Friday, June 7, 2013

Organic Tango Ganchos (Intermediate)

Song: Chau Pinela by Carlos Di Sarli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 27, 2013, England International Tango Festival (at Ardingly College, Haywards Heath, West Sussex)  

Turn to the right, lead a gancho.

Leader’s right leg to wrap Follower’s right leg on Follower’s left foot side step after her forward step. It’s almost an embellishment.

Can be done in open or close embrace.  We tried this during the clockwise turn/hiro/molinete.

Follower’s should take nice, long even steps around the Leader so he knows when to predict when he can lead the wrap.

There was no explanation, maestros just told the class to try it.

The Leader turns slowly through the process to the right to lead the actual wrap.

The Follower should give the Leader the best opportunity to lead things in tango.  She should keep her hips close to the Leader, and her footwork should land at the top of the beat, and she should take the rest of the beat to settle.

For the Follower’s turn technique, she should create even steps, and take one beat for each step.  In Homer & Cristina’s pedagogy, there is no QQ footwork on the Back, Side (of Forward, Side, Back, Side, Forward, etc steps of the turn), but the Leader can change the beat (to QQ) anywhere he wants to in the turn, and each step is equal in importance and size.  So the Follower has a lot of time to prepare for the back cross step before the side step.

In sugar bowl embrace, the Leader does pacman footwork going at a steady rate, and the Follower does turns/hiros/molietes around him.  Dancers heads should be floating and chests should be up.  Follower should collect feet in between her steps. She should not get in front of the Leader, and her nose should be slightly behind the Leader’s nose.  She should reach first, and then step.  Both Leader and Follower have to do their work. The Leader has to be at the right spot at the right time.

Back to the wrap:
Captain Morgan footwork can be up or down, and thigh is open to receive the wrap.
Follower will wrap above the knee at the meaty part of the thigh.
Leader captures the Follower’s side step after her forward step so that it flows and he doesn’t break the rhythm of her turn.
Follower should do the wrap with her whole leg, her inner thigh should do the wrap.
Follower decides how to wrap. She has the authority to interpret the wrap at the bottom of the beat where she’s landed and the weak beat after that.

Exercise: “Thwack” (Front Boleo Legwork) Exercise
Then we did the "Thwack" Exercise, with our leg wrapping around ourselves all the way up and hitting the outside of our opposite hip in a whip action and making a “thwack” noise. The goal was to get a good thwack so that you can hear the snap of the trousers. Our legs cross in front to get our hip to rotate without pivoting.  We should gently wrap, not too hard, but enough to get the “thwack” sound.  We should keep our thighs tight, then lift the thigh a little to get over our knee to hit the outside of our butt.  We should keep our knees soft.  The hips rotate in the hip socket joint.

The dancer controls the shape of the thwacking leg, even though it's the free leg.
The Follower should pay attention to what her thwacking foot is doing: pointing (the goal); sickling (bad), flexed (bad). She should not change the angle of the foot, but create the same angle the whole time. 
The Follower’s exit is also in her control, and she has two options:
1 Regularly collect
2. Take a little more time, bring the knee up (feeling your foot next to your leg) and then down (aka “the bounce off”)
Either way, the Follower should commit to one or the other, but don’t be in between.

The quality of the wrap is in how well the leg does the whip action. Keep the knee as low as possible, as long as you clear the other thigh. Knee can lift a little at the end. Hips should be even, with an even pelvic floor. The dancer needs to have a solid standing, supporting leg for the wrap to work.

How does the Follower know it will be a wrap?
She will feel contact with the Leader’s leg.

The Follower needs to stay close to the Leader on her turn steps so he as the space/room to go in. This is much more difficult if she is far away from him.

Where/what is the sweet spot?  Just as the Follower is about to put her foot down is when the Leader sweeps in with his ronde/lapice captain morganing leg as he caresses the floor in an arc. 

Physical contact during the whip is a couple of centimetres above the knee on the outside of the thigh of the Leader.

If the Leader is tall and the Follower is short, either don’t do the wrap, or the Leader should have a straight leg and expect the Follower to wrap lower (possibly at his calf).

Why does the Follower sometimes heel herself?  This would be the Leader’s fault.  If the Leader is too deep when he enters, the Follower will heel herself.
If the Leader is too shallow, the Follower is going to heel him.
The Follower’s heel should clear the Leader’s leg and the Follower’s leg.

The double can be led by the Leader or can be stolen by the Follower. However, the Follower cannot steal a double wrap if the Leader does not lead the first one.
The Leader leads a double by doing a small pulse in his spine after he leads the first wrap.
The Follower’s stealing is extra fast because she shouldn’t interrupt the timing of the Leader, their flow.

We tried wrapping on the other side, during the Follower’s turn counterclockwise.

The Follower needs to have good turn/hiro/molinete technique for this to work well. So they should practice their turns at home on their own time, around a chair, pole, etc.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and a demo to Chau Pinela by Carlos Di Sarli.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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