in the back sacada.
For the Leader’s technique in the Follower’s back sacada, the Leader needs to let go of his right hand, otherwise he will stop the Follower from turning. He needs to trust his left arm/side, and trust her left hand hold of his right bicep. When the Leader receives the Follower’s back sacada, his right hip opens up to receive it.
We also tried this on the other side, which was difficult to lead since it is uncommon for the Follower to cross with her right foot over her left foot. To lead this, the Leader needs to open up his chest, come up and lift her a little as he comes up, and twist his torso a little. The twist in his torso causes the Follower’s legs to cross. It is a combination of a mechanical lead with his body and arms.
Next, we talked about the actual lead for the back sacada. The lead for the Follower is a pivot first in the initiation of an overturned ocho, and then have continuous circular energy. The energy into the pivot is at the highest level.
Depending on the energy and how the Leader receives it, instead of leading the Follower back sacada, he can lead an overturned back ocho into a back linear gancho.
Maestros concluded with a demo to Canaro’s Hotel Victoria
Notes courtesy of Anne at http://scoutingtour.blogspot.com