Monday, June 4, 2012

Finding your Style “MO” vis Leg Wraps

Song: Sentimiento Gaucho by Francisco Canaro with vocals by Nelly Omar
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 19, 2012, Northampton, MA
Video Courtesy of Todd Griffen

The focus of our class was on overturned ganchos (wraps) from the Follower’s cross.

Maestros demo’d a simple PATTERN:
8CB to the cross
To Follower’s pivot clockwise
To Follower’s right foot back gancho between the Leader’s legs
To Follower’s pivot back out
Into the Line of Dance

The Leader’s footwork:
Left foot side step
Weight change to right foot
Walk two steps forward (left foot first, then right foot)
Leading Follower into the cross.
Rotate clockwise around the Follower, while making a Captain Morgan left leg to get thigh into position to receive the Follower’s gancho between his legs. Here, there is a weight change to his left leg as he rotates around to lead the Follower to do an overturned back gancho between his legs. Leader leads Follower to pivot back and then collect with her right foot to her left, standing, supporting leg/foot. 

So basically, the Leader is leading a back ocho, and then a gancho.

Follower’s Footwork:
Right foot side
Left foot back
Right foot back
Left foot front cross over right foot
Transfer weight to left foot (so right foot is free)
Pivot clockwise (a lot more than you think) so your feet are facing away from the Leader, but maintain your connection with him in your torso (this requires a lot of upper body disassociation)
Gancho with free right leg, starting from the top of the hip.
Reverse pivot counterclockwise while still on the left foot, to collect.

For the Leader:
Do not do the Tokyo Drift during the cross. 
-       The Tokyo Drift is where the Leader steps outside to his left a little bit, off the balance beam, instead of keeping his steps straight and in line (as if he is walking on a balance beam). 
-       Drifting off the line produced a slightly different movement, and the Leader will be too far away from the Follower for a gancho. 
-       So he needs to stay on the line, imagining he is on a balance beam the whole time while doing the 8CB to the cross (5). 
-       If the Leader changes the alignment, he changes the pattern.
Leader should stay close to the Follower’s thighs.
Leader’s right arm needs to release from the shoulder.

For both Leader and Follower:
They need more upper body disassociation.
Both their embraces has to change.
Create gentle contact.

For the Follower:
The Follower’s embrace needs to open up too as the embrace becomes more elastic.
-       She should not let go or release the embrace. 
-       The embrace transitions to open up, and yet remain close to the Leader. 
-       This enables her to have more pivot in her feet and hips and more disassociation in her upper body, but not jam him or herself as she ganchos.
While she ganchos, she is pushing the four corners (up and down, left and right)
Do not do a knee-jerk gancho where only the knee portion down does the gancho.
-       Knee ganchos are dangerous because you could stab the leader with the back of your stiletto heel.
Follower should not change height. If the left knee bends, she should keep the torso nice and tall, and note bend at the waste.
The swing should be from the whole leg, as in a linear boleo.
To help us work on these concepts, we did the Pendulum exercise.

The Follower swings her leg, being really big and strong in her swing, really opening up and toes pointed forward, with leg straight and strong (like a pendulum or match stick) and the knee only bending when it has to.

At the right moment, the Leader puts his leg behind the Follower's supporting standing foot/leg, with his heel lifted from the floor, and his thigh opening up, exposing the soft part of his leg to receive the Follower's swinging pendulum leg in a gancho. This is called the "Captain Morgan" (of rum fame) position. The Captain Morgan is flexible and he can open it in and out to accommodate the Follower’s ganchoing leg.
Again, the Follower's bend in the knee happens at the maximum height of her back leg swing, and she should have good flesh contact with the Leader's thigh.

In the Pendulum Exercise, the Follower should be tall, lengthen the leg, pointing her toe.
The Leader's foot goes behind the Follower's far away foot, unweighted, with just a little bit of pressure to keep it steady, so perhaps 10% of his weight is on it.
If the Follower is much shorter, the Leader's knee needs to bend, so that he goes down like an elevator. She should not look for the Leader’s leg to wrap, and not deviate from a regular, straight line swing.

The Follower’s leg should not be floppy like a limp noodle, but straight like a pendulum or a  match stick. So it’s a controlled, but “free” movement.  Follower should have tone/control in her pendulum (gancho-ing) leg).  There is no such thing as a free leg, as we can control the leg, and the foot muscles. She should control the foot muscles, big and small to the tip of her toes from the top of her thighs/hips to help the momentum of the swinging leg. 

There are three levels to the Pendulum Exercise:
(1) Both dancers with both eyes open
(2) Follower's eyes closed.
(3) Leader's and Follower's eyes closed.

If the Follower can do the exercise well, they are almost there.

This pattern has many other possibilities:

Follower left leg Arabesque gancho:
Like if the Leader does not lead the Follower to do a weight change at the cross, so she remains on her right leg, she could back gancho with her left leg, Arabesque style. For the Leader to lead no weight change, he needs to lift the Follower a little, keeping her on her weighted leg.

Leader Tokyo Drift for a Sacada:
If the Leader doesn’t walk in a straight line, but instead does a Tokyo Drift, he can get a sacada instead, as he creates room for the Follower to walk through.  The Leader can give the Follower continuous turn energy as he becomes the axis (middle of the circle), as the Follower walks around him in her back, side, forward steps of the clockwise molinete/hiro/turn.

We drilled these: doing the regular overturned gancho, the Follower’s no weight change left leg gancho, and the Sacada/Turn option.

Note that this overturned gancho can be led from anywhere where the Follower is in the cross with her left foot crossed in front of her right foot such as in the ocho cortado or from the close embrace small turn/molinete.

Maestros demo’d the class concepts to Canaro’s Sentimiento Gaucho with vocals by Nelly Omar.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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