Thursday, May 31, 2018

Back, Front and Contra Boleos - Exciting & Elegant (Intermediate)

Song: All of Me (The Voice Performance) by Ray Boudreaux
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
Tonbridge, Kent, United Kingdom
May 26-28, 2018

We began with individually practicing the three main boleo foot movements/shapes:
(1)    low and continuously on the floor
(2)    higher at our knee
(3)    higher up toward our thigh.
We first did this with front boleos.  With option (3) higher up on our thigh, the ending is with our knee up and then slowly over to the other side.  We drilled this on the left leg/foot and right/leg foot, all three shapes/movements.

Exercise: In hand to hand hold with imaginary giant fish bowl between us, both dancers did forward ochos into forward boleos.  Do not use the hands for leverage to get yourself to pivot.  Do not push down.  Keep the chest up and back. Do not look down at feet.  It’s not about how fast you pivot, but about being able to pivot fully and completely.  The standing leg should be in control at all times, with foot not rolling out to either side.  Do not sickle the foot at the point of the boleo.

Exercise: In sugar bowl embrace, the Follower should be close to the Leader.  Leader leads forward ocho and forward boleos in this embrace, doing side step and using send or stop energy. 

There are two energies needed to lead a boleo:  (1) send energy, and (2) stop energy (becoming a statue). 

If the Leader gives the Follower enough time, she might do a boleo on her own (not led by him) as an embellishment.  (The Follower “takes” the boleo.)

The Leader needs to send the Follower’s hips into the boleo first, before giving stop energy. 

The magic point in the boleo and the “Point of No Return” is at the point where the Follower’s hips face the Leader’s hips.  Here is where/when the Leader needs to turn the Follower’s hips past to get a boleo.

The Follower knows the Leader has stopped because she feels it as she holds onto the Leader, so she is present. Do not be too light or floaty, and conversely, do not push down on the Leader with your embrace.

When Leader leads the ocho, the Follower needs to amplify the movement in her hips 2-3x as much, as her hips are an “Ocho Factory” – whereby they amplify the Leader’s spinal rotation and pump out beautiful big ochos on demand.  The Follower needs to power her hips through her connection with the floor.  The amplification is 2-3x, not 1x, otherwise he would never get a boleo. 

Back Boleos
Keeping our feet on the floor. There are 4 categorical shapes in doing back boleos:
(1)    keep foot on the floor
(2)    Blade of Zorro where knees are together, and leg just goes up and down in a diagonal slice of air, with front knee slightly behind the standing knee
(3)    semi-circular into drop the axe. This is the most common and is a little rounder with one knee behind the pit of the other so you can’t see the knee cap.  Boleoing leg does a semicircle and then drops down like an axe.  It is like striking a match, turning at the point where the leg drops like an axe.  The beauty of the circular boleoing leg depends on the stability of the standing leg.
(4)    in-line Boleo, which depends on how much your thigh goes backward.  The knee disappears beyond the other knee. There is lots of extension in the Follower’s hip flexors and contraction in the lower back.  This is a big movement, and could be socially unacceptable, so be mindful about where/when you do this. Only do it where conditions allow.

Back boleos are based fundamentally on the back ocho, so the Follower needs to be good/great in her back ocho technique.

Exit: collect and wait for the Leader.

The Leader is after the reflection in the Follower’s foot with what he is doing with his spine.  The litmus test of whether a boleo is good is if the Leader feels the Follower’s hips move.

The Point of No Return in back boleos.
Leader takes Follower’s hips past that point to get a boleo.  Leader needs to have clear stop energy. 

We drilled both sides, with the Follower communicating with the Leader what she needs from the Leader (more energy, etc.)

Contra Boleos
In regular boleos, the Leader employs 75% send energy and 25% stop energy. 
In contra boleos, the Leader employs 25% send energy and 75% stop energy.

Exercise: Do side steps, playing with this concept of stopping the energy to feel what it should be like.  Leader does shimmy to get the Follower’s hips going, then he steps to the side with send/stop energy, getting Follower to do a contra boleo.  The Leader’s side step is around the Follower, as his two feet need to surround the Follower’s standing, supporting leg. It is like their feet are three points in an isosceles triangle (Follower’s foot is the tip; Leader’s two feet are at the base of the triangle).

We drilled doing contra and regular boleos from the forward ocho and back ocho.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz/summary and demo to All of Me by Ray Boudreau

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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