Coqueta by Orquesta Tipica Victor
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
September 13, 2010, The Beat, Berkeley, CA
The basis of our work was to focus on the Follower having an energetic pivot and the Leader leading it in a nice way. Since the recent local Bay Area lessons have focused on alignment, posture, and hip pivot, Maestros decided to teach something different from, but related to, those topics. Hence, the choice of the Follower Back Sacada.
Exercise 1: Couples Ocho Exercise
We began with the couple’s ocho exercise, where each person does ochos; there was no leader and no follower, we are equal partners. Our goal was to stay close to each other, and take long steps, and step around each other while doing a series of forward ochos (easier) and then back ochos (a little more difficult). There is no Leader and no Follower, and both dancers were to do their respective ochos together simultaneously. The goal was to be able to create balance with each other. If the dancers need to find their balance, their orientation should be backward (not falling forward).
Good posture is key in being able to do good ochos. We should think about spreading our “tango wings” by keeping our chest up, compress our shoulder blades out wide and down, and expand in our rib cage. We should not compress or slouch or curl forward in our shoulders. For the exercise, we were to pivot as much as possible, over rotating, with hips facing away from each other, but stepping around each other to stay close. We should stay with our partners and articulate the femur to really step around each other and add to the spiral, which is what we were after. We should step in an arc.
For the back ocho, which is a little trickier, it is important to step close to your partner, but also work on keeping your balance at the same time. Again, you should be on axis or oriented slightly back if you need to.
Building Toward the Fourth/Quattro Sacada with Leader’s Teapot Embrace
Next, our work on tonight’s subject, the Quattro or Fourth Sacada, began. It is from the Follower back sacada, so the Follower needs to develop a good back ocho. We did this by moving to another exercise where the Leader uses his body (his chest, not arms) to lead the Follower back ocho. For the exercise, the Leader Teapot Embrace was used, with his right arm is behind his back, and his left hand holds the Follower’s right hand. The Follower maintains the connection in her left hand on the Leader’s right arm, but his right hand does not touch her, remaining behind his back.
This exercise was to help us develop the Leader’s lead, where he turns both shoulders, left and right, evenly when leading her to do back ochos. He should not turn one shoulder more than the other, and he should not rush. The Follower receives the communication through the embrace and adds her own energy with her hip pivot through her connection to the floor. The goal of this exercise was to improve our communication with each other, and really communicate the pivot and for the Follower to pivot a lot. The lack of the Leader’s right hand/arm gives the Follower the opportunity, empowering her to get in touch with her relationship with the floor to power her steps and her pivot.
Adding the Soltada and Follower Back Sacada
Next, we added to this, with the Leader’s left hand with the Follower’s right hand, leading a half turn (inside/loop turn) soltada change of embrace on the Follower’s right foot back ocho step, with the Leader then stepping across her ocho path (slightly at an angle, away from the Follower so he doesn’t jam the Follower) with his right foot, while the Follower pivots, to do a Follower left foot back sacada through the Leader’s legs. The Follower should always try to look at the Leader, or for the Leader, so that she knows where to go, and to keep track of him to have an idea of where the space is.
Adding the Leader’s Right Hand to the Embrace
Next, we added the Leader’s right hand embrace to this. He should not raise his hand too high, but keep it safely low since his hand should go around the Follower’s waistline during her pivot as he leads the soltada. The Leader needs to lead the pivot first, before leading the half turn soltada (change of embrace). The Follower stays in the same back ocho line with her steps, and then takes a step back with her left foot.
Leader Needs to Lead a Good Follower Pivot
We drilled a lot on the Leader deeper idea of leading a good pivot. For this concept to work in our dance, the Follower should not fall into her ocho, and not fall forward. If she needs to fall to keep her balance, she should fall back or be backward oriented. The Leader needs to communicate the energy he gives as he “attacks” the floor. The Leader feels like he is pushing more into the floor when he leads a big pivot. The Follower needs to have the confidence to pivot a lot and completely, and not truncate the move or cut it short because she feels a change in the Leader lead or that something is coming up and going to happen.
The exit for the soltada figure is for the Follower to take an additional step back with her right foot, to a clockwise molinete of left foot side step, right foot forward cross step.
The “With” and “Against” Follower Back Sacada
When the Follower’s and Leader’s hips go in the same direction (clockwise + clockwise or counterclockwise + counterclockwise), it is a “With” Sacada.
When the Follower’s and Leader’s hips go in opposite direction (clockwise + counterclockwise or counterclockwise + clockwise), it is an “Against” Sacada. An example is where the Follower’s hips turn counterclockwise, while the Leader steps clockwise. The Fourth/Quattro Sacada is one of these, with the Leader stepping counterclockwise (right foot open side step), while the Follower does a clockwise hip turn with a right foot back sacada between Leader’s legs.
Why Does the Leader Sometimes Get in the Way During the Follower Back Sacada?
For the Follower back sacadas, the question of the Leader getting in the way of the Follower came up. He gets in the way because he tends to over lead and get in the way. He needs to know (1) where to step and he needs to know (2) when to let go of the embrace.
The Leader can let his right hand/arm go, and the Follower should still hang on and remain connected to him with her left hand on his right arm. She needs to hang on because he should be leading a big, dynamic pivot with lots of energy, and she needs to use everything to protect her standing, supporting, pivoting leg. The Follower needs to be able to have active elasticity in her embrace, with her left arm being able to have a large range of motion, extending back to create a big energetic pivot. Here, she feels like she is being thrown out and led back in.
For the Leader, he steps half a foot back with his right foot, opening up the space for the Follower to do her back sacada. She aims for his left foot during her right foot back sacada. Follower needs to be precise where she does her back sacada.
Maestros concluded with a demo to Orquesta Tipica Victor’s Coqueta.
Notes courtesy of Anne at http://scoutingtour.blogspot.com