Monday, June 4, 2012

Putting the “Neo” in your Tango

Song: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by Cat Power
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 19, 2012, Northampton, MA
Video Courtesy of Todd Griffen

Building on the prior workshop, the focus of our second workshop of the day was Neo sacadas. 

The term “Neo” or “Nuevo” came about from a  practice group that was developed in the 1990s to study the structure of tango.  This group of dancers came together to break apart and study each component of tango.  (See Wikipedia Article on this group’s beginnings in the Wikipedia entry on Tango Nuevo One of the members agreed to the “Neo” word as a market tool, and it stuck. What the group did was to empower the Followers.  Two of the members of the group were Luciana Valle and Cecilia Gonzalez. 

To understand the Follower’s Sacadas involves a lot of defaults and strengths of the Follower.  You will find your own style.

We began with work on Technique and the open structure of the turn/molinete/hiro.
-       The Leader pulls the Follower around with his left shoulder/arm.  His hips are slightly ahead of the Follower’s.
-       the Follower has long, reaching steps around the Leader and uses the embrace with engaging the open side of the embrace (her right hand in his left hand).

We practiced this in teapot embrace (Leader right hand at small of his back, Follower’s left hand wrapped around his right tricep so her thumb is at the front of his muscle, fingers at the back of muscle; Leader’s left arm up and out like a spout, holding onto Follower’s right hand).  For the exercise, the Follower was to step only on the strong beat, so the movement was all S-S-S-S, with no syncopation of QQ at the back and side steps.

The Leader has two options for the footwork during the turn:
(1)  Pac Man footwork (chomp chomp chomp)
-       Keep back of Pac Man jaw (Leader’s ankles) mostly touching. 
-       The first step is larger as Pac Man’s mouth opens, like an L shape; while the second step is smaller as the Pac Man’s mouth closes (like a V).
(2)  Kick heel around, and this can be done on either foot, either way, so there are four options (left foot, clockwise and counterclockwise and right foot, clockwise and counterclockwise).
-     Like the kickstand/paddle of a bike, but stay on axis.

Follower’s Technique:
-       Take long, reaching steps.
-       Use the 4 corners of your feet.
-       Understand how and when to energize the standing leg at each step.
-       Each step is worth $100.
-       Pivot enough at the two points: from forward into the side step and from side to the back cross step.

Overturned back sacada from a back ocho (like the end of the last class).

In teapot embrace, the Leader’s steps should be as if he is on a balance beam, or slightly off by 2-3 inches.  Captain Morgan leg becomes kick the heel around.
Before the sacada, the Leader first leads an overturned back ocho, then he leads the Follower to walk around him in a hiro/turn/molinete. The Leader should be smooth in his hiro/turn/molinete lead for the Follower to walk around him.

For the Follower, she is doing an ocho first, and then a hiro/turn/molinete.  So in terms of energy, she should have fire in the hips, but ice in the steps.  She should also pivot more  than she thinks she should.  The Follower’s embrace is elastic to stay longer on the standing leg and create a good reach.  At the point of the overturned sacada, the Follower needs to be on axis, not leaning forward.

We can do this on both sides. We are making embrace transitions to close to open to close. 

Leader steps slightly off the line, and should not give any block or wall energy, otherwise the Follower will do a gancho instead of stepping back to sacada.  The Leader should leave his right foot/leg  for the Follower to sacada.

Option 1: Follower’s left foot gancho after the sacada
The Leader leads the sacada and they move back a little so they get comfortable and as she moves over her axis, he can lead a gancho of her left foot (the Leader turns the Follower around counterclockwise on her axis with smooth energy).

Option 2: Follower’s alteration after the sacada
Do an alteration (a change of direction) instead of a left foot gancho, so the Follower does a left foot forward step. This is an alteration off the open step.

A gancho to an immediate sacada is a nice way to exit. 

There are more options for creativity.  Line of Dance constraints will tell you what to do.

The Leader needs to do and plan ahead Gancho versus sacada from overturned back ocho/pivot. For this, he needs to think about
(1)  Real Estate / place:
-       Be Near or Far from each other?
-       Who is axis (Leader or Follower?)
-       Step on the line like on a balance beam or slightly away?
-       Near to Follower + Balance Beam + Follower as axis = gancho
-       Far from Follower + Walking a little off line + Leader as axis = sacada
(2)  Energy:
-       If you are close and stop abruptly you will get a gancho
-       If you are farther away and don’t stop the energy, she will do a sacada.

The Follower needs to be sensitive to the space (near or far, the difference is mere inches) and energy (smooth versus abrupt).  She has to wait and decode the space and energy from the Leader.

Maestros demo’d the class concepts to Cat Powers’s (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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