Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Overturned Gancho/Sacada Experience Made Easy (Intermediate "Foundation" Class)

Song: Patotero Sentimental by Carlos Di Sarli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
New York City
October 15, 2011


Homer & Cristina Ladas Workshops in New York City:

Weekend Theme: The Body-Spiral and Body-Axis

Saturday Theme: "Exploring the Body-Spiral"

2.30pm: The Overturned Gancho/Sacada Experience Made Easy (Intermediate "Foundation" Class)

4.30pm: The Overturned Gancho/Sacada Odyssey (Advanced "Exploration" Class)


The Overturned Gancho/Sacada Experience Made Easy (Intermediate "Foundation" Class)

Video Courtesy of Luis Campos

The purpose of this class was for the Leader and Follower to get in touch with our inner spiral. The music for our class was DiSarli with Rufino on vocals.

It began with Maestros showing us a simple pattern, and then breaking down each element. The simple pattern was the 8CB to 5 (Follower's cross), to a Follower's big clockwise pivot on her left foot, to do a Follower right leg back gancho through the Leader's legs.


Our work first involved cleaning up the lines of the Leader leading the Follower to the cross. We should be very compact in the space when walking forward, on two tracks or one.

Leader: should not drift when leading the Follower into the cross. He should be close to the Follower, perhaps with his thighs touching hers as he walks forward. From the close embrace, on the Leader's left foot forward step, his thigh can touch the Follower's thigh and he walks forward on one track, one foot in front of the other.

Follower: when she does her back steps, one foot should be behind the other foot.

The Leader's side step is a straight step to the side, not slightly diagonally forward, as some Leaders were doing.

The Leader leads the cross by a little bit of twisting in his torso, with his left shoulder going forward clockwise on the Follower's right foot back step (4 of the 8CB). Here, the Follower needs to be attentive to have spiral and if the Leader is really leading the weight change after the cross.

For the Leader and Follower, as they both arrive to the cross, the Leader releases his right arm so that the Follower can return to axis as she completes the cross. The Follower returns to axis as she arrives to the cross, and is completely on axis when the cross is completed.


The Leader needs to give good energy for the Follower pivot, and a good block for the Follower to do a good gancho.

The Follower might not get enough disassociation and her left shoulder and arm might get in the way and block the range of motion, so she needs to soften her left shoulder a bit and allow it to open up.

At the point of the gancho after the big pivot, her belly button faces away from the Leader while she tries to maintain connection to him at the top of her body. She should not tilt forward or bend over to create range for the ganchoing leg.

The Leader puts his own energy in the gancho, but it's up to the Follower to answer, even though the Leader proposes. The Follower, when she ganchos, should move such that her leg starts at the top of her hip bone. She should not do a “knee gancho”, where only the calf of the leg goes back.


Level 1: Follower and Leader eyes are open

Level 2: Follower closes eyes

Level 3: Leader and Follower close eyes to develop Leader's sense of feeling.

The Follower should imagine that the four corners of her right foot are connected to the floor. Her leg is like the pendulum of a grandfather clock. She should keep her chest up, and have her leg swing start from the top of her hip. Her arms and hands should be such that they are holding an imaginary large fish bowl filled with sleeping fish. Again, it was emphasized that the movement is not done from just the knee, but starts at the top of the hip joint and involves the entire leg.

In partnership, we did the pendulum Exercise, and the Follower’s goal was to be consistent in the speed and motion of her leg swing so that the Leader could predict where he needs to put his leg to receive her gancho leg (swinging pendulum leg). He had the option of placing his gancho’d leg’s foot in front of or behind her standing, supporting foot to set up the gancho so that she comes through the center of his legs.

The Leader assumes the Captain Morgan (of rum fame) position, with heel off the ground and ball of foot in the ground. His hip opens up, and he offers the fleshy part of the thigh (chicken leg), so that the Follower can wrap around it. The other standing, supporting leg is the elevator leg, which by bending the knee, the Leader can change the elevation and length of the space should he need to for a taller or shorter Follower. The Leader needs to be perfect in timing and movement of getting into the Captain Morgan stance.

The Follower should watch the shape of her foot, and not sickle or twist it, and not flex the angle. She should have the intention to have a little bit of turnout and not pronate or twist the foot in. She should point the toe at the end of the pendulum leg swing.

The Follower should keep her pelvic floor equal in the gancho. She should not go down, or to the side, or look for the gancho.


The details are where it's at because these foundational elements appear in many places over and over.

The Leader’s Captain Morgan leg is weightless, except if the Follower is off balance. Then he might need to have a little bit of weight on the Captain Morgan leg. We did a muscle memory Captain Morgan footwork exercise where we stepped with our left foot forward, transferred the weight and pivoted and rotated our chests clockwise, with our right foot going into the Captain Morgan position. The Captain Morgan leg position is key for the Leader giving the Follower enough space to do the gancho. The Leader can flex his standing supporting anchoring leg or move his whole leg if she needs the room.


The Follower’s back pivot is more than a back ocho. She needs to keep her feet together until the last moment of when the gancho is beginning. She needs to wait for the Leader's blocking energy so that he actually leads the gancho (instead of her doing it on her own).

For the Follower, she needs to let her hand/arm slide to let her left shoulder open up so that she can pivot more and gancho more fully and easily.

The Leader's right hand should not squeeze and hold the Follower. If he does, he would not be helping her. He can keep the Follower on axis by not doing too much. Here, less is more. If he has a problem with his right arm clenching her or pressing her into him, he should practice leading this in the teapot embrace, where his right arm his behind his back like the handle, and his left arm is up and wrist is fixed like the spout. He should then lead our simple gancho pattern in this embrace.

The Leader should not unwind the Follower from the cross because then it will take more work for her to do the gancho. At the point of the gancho, the Leader can exaggerate the opening of the embrace to let her know that's what he wants.

We also tried double ganchos.


We also tried to do ganchos from a circular ocho cortado.


Then we tried mixing them up, overturned ganchos versus back sacadas. The difference between the two are that axis (center of the circle) is the key. In the overturned gancho, the Follower is the axis (center of the circle). In the Follower's back sacada the Leader is the axis (center of the circle).

In receiving the Follower back sacada, the Leader lets his right leg go and can kick the heel around to pivot without any spiral in the body as the Follower does her clockwise molinete around him. His goal is to have a smooth and continuous energy and she goes around him.

After the class review, Maestros demo'd the material to DiSarli's Patotero Sentimental.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

No comments: