Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Upper Body (Int/Adv)

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
Northampton, MA
October 23, 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

Workshop 3 - The Upper Body (Int/Adv)

Close Embrace turns in vals (full turns to the left and to the right)

We began in a special embrace, with Leader using no arms and Follower using any arms and flat chest-to-chest connection and the Follower giving light, medium, or strong energy. The Leader tries to lead what he can, always trying not to lose the connection at all.

We were to have good posture, with our chests lifted and heads floating (and no head connection, as we did the entire weekend).

The focus of our work would be on Relative versus Absolute Turns.

We began with a review of our first exercise on Friday: Holding an imaginary fishbowl with sleeping fish, crossing behind while walking forward, and crossing in front while walking back. Do not change height, keep chest up, be elegant. In our crossed feet, our feet form the “A” shape. In regular feet, our feet form the “V” shape with slight turnout. We were to caress the floor with our big toe to know where our feet are.


We began with the Washing Machine Exercise to help improve our disassociation (give us super association). This is called the Washing Machine exercise because it mimics the spin cycle of a washing machine. It is a good oblique workout.

Here, we turn our bodies to our left and then release the right foot, pivoting on our left foot. Our hips catch up with our chest.

The goal was to do a 90-degree (quarter) turn with our chest, with everything else following, and then do a 180-degree (half) turn with our chest, with everything else following. Then if we could master that, we could try doing a 360-degree (full) turn, with everything else following.

The motion is:
(1) Turn
(2) Release hips
(3) Get all the way around

We were to try this on both sides (turning to our left and turning to our right), engaging and then releasing.

We were also to try this on each foot, in each direction, for four possibilities:
(1) Pivot on left foot while turning to left
(2) Pivot on left foot while turning to right
(3) Pivot on right foot while turning to right
(4) Pivot on right foot while turning to left

For this exercise, or goal is to have the hips go past the shoulders/chest so that we could feel what it is like to have dissonance between our hips and chest.

Level 2 of this exercise is to imagine that we have a partner and need to keep our chest as even and smooth as possible so that we can do it slowly and continuously.

BLOCK TURNS: On this turn, we are on one foot and kick the heel around as our bodies do not disassociate (moves in a block).

PADDLE TURN: Here, we stepped to the side, and with our other free foot, paddle ourselves around, touching the floor as we paddled, using small steps, not big steps. The Paddle keeps the Leader over his axis (like a kickstand for a bicycle) and the function of the free leg helps maintain stability of the standing, supporting leg and gives power.


With our feet crossed as in the cross walk exercise, we turn by sharing the weight between our feet. Here we can go into another cross, turn out of it, and then turn into another cross, etc. Tight crosses help keep a tight center.

THE SEQUENCE (TURN TO THE LEFT [counterclockwise]):

Leader side step left

Leader side step right

Weight change

Turn counterclockwise

Leader right foot sacada of Follower’s left foot into a tight back cross step into a

Leader’s front cross of his left foot in front of his right foot as Follower does counterclockwise molinete (turn) around him. The Follower’s crosses are tight on the forward and back cross steps. She should not open her hip that’s doing the cross, especially during the back cross step.

Unwind out to resolution.

We were to be flat in our connection with chest-to-chest connection. We did this so that we can work on the black side of the equation (100% connection, appilado style) versus the white side of the equation (open embrace). If we can master the turn in chest-to-chest 100% connection, it will make doing it in V embrace or open embrace easier. Leader needs to be consistent in his connection to the Follower.

To get out from the Leader’s right foot sacada into the left foot front cross, he can do the washing machine disassociation and kick the heel around (pivoting on his left foot).

Follower: side steps of the molinete (turn) need to be long and around the Leader. She needs to keep her belly back, and envision that her legs start fro her rib cage, not her waist.


An Absolute Turn is where either the Leader or Follower is the center of the circle with their partner going around and axis remains fixed.

A Relative Turn is where the axis moves. As the Leader does his sacada, he moves the axis. Every step the Leader makes, he can control it, moving the turn to where he wants to move it. This is a relative turn.


Dirty relative turns are where the Leader goes every which way from place to place to place.

Dirty absolute turns are where the Leader shifts the tilt of the axis forward, back, sideways, every which way.


Next, we worked on the timing of the turn:

Follower: QQS on the back, side, forward steps

Leader: SSS throughout

TURN TO THE RIGHT (clockwise):

When Leader goes to the right in a clockwise turn, nothing changes in the Leader’s footwork. He still sacadas with his right foot/leg, and does the forward enrosque from this sacada. There is no sneak attack weight change. For the Follower, her right foot forward step is a full forward step (not a truncated front cross step) because her right hip has room.

Maestros concluded with a demo to D’Arienzo’s Hotel Victoria.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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