Monday, June 1, 2015

Vals Phrasing (Beyond Intermediate)

Song: Sonar y Nada Mas by Alfredo de Angelis
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 23, 2015, Ardingly College, England

Warm-ups separately and with partner.

Follower can remove heels if she wishes.

Try to see where our feet are hip-width apart.

Play with the weight, going from one foot to the other. Hands on hipbones.  Put all the weight on your left foot, aligning with the hip bone and shoulders, then right hip aligning with the hip bone and shoulders, then back to center. 

Roll forward with the flection in your ankles, and then back.  Shake your knees so they aren’t locked.

Roll Forward
Roll Back
Don’t thrust your pelvis.

Raise your arms up, and reach up as if pretending to climb a rope.  Feel the stretch along the side of your body and feel your shoulder blades reaching, and as you reach up, push down with your leg.  So reach with right arm, push floor with right foot/leg, reach with left arm, push with left foot, and then do the opposites, reach with right arm, push with left foot and reach with left arm and push with right foot.

Release arms in a circle, and release hands as if flicking water off of them to loosen up.

4 corners of the foot (2 in front at the ball not metatarsal and 2 at the back).   
Imagine that the 4 corners are suction cups, pushing down to pull up.  As one foot is supporting, with the other foot do a circle.  So circle with right foot as you stand on the left, and circle with the left foot as you stand on the right.  Really engage the standing leg with the activated 4 corners of your foot for stability and range of motion in your free leg. 

On the right, activate your right leg as you push down, reaching forward with your left foot to initiate the circle. 

Active your standing leg to make the perfect step.

The Follower’s goal in this class is to make the perfect back step.

Our first exercise in partnership is for the Leader to do a sneak attack weight change.

We begin in open embrace. The Leader shifts weight, settles Follower on one side or another. Leader makes sneak attack weight change so they both step at the same time, same foot.
Leader left foot forward, Follower left foot back
Leader right foot forward, Follower right foot back

The Follower does not do an ocho because the Leader just comes straight forward and does not rotate his upper body, so she just walks straight back. 

The Leader does snake walk forward and leads the Follower to do a straight walk back.

We practiced this to Vals music, stepping on the strong beat.

The Leader does sneak attack by changing the weight of the Follower and then slightly lifting, not letting the Follower’s weight settle, and then doing his own weight change.  Leader steps inside of Follower’s foot.

The sneak attack is difficult because we are doing it right off the bat, immediately going into it.

Someone asked about the physics of height differences.   For the embrace, it is like a football field, and each dancer remains in his/her own half of the football field.  The Leader should hold Follower’s right hand in his left whereby her hand is somewhere between her shoulder and her eye.

Leader’s Snake Walk Secrets
(1)    Leader has to pee. So his legs are coming across each other, so his legs can snake across her’s without taking too much room.  Leader activates the magnets in his lower thighs.
(2)    Leader’s big toe touches/caresses the floor the whole time.
(3)    The Leader does a little ocho, he can pivot a little to help him get by through the Follower.

Follower’s Secrets:
(1)    First challenge is to maintain the distance from the Leader as they started with. 
a.       Don’t take too big of a step, otherwise she will be too far away. 
b.      She should not take too small of a step otherwise she will prevent the Leader from doing his Snake walk.
                                                               i.      How does the Follower make the perfect size step? By reading the intention of the Leader.

Next, we practiced these concepts during 2 songs:
Follower makes perfect step
Leader does snake walk

The Leader’s steps should not open too much, otherwise he will be too far away.
The Follower needs to really arrive on the 4 corners of her foot and engage with the floor.  The Follower squeezes her inner thighs and collects in between creating a little turnout in her feet, and then she takes her back step.

Next, we did the exercise: Crossing behind to walk forward.
Caress the floor at crossing.
Keep chest up
Arms are as if holding a giant bowl with fish sleeping in it.

Next, we did the same exercise, only crossing forward to walk behind.

This is a very important exercise and will completely change your dancing.  It should be done 5 minutes a day and you will see a huge difference in your dancing.

Next, we practiced the Vals Rhythm: Boom Chick Chick.

First, we would do this solo walking forward in the line of dance, just stepping on the boom beat, which is usually decided by the bass. 

Next solo exercise, we would walk backward in the line of dance, just stepping on the boom beat.

Next, we added the syncopation, or stepping on one of the weaker beats, in this case the first chick beat of Boom Chick Chick.

Here, the Leader steps forward on the Boom beat with one foot, and on the first Chick beat he does a back cross forward step tuck against that first forward stepping foot.  

We practiced this solo, with everyone walking forward.

Then we practiced this solo, with everyone walking back.

Then we brought it into partnership:
Leader does Boom Chick steps with back cross tuck alternating with regular Boom step to get into and out of the snake walk while Follower just steps on the Boom during the whole time.  The Follower needs to keep the connection consistent with same pressure against the Leader the whole time.

The problem we encountered was that the Leader doesn’t feel confident to step Forward after his hook behind as he feels he will step on the Follower’s foot.  The solution to this was to do the hook behind, walk forward exercise more.  The Follower needs to be solid with the music.  The Leader pushes off strong with his left foot to step forward with his right foot, and pushes off strong with his right foot to step forward with his left foot.

Next, we added the Leader’s small side step on the second Chick of the Boom Chick Chick rhythm.  So now the Leader is stepping on all three beats:
Boom – Forward step
Chick – Back cross tuck behind
Chick – Small open side step

He would also add the snake walk, getting into and out of it.

We first practiced this altogether solo walking forward with a step on each of the Boom Chick Chick.  Here, we could do a “dirty cross” – one that is more open.  The side step after that is a small step.

We practiced this in partnership, but with no music as the Follower was to give the Leader the timing, going slowly enough so the Leader has time to do his steps, stepping on all 3 of the Boom Chick Chick.

The Follower keeps her legs together when they pass, and she should keep her feet on the floor.

In giving the Leader the timing, she says the “Boom Chick Chick” out loud so the Leader hears the timing. She should not go too fast, but slow enough so that the Leader has time to do all his steps.  In going slower, the Leader has time to understand and control his body, muscles and energy. He can be clean with his footwork by having control of his body.  This applies to Followers as well. 

Maestros concluded with a demo to Alfredo de Angeles’s Sonar Y Nada Mas.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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