Song: Pensalo Bien by Juan D'Arienzo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
December 28, 2009, The Beat, Berkeley, CA
This is an intuitive movement class, as well as a class where we explore phrasing and rhythm, and how they are connected, focusing on the music of D'Arienzo.
We were to dance using only:
(1) weight change movement
(2) rock steps
as the building blocks for class. We were not to use any ochos or molinetes (turns).
The song for the exercise was Pensalo Bien.
The class was divided into two groups: (A) and (B).
Large phrase = paragraph.
During the first paragraph of the song, the first group (A), was to move around by themselves, using only (1) weight changes, (2) rock steps, or (3) walking.
During the second paragraph of the song, the second group (B), was to move around by themselves, using only (1) weight changes, (2) rock steps, or (3) walking.
During the next paragraph, group (A) would move around by themselves.
During the next paragraph, group (B) would move around by themselves.
The song Pensalo Bien was chosen because it has good structure and tight phrasing, as is typical with D'Arienzo, and on an overall paragraph level, he tells a good story.
The song for this exercise was also Pensalo Bien.
In the same group divisions, (A) and (B), each group would dance just the sentences.
Here, the point was not to count the beats. The goal was to intuitively feel where the sentence begins and ends.
Continuing our work with Pensalo Bien, we worked on microphrasing. Here, we broke up the sentence structure even further. Leaders would use one tool (weight change, rock steps, walking) for the whole sentence, working with the strong beat. That is, he would lead 1 sentence of walking only, 1 sentence of weight changes only, and 1 sentence of rock steps only. We attempted to dance this only on single time during the whole song, and noticed that for some moves, such as the rock step, it was very difficult to do in single time. The natural inclination is to do the rock step in double time. However, if we do it in single time, it enables us to pivot more.
Subdividing the Rhythm:
The idea behind Maximalism is to throw everything in there, and do it on the beat, including all the beats, if possible.
The idea behind Minimalism is to be restrained and let some beats go by without stepping on them.
To help us understand this difference, we danced to Pensalo Bien doing double time in most of our steps.
The song for this exercise was El Flete.
The class was divided into three groups: (A), (B), and (C).
During the first paragraph of the song, the first group (A), was to move around by themselves, using only (1) weight changes, (2) rock step, or (3) walking.
During the second paragraph of the song, the second group (B), was to move around by themselves, using only (1) weight changes, (2) rock step, or (3) walking.
During the third paragraph, the third group (C), was to move around by themselves, using only (1) weight changes, (2) rock step, or (3) walking.
During the next paragraph, group (A) would move around by themselves, etc.
For this song, it was noted that at the end, sometimes the sections overlap, so groups (A) and (C) could both be moving at the same time.
A discussion followed on the "Variacion", which is the crazy part of the song at the end where typically the bandoneons do their solo in double time or double-double time or double-double-double time -- "almost" 1/16 time. Here is where the concept of Minimalism can be applied in our dancing, where the dancers can do something the exact opposite of what the music is doing. For example in this case during the variacion, the dancers can step emphasizing only the strong beat or step on every other beat, as opposed to Maximalism, where they would try to step on every beat during the variacion, in "almost" 1/16 time.
A discussion followed on the Chaos Factor, where we could dance in single time, and throw in a double time when you feel like it, and it will likely work if you are dancing to D'Arienzo. This is because there is always the double time undertone of "chaka chaka chaka" in D'Arienzo's songs. That is why he is called "El Rey del Compas" -- the King of Rhythm. The train is always rolling underneath.
Switching from Single Time to Double Time
The question came up of how can/do Leaders prepare to switch from single to double time.
The answer was that they need to prepare a step before the switch actually occurs.
Sometimes they can lift, and take shorter steps, especially for double-double-double time ("almost" 1/16 time).
There is a very distinctive change of flavor, change of embrace to have more elasticity or breathing.
It helps if the Leader stays on the same flavor for a little bit (at least two steps) before changing.
It can be like a calm before the storm, with a pause or slowing down to build up, then an accelerating, then a stop, then a pause.
It also helps if the Leader knows the song well. The same goes for the Follower.
We were to dance the last song with no restrictions, but make clean phrasing. So we could do ochos, ganchos, boleos, etc., or keep the same movement if we choose.
Maestros concluded with a demo to D'Arienzo's Pensalo Bien.
Notes courtesy of Anne at http://scoutingtour.blogspot.com