Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Tango Turn (Beginner to Intermediate), Workshop 1: Chapter 7 - Very Open Turn

Song: La Capilla Blanca by Alberto Podesta
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
October 5, 2013, Susan’s Dance Studio - South Bay Tango Workshops

Workshop 1: Chapter 7 - Very Open Turn 
Workshop 2: Chapter 1 - Very Close Turn 
Workshop 3: Relative Turns

The idea of these workshops is to introduce the concept of the tango turn as having many possibilities or chapters (in Homer & Cristina’s didactic approach, this is 1 to 7, indicating very close to very open). Both leader turn technique and follower turn technique will be developed via several useful social patterns.

The difference between “Absolute Turns” and “Relative Turns” is that “Absolute Turns” do not change the axis, it stays in one position. During “Relative Turns”, the axis shifts (like when the Leader does a sacada).

Workshop 1: Chapter 7 - Very Open Turn

When we dance in open embrace, both dancers are on vertical axis, straight up and down.

We began with a very simple pattern: Leader’s right foot rock step forward outside partner, to lead her to do a turn/hiro/molinete, concluding with a Leader parada/Follower pasada on the close side of the embrace.

The Followers have a lot of work to do. The Follower should step long to help the success of the movement.

Our goal as both Leaders and Followers is to make the turns clean.

Follower’s exercise:
Leader in the middle
Follower brings arms up and does turn/hiro/molinete footwork around the Leader, starting with her inside foot and doing a forward step.
So her footwork is:

She should control her big back before stepping back. She needs to make the back step with control.
The side step finishes where she starts
For the side step, she should reach first, then power into the floor to get a big pivot on her next step. Follower should lengthen her sides, make her spine long, and use the floor to power her pivots.
In the back step, she can do more of a back cross step across her body, instead of a straight back step.
Next, the class was split in two, Leaders with Homer and Followers with Cristina

Worked on the 3-point turn (Forward, Side, Back), starting in front of the Leader and trying to end there, making just three steps to get all the way around the Leader. The point of this exercise is for the Follower’s to get used to taking long, reaching steps, but still keep the circle small and close to the Leader.
  • She should hold her arms out, making sure her shoulder blades come together and using her back muscles.
  • She should try to be close to the Leader and not float away with any of her steps.
  • Side step is long and reaching in front of the center person.
  • She should create reach first.
  • The dynamic change of weight is at the pivot as hip swings around.
  • Back step finishes where she starts
  • The Follower’ steps are all done with control.
  • She should not fall to the side, otherwise she will pull the Leader and will be ahead of the turn.
  • She should hang back a little to keep the circle more stable.
Homer worked on a series of exercises with the Leaders:
  • Turning in a block as the Leader is the center of the circle
  • Pac Man footwork
  • Washing Machine disassociation exercise (send chest first, then hips come around as a consequence, and exceed where chest is)
  • Cross forward steps, while walking back
  • Back cross steps, while walking forward
  • Aronde: What the Leader can do as the Follower goes around him.
  • 1. ¼ turn and point the foot with the foot to the ground all the time.
  • 2. ½ turn and point the foot with the foot to the ground all the time.
  • 3. Full 360-degree turn and point with the foot to the ground all the time. This can never happen in real life as a Follower cannot go around that fast. But it was a stretch-goal exercise.
What kind of turn is the Leader making?
Kick the heel around. Spiral in his upper body and kick the heel around.

Returning to our original pattern, we added to the Leader’s footwork:
Right foot forward rock step outside.
Right foot front cross tuck against his standing, supporting left leg (called the “Secret Garden” because the Follower does not see the Leader’s leg at this point)
Spiral starting with shoulder first, then hip coming around smoothly (washing machine)
Aronde with right foot while his weight is on his left foot.

Some questions that came up from the Leaders:
Question: How to avoid colliding with the Follower during his Aronde?
Answer: The Leader’s secret garden. Here his right leg is hiding in his right foot front cross tuck in front of his left foot, and his chest is disassociated in starting the spiral turn. He should keep his foot/leg in the secret garden until she makes her back step. The magic spot, when the Leader releases the spiral, is on the back step of the Follower.
As the Follower is pivoting, so does the Leader, so they are pivoting at the same time (back) as if they are going to do a back ocho.

We drilled in partnership.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and demo to Podesta’s La Capilla Blanca.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

No comments: