Thursday, February 24, 2011

From Single Axis Turn to Hurricane Spin in Lomuto Valses

Song: Jugando Jugando by Francisco Lomuto
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
February 18, 2011, Muse Milonga, San Francisco


We began with an exercise in partnership face to face, imagining that we were back in elementary school, giving the person a nice hug. We got into this by stepping to the side, and the hugging person (usually the Leader) doing waddle footwork around the hugged person (usually the Follower), slightly lifting while whirling the hugged person around.

What is the biggest problem that prevents the colgada from happening? The Fear Factor. This exercise is an attempt to help us get over our fear factor of the whirling feeling. Other things are that the belly button of Follower and Leader come in, or the Follower’s knees come in, or the Follower clamps down on the Leader.

We worked to refine things.

Leader tries to step into the Follower’s space.

Follower pivots on one foot.

Leader waddles around quickly.

Leader and Follower belly buttons should not touch.

Stepping to the Leader’s left is easier, with Follower on her right foot.

As the Leader starts to turn, have belly button go away from each other.

The Follower posture is the same as the Leader steps to the side. She should keep her regular posture. The Leader should find where he can do it, and have a graceful exit when he stops. In stopping, he should pause and then walk out of it backwards into the line of dance. He should not cause the Follower to fall. Follower needs to keep her knees soft but not overly bend them.

We did a lot of drilling of this exercise, with many different partner changes in class.


Next, we did a fundamental, static exercise.

The Leader walks into the Follower, knocking her body off axis, and she falls back into the Leader’s hands. Follower’s feet remain in the same spot. There are three levels to this exercise:

(1) Follower and Leader catch each other.

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

(3) 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 and not go back too soon automatically with no initial contact from the Leader.


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.

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.


Next, we worked on a Magic Trick.

In the Leader’s parada position, he has his leg out and outturned, and pivots around by kicking his heel around (lifting it). This is the same position as the Colgada position, only instead of weight being on the back foot, it’s on the Leader’s forward foot.

Then we went back to the first exercise, only with the Leader sending the Follower out in colgada posture, and then spinning the Follower around. We drilled this for quite a while with many different partners.


Belly in.

Back arches and upper body goes back like a banana.

Follower bends knees too much.

Follower clamps onto the Leader’s leg, exerting tension. The free leg should be controlled, but free.


Next, one simple pattern to pull all the exercises and concepts together:

Leader does rock step with his left foot. Right foot hooks behind, so feet are in a perpendicular angles to each other, Follower right foot forward step (front cross step) around Leader clockwise, pivoting and getting 180 degrees around.

Follower should step long and around Leader to make her step compact.

This is like the ocho cortado, except it’s more circular and doesn’t interfere with the people dancing behind you. This is our set-up step.

The Leader unweights his left foot, and starts to walk around the Follower clockwise, after her right foot forward (front cross) step.

Follower should keep her belly back.

Leader should be aware of how he is holding the Follower. He needs to figure out where the sweet spot is. It is usually under her shoulder blades, and since Followers are all different heights, with different shoulder blade levels, he needs to adjust accordingly depending on the Follower height.

Leader releases his right shoulder a little bit, while Follower maintains contact with her back against the Leader’s forearm during the Colgada.

The Hurricane aspect of the Colgada we learned involved going around really fast. To go around REALLY fast, as the Leader steps around the Follower, his left foot sickles, and his right foot turns out and collects to help the Follower spin in axis. So his feet look like /\ < , etc, as he steps around and around on axis.

Both dancers should keep their elbows in so that it doesn’t take a lot of space.

After a class question and answer review, Maestros demonstrated the class exercises and concepts to Lomuto’s Jugando Jugando vals.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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