Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cristina Favorite Milonga Moves with Juan D'Arienzo (Intermediate Class)

Song: Silueta Portena by Juan D'Arienzo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
November 26, 2010, Ashland, Oregon

Cristina Favorite Milonga Moves with Juan D'Arienzo
Typewriter Pitter Patter and Bandoneon Pitter Patter

We began with an exercise where we lifted our heels without raising or changing our height. Our knees needed to be bent. We were to keep our thighs together, pretending there was a quarter between them that we didn't want to drop. With our heels, knees, and thighs this way, we were to work forward, and then walk back, and then in a circle. This is also known as the "butterfly" or "schmedling."

Next, we were to take our imaginary quarters, drop it, but catch it before it hits our knees. We practiced this going side to side in circle formation to D'Arienzo's Silueta Portena.


The typewriter pitter patter can be done in tango, vals or milonga. In this class, our focus was on milonga.

For the exercise, the footwork for the Leader began with forward left foot, side right foot, weight change, give Follower a extra hug and lift, and then turn at the waist to the Leader's right. She then does the typewriter pitter patter to her left.

Next, we did a hug exercise. The Leader hugs the Follower with all of his back, surrounding the Follower with his whole body. Here, the Leader was to find the sweet spot on the Follower where he can surround her just below the rib cage.

Next, he was to provide a little bit of lift, by raising his diaphragm as the Follower lifts from her body. The rib cage spreads out, the shoulder blades go down to oppose the upward momentum of the Leader's lift.

We were to practice giving "extra" hugs versus "normal" hugs.

We also practiced finding the sweet spot on other dancers, tall/short, fat/thin, standing chest to chest, trying to find the sweet spot of connection. The Leader's arms will follow that line usually, that's the sweet spot.

For the Typewriter Pitter Patter, there are two parts to the lead:
(1) the Extra Hug
(2) the lift from the Leader's whole body. The Leader needs to turn his body up to 90 degrees without moving his feet, really disassociating.

To D'Arienzo's Silueta Portena, we practiced this with the Leader forward left foot, side right foot, weight change, give Follower the compression lift (extra hug and lift), and then turn at the waist to the Leader's right as he disassociates. She then does the typewriter pitter patter to her left and then back to her right as his torso goes back to his center with no disassociation. Then the compression is released and goes back into regular embrace.

Follower should not worry if she ends up on the wrong foot after the pitter patter. The Leader will figure out where to put her.

We talked about the psychological lead. Psychological leads depend on how well we hear the short staccato notes to physically interpret it in our feet. We can also interpret with lyrics. Here, Cristina sang the lyrics to a tango song. She is great!

For the Typewriter Pitter Patter, Follower takes small steps so that it's a manageable lead for the Leader's torso.

One variation we worked on was to do it in open embrace.

Leaders: How do you encourage the Follower's pitter patter? He can put it into his feet because the Follower wants to copy him. So they do it together. He can also walk it out with her, either in a line or a circle.

Another variation we worked on was to do the Typewriter Pitter Patter in promenade with the Follower to the Leader's right in promenade. Here, the Leader gives her a sideways hug and lift, and also limits the Follower's range of motion. As long as the Follower stays with the Leader in Promenade, she can do the pitter patter. The Leader can't force the Follower to do the Pitter Patter.

Another interesting variation we worked on was the Offset Typewriter. We also changed the music to D'Arienzo's La Cicatriz. In the Offset Typewriter, the Leader goes one way in pitter patter, while the Follower goes the other way, and then there is a small jump at the end where both dancers end up back together in front of each other. Here, the Leader needs to loosen the embrace a little, but still give an extra hug and lift. He extends his right arm away so the Follower goes farther away from him, while he goes to his left in pitter patter.

Maestros showed, but we did not do the Bandoneon Pitter Patter, which is when the Pitter Patter this movement goes forward and back (instead of left and right). This is called “The Bandoneon Pitter Patter” because the movement is similar to the Bandoneon bellows compressing and expanding.


This move is not for everyone.

The Hula Hoop has a down energy, but still has extra hug and compression. Maestros showed us with a tango demo to D'Arienzo's La Bruja.

In exercise, we tried standing face to face with open legs and split weight, and space between dancers, with a sway left to right. As the Follower is in the middle weight, the Leader sends her out and the Leader goes out back in opposition. Next, we made the exercise more challenging by having the Follower's feet together. Here, it forced the Leader to be more sensitive regarding where her weight was. The Leader needs to be selective in where he inserts this move. For the Hula Hoop, the Leader compresses the embrace, and then does the down (hula hoop), and then goes back to regular embrace.

The class concluded with a student review and maestro demo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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