Friday, June 7, 2013

Follower’s Defaults + Leaders Who Enable Them (Improvers)

ong: La Capilla Blanca by Carlos Di Sarli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 27, 2013, England International Tango Festival (at Ardingly College, Haywards Heath, West Sussex)

"Default” is not meant to have a negative connotation. By “Default” we mean “Standards”.  We have an equal opportunity for failure or success.

Maestros demo’d a pattern: Rock step, little forward ocho from the close to the open side of the embrace.  Here, we have a platform to communicate some standards for the Follower.  We did this in Sugarbowl embrace (also called the Less Blame embrace) so that the Follower needs to have good contact with the Leader in the pads of her fingertips and in the strength and elasticity in her arms.  At the pivot, the Follower needs to be on one foot and fully on axis. As the Follower makes her long, reaching step and pivot, her body is on top of her standing leg and there is no tilt.  Her chest should be a little bit back.

The Leader’s right foot crosses behind to open room. He should lead her ocho through his spine.  The Leader turns his spine to lead the Follower’s ocho.

The Follower should pause after each ocho.

We did a partnered exercise, holding each other at the finger tips, with both dancers doing big forward ochos.

Simple forward ochos in partnership.
Inside leg/foot steps forward
Forward step
We were to target our partner’s trailing leg, and to go toward it but stay together and have a lot of twist so that our hips won’t face our partner. Our upper bodies should face toward each other, but our belly buttons face away.  Our hips open up and we step close to our partner. We should look at each other and keep our chest up, trying to pivot forever.  We can rotate as much as possible with our hips facing away from the Leader, as long as we maintain the embrace/connection with the Leader. The Follower should learn how to rate a lot and develop equal strength and skill/range of motion on both sides.  Evenness in our dance can be difficult to achieve, as Leaders tend to lead the same things on the same sides.  We are a product of our partners.

We tried this in sugar bowl embrace, with the Leader doing forward ochos from the rock step, making long steps and big pivots, and the Follower stepping around the Leader so she is close to him.

Here, the Rule of the Hip was introduced.

THE RULE OF THE HIP: after the Follower’s pivot, her thigh can touch the Leader’s thigh; they can do a “thigh kiss”.

In sugar bowl embrace, the Leader plants himself to lead the Follower to do forward ochos. After the Follower’s forward ocho, her step needs to be close enough to the Leader so that as she completes her pivot, her hips/thighs touch the Leader’s. To do this, she needs to have long, snaky forward steps around the Leader, and to step close to his hips, so that after her pivot, they graze each other’s thighs.

In our exercise, we used the sugarbowl embrace.

Our goal was for the Follower’s thigh to touch the Leader’s thigh on either side after her ocho pivot. This exercise is to help us practice getting really close to each other without leaning into each other. The Leader tries to rotate his torso 45 degrees to lead the Follower’s ochos. As always, he should keep his chest up and let his head float.

This is one of the most difficult techniques for Follower’s precision of where she puts her foot to have vertical axis. 

The Rule of the Hip is broken if the Leader stands with a wide base with his feet wide apart.  His feet should be together.

Follower needs to keep her chest up and back, and she should be on axis.  It was noted that on the second or subsequent ochos, she should aim for the Leader’s little toe.  The Follower’s standing leg has a lot of power/capability to it.

Still in the sugar bowl embrace, the Leader focuses on the body and forgets about the hands. 

We worked on the ocho parada, where the Leader leads the Follower to do forward ochos, and then he adds the parada and the Follower answers with her pasada. In the Follower pasada step over she should project her foot and step around the Leader. She should not climb over his foot as if stepping over a large box.  The Follower’s belly button faces away from the Leader. 

The Leader’s parada secret: The Leader does a ronde, going from little toe, to big toe, to little toe, making a quarter turn with a point.  To present his leg, the Leader fans into it, unweighted so that the Follower can be free to really pivot and is not blocked by the Leader.

The Leader gives the Follower an obstacle so she can go over it. 

During the Follower’s pivot before it ends, the Leader should give her his leg so she feels it and knows where she should stop and step over.

The Follower’s embellishments can include skimming/grazing the Leader’s trouser leg with the top of her foot, and she can also playfully walk around the front of his foot, like a boat going around an obstacle.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and a demo to La Capilla Blanca by Carlos Di Sarli. 

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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