Thursday, February 24, 2011

Volcada Foundations with Miguel Calo

Song: Al Compas Del Corazon by Miguel Calo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
February 19-20, 2011, Stanford Workshops, California

The goal of our class was to go through it entirely with no pain in our backs. So both Leader and Follower need to do their jobs.

“Volcada” comes from the Spanish verb “Volcar”, which means to tip over (like spilling something)


We began with hugging each other, in a nice way (not a bad way), with the leader attempting to find the sweet spot on the Follower where it feels best to be hugged. This sweet spot is at the Follower’s sternum level. We tried this with several different partners so that the Leaders could work on adjusting their hug to the each Follower’s sternum height.


Next, to the hug, we added the Leader lift, whereby he scoops up the Follower.

Follower responses:

(1) Follower allows the lift.

(2) Follower opposes the lift by pushing down on her shoulder blades.

We tried this with several different partners so that the we could feel this and adjust our physical efforts with many different body shapes/weights/heights/musculature.


Next, we added the Leader steps back and forward.

The Leader takes 2-3 steps back, and takes 2-3 steps forward.

The Follower should resist the lift by keeping her core and back strong, and not have her posture dissolve into banana posture and keep her belly button pushed back into her spine. She should fall like a tree.

Leader hugs Follower.

Leader changes weight to his left foot to get Follower weight on her right foot.

Leader compresses and lifts Follower.

Follower opposes the lift, keeping her posture strong and solid while she is on her standing, supporting right foot as Leader takes 2-3 steps back.

The Follower can create shape with her free, unweighted left foot. Leader steps forward 2-3 steps to release the Volcada, and they walk out to resolution.

The Leader has permission to support his partner. Both dancers need to be strong through their whole body. The Leader needs to engage his core and have a strong back too. Neither Leader nor Follower should come in with their bellies, otherwise they will hurt their back.


Follower holds onto Leader’s chest only.

The Leader takes 2 steps backward, and then two steps forward. This exercise is for Leader to develop his connection to the Floor and for the Follower to keep herself upright but still oppose the lift. The Follower really needs to hold on and lift herself a little by keeping her shoulders and shoulder blades/lats back and down.


With no volcada in practice hold, the Leader tries to get the Follower’s left foot /leg to cross in front of her right foot. We got into this by the Leader doing a left foot rock step, right foot crosses behind perpendicular (like passing a soccer ball), left foot cheat step around, attacking the floor, which causes the Follower’s left foot to swing around and cross in front of her right foot as his right foot steps forward as he takes control and changes what would normally be the side step after her right foot forward (front cross) step of the clockwise turn/hiro/molinete.

For Follower’s Technique, she should keep her foot on the floor, caressing it with the big toe as her foot comes around to end in a cross. Her weight is distributed throughout her entire leg, and her leg starts from her rib cage going all the way down to her toes.

For the Leader, timing is key. He needs to lift and support the Follower and be powerful in his cheat step (the third step). The Leader has to lead the Follower’s cross.

The Leader’s cheat step needs to be with power. He gets this power by engaging his core as he torques his body clockwise.


Next, we added the open embrace, and also allowed falling/a little bit of lean.

Again, the Follower needs to push her self down to keep herself pulled up strong and solid in her posture.

The Leader’s cheat step is more around and away, which is what makes the Follower fall.

We drilled this for quite a while with many different partners.

The Leader’s forward step should be toward the Follower so that she crosses tight. If he steps forward but more away from the Follower, she will cross big and possibly sloppily.

Next, we added the close embrace. The Follower still compresses and pushes down to keep herself pulled up. The Leader needs to wait for the Follower to cross before walking out.

The class concluded with a question and answer session and Maestros’ demo to Calo’s Al Compas Del Corazon.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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