Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Anatomy of the Contra Back Boleo

Song: El Encopao by Enrique Rodriguez
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
December 21, 2009, The Beat, Berkeley, CA

We began with the Pendulum Exercise, making sure there was at least 3 feet of clear space behind us. We were to plant our weight on one foot (either left or right), and let the other foot swing freely. Our arms were in beach ball pose, being calm in our upper body with our rib cage up and core engaged so that there was no movement in our upper body. Both knees were bent. The Follower needs to find the sweet spot on her foot to distribute the weight on four corners of her foot to be stable and strong.

Tonight, we were to work on four categorical shapes of boleos. In all of these four categories, the Follower should always have control of her body. So she might not do a big boleo, even if the Leader asks her to do it that way.

(1) Keep foot to the floor
(2) Blade of Zorro
(3) Circular
(4) Circular but bigger

(1) Open up with hips, but foot stays on the ground. We can do this on either foot. Our goal was to find balance, make it tight, and imagine dancing on a crowded dance floor. We can add a little bit of pivot to it. The Follower heel points down on the floor so that she does not stab anyone with her heel.

(2) Blade of Zorro. The leg and foot movement is a flick, like a razor, a little out to the side across the back of her body, and then back down. The boleoing leg goes a little behind the standing knee so that the legs do not open up. There is no light between the thighs. Be sure not to sickle the foot. Turn the foot out a little and point the toes before the leg flicks and leaves the floor. The energy of the movement is similar to a match strike.

(3) Circular. This boleo shape begins with the Flick of Zorro, but the hips open more, and there is a semicircular movement to the leg before it drops back down. We can also add a little pivot to make it sweeter.

(4) Circular but bigger. Recalling the Pendulum exercise with our leg going straight back, we were to send the Follower's leg out in a line, but bring it back in with adding circular energy. For the Follower, she is more open in the knees. This is a more rare articulation.

We began with an exercise in tea kettle embrace with both arms of Leader behind him with his hands at the small of his back. Follower's holds on to Leader's biceps. The goal was for the Leader to lead the Follower to pivot her hips, either slow or fast, with Follower maintaining particularly strong connection with her embrace when the Leader led a faster pivot.

For the Leader, two things:
(1) The rotation comes from his spine, regardless of how slow or fast he is moving. He needs to contract his core muscles for faster rotation.
(2) There is a slight delay of the Follower's movements, so he needs to take time for the energy to travel from the Follower's embrace to her spine, and then to her hips.

For the Follower:
(1) Don't anticipate so that the Leader can calibrate his lead to your movements.

Leader: Observe how long it takes Follower to complete her movement. Wait. Do it slowly. Observe.

Follower: Engage your core so that there is no reverberation in your arms/embrace. Have resistance in your arms.

For the first contra boleo, Maestros noted that all boleos have both "send" and "rebound" energy to more or less degrees, even if they are called "with" boleos or "contra" boleos. The difference is in the way the Leader steps that makes the boleo "with" or "contra"/against the Follower's rotation in the hips.

Again in tea kettle embrace, the Leader steps against the Follower with a bit of send energy and a lot of rebound energy. The Leader would start with the slow shimmy, and then try to figure out how to step into / against the Follower to get the hip rotation to boleo.

Next, we added the open embrace, working on doing boleos on the easy side (the open side). Leader would walk in parallel system, making a very dynamic step with left foot. We were to focus on the contra energy. It is all about the Leader's left foot making a long step that is fully engaged and attacking like a karate chop into the floor. He needs to keep his embrace firm and totally engaged and compressed. He should be solid like a statue so that the Follower can hang on to him for that one moment in the boleo.

Boleos usually happen on the strong beat, so to lead it the Leader has to lead it a little ahead of the strong beat. However, he is limited by how well the Follower hears the music. Leader should not push with his right hand, otherwise the Follower will step (he will change her weight).

Next, we attempted to do this on the hard side (the close side). Here, the Leader's right hand has to detach, but be strong from the shoulder up (similar to the teapot embrace).

The next boleo step, which Maestros only demonstrated and we did not try as students, included a step with the Leader's right foot, to pivot on his right foot (collecting with his left), to rebound back with a left foot back cross step, really working his hips.

Next, we practiced linking two boleos as if dancing in a small space, in the line of dance. The sequence went something like step, boleo, promenade, step back, boleo, etc.

Concluding comments on boleos: The Follower decides how big or small, how high in the air or low on the floor, and the shape (linear or circular) of the boleo, depending on the music and space availability. She does, however, need to react when the boleo is led, and exercise discretion and common sense when doing boleos on the social dance floor.

Maestro concluded with a demo to Rodriguez's El Encopao

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

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