Monday, June 1, 2015

Neo Tango Masterclass (Intermediate)

Song: Isabelita by Enrique Rodriguez
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 24, 2015, Ardingly College, England

The focus of our class would be to improvise in a small space but still be dynamic.  Since these are compact movements, they can be done socially. 

Our work started from one basic step, after which there were several different options of things we could do.

We began with the 2-foot split-weighted swivel. The Leader stops the Follower when she is in the middle of her weight. 

The Leader does a right foot Cowboy step, close and around the Follower. Then the Leader steps behind himself and then around, out to the Follower’s forward ocho. 

The Cowboy step is called that because the Leader’s legs are open and he pivots on his left foot as his right leg goes around, a similar action that cowboys do when getting on a horse (though obviously with no up and over).  The Cowboy foot steps behind the Follower so when he transfers the weight, she has room to do her ocho pivot before stepping over.

We begin in cross system with sneak attack weight change, whereby the Leader keeps the Follower on her right foot and stays on his right foot by giving the Follower a bit of suspension in the embrace.  The Leader’s left foot touches the Follower’s thigh on her left foot back step, but he does not step too deep, but in the middle of the Follower’s steps.

Leader’s steps:

Follower’s steps:
Weight is on Leader's right foot

Weight is on Follower's right foot
Left foot forward (he releases his hand embrace to accommodate the Follower’s spiral/unwinding)

Left foot back
Right foot cowboy swivel around but close to Follower. Weight change with chest torsion to bring Follower around, presenting his left leg.

Follower pivots around
Leader’s left foot is sandwiched behind Follower’s feet.



Forward to clear Leader as he will be quite deep.

Follower steps over

We were to try this with the line of dance in mind.  Are you staying in line or veering off line?  Do it slowly if you must to achieve precision.

Now for the caramel: Follower being at split weight while Leader steps around her. Some Followers find split weight an uncomfortable place to be, as they are usually only on one foot with only one standing supporting leg.  Can the Leader make a Follower enjoy the “caramel” of tango (being at split weight)?  No.  Some Followers will not like it.

The resolution is another Follower’s forward ocho, then a back ocho step back into the line of dance.

We were to try this on both sides (close or open, easy or hard).  Which side is easier?  The first or second side?  There is a difference because the embrace is difference and the ending will be different.

Chapter 2: Wrap or Volcada
The next portion is to add a wrap or volcada after Leader’s Cowboy step and Follower is at split weight.

First we worked on doing small volcadas, keeping the Follower on axis.  In doing the Volcada, the Leader’s Cowboy step is deeper on purpose so he can receive her right foot wrap of his left leg.  The Follower wants to collect, but she can’t because the Leader’s leg is encountered.  The Leader puts a bit of weight on his left leg, and that’s where the exit is.

The Captain Morgan leg is useful in tango because that’s how we receive the wrap.  It can help us get the leg into position, and the Leader’s supporting, standing leg can be doing the elevator to raise or lower a bit.  The Leader’s Captain Morgan Leg can be slightly turned in or slightly turned out.

The Follower’s standing, supporting left leg has contact with the Leader’s leg, so she knows.  The Follower’s free leg is not really free.

The Leader puts his weight on the left and then back to his right to exit.

Rock step around
Leader’s left foot forward, right foot back while Follower does left foot back, right foot forward rock.
Volcada hook behind tuck of her right foot behind the left foot.

Follower: How do you know it’s a gancho/wrap?  Because she feels the thigh contact. 

The Follower should keep her foot on the floor the whole time up until the last minute so she can shape her foot properly and not kick the Leader during the gancho/wrap.

We can exit this in many different ways.  We were to do the pattern on the easy side for the Volcada.  Leader’s Cowboy step to open side, for Follower to do a left foot Volcada as she pivots on her right foot.

The Leader’s next step after his Cowboy step should be close around the Follower.

Follower:  There is a very clear circular energy that the Leader gives the Follower.  The Leader re-engages his right hand embrace so the Follower takes all the energy in her legs. She needs to be extra strong in her core and in her right arm, with the Leader giving her extra support and lift.

The Leader’s right foot traces the Follower’s left leg as he drives her into the Volcada.  Then he pivots her around.

Exercise: Spiral exercise to understand winding energy.
Leader stops Follower in midweight feet, and he starts to walk around her so she pivots around.  When the Follower’s feet are crossed after her Volcada, the Leader walks around her until she can’t pivot any more.  Then she unwinds and he can lead her into another Volcada.  At driving the end of the Volcada, the Leader’s right foot is close to the Follower’s standing foot.

The last step to lead the Volcada is the Leader doing a reverse J and stepping toward the Follower’s axis.

There is a circular component to Volcadas.

The Follower needs to feel the Leader leading the end of it.

There were lots of Volcada concepts in this class.

Where is the Follower when she is pivoting?  On axis.

The Leader needs to lead the cross.  The Follower is on axis as the Leader walks around and she is pivoting.  The Leader’s body coming forward is when the Follower should cross.  The Leader plants the Follower when she is crossed, so she remains in split weight as he walks around her.

The Follower draws the letter “C” with her free, volcadaing leg. 

Chapter 3: Single-axis turn
The single-axis turn is a colgadaesque movement, and works in compact spaces.

When Follower is on her right foot, Leader does Pacman footwork clockwise around the Follower.

Pacman footwork is a sickle foot step with foot turned in, followed by a wing foot with foot turned out.

The Leader goes around the Follower’s back foot while the Follower pivots on her right foot.  She can be back a little. 

We were to start with very little spin.

When the Follower feels the Leader step around her, she rests her back and keeps her hips back. The weight of her hips should be back to counterweight the Leader.

We were to finish toward the line of dance, the exit being walking out (Leader steps the Follower’s outside).

Basically, our class focused on understanding/drilling how all the components work together:

Leader’s Cowboy step around into:
1.    Wrap, or
2.    Colgada into Volcada, or
3.    Volcada into Colgada / Single-Axis turn

There are many different things we can improvise in a small space, and yet still be dynamic.

For the Leader’s Cowboy step, he can vary the distance of it depending on what he wants to lead:
·         Volcada: Step farther away
·         Colgada: Step close
·         Parada: Step neither too close nor too far away.
·         Wrap: Step close

In the Colgada step, the Leader hugs a bit more in the embrace.  The Follower’s body is to create a counterweight with her back and hips going out.   Her back is really resting against his right arm.

Maestros class concluded with a review and demo to Rodriguez’s Isabelita.

Notes courtesy of Anne at 

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