Monday, December 6, 2010

Part I: Colgada Basics with Miguel Calo (Intermediate Class)

Song: Al Compas Del Corazon by Miguel Calo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
November 28, 2010, Ashland, Oregon

Students said they had experience, so maestros gave a simple pattern to do, to see where we were skill and knowledgewise.

Just do a rock step. Then Leader traps Follower's right foot with his left foot. The Leader traps her right foot by stepping in front of it. She makes a long step with the Leader leading it by opening up his left shoulder as if in a little turn. Then she goes into her side step with a little pivot. The Leader's weight is on his right, where he keeps turning and pulling her through, then transfers his weight after she steps over with her left foot.

Next, we tried this in teapot embrace, with the Follower holding onto his handle and spout as they do a counterclockwise turn. The Follower should take long steps all the time. The Leader traps her right foot by stepping in front of it.

Next we worked on our colgada posture by doing an exercise.

Holding at the wrists, we were in hip under position, with our hips lined up with our rib cages. The Leader's feet, which can be in a "V" position, were outside the Follower's feet, sandwiching them. Elbows have 90 degree bend to them. We were to squeeze our transverse muscles, using our center mass in our backs and cores, keeping our chest open, and pushing our shoulder blades down. We were to hang from the hips and counterbalance each other. We were not to crunch our shoulders. We could move our belly out back a little.

Leader initiates the send out. The Leaders tried with different Followers to feel the height and weight differences, and how he had to change his counterbalancing efforts depending on the Follower's height and weight. This exercise was the most important five minutes of class so that we could understand the concept of counterbalancing each other.

The Follower's embrace becomes elastic first, stretching first and then start engaging it when the movement starts.

The Leader is well aware that the Follower hangs from him. She has the freedom to extend or flex the embrace as much as she wants. Follower needs to add tone with back and core muscles and leg/foot connection on up with the floor.

As our home exercise, we can imagine that we are windsurfing, and hang away from the side of our doors, putting us in hip under colgada posture.

In open embrace, we did the following pattern:

Leader rock step, left foot trap of Follower's right foot (Leader puts weight on his right foot), Leader sends her out. Leader puts his weight on his left foot at the same time Follower transfers her weight to her right foot to send her out. Leader does right foot cheat step around Follower to provide support as she hangs and steps around with her left foot. Leader and Follower both keep their chests up. Follower steps long and around Leader as she goes over in her colgada.

Clarification: When the Leader traps the Follower's foot, he does it in the "Line of Power". Two points of his feet are in a line in the direction where the Follower's hips are going to go. The Follower's hips go out straight: that's the line of power. The Leader's left arm is what the Follower hangs onto. When the Follower steps down with her left foot, that is when the Colgada ends.

The Follower must use good molinete/hiro/turn technique. Use all your body to create the extra range of motion when you take the forward cross step. We drilled this simple Step-Over Colgada to Calo's Lejos de Buenos Aires , Que Te Importa Que Te Llore, and Al Compas Del Corazon.

In the colgada, the technique is the same as for the molinete/hiro/turn to the left for both Leader and Follower. Follower should stay up, and don't make changes in height. The Follower should use both hands to hang onto the Leader. Her left hand slides down to his bicep in open embrace. Follower should not rush into getting out of the colgada. She should step when it's time to finish.

Be careful of the line of dance when doing colgadas. Play with how much you want to do it. In the teapot embrace, see how far Follower can go out. See how far Follower can go to the end. Leader can regulate this by how much he sends the Follower out and how much he counterweights/counterbalances her.

The class concluded with a student review and maestro demo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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