Friday, June 7, 2013

Putting Neo in your Tango (Intermediate)

Song: The Luckiest by Ben Folds
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 27, 2013, England International Tango Festival (at Ardingly College, Haywards Heath, West Sussex)

The goal of this exploration class was finding your own style. We would explore some ideas in body movement. 

We began to dancing to a snippet of music Piazzolla’s Oblivion, by Los Cosos De Al Lao 
1st thing we tried: Ochos into Ganchos by making ochos last as long as possible.

We began with doing an ocho and making it last as long as possible, stretching it beyond what you normally might with your posture.  There is a technique to extending the forward ocho.  The Leader makes one extra step around the Follower (a cheat step), to get greater range of motion and also he continues to rotate around the Follower to his right.  The goal was to get the Follower to do a gancho, which she should do naturally since both Leader’s and Follower’s bodies are so twisted. 

The Follower keeps her knee bent and to keep with the softness of the music so she can ground better. But she also needs to keep her torso nice and tall to get disassociation and range of motion. 

Try to reflect what you are hearing in the music (stretchy, soft).

Leader should not collapse in his chest. We enable the move by letting go of our preconceived notions (so posture can change a little, but doesn’t collapse in the chest.

We worked on this concept to Piazzolla’s Oblivion, by Los Cosos De Al Lao

Next, we explored changing the embrace.
From the forward ocho into the sweetheart position, and then invite Follower to walk back in front of Leader
To change the embrace, we did a 360 rotation or 180 rotation in the embrace.  At the cross, the Leader can wind and unwind the Follower.  The Leader leads the Follower to walk in a line, but the Leader changes his relationship to her.

In these changes of embrace, be careful of your elbows; keep them tucked in as much as possible.

We worked on this concept to Deus Xango by Pablo Aslan

From the Follower’s cross, the Leader dos a loop turn counterclockwise to get Follower into sweetheart embrace.

The Follower needs to always be looking for the hands of the Leader.  Follower should use the momentum of the ocho to carry her through.  In sweetheart embrace, the Leader’s palms are up; that is a very strong embrace.  To get her out of it, he hand/arm does a motion similar to what it would do when starting a lawnmower (winding up).

Next, we were to name an element of tango that you normally do face to face.  The class came up with the cross back and the cross forward, and also the hiro/turn/molinete (which we will now call the anti-hiro).  However, instead of doing it face to face, we were going to do it in sweetheart embrace. In sweetheart embrace, the Leader is flexible in his hold so that the Follower can move. The Follower’s embrace, left and right hand, are reversed in sweetheart embrace as her arms cross over her body.

In the anti-hiro, as the Follower goes around, her back is always to the Leader, but he stays with her with his front, so they are never back to back.  So we tried doing the anti-hiro in sweet heart embrace, and then exit with the lawn mower arm work for the Leader. 

The Follower should always find where the Leader is.  She should always try to go back home.

We worked on this concept to Gran Hotel California by Trio Garufa

Practicing in sweetheart embrace develops a lot of sensitivities.   Breaking the embrace sometimes makes things easier.

In sweetheart embrace, we did a forward walk, and then the Leader changes weight so he can do a right leg parada with his right foot next to her right foot, both feet facing forward, and then he leads the Follower to do a left foot side step over him so he can pivot her and they can face each other again.

We worked on this concept to Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling and to Sail by Awolnation, which are both examples of a new music form called Dubstep (see

Next, still in sweetheart embrace, from the Leader to Follower right foot to right foot position, we worked on a Follower colagda out to the right, into a left leg gancho of the Leader’s right leg. Note that these positions would also work in normal promenade as well.

Next, we worked on the Leader’s soltada from the counterclockwise turn/hiro/molinete.  When we shift the embrace without letting go, it is called a change of embrace. When we let go of the embrace it is called a soltada.  We worked on this doing a Leader’s back sacada on the Follower’s side step, and then a Leader’s soltada. 

We worked on this concept to Until the Morning by Thievery Corp.

To sum up, we worked on
  1. stretching the embrace
  2. changing the embrace
  3. letting go of the embrace
But still trying to stay connected with
  1. consistency
  2. clarity
  3. comfort
You can still be close but still have your own axis. 

We concluded with the
Human Magnet Game:
Leader attracts and goes away from the Follower by moving his axis forward and back with flexion in his ankles, not by bending at the waist. The Follower mirrors the Leader’s tilt/axis. We drilled this concept face to face with each other, with no embrace, not touching with the hands/arms in any way.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and a demo to The Luckiest by Ben Folds. 

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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