Thursday, January 20, 2011

Get Your 'Pivot' vs No 'Pivot' Ochos Defined with Edgardo Donato

Song: Se Va La Vida by Edgardo Donato
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
January 15, 2011, Stanford University

Our music for the second workshop was Donato: rhythmic, playful and sweet.

We began with a review of the simple sequence learned in the Workshop 1, focusing on applying the concepts we learned to be as twisty as possible:

8CB to 5 (cross)
Follower forward ochos
Leader parada, with his hips turning 45 degrees.

Follower should keep her chest turned toward the Leader, even though her hips face away (she can pivot away as much as she can manage it)

Follower’s embellishments to the Leader parada (done on either side):
(1) Syncopated stepover.
(2) Rulo

Syncopated Stepover
The syncopated stepover is used to accent the strong rhythm. The Follower steps a little back, then a little to the side, and then around in front and over the Leader’s parada foot like a little boat. It’s a little like tricking him.

On the close side of the embrace, it’s left foot back, right foot side, left foot around in front and over.

On the open side of the embrace, it’s right foot back, left foot side, right foot around in front and over.

Maestra demonstrated the rulo, where her hip opens out and away from the Leader, and then she draws a circle on the floor with her foot, while she pivots on her opposite foot, so that when she is done with her rulo, her body is oriented toward the Leader at a right angle so she is ready to step over his parada foot.

Parada Pointers:
Leader: Touch the Follower’s foot in the parada. If there is no foot contact, you will trip her. Have contact in the feet, but do not jam her pivoting foot.

The “Rule of the Knee” was introduced. The “Rule of the Knee” is that the Leader’s knee needs to be lower than the Follower’s knee, otherwise she can’t pass.

The “Rule of the Embrace” was introduced. It says that the Follower wants to hold on. She can pivot as much as possible within the constraints of the embrace. Our goal was to have the Follower pivot as much as possible.

The Follower's pasada step over is a forward step, long and around the Leader.

Now, the meat of the class material:

Follower Ochos with Leader Side Step
In partnership, we did Follower ochos, working in a slot, with the Leader doing a side step (versus the earlier ocho with Leader standing in place but rotating his upper body).

Follower: She does a 180 degree pivot, so that she does the ochos linearly, in a slot. She should rotate as much as possible without breaking the embrace. She can adjust her hip so that she is in the line of the Leader. She should amplify the Leader's energy 2-3 times with her hips so that she can get a good pivot. Be good in your embrace, have elasticity and tone, to take the lead energy and transport it into the hip.

Leader: Don't be asymmetrical in your torso rotation. Most beginner Leaders do uneven torso rotations, turning more on one side than the other when leading ochos. Our goal was to have the amount of rotation the same, at 30-45 degrees. The Leader should not compensate for the asymmetry in his torso rotation by cheating and fixing it by using the embrace (his arms). Timing is key with respect to torso rotation. The Leader's energy into the floor helps the Follower pivot. Along with trying to be even in the 30-45 degree torso rotation, he should also keep his axis up (not tilted forward), when leading the Follower ocho. Otherwise he will pull her in.

For the leader, the side step is like a martial arts chop, adding impulse to the ocho lead to make the ocho more exciting. The Leader should attack the floor at the right time, to release the pivot from the Follower's ocho factory (hips).

"No Pivot" Ocho
Leader: Pretend you are rollerblading down the boardwalk in your feet, but have NO shoulder rotation in your upper body.

Follower: Back cross steps with no hip pivot. Open the hips without pivoting the supporting, standing leg so that your shoulders do not rotate.

Vanilla Bean Ocho
In tea kettle open embrace, the Leader does the roller blade footwork while the Follower does no-pivot ochos. The idea for both is that neither should have any torso or shoulder rotation. In the tea kettle embrace, it's easier to be symmetrical. When you add the normal embrace, it's more difficult to be symmetrical. In class, we were to work on the ideal of being symmetrical. At the milonga, you should do what fits in the space.

The Leader's footwork is in cross system. He gets into it with a side step left, holds the Follower's weight in place while he does a quick weight change, and then he roller blades forward.

We also tried this in double time, as it is very fun to do musically. In single time, the Leader collects at the ankles in between the strong beats as he would normally, but in double time he does not since there is not enough time. Instead, his legs are open and it might look more like a waddle-- admittedly not very elegant, but all eyes will be on the Follower anyway. Since all eyes are on the Follower, she should always collect in between her steps.

Pivoted Ocho: Baby Back Ocho
In this ocho, the Follower has a lot of torsion in her core.
Leader releases his right arm so that the Follower's hips have room to rotate. The Leader transitions to open embrace with both Leader and Follower at vertical axis.
We tried doing this in partnership, doing it in normal time and double time.

The class concluded with a summary review of Q&A.

Maestros did a demo to Se Va La Vida by Edgardo Donato.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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