Monday, June 4, 2012

Volcadas and Embellishments

Song: Tu El Cielo y Tu by Carlos DiSarli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 20, 2012, Northampton, MA
Video Courtesy of Todd Griffen

We began with a warm-up dance doing small, simple forward volcadas with no embellishments. We were to keep the volcada small and strong.
Follower: Do not collapse your belly button.
Leader: Do not be hollowed out in your chest when you lead the Volcada.

Follower: There is no such thing as the free leg. We can control our leg, shape it. And articulate it in a pretty manner.

Our practice hold would be as if we were starting a Greco-Roman wrestling match where each person’s hands are on the other person’s front shoulders.
-       We should have straight, stable spines.
-       The Follower pushes against the Leader’s shoulders.
-       The Follower tries to knock the Leader off by pressing into the floor and not breaking alignment or collapsing anywhere. 
-       The Follower pushes on the Leader by being strong and firm into the ground on her standing legs. 
-       The Leader plays with the Follower’s axis, trying to push her back mostly with his body.
-       If the Leader does a good job, the Follower should let him win.  If the Leader does not do a good job, she should let him fall.
-       Leaders should be stable and secure, and should give the Follower support energy from the very beginning and all throughout.
-       Leaders should not collapse in energy or fall, otherwise the Follower will push him back up.
-       The Followers should let the weight carry through
The point of this exercise is so that Leaders learn how not to collapse and to always be ready to engage, and to be able to push back right away and hold his ground to always give support to the Follower. At the moment of the Follower’s fall, there can be no air pockets or bubbles in terms of the energy that they are both giving each other.

In this Greco-Roman hold, the Leader leads a volcada by doing a side step diagonally back (open back) with his left foot, and then steps diagonally forward (front cross) with his right foot to drive the Follower’s left foot into a front cross against her right foot.

Leader should always face his partner. 

Follower: Give a lot of weight into the Leader, and this depends on how much the Follower pushes into the floor.  Do not collapse into your body.  Push more into the floor with all of your joints (hips, knees, ankles) to keep upright and not collapse. Engage your core muscles. 

The Leader equalizes and matches and stabilizes the Follower.  This is how we take care of each other.

We drilled this, trying with different partners of varying dimensions.

Use strength to keep each other up.

The Leader lifts Follower in a way. It’s a sustained lift.

The Follower pushes down with her left shoulder blade and pulls herself up, as if she is trying to get out of a swimming pool. Pushing down to pull yourself up is not about going up in height.  It is about creating space between your ribs.  Imagine your own wishbone being pulled up an inch. So your height will remain constant, but there will be more lengthening in your spine from the increased space in your rib cage.

The Follower’s right foot pivots to face the Leader. She should not underpivot, otherwise she will end up with twisted feet.  Her joints should be aligned with the Leader’s body.

With embellishments, the focus needs to be on the floor for strength.
Both the Leader and Follower need to engage their muscles in their cores, backs, and legs.

Exercise:  Footwork – Ballet or Sassy
(1)       Ballet:
-       Foot has pointed toe
-       Follower’s hips face the Leader
-       Hips are level in the same line

(2)       Sassy
-       Foot is flexed so heel remains on the floor
-       Do not drop or collapse the left hip; keep the hips the line level and the same by engaging the inner thigh of the standing right leg.

Regarding ballet or sassy, master each one before you play in the middle and do a hybrid.

(3)       The Ultimate Embellishment: Cristina’s Air Enrosque (in-air rulo/Arabesque)
-       This entails really opening up the hip and doing a clockwise enrosque/rulo (draw a circle) out to the side with ballet footwork (ie, a pointed foot).
-       She can keep this on the ground, which is easier when just learning to do it, and then putting it in the air, doing it at the height of the volcada, and then resolving it.
-       Follower shouldn’t be slow. She needs to be able to do it within the time the Leader gives.
-       The bend is at the knee, and the enrosque/rulo is out to the side. For the left foot the enrosque/rulo is clockwise, in the same the direction of where the left leg will go.
-       If done on the right leg, the enrosque/rulo is counterclockwise.
-       A student in class dubbed the initiating stance “Princes Morgan” – like Captain Morgan stance, only the female version.  So our hip opens up in that same manner, with knee straight down and toe pointed to floor.
-       From the hips to the knee is isolated during the Follower enrosque/rulo.
-       At the inflection point, the knee and hips close as the leg goes into the cross.
-       There are two distinctive shapes.
-       As the Leader swings the Follower, she breaks at the hip.
-       Keep hip open; the motion comes from the foot.
-       At the inflection point, the Follower’s straightens her leg out into the cross like normal.
-       Can do two circles: one out to the side, and one more toward but before the inflection point.
-       We can practice this footwork against the wall, just as we can practice doing ochos. It is important to practice to get this into our muscle memory. The isolation of the thigh makes this challenging.

The Leader can lead multiple volcadas in a row by doing windshield wiper footwork, so he never collects his left foot with his right foot.

Maestros demo’d the class concepts to DiSarli’s Tu El Cielo y Tu.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

No comments: