Friday, June 7, 2013

Overturned Ganchos + Back Sacadas (Advanced)

Song: Como Se Hace Un Tango by Lucio DeMare
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 25, 2013, England International Tango Festival (at Ardingly College, Haywards Heath, West Sussex)

Maestros showed us a pattern in close embrace.  Leader walks follower to the cross. Leader pivots Follower, changing her weight to her left foot as his left foot steps forward side to lead Follower to do a right foot back gancho in between his legs. The Leader’s left foot “forward side” step is a forward step that turns into a side step because he rotates clockwise to get the Follower to over pivot to do a right foot back gancho in between the Leader’s legs.  It is an open forward step that turns into a side step, and the Leader’s torso still keeps turning clockwise to get the Follower to over pivot and gancho.

The class is split in two with Leaders behind Homer and Followers behind Cristina so we could work on our respective footwork.

Leaders:  When walking to the cross, do not drift (do not change lanes)
Left foot side step
Right foot weight change
Left foot forward step
Right foot forward step
Left foot forward step that turns into a side step.
Right foot Captain Morgan with heel lifted, thigh opened
Rotate his whole body while his weight remains back on his left foot
Return to right foot to lead Follower to unwind.

Right foot side step
(no weight change for Follower, unlike Leader)
Left foot back step
Right foot back step
Cross left foot over right foot
Leader’s Captain Morgan rotation leads the Follower to do a gancho.
The Follower wraps around the Leader’s Captain Morgan right leg.
The Follower’s left foot over pivots so that her right foot has the momentum to do the right leg gancho. 
The Follower should pivot as much as possible and for as long as possible until she hits the wall.

We can start this in close embrace, but we need to transition to open embrace so that both dancers are on axis at the point of the gancho.

Refining our Gancho Technique
The Followers were to imagine they were all tigers. 
We were to avoid the knee gancho, where the leg bends at the knee and the thigh is not involved in the gancho at all.
We step 1.5 meters away from the wall.
Hold onto fish bowl.
Swing one leg with lazy bent knee on the way up, and swing it back.
Keep our upper body quiet
Connect the four corners of our standing foot
Use the floor to power the working leg.

In partnership, with both dancers side to side next to each other, Follower was to keep consistency of swing in her leg while the Leader goes behind or in front with his Captain Morgan leg. The Follower does not change the angle of the swing of her leg, and she should not look for the gancho.  The Leader’s job is to be in the right place at the right time with his Captain Morgan leg.  With different height dancers, the Leader’s leg can go up or go down.  He would use his opposite elevator leg to go  down when dancing with a very short Follower.  For the Follower, on her leg swing, she should go with a  pointed toe, and come out trying to create a little bit of turnout.  Level 2 of this exercise is for the Follower to close her eyes.  Level 3 is for both the Follower and Leader to close their eyes.   The Follower needs to have strong legs (don’ be wimpy). The Followers should be tigers, squeezing the Leader’s leg with her swing leg, really letting it go to wrap around the Leader’s thigh.  The Follower’s leg is like a whip, if she can wrap around the leg/joint it makes things all the sweeter.  The Follower needs to really let the whole leg go.

We had a mandatory partner change at this point, preferably with someone of different heights so the Leaders could practice adjusting their legs (either the Captain Morgan leg or the opposite elevator leg) depending on the height of their partner.

Next, we went back to the pattern.

The Follower should keep her torso nice and long, incorporating the pendulum movement having extension in the front, and compression in the back. To create good/more spiral, it is important not to collapse in the posture/chest.

The Leader is taking circular energy and turning it into linear energy.  The Follower’s answer is the whip of her leg. 

Follower: Before the gancho, the Leader’s lead of the big back ocho pivot has to be so clear that our belly buttons face away from the Leader.

Sometimes the Follower’s left arm will get in the way. To prevent this, she should soften her left shoulder blade to get closer to the Leader. She should make it flexible or drop it if she needs to.

If the Leader is much taller than the Follower, he should not bend down as he will change the dynamics. 

Both dancers should not rush, and be ready NOT to go to be more settled in their dancing.

The Leader should not push the Follower off axis by keeping his chest forward into her or have an evil right hand.  To work on getting rid of his evil pushing right hand, we use the teapot embrace.

At the cross, the Leader steps a few centimetres farther away, to get the Follower off axis a little bit, with no stop.
So our options are:
-       close or farther away
-       stop or keep turning
When we choose a little farther away + keep turning (which defines a new axis, so the Leader is the focus), we get a Follower’s right foot back sacada of the Leader’s right foot as she naturally gets pulled from her ocho into a turn/hiro/molinete.

The Leader needs to be clear about his position and energy (is there a stop or is there continuous energy). If he is not clear, the Follower will guess.

The Leader can keep turning by continuing to open his right shoulder. 

Any time the Follower is at the point of the cross of left foot over right, the Leader can lead a gancho:
Such as in the ocho cortado, or in the close embrace to turn to the left (counterclockwise).

The Leader can lead the Follower to do a right foot sacada and then immediately an overturned left foot gancho by doing stop and block energy.

The Leader needs to have good Captain Morgan turnout in his right leg to give the Follower enough room to do her gancho.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and a demo to Como Se Hace Un Tango by Lucio DeMare.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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