Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Foot Work Effects Lead & Follow in Turns

Song: Noches de Colon by Ricardo Tanturi with Albert Castillo on Vocals
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
January 17, 2011, The Beat, Berkeley, CA

We began with defining vocabulary of the Absolute Turn versus the Relative Turn.

Absolute Turn:
Turns where there is only one axis, usually the Leader.

Relative Turn:
Turns where the axis is changing with almost every step. An example of this is dancing with sacadas. Follower still wants to go around the axis (walk around the Leader).

To understand these different types of Turns, we danced one dance, turning as we usually do, either absolute or relative, but we were to try to be more aware of how we were turning, either relatively or absolutely.

What is the purest Absolute Turn we can do?
Ones where the Leader is rotating on one axis. An early, sometimes considered a beginner example of this is with the Leader's paddle footwork, so he is on one axis (his standing, supporting leg), while the other foot paddles around. We tried this in open embrace with both Leader and Follower on axis (no lean). The Leader paddles around, really being on one axis (one column from his standing, supporting leg all the way up), while the Follower does a Turn around him.

Leader's Paddle Footwork Technique:
You don't need to have the heel up. Just let it be up at the point of pivot.

Follower's Turn Technique:
This class assumed that Follower knew the grapevine Turn footwork of forward - side - back - side - forward - side - etc.
Keep the steps constant in cadence, weight change, and size.
For the class exercise, we were not to do the automatic QQ of the back - side step if the Leader doesn't lead it. Thus, we were just to step on the strong beat only.
Be in control all the time.
Take equal size steps.
The back step needs to have more pivot to stay around Leader while turning around him.
The real litmus test of whether or not a turn is good is the quality of the side step. Because the back step is challenging, the side step usually suffers. The side step will eventually help the other steps (back cross and forward cross steps). Be clean in your side steps.
Another litmus test is how well the Follower stays close to the Leader. Thus, the Follower needs to figure out how much to pivot on the forward and back steps and how much she needs to step around the Leader to remain close to him.
The Follower needs to be good with all her steps in her turn because each step affects the next step.
Do not fall forward, and do not have small steps. Otherwise, you will kill the turn.

What can be problematic for the Follower to do a good Turn is if the Leader keeps changing his axis. He might inadvertently do this by having instability while he paddles around, or wobbling or partially changing weight from one axis (one column, one leg) to the other (other column, other leg) to maintain his balance as he paddles around. This makes the turn dirty or sloppy.

Cross Walking Forward and Backward Exercise
We did just a short, quick review of the Cross Walking Forward and Backward Exercise since many students were regulars and had done this before.
The goal is to walk forward by doing alternating, continuous back crosses. So you can cross back left foot, unhook and cross back right foot, unhook and cross back left foot, etc., continuously, and all the while attempting to go forward.
We also did the back walk by crossing forward. So you can cross front with your left foot, unhook and cross front with your right foot, unhook, and cross front with your left foot, etc., continuously, and all the while attempting to go backward.
We were to remain upright with chest up, balanced and elegant when we did this exercise.

Exploration Exercise:
The Leader needed to figure out if crossing in front or behind helped the Follower turn.
How does it affect your lead?
Where and at which Follower step is it best for the Leader to cross in front or cross behind?
When you cross, what foot is crossing? Crossed feet can work to your advantage or disadvantage.
The goal for the Leader was to think about what he is doing and why.

When the Leader crosses behind when the Follower does her back cross, it gives a "whoosh" feeling when they go around each other because the pivot helps each other get around. Both the Leader and Follower pivoting back supercharges the turn.

When the Leader steps with his right foot and crosses behind with his left foot, it feels like the turn is slowing down. To keep it going, the Leader needs to have even more spiral in his body.

Maestros demo'd the Leader's Turn with Back Crosses:
Leader turns to his left, enters with his left foot on her side step, doing a right foot back cross on the Follower counterclockwise Turn.
Leader turns to the right, enters with his right foot on her side step, doing a left foot back cross on the Follower clockwise Turn.

Solo Exercise: Leader Footwork
Working in slots, we were to take a:
left foot step forward
hook right foot behind left foot
change weight
unwind, and
left foot step back to our original beginning place

We also did it on the other foot:
right foot step forward
hook left foot behind right foot
change weight
unwind, and
right foot step back to our original beginning place

In partnership, the Leader uses pulling energy to open up his left side on the counterclockwise turn. On the clockwise turn, he opens up his right side. To this, we added the Leader's back cross hook footwork.

During the Turns, both Leader and Follower need to do their jobs.

Leader: Work on crossing behind tight and small so that you have absolute center and clean crosses (not dirty crosses).

Working on the Turn to the Right, in open embrace, we were to explore two ideas:
Starting with the Leader's sacada of his right foot of the Follower's trailing right foot on her left foot side step during the clockwise Turn, to:
(1) the Leader walking around the Follower.
(2) the Leader doing a left foot front cross to make the turn absolute again.

The Leader has a lot of work to perfect and master the Back Enrosque to the Left and the Forward Enrosque to the right. He needs to have tight and deep crossing ability and he needs to be able to pivot enough with energy. Thus, he should try to practice the crossing and pivoting exercises where ever and whenever he can (the bus stop, in the kitchen waiting for the microwave to finish, etc.). He needs to be able to pivot with energy to get his hips in front of the Follower's in order to get more power to get the Follower to keep turning.

Close Embrace Turns:
The close embrace Turn has forward energy, and the steps are truncated, shorter. The Follower truncates the back and forward step.
On the clockwise Turn, the Follower's back step is truncated (a tight back cross step).
On the counterclockwise Turn, the Follower's forward step is truncated (a tight front cross step).
The Leader crossing in front or behind is supposed to help the Turn keep going.

The Review Quiz yielded the conclusion that the effective placement of the feet for the Leader and Follower should result in more power, more energy, better timing and better communication between the dancers during the Turn.

Maestros demo'd the class concepts in open and close embrace to Noches de Colon by Tanturi with Castillo on vocals.

Notes courtesy of Anne at http://scoutingtour.blogspot.com

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