Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Elegant Step-Over Colgada from Close to Open

Song: Indio Manso by Carlos DiSarli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
Sunday, February 21, 2010, Stanford University

Video courtesy of Alex

Our music for this workshop was DiSarli.

We began with learning the simple pattern with no Colgada.

In open embrace, we started with walking, and then into a rock step with Leader’s left step forward and Follower’s right step back, to pivot 90 degrees as she is forward on her left foot and he is back on his right foot, to an unweighted side step of the Leader’s left foot (Follower’s right side), where the Leader’s left foot meets/captures the Follower’s right foot at the last moment. As he turns her counterclockwise, and her weight fully transfers to her right foot, he opens his left shoulder to lead her to she step over with her left foot, long and around him to help the couple get back into the line of dance. The feet are in a straight line, 180 degrees all the way from the forward rock steps, to pivot 90 degrees, to side steps. The Leader’s weight is back on his right foot up until the point after she steps over, when he can transfer the weight onto his left foot.

There are two possible exits:

(1) The Leader can lead the Follower to do an optional side step to her right (his left) so that he can easily step forward with his right foot if she takes short steps and is too far to his right and blocking him.

(2) He can keep her on her foot, and he can change weight, so that they step out together.

As we worked on this pattern, we were to focus on the Leader rotating his body, not just capturing her foot. For the capturing of her foot, the Leader’s foot should not arrive to soon, it’s like a sneak attack, not a solid wall or fortress block.

Next, we tried this in close embrace. Here, the Follower’s left arm needed to be ready to release the Leader at the point of open embrace when she steps over.

Since some Follower’s were hesitating or not stepping over at all, we discussed “The Rule of the Knee”: In the parada/pasada, if the Leader’s knee is lower than the Follower’s, she can pass over. If the Leader’s knee is higher than the Follower’s, she is blocked and can’t pass over.

Applied to this particular pattern, the Leader’s weight needs to be back on his right leg, so that his left knee is lower than her’s, so that she can pass.

To this basic step over pattern, we added the Follower colgada, by adding a Leader right foot cheat step to step around the Follower a little. This was to optimize the weight distribution and where the axis is.

The Leader sends the Follower out in Colgada by transferring weight, moving the axis to his left foot, which displaces the Follower out and away. We did this in practice hold. The Leader has to counterweight the Follower, and not just put all of his weight on his left foot (otherwise there will not be enough weight to balance her and she will feel like she is going to fall).

The Follower needs to pretend she is hanging onto a wall. However, she should not overly rely on her arms, but also use her back muscles. Her hips go back and out, but beneath the ribs.

The Leader does a little cheat step around the Follower with his right foot, which sends her around to step over. During her pasada, the Leader is at split weight, with the weight back on his right to counterbalance her body being sent out.

To help us understand the Colgada energy, we worked on an exercise, the Two-Foot Colgada Warm-Up (Trainer). The dancers are face to face, with the Follower’s feet shoulder-width or a little wider apart, firmly planted on the floor, with Leader’s feet inside of them. The dancers go from opposite side to opposite side of each other, hips, core and ribs out and away circularly in Colgada movement. Each dancer goes to their own corner, trying to round off the corners, and not have any change in body height as they do this (never really coming up). While they are at one corner, one leg is very straight and the other one is very bent. Chests and hips face each other. At some random point, the Leader should lead the energy/momentum all the way around so that she steps through and around to the other side. This exercise helps us get used to the colgada feeling of counterbalancing each other, sending the hips out, circularity, and understanding where the boundaries are.

Follower’s Technique:
Be active in your embrace. It is important to use both the right hand and the left hand in the embrace when doing colgadas. There is horizontal energy in the Follower’s posture of out and up. Do not plank back like a stiff board, and do not do a back dive, where shoulders are out farther beyond the hips in a curved out fashion. The Follower gives the weight of her back/core to the Leader in the Colgada, and she should be engaged and connected there also, not just in her arms. When doing her forward cross step over, Follower should make long reaching steps by having flexion in her right supporting standing leg, really going for it, to get around the Leader.

Leader’s Technique:
Do not collapse in your torso or curl in at the shoulders. Keep your sternum up, your chest strong, and your shoulders back. The Leader is the foundation of the Colgada, and his strong core and engaged left arm and strong left hand make up the wall from which the Follower hangs. His energy needs to be remain back on his right to counterbalance her being out, even though he has “stepped” with his left foot.

For colgadas, it is a move from close embrace, to open embrace during the colgada, back to close embrace.

Maestros concluded with a demo to DiSarli’s Indio Manso.

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

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