Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Feet (All Levels)

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
Northampton, MA
October 21, 2011


Homer & Cristina Ladas Workshops in Northampton, MA

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Tango Body

The Feet (All Levels)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Workshop 1 – Int/Adv – The Legs

Workshop 2 – Int/Adv – The Hips

Premilonga Lesson: Floorcraft, Navigation and Etiquette

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Workshop 3 – Int/Adv – The Upper Body

Workshop 4 – Int/Adv – The Embrace


Video Courtesy of Kristin Balmer & Mariano Sana



Today our work would be fun, and tomorrow we would focus on more serious topics.


We began with a warm-up exercise done in circle formation, individually crossing behind and trying to walk forward. We were to be elegant with our chests lifted, not sloppy, and don’t fall into our steps. This exercise is not a race. In our arms, we were to imagine holding a big fish bowl filled with sleeping fish, so our upper bodies needed to be as quiet as possible to not disturb them or wake them up. We should also not tilt from side to side or forward to back, but keep even.

Then we did this same exercise, only in reverse: crossing in front while trying to walk back.

Our feet should touch when we walk back, and our knees should be soft.

We should look across the circle to the person on the opposite side, keeping our head up and floating.

When in regular feet forward position, we should have a slight bit of turnout so our feet look like a “V”. When we cross behind or cross forward, our feet should look like an “A”.

On the forward cross step, we bend the receiving knees without height change, picking up our heels and using our whole leg. We should keep our thighs together and caress the floor with our feet.


In a partnered drill in close embrace, the Leader snake walks in a crossed way while the Follower walks back in a straight line. We should take equal, long steps. In the snake walk, the Leader takes a left foot forward step toward the Follower’s left foot as she takes a back step, and a right foot forward step toward the Follower’s right foot as she takes a back step. He gets into it by doing a left foot side step, to quick weight change, and then steps forward with his left foot.

The look of the snake walk is very similar to the look of runway models, walking in a straight line on a balance beam, but weaving and keeping (really pulling) the thighs together (“I have to pee”), so in this walk the Leader’s spiral all happens below the waist. His upper body should be quiet and straight as he is only leading the Follower to walk straight back.

Snake walking is basically cross system walking.

The Leader needs to keep his chest lifted, tilt forward at the ankles but keep his belly back. There is a world of space at your feet.

Some details to think about:

Leaders: practice walking down a hallway with weaving legwork and “I have to pee” thighs. Keep the chest square. Do not sickle or twist the feet.

Followers: Collect at the inner thighs and ankles when the opportunity arises. Put more attention on the ankle down to the toe. Be a little outturned in your straight back steps to be a little more solid. Do not pronate. Shape your collections with flexion in your ankles. Think about how you use the distribution of weight, from back to front, and how you land heel to toe, and how you use pressure on the floor to control the progression of your body.


The Leader makes a back cross, then walks forward, alternating in regular walk or crossed (snake) walk. The Follower walks smoothly on the strong beat, placing feet elegantly, and keeping steady. She should not transfer weight too fast, and be consistent with how she connects in close embrace. She should not float away or pull away from the Leader.

For the Leader, it is important for him to know how to walk in parallel and then into and out of the snake walk (cross system walk). In the Leader’s back cross, his feet need to be tight and deep, otherwise the Follower will go away in the embrace.

For our drill, we did:

Snake walk two steps

Back cross (left foot cross behind right foot)

Parallel walk two steps

Back cross

Snake walk two steps

Back cross


The QQS rhythm fits in well with the back cross, which we tried to do musically. The Leader’s easiest foot to start the QQ on is the left foot forward, right foot back cross. So the Leader has to plan ahead when he’s stepping on his right, so that he really projects himself on his left foot forward step. In the Leader’s back cross, he should go deep and tight.

Maestros then did a short demo in vals of the forward step, cross behind, at the boom-chick-boom points in the music.

As always, the Follower should not push her head into the Leader, and keep her chest up.

Next, things were made more complicated in the context of our foot pattern in vals:

L Forward step

R Back cross step (tight and snug)

L Side step


R Forward step

L Back cross step (tight and snug)

R Side step

Here, with this additional step but still keeping within the same music, the step size needs to be as small as possible to hit the two chicks (the Boom-Chick-Chick in vals music). This footwork changes the quality of movement, fitting in a nice sway forward with a little backward to vals music.

Maestros concluded with a class review and demo to Canaro’s Vibraciones Del Alma.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

No comments: