Song: Felicia by Adolfo Carabelli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
March 22, 2010, The Beat, Berkeley, CA
Cristina’s Favorite Moves” - Typewriter Pitter Patter and Bandoneon Pitter Patter
The material and inspiration for the class were taken primarily from our dancer friend Mark Harris. The class consisted of compact and playful musical ideas focusing on the Follower.
We began with a posture exercise, which would apply to how we moved for most of the class. We lifted off our heels, but did not crunch our toes. We should be able to wiggle our toes. When we lift off our heels and with our chest/sternum up, we should not lift our shoulders. The lift is from the heel and ribcage, but we should try to pull our shoulder blades down. Our weight is up front, but not to the toes.
To this lifted posture, we added a little bit of movement, little tiny quick side steps to the left and to the right, the Follower’s tiny pitter patter, which was called “The Typewriter Pitter Patter” (those who don’t know what a typewriter is can Google Image it or visit a museum). When this movement goes forward and back (instead of left and right), we called it “The Bandoneon Pitter Patter” – because the movement is similar to the Bandoneon bellows compressing and expanding.
In doing these Follower pitter patter steps, the steps are tiny, the thighs are together, and the knees are soft.
We worked on these Follower Pitter Patter steps using the same song for the entire class: Adolfo Carabelli’s Felicia so that we could really lock into the parts of the music where the Follower’s Typewriter Pitter Patter or Bandoneon Pitter Patter could be led.
Typewriter Pitter Patter
In partnership, we danced with the Follower’s typewriter pitter patter side steps to the Leader’s right. To lead this, the Leader’s lift comes from his chest, with a little bit of compression, at the point in the music where it would make logical sense for her to accent the music with these small, quick side steps. The leader rotates her to his right, and then back to his left. In the song “Felicia” the most logical places for this to occur would be in the piano or bandoneon fills in between the phrases of the music.
For the Follower, she needs to be in tune to the music. The move is compact and the Follower has equal responsibility for the musical interpretation of the song. The Leader can lead the general direction of the movement when he rotates her to his right and back in to the left, but the Follower’s steps are up to her in terms of the timing of each left – right – left –right pitter patter step.
The question came up of how the Follower knew to do pitter patter, quick tiny side steps, rather than regular molinete grapevine footwork. The answer was that there is a definite lead from the Leader for the Follower Pitter Patter. There is more lift and compression than a regular molinete.
Next, we drilled the Typewriter Pitter Patter to the left and to the right on the open side of the embrace.
Next, we drilled the Typewriter Pitter Patter with the Follower and Leader doing it alternately. Here again, there are the lift, hold, and compression ideas, depending on the music. The question came up of how the Leader holds the Follower and ask her not to move or step when he does his Typewriter Pitter Patter steps. The answer is that the Leader needs to isolate the embrace, holding her out there, and the bring his body when he wants her to move. Both dancers here should keep their shoulders down, as it is easy to accumulate tension during the alternate Typewriter Pitter Patter. That is why in between the Pitter Patters, we need to walk it out or do other things, before we start again with more Pitter Patter. The Leader can lift the Follower, and then let her down, and then do his pitter patter. Or, he can just keep lifting her, holding her up as he does his pitter patter.
The Bandoneon Pitter Patter
The next idea we explored was the Bandoneon Pitter Patter. In “V” embrace, we went to the forward promenade (Americana) walk. This is a move from close, to more open in promenade, back to slightly more in, in “V” while the Leader leads the Follower to walk around him with forward steps. To lead the Bandoneon Pitter Patter, again he would give her lift and compression at a place in the music where it made sense for her to do the Pitter Patter. The lift is like a little scoop as the Leader compresses. The Leader should take care that the Follower is comfortable in the lift, and that her left shoulder is not overly lifted or uneven with her right shoulder.
From this promenade Follower walk in a circle, the Leader can lead her to do the Bandoneon Pitter patter forward and back, or right and left, which would be away and back near to him since they are at right angles to each other. For the Follower, her left arm is caged in because of the compressive energy, so the forearm is what expands and shortens when she is sent out to her right and then back in to her left.
The Follower has a lot of choice in terms of how she interprets the music with her hips and body movement. The Follower needs to own her own movement.
Some Followers had trouble following the lead for the Bandoneon Pitter Patter out to the right and back in to the left from the Follower promenade walk in a circle. It was noted that this might be because the Leader had to catch the Follower on her correct foot, to enable the free foot to correctly step out to the right. The Leader also needs to ground himself a bit more to lead the Follower Bandoneon Pitter Patter out to the right and left from the Promenade Walk.
Some Followers responded with Colgada body movement. Maestro noted that there is a different send energy in the Bandoneon Pitter Patter than the Colgada. In the Bandoneon Pitter Patter, there is lift and compression and height change. In the Colgada there is no height change, not a big compression, and the send energy is much larger. There is also a definite sense of planting in the Colgada.
It was noted that there is a Physical Lead to these pitter patter moves, as well as a Psychological Lead (if he starts to do it, she might mimic him at some point, understanding what he is hearing and how he is interpreting the song and inviting her to do the same with her movements). The more you do these Pitter Patter moves, the more natural they becomes. When social dancing with someone who is unfamiliar with this concept, it is best to try The Typewriter Pitter Patter before attempting the Bandoneon Pitter Patter.
Since the class was struggling a bit with the Bandoneon Pitter Patter, maestros decided to back things up a bit, and we tried it in partnership facing each other. Yes, our butts stuck out a little bit. In this embrace, we could do the Bandoneon Pitter Patter with just the Follower, or alternating with the leader, or simultaneously.
She Steps, He Steps
Our last idea was She Steps, He Steps idea. Again, working with lift and compression, the Leader leads the Follower to do two steps, and then he takes one step, eventually leading her into the cross. First, he steps side left, changes weight, and then steps left foot forward in a sneak attack. He leads her to walk using horizontal energy in the lead, to get the Follower to take two steps. Then he takes one, and then she takes two into the cross as he takes one.
The Follower has the freedom and responsibility to be in tune with the music.
The Leader’s lift comes from his chest, and combined with compression, is a scooping idea. He can send her alone on either side, or send the Follower and then go himself. He needs to choose the moments wisely of when to lead these Follower Pitter Patter steps.
Maestros concluded with a demo to Carabelli's Felicia.
Notes courtesy of Anne at http://scoutingtour.blogspot.com