Thursday, February 24, 2011

Colgada Foundations with Carlos Di Sarli

Song: Cara Sucia by Carlos Di Sarli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
February 19-20, 2011, Stanford Workshops, California

The Colgada can replace the turn/hiro/molinete in many places. It can be artistic and functional, and be the glue to help keep us together and balance us. In our class, we were to explore ideas and technique to create a more complicated movement.

We began the class with one dance doing all the colgadas we knew, so Maestros could asses were we were knowledgewise. Since in our one dance, no one did any colgadas, this was the perfect class for us all since it was a fundamentals class.

The word “colgada” comes from the Spanish verb “colgar”, which means “to hang”. One visual image is a truck going fast around a corner, almost tipping over, but hanging onto the road with two wheels.


We began with the Trust Game, where we were split into groups of 5-6 people. Size and gender do not matter as there is no Leader or Follower. One person is put in the middle of the circle while everyone else stands around that person. The Center person closes their eyes and imagines they are a redwood tree swaying in the wind, and then falls in random direction. The Circumference people do not let the Center person fall more than a few inches. The Center person gives others his weight, but has a strong back and core. Everyone in the Circumference can help to keep the Center Tree person upright since it is falling in random directions, sometimes directly to a person, sometimes in between two people (and both people should try to set the Tree back in the upright position). Everyone in the group takes turns being the Center Tree person, as in Colgadas and Volcadas, there is a sense of controlled falling, and the person doing the falling has to be able to trust that they will be caught and not let go. The advanced level of this game (which we did not do), is for the Circumference people to use their bodies only (no arms) to set the Center Tree person upright.


The Leader walks into the Follower, knocking her body off axis, and allowing her to fall back into the Leader’s hands. He should enter with his right foot/leg. Follower’s feet remain in the same spot. There are three levels to this exercise:

(4) Follower and Leader catch each other.

(5) Leader catches Follower (Follower’s arms and hands do nothing, they do not hang onto or catch the Leader).

(6) Follower catches Leader (Leader’s arms and hands do nothing, they do not hang onto or catch the Follower).

In this exercise, the Leader needs to physically knock the Follower off axis with his whole center, displacing the Follower’s space. She needs to wait for the Leader to do this, not anticipate being knocked off axis and not go back to soon automatically with no initial contact from the Leader. Follower needs to be prepared to catch the Leader.

This is a physical exercise.

An advanced version is for the Leader to try knocking the Follower off axis from other places, such as from the side or from the back.


Next, we refined the Hip Under Colgada Posture. We were not to plank back, or banana back.

In the Hip Under Colgada Posture:

Spine is straight.

Hips go back.

We were to engage our cores, and our hips were to be under our rib cages.

The Leader sandwiches (his feet are in a “V” shape) the Follower’s feet (which are in parallel).

Leader and Follower hang onto each other’s wrists, and then move their cores/centers back, counterbalancing each other, using the power of their back and core muscles (not their arm/shoulder muscles).

We worked on this by going out a little first, and then more farther out, working on the posture in an extreme position.

The Follower and Leader should not curl toward each other.

Shoulders should be back and down, chest up, belly back.

The Followers hips and back counterbalance the Leader’s hips and back.

We drilled this for a while, practicing with many different partners (tall, short, fat, thin), to work on being able to counterbalance all sorts of body shapes, weights, and muscle compositions.


We used the Step-Over Colgada as a foundation, starting in the line of dance, and possibly in close embrace.

The Leader does a left foot rock step forward, pivots 90 degrees, to does a right foot hook back, to a Left foot cheat step, and then puts his weight on his right foot so the Follower can step over his unweighted left foot in colgada on her left foot forward (front cross) step of the first half of the counterclockwise turn/hiro/molinete, walking out to resolution.

The Follower’s left foot should step long and around the Leader during her counterclockwise turn/hiro/molinete, and Leader should try to keep this in the line of dance as much as possible.


Leader does step over with no colgada, in teapot embrace (with his right hand the handle, his left hand the spout, and the spout being solid with no telescoping), with no cheat step. This is like a regular leader Parada, Follower Pasada.

Follower should have long and reaching steps. She should not fall into her steps. She should have a smooth transfer of weight (no kerplunking). Her embrace is elastic, always breathing, while it is important that the Leader keep his left hand and arm strong and solid like a teapot spout, with no telescoping.

Comments about Ears and Noses, and how Followers should use them.

EARS: Maestra recommended that Followers look at the Leader’s ears, because it lifts her chest and keeps her head back, as opposed to looking down at his chest, which might cause her head to tilt forward and close her chest.

NOSE: Maestro commented that the Follower should keep her nose the same distance from the Leaders nose at all points during her turn/hiro/molinete, and not have it tilt in or back, or change levels.


For this exercise, in teapot embrace, the Leader sends the Follower out in Colgada, and then freezes/suspends it as Follower is out in Colgada, and then the Leader does the cheat step. The Leader needs to learn how to suspend the Colgada and how to keep his center back to enable him to suspend the colgada.

Line of Power

The Line of Power is a very clear point, where the Follower’s hips are going. In this particular Colgada, it is more out to the side.

The Follower needs to use both hands, left and right, to hang onto the Leader. The Leader’s left arm must not telescope, because then she will have nothing to hold onto. It is important to breathe.

The Leader’s cheat step is where he takes a small right foot step around the Follower while his weight is quickly and momentarily on his left foot.

We drilled this for quite a while with many different partners to get an idea of how to do this with different body sizes.


Next, we did this adding the full embrace, starting in close embrace.

The Leader releases his right arm for a period of time as the Follower goes over in Colgada. This is not a momentary release, but a sustained one as she goes around, typically taking two beats. The Colgada ends when the Follower steps. The Follower’s left leg is active in collecting as it is suspending in the air, and controlled as it steps around the Leader.

The class concluded with a question and answer review session and Maestros demonstrated the class concepts to DiSarli’s Cara Sucia.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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