Friday, June 7, 2013

Off Axis Masterclass 2 (Advanced)

Song: Velitas y Santos by Malena Muyala
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 26, 2013, England International Tango Festival (at Ardingly College, Haywards Heath, West Sussex)

In our prior class, we worked on Volcadas. Now we will work on off axis in the other way: Colgadas.

To learn the concept, we began with the step-over colgada, chosen because it is the Number 1 social colgada, and is similar to the parada/pasada, which most dancers of this level are familiar with.

Maestros demo’d it, and then had the students try to do it with little explanation.

After the students tried it for a while, we came back together and the class was split in two, Leaders behind Homer and Followers behind Cristina

Leader’s Footwork
Rock step leader’s left foot forward
Bounce back with left foot
Step several centimetres off the line of dance to capture the moon
Put weight into left foot to cause the Follower’s colgada
Right foot cheat step around the Follower
Put Follower’s weight on her right foot so he can bring her all the way through.
Come around
Change weight
Left foot forward step out

Follower’s Footwork
Right foot rock back
Pivot on left foot so right foot makes long reaching side steps with no weight on it.
When Leader transfers his weight, that’s when the Follower transfers her weight in the Colgada
Step over with left foot making a long reaching step around the Leader
And then they step out.

To understand the dynamics of the colgada, we did some exercises:


This exercise is about trust and communication.  The dancers have to feel the moment of falling in order to establish trust.

The Leader walks into the Follower’s space, knocking her body off axis with direct body contact, gently, and she falls back into the Leader’s hands. Follower’s feet remain in the same spot. There are three levels to this exercise:

(1) Follower and Leader catch each other.

(2) Leader catches Follower (Follower’s arms and hands do nothing; they do not hang onto or catch the Leader).

(3) Follower catches Leader (Leader’s arms and hands do nothing; they do not hang onto or catch the Follower).

In this exercise, the Leader needs to physically knock the Follower off axis with his whole center, displacing the Follower’s space. She needs to wait for the Leader to do this, not anticipate and not go back too soon automatically with no initial contact from the Leader.

 We can also do this from behind, Titanic style, and we can also do it from the side.


In the Hip Under Colgada Posture:

Spine is straight.

Hips go back.

We were to engage our cores, and our hips were to be under our rib cages.

The Leader sandwiches (his feet are in a “V” shape) the Follower’s feet (which are in parallel).

Leader and Follower hang onto each other’s wrists, and then move their cores/centers back, counterbalancing each other, using the power of their back and core muscles (not their arm/shoulder muscles).  Their knees are soft, and shoulder blades are being pulled down.

Planking is OK, but realizes that it raises the center of gravity.  Banana-ing is bad and should not be done.

Back to the figure…
After our exercises, we were to do the step-over colgada In sugarbowl embrace, where the Follower has more responsibility to hold onto the Leader.

Follower should investigate how she hangs from the wall of the Leader, using both sides of her embrace, left and right, 50/50.  Note that at the point of colgada, there is a pause and this is the Instagram moment, with the Follower hanging out at the exact moment.  The Leader pulls her through with his left shoulder. Most Leaders do not pull enough from the left and instead push from the right.

Next, in teapot embrace, we were to make sure the Leader’s left arm does not telescope, otherwise the wall collapses and the Follower has less support.  For the Leader’s left arm, the distance between his bicep and forearm is the same length as his hand between his pink and his thumb.

THE LINE OF POWER: The "Line of Power" was introduced. For colgadas, this is the way to start it. It doesn’t happen for all of them, but it does happen for a lot of them, especially the circular ones.  The Leader sends the Follower’s hips out in the line of power and then pulls her around.  Two points of the Leader’s feet are in a line in the direction of where the Follower's hips are going to go. The Follower's hips go out straight: that's the line of power.

For the more advanced, we went from the counterclockwise turn/hiro/molinete.

 We worked on a She Goes, He Goes colgada to the left, where the Leader leads a full turn first, then catches the Follower’s left foot back cross step, then he sends the Follower out back as her right foot steps back over in a right foot side step colgada with her right foot, he pivots a little, and steps through with his right foot forward, while she does a long side step simultaneously with his right foot step through.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and a demo to Velitas y Santos by Malena Muyala. 

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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