Saturday, September 21, 2013

Enrosques for Leaders & Followers (Advanced)

Song: The Luckiest by Ben Folds
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
September 1, 2013, Denver Labor Day Tango Festival

Our class focus was on the Leader’s backward and forward enrosques and the Follower’s forward enrosque (the Secret Garden or during the turn).

Exercise 1: Cross behind while walking forward. 
In circle formation at the perimeter of the room, the class practiced moving forward using back crosses to the center of the circle. Here we need to:
-            Bend the knee of the front leg
-            Stay the same height throughout
-            Keep chest up
-            Squeeze/engage inner thighs
-            To make it more elegant, we were to imagine we were holding a big bowl of sleeping fish.
-            We would make a letter A with out feet with our pinkie toes touching.

Exercise 2:  Cross in front while walking backward. 
In circle formation at the center of the room, the class practiced moving backward using forward crosses to the outside of the circle.
-            Same technique as the above applies.
-            At the end, we would make a letter V.

Exercise 3: Warming up our Ocho Factories
In partnership using a light hand-to-hand embrace, we did forward ochos, stepping to our partner’s trailing foot. We were to take long steps around each other, and pivot enough/a lot.  Posturewise, in our upper bodies, we were to be tall and broad, flaring out as much as we could with our tango wings

Exercise 4: By ourselves, we practiced crossing in front as foundational work on our forward enrosques.  We were to think about where the weight is on our standing leg.  We were to spread our toes and image that our standing foot has four corners, and we should be centered in the middle of those four corners. 

There are two options for the Forward Enrosque legwork
(1)   The Eagle Pose: really tight and snug with thighs squeezed tight and close.
(2)   The Eye of the Needle Stance: a looser, very open stance. 
Either way, at the conclusion of the enrosque, the outside of our trailing foot has to be in contact with the outside of our standing foot, with the toes at the middle of the opposite foot, touching the standing foot.  This entire movement is the basis of our enrosque.

Exercise 5: Forward ochos with crossing, with the Leader’s option to change his weight.

Exercise 6: Step forward, enrosque, weight change, step back
Individually, we practiced the following footwork:

Left foot forward step
Right foot cross hook in front
Change weight to right foot
Finish Pivot
Back step with left foot
Finish where you start

Opposite foot:
Right foot forward step
Left foot hook in front
Change weight to left foot
Finish pivot
Back step with right foot
Finish where you start

The class was then split: Leaders with Homer and Followers with Christina.

The Leaders worked on their back enrosque: taking a forward step and then hooking behind.

Leaders group footwork:
1st partnered exercise with hand-to-hand embrace:
Leaders led their partner (the person taking the Follower’s part) to do the forward step, side step, and back cross step of the turn/hiro/molinete.

Leader’s left foot forward on Follower’s left foot forward (front cross) step
Leader’s right foot hook and weight change to right foot on Follower’s right foot side step
Leader’s left foot back step on Follower’s left foot back (back cross) step

The Leader’s enrosque is easiest to do on the turn to the left.

The Leader’s left foot forward step can be changed into a Leader’s left foot forward sacada, so it naturally brings him closer to her and develops more spiral energy so that it is easier to do the Leader’s enrosque.

There are three exit options:
(1)   Back sacada option
(2)   Pivot in place with no step
(3)   Regular back step with no sacada

The Follower can do an enrosque after the forward step and before the side step of the hiro/turn/molinete

Follower’s group footwork:
In a partnered exercise with hand-to-hand embrace:
Forward ocho with Follower’s enrosque embellishment of an outside rulo (curly Q, swirl).
We were to practice this, as one side is easier/more difficult than the other.

The Follower does a forward enrosque with her free foot tracing a small circle on the floor around an imaginary axis unseen by the Leader (that’s why it’s called the “Secret Garden” Enrosque – because the Leader doesn’t see the axis the Follower is circling).  The Follower needs to decide before she transfers weight to do the enrosque. So she reaches, and as she transfers weight but a little bit before, she shoots out the other foot/leg with a little bit of Captain Morgan, pivots and from her knee down, draws a circle/rulo/lapice/corkscrew with her calf/foot (“stirs the pot”) and then collects with ankles together.  We were to keep this on the floor, and do one or two circles/corkscrews/rulos/lapices, with the Follower keeping her hips close to the Leader. 

To do this enrosque, our foot goes with toes pointed to the floor out as our hip opens up with the inside of our thigh exposed. Then we draw a quick little circle with the tip of our toes, after which we bring the leg back in so that our foot remains tucked against our standing foot at the conclusion of our pivot. Keep the toes pointed toward the floor complete with the knee out and hip open.  The standing leg needs to be strong and stable.  The floor is the source of power.  How the Follower connects with the floor determines how much power she has in her dance.

Exercise 7: Adding sacadas
Leader does a sacada to Follower’s trailing foot of her side step, into a Leader’s back enrosque. The Leader’s sacada puts them in position so that afterwards they are simultaneously doing back pivots.  It’s a “we” feeling at that point, which is very nice and fun.

Leader leads Follower to do 1-2 forward ocho with or without enrosques as Leader does side steps with her. Leader leads the Follower to do a turn/hiro/molinete to the left and then he does his sacada into an enrosque.  Our goal in drilling this was to figure out the timing:  The movement goes where it needs to go to maintain the relationship between the dancers.

In all our dancing, we should always maintain good walking technique and take long, reaching steps around the Leader.  When the Follower reaches and transfers the weight is when the Leader has time to do his enrosque, so she should not cut short or rush through the movement. 

In the turn/hiro/molinete, the Leader does his job, but the Follower has to do her job as well.  Her foot arrives on top of the strong beat, but she should take the whole beat to transfer weight.

The Follower needs to be aware in both sides of her embrace to receive the appropriate energy that the Leader is giving.  She needs to be connected to the Leader, otherwise the message will be lost.

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

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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