Monday, June 1, 2015

Volcada Odyssey (Beyond Intermediate)

Song: Down by Jason Walker
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 25, 2015, Ardingly College, England

Video courtesy of Ken Blake (placeholder)

In this class we will explore two families of volcadas and then merge them.

We started with Funny Volcada, with Maestros first showing us what it looks like.
On the close side of the embrace, the Follower is on her outside right foot and her inside left foot is free and embellishing.  This move can be made small or big depending on how far way the Leader steps around the Follower.

The entrance/setup is getting into cross step immediately.  The Leader settles the Follower on her right when he is on his right.

Leader's footwork

Follower's footwork
Left foot forward on close side

Left foot back
Right foot back

Right foot back straight
Turn partner in calesita keeping her on axis

Remain on right foot as Leader walks backward around
Walk backward around Follower

Left foot is embellishing
Keep this in the line of dance when going in and coming out.

Leader: Do not squeeze too much in the calesita.

Leader: Do not take a side step to get into cross system.  If you can’t do this, you need to practice getting into cross system just by shifting weight.  It is important to know how to get into cross system without a side step because a lot of times you don’t have room for a side step.  So practice just shifting, and creating suspension to get into cross system.

Follower: Completely arrive on your right foot back step with confidence.  Be on axis when you arrive, so you are standing strong and stable. 

Follower: As you pivot, do not go up or be on the ball of your foot.  Be sure you have control of your spine.  You can flex through the ankle so you don’t have to be so high, because it becomes more difficult to manage your spine.  Don’t lift the heel too high; it can just caress the floor.  There is no need to be on your toes, and it will make this more difficult.  Do not pivot on your toes; pivot on the ball of your foot.

In the Funny Volcada, the dancers are at right angle, perpendicular to each other.  The Leader walks around the Follower’s right foot.

The Leader’s step needs to be near the Follower’s right back foot so that he can be close enough to walk around her without making her/them compromise their posture.

If you are able to do this and are getting bored, try this on the other side.  The open side is the hard side and the Leader needs to have a more flexible embrace.  It is small and challenging on this side.  Follower will be on her left foot and her right leg/foot is free and embellishing.

Adding the Volcada Lean:
The gym had several different patterns of lines and circles on the floor since it is used for various games, but lucky for us there were two circles in the middle: (1) a smaller yellow circle and (2) a larger green circle exactly around it.  Maestro demonstrated that in our calesita work, the Leader would be walking around backward in the smaller yellow circle. But in the Funny Volcada, he would be walking halfway toward the green circle (since it was quite a bit away), taking the Follower off axis and getting the Volcada lean.

In stepping around the Follower, the Leader should start by making 3 back steps around the Follower starting with his left foot, then getting out with a side step right to exit.  He could add more steps as he walks around the Follower, but the needed to be odd numbered (5, 7, 9, etc.), and always respecting the line of dance.

So his three (or any odd number) back steps and exit are:
Back Left
Back Right
Back Left
Side Step Right
To exit (Follower pivots)

The preparation for the Volcada is in the embrace, where the Leader hugs and lifts, and the Follower compresses as if getting out of a swimming pool (pressing down to push up).

We drilled the Calesita versus Volcada, starting with making the smallest Volcada we can.

The Leader’s step needs to be near the Follower’s standing foot.

The Follower’s body needs to be straight (not bent in a weird way).

The unwinding of the movement should be dynamic and is a Follower back ocho pivot when the Leader does his side step, bringing the Follower back to axis.

Follower: How are you falling in this volcada?  Completely sideways.  She needs to have a very strong line across her body from her right leg to her left shoulder, and again using the swimming pool compression: pressing down to push up.

During the volcada/calesita, the Follower’s free embellishing foot should always collect at the conclusion so that she doesn’t hit the Leader’s foot.

We drilled this with the Leader making a sustained number of steps around the Follower (11, 13, 15, etc.), giving time to the Follower to practice her embellishments and even play on the other/dark side (front to behind and back again). 

We were to talk to each other during our drilling, with Leaders asking if he is lifting her too much and Follower asking if she is not lifting enough (pressing down to push up).

Funny Volcada tip:  Leader is leaning slightly toward the Follower and does not go down.

Chapter 2: Extended or Sustained Volcada
This more advanced concept gets away from the standard idea of the volcada.  This is the volcada where the Follower is at split weight and her legs go out in an inverted V and Leader drives Follower across the floor.  The Follower is tilted toward the Leader, who is up. 

Leader goes down, and does not lean toward Follower. Leader uses power of his legs to maintain weight. The Follower moves through space easier this way. Follower goes into split movement and is not completely on the floor.  Her body is in an inverted Y position.

We drilled this going from the Funny Volcada on the close side, into the Follower’s split linear Volcada (Sustained/Extended Volcada).

The Follower collects before going out.  As the Leader comes up, that is the signal for the Follower to collect.

Follower:  There are 2 activations.
The right leg, then the right leg and left leg are both activated in the split.  All inner leg muscles and core muscles are turned on.  She should press against the floor to create a zipping up sensation.

The Leader transitions from a circular (during the Funny Volcada) to linear (in the Sustained/Extended Volcada), as he is first walking around the Follower, and then walking away from the Follower.  That’s when she does her split.    So the Leader is walking circularly, and then tangent to the circle in a line. 

The Follower transfers from her foot in front to the foot behind.

The Leader’s height goes down as he walks in a tangent, and when he exits, he goes back up. 

In all volcadas, the Follower’s technique should be that she presses down to lift herself up.

Maestros concluded with a class review and demo to Jason Walker’s Down.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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