Monday, June 4, 2012

Easy Social Colgadas

Song: Neruda by Rupa & The April Fishes
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 20, 2012, Northampton, MA
Video Courtesy of Todd Griffen

Maestros demo’d a couple of easy colgadas: the first of which was looked more along the lines of a shared-axis turn, and the second was a step-over colgada.

The word “colgada” comes from the Spanish verb “colgar”, which means to hang.  Imagine yourself driving in a truck around on a high mountain road coming around the corner quickly and feeling a bit of a tilt.

The ideas of colgadas have always been around a long time, but was made popular by the 1990s Tango Investigation Group, as the group exaggerated the move and made it bigger and more obvious. (See Wikipedia Article on this group’s beginnings in the Wikipedia entry on Tango Nuevo

Colgadas are an extension of communication and trust.

The Leader leads the Follower to step forward and around him with her right foot.

Starting with no colgada, the Leader does a rock step, right foot cross behind, to invite Follower to step through, long and around him, near the Leader and staying with the Leader.  There is a quick weight change to the Leader’s left foot so that his right foot is free. Leader’s right foot traps the Follower’s right foot forward step, and then he goes around clockwise as he puts weight onto his right foot.  It is like an ocho parada, but he keeps the weight in the front while his hips are back.  The Leader should not put his foot down before the Follower steps forward on her right foot.

We began with close embrace side step hypnotizing.
The Leader’s right leg is stuck between the Follower’s legs.
The Leader needs to release his right arm a little so that the Follower has room to hang back.
We tried this in open embrace.
The Leader sandwiches the Follower’s foot, then tries to walk around the Follower’s axis.  He does a bad Pac Man walk, more like a pigeon-toed duck walk, to get around the Follower’s axis.  The bad Pac Man Leader’s footwork is:
Turn in
Turn out

The Follower’s posture doesn’t change that much.
It’s an isolation movement so the part between the chest and the hips go back.

Since our class didn’t look so hot, we stepped back a little and worked on posture a bit.  


Holding at the wrists, we were in hip under position, with our hips lined up with our rib cages. The Leader's feet, which can be in a "V" position, were outside the Follower's feet, sandwiching them. Elbows have 90 degree bend to them. We were to squeeze our transverse muscles, using our center mass in our backs and cores, keeping our chest open, and pushing our shoulder blades down. We were to hang from the hips and counterbalance each other. We were not to crunch our shoulders. We could move our belly out back a little. We were not to use our upper backs, but just use our mid/lower backs and power of our hips/legs and our core muscles. Our back and leg muscles are engaged. Our backsides were such that there is a high bar back stool behind us and we were reaching back to get up into to the chair (so it is not sitting down on a low chair).

-       do not plank
-       do not ballroom
-       do not back dive
-       do not banana
-       Leader can’t tell the Follower what posture to have
-       Follower: do not change height unless the Leader leads it. (Any height change adds another level of complexity to all that the Leader has to think about on top of counterbalancing her weight, sending her out, and leading the turn).

The Leader initiates the send out and controls how far the Follower goes out. The Leaders tried with different Followers to feel the height and weight differences, and how he had to change his counterbalancing efforts depending on the Follower's height and weight. The Leader needs to send the Follower out first, and then he needs to immediately counterbalance her. 

This exercise was the most important five minutes of class so that we could understand the concept of counterbalancing each other. In colgadas, the axis goes away from each other. That’s why it’s important for the Leader to be able to find the leverage and balance point.

Next, we played a Trust Game based on the concept of displacement.


Here, the Follower has her feet hip-width apart. The Leader walks into her, invading her space and knocking her off axis. The Leader enters her space, displacing the Follower, by walking into the space between her feet. Then he/she/they catch each other.

Level 1: Both catch each other
Level 2: Leader catches Follower
Level 3: Follower catches Leader

The Follower needs to not be paranoid and fall before the Leader actually invades her space and knocks her off axis. She needs to wait for the Leader to first knock her off axis before falling.

With these technical details of posture and trust cleaned up and refined, we went back to drilling the pattern

In open embrace, Leader leads the Follower to do a turn/hiro/molinete clockwise (to the right), the Leader does Pac Man footwork. After her right foot forward step, he traps right foot with his right foot.  At this point, she is already in the hips under position, so the Leader just has to keep her out there. The Leader keeps turning the Follower to the right (clockwise).

The Golden Parachute for the Follower if she is in a panic is to put her other leg/foot down so she doesn’t fall. 

Note that during this move, the shape of the Follower’s hips change, because the movement is circular.  There are minute changes in the Follower’s body to keep the colgada from collapsing.  The Follower is in colgada until the Leader steps out of it.  To get out of it, the Leader stops the motion, and then steps back.  His step back needs to be very clear and deliberate.  As the Leader steps back, the Follower bends her knee to walk smoothly out of it, instead of catapulting (which would happen if her leg was straight). 

To make the move feel better/sexier, we turn and twist toward each other.

If we are the milonga and are dancing with someone who is new to us, the Leader can test the waters to see if the Follower knows how to do colgadas.
-       1st test: Calesita/Carousel.
-       2nd test: Step-over Colgada.  If she doesn’t do this, you will get more of a parada/pasada effect with no off-axis movement.
You can work up to doing colgadas with this new partner, but the Leader should first try to make it as easy as possible, initiating with a little side step, and then sending the Follower out a little to see if she will go.  If she does well with the calesita, you can turbo charge it once you are off axis. 
Follower should go for it if the Leader leads it.

Followers: do not clamp the Leader’s legs.  In colgadas, it is important for the Leader to have the freedom to spin around the Follower (versus the hiro/turn/molinete where the Follower goes around the Leader).

Maestros showed us a back step-over colgada during the turn/hiro/molinete clockwise (to the right) from the Follower’s right foot back cross/back ocho step (Leader’s right foot to Follower’s right foot).  Leader sends her back, and then Follower steps through as she normally would to make a side step.  Leader looks over his shoulder to do a shoulder check to see if it’s OK to step out, back into the line of dance. 

To avoid the AGR (Automatic Gancho Reflex), the Leader needs to avoid giving his thigh at all.

Any parada or sacada is a potential moment for a colgada.  If the leader can get his feet next to her leading leg, such as from back ochos.

Colgadas are initiated by the Leader invading the Follower’s space to her lead leg (right leg).

Maestros demo’d the class concepts to Rupa & The April Fishes’ Neruda.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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