Friday, November 4, 2011

Something Scary Spins This Way (Intermediate)

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
Providence, Rhode Island
October 28, 2011


The Providence Tango Tricks and Treats Weekend with Homer & Cristina Ladas

Friday, October 28, 2011

Something Scary Spins This Way (Int)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Art of Surprise - Part I (Int)

The Art of Surprise - Part II (Int/Adv)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cool Tricks and Traps for the Social Dance Floor - Parts I (Advanced)

Cool Tricks and Traps for the Social Dance Floor - Parts II (Master)


Video Courtesy of Steven Spura

Friday, October 28, 2011

Something Scary Spins This Way (Int)

In this intermediate class we worked on developing a “single-axis turn” or “colgada spin” of various speeds and durations (from almost “not there” to “hurricane force”). These movements are great social techniques to help navigate, be musical and dynamic in small spaces, or to outright “scare” your partner (ie, the roller coaster ride of tango).

We began with a warm-up dance with the goal of the Leader spinning the Follower around, with the loose instruction to have the Follower on one axis, left or right leg, and to find a way to walk around her axis. It is like a calesita (where there is a little lean).

Colgadas showed up around 2000, as a way to hang away from each other that is more stable and can be very fast.

We worked on a lot of fundamental Colgada concepts, illustrated by a simple pattern:

Leader side step left, with a right foot sandwich of the Follower’s feet. The Leader takes baby steps around the Follower as she pivots on the ball of her right foot. The exit is the Leader right step back or to the side.


The Leader walks into the Follower’s space, knocking her body off axis with direct body contact, gently, 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.

What is the parachute for the Follower? If she feels the Leader is not catching her, she can step back with the unweighted free leg/foot to survive to stop herself from falling.


In the Hip Under Colgada Posture, hips are under our rib cage. Spine is straight. Hips go back. We are not sitting down. We were to engage our cores, and our hips were to be under our rib cages. We were to use our backs and our hips, and not overuse or overcompensate with our arms and our shoulders.

The Leader sandwiches (his feet are in a “V” shape) the Follower’s feet (which are in parallel). He then sends the Follower back and sends himself back to counterbalance her. Knees are soft and slightly bent.

Leader and Follower hang onto each other’s wrists, and then move their cores/centers back, counterbalancing each other, using the power of their backs 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 several different partners (tall, short, fat, thin), to work on being able to counterbalance different body shapes, weights, and muscle compositions.


The Line of Dance is toward the open side. The Leader steps into the line of dance, and sandwiches the Follower’s feet. Leader engages the embrace and steps forward a little. The Leader doesn’t have to do any turn. As soon as the Leader goes around, physics will take over. The Leader can do minimum sendout and still get centrifugal acceleration. The Leader’s right arm becomes fixed to support the Follower.

The Follower needs to have confidence in her Leader, and she needs to really send back her hips so that the Leader can fully counterbalance her.


How can the Follower kill the Colgada either on purpose or by accident?

(1) Put her free leg down.

(2) Sit down and change leverage and Leader is unprepared for this.

(3) Push the pelvis in.

(4) Foot clamp.

When the Leader sends the Follower out in Colgada, he becomes like a Wall for the Follower to hang on to, supported by the Follower’s hips and back.

In teapot embrace, with the Leader’s right arm behind him as the handle and his left arm up as the fixed spout, we were to lead the single-axis turn with the Leader stepping around the Follower with his left foot and coming around with right foot. The Leader’s feet need to go where they need to go. He first pigeon toes in with his left foot, so it sickles, and then his right foot turns out. It’s as if the toes say “Hello!” to each other, and then the heels say “Hello!” to each other. The Leader needs to stay equidistant around the Follower’s axis.

We backed up a little to a brief exercise:


In partnership face to face, we were to imagine 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 as fast as he can. The goal was to spin crazy and fast in both directions, with Follower on her left foot or right foot, so there were four possibilities:

(1) Spin left with Follower on left foot.

(2) Spin right with Follower on left foot.

(3) Spin left with Follower on right foot.

(4) Spin right with Follower on right foot.


Getting into it via the rock step.

Follower does right foot forward step around the Leader, Leader does right foot catch of Follower’s right foot with his weight back on his left foot, but he leads the Follower to transfer weight to get her into Colgada. Leader rocks forward with his left foot, Follower rocks back with her right foot.

For the Leader to quick weight change to his left foot, he crosses behind and does a weight change to get the right foot out fast enough to catch the Follower. The exit: Leader steps back or to the side in the Line of Dance. He should send the Follower out as she is transferring weight so that the transfer from axis to off-axis is seamless.

We tried doing this in open embrace and close embrace. The Colgada does not mean we need to spin or turn.


Note that in the colgada there are three points of connection:

Follower’s right hand in Leader’s left hand

Leader’s right hand on Follower’s back

Follower’s right hand on Leader’s right arm

Maestros concluded with a demo to Laurentz’s Amurado, which has a lot of crazy variaciones in it, perfect for doing this hurricane colgada. The demo illustrates that Homer still gets dizzy when doing too many of these.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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