Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rebotes (switch steps) for Tango, Vals and Milonga with Juan D'Arienzo

Song: Nada Mas by Juan D'Arienzo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
January 15, 2011, Stanford University

The goal of this workshop was to continue our work on spiral energy, applying it to our vals and milonga. Thus, the introduction of the switch step, or "rebote".

In partnership with no Leader or Follower, we did forward ochos, pivoting as much as possible, but not breaking the embrace. We were to step toward our partner's trailing leg and really work the spiral in our bodies. Our shoulders should be relaxed and down. Our lats are engaged and support our back. We should stretch and reach our foot, and then go in our step forward. We could also practice this on our own.

Rebote Footwork and Bodywork
Next, we did a solo exercise, where we stepped forward, pivoted 90 degrees, snapped back, and stepped back. So we did it with right foot forward, pivot forward (clockwise), snap back (counterclockwise), step left foot back. Left foot forward, pivot forward (counterclockwise), snap back (clockwise), right foot back.

Tai Chi Tango Exercise
Next, we did the Tai Chi Tango exercise, which is an exercise to help us work on our connection, really mirror and match our partner’s energy, and feeling compression.

Leader and Follower face each other and are hand to hand (or palm to palm). The Leader does a circular motion with each of his hands, and at some point, he stops and gives compression. The Follower's job is to mirror and match the circular motion and to give resistance when she feels the Leader compress.

Next, the Leader's tea pot embrace (with his right hand behind him at his lower back like the handle of a tea pot, and his left arm and hand up like the spout of a tea pot, for the Follower to hang onto) was introduced. Leader should be sure that his left arm/hand (spout) is solid and stiffer. His left arm/hand (spout) should not telescope forward into the Follower.

The Point of No Return
When Leader’s and Follower’s hips face each other, that is called the "Point of No Return." In leading rebotes, the Leader starts compressing before the Follower reaches the Point of No Return. He compresses at the right moment so that the Follower has a wall from which to bounce back off. The Leader should bring his legs together at the point of the rebote to be a more solid wall and have better connection with the floor.

The rebound/rebote can be smooth or snappy/violent.

Adding the Weight Transfer to the Rebote
What happens when we add a weight transfer? The rebote travels linearly. Here, we travel, rebounding forward, linearly. Our hips are turn the same way.
The Leader leads the weight change by simply dropping the weight onto the foot.

This can be done circularly too, with either the Leader or Follower as the axis / center of the circle.

There are four possible variations:
If you can make the linked rebotes with weight transfer go in a line, you can also turn it, with either the Follower as the center, or the Leader as the center. But first, you should start it as a line. The Follower follows the Leader's direction and energy. Usually the Follower walks around the Leader, but the Follower can be the center and do her rebote steps. Maestros demonstrated, but the students did not attempt, doing rebotes using back ochos.

We were to work on getting the first, simple rebote down into our bodies before we attempted the other variations. Again, it was emphasized that the Leader keeps his left arm solid. We also did this in single time and double time. The Leader needs to be able to lead the weight change.

Push and Pull Aspects of the Embrace
In the embrace, there are two sides, or left hand and our right hand. For both Leader and Follower there is push and pull, using the palm of our hands or our fingers, both in our left hand and our right hand. To understand this concept, Maestra demonstrated what the push/pull would look like on a ballet barre. There is push/pull resistance/compression energy. If the Follower pulls the Leader off axis, she is doing the push/pull too strong or at the wrong timing.

"Surprise" Step
The Follower does ochos, and the Leader leads it such that the Follower kicks her leg through the Leaders open legs.

The Rules for the Follower:
The "Surprise Step" has the same feeling as the rebote, with the Leader giving you the wall, but he stops the rebound energy of his hips with the Leader compressing into the floor. This frees up the Follower's free leg to kick through.

Pendulum Leg Exercise
We backed up with an exercise, the Pendulum Leg. Here, the Follower's leg swings from the hip, large and full, not from the knees. Her knees should stay low, but be a part of the entire leg during the swing. It's a controlled leg swing, not a floppy one. Thus, it is a Tai Chi moment where you need to have freedom and also control.

After the exercise, we attempted to drill some more of rebotes with the surprise step kick through.

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

Maestros did a demo to Nada Mas by D'Arienzo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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