Thursday, May 31, 2018

Getting to Know Your Own & Your Partner's Axis with Role Swap (Intermediate)

Song: Dos Corazones by Lucio Demare
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
Tonbridge, Kent, United Kingdom
May 26-28, 2018


We began with exercises that will have direct implications in letting us determine who is the axis: Leader or Follower.

In fingertip embrace, both Leader and Follower do forward ochos, with each turning on their own axis.  This is an independent movement for each dancer, but we are connected at the fingertips. We should step close to our partner’s trailing foot.  We begin slowly at first, so we know where to go and what to do to protect our axis. Our backs have softness to allow good spiraling.  In doing our ochos, we should have quality to them. Do not fall into the step. Remain in balance while pivoting on one foot.  There is a giant twisting and untwisting of the spine.  Do not hold the body too tight or the ocho will become flat.  In the ocho, the spiral travels through the space, horizontally and vertically.  For the shoulders, one does the send and the other does the counter spiral at the end.

Leader, do not impede the Follower’s ocho with your arms.  Otherwise you will prevent her spine from creating spiral.

In the sugar bowl embrace (Leader’s hands on his hips, Follower holding the handles of the sugar bowl – Leader’s triceps), stay close.

Here we explore the “Rule of the Hip” game/concept.  The Leader rotates his chest as much as his hips allow. Follower does forward ocho in front of the Leader, using an arc’d, snaky step around the Leader, keeping as close to him as possible with her hips touching his.  Then we changed roles after drilling this 5-10 times.

The concept of axis manipulation.  The Leader shifts weight, pulling the Follower around him to tell the Follower to do a forward step or back step.

The Sugar bowl Embrace is also known as the “Less Blame” embrace as it gives more responsibility to the Follower to hold onto the Leader properly.  The Follower needs to not push down and not pull on the Leader, so the Leader feels the Follower’s fingertips.  There is engaged elasticity, so the embrace is connected but flexible.

Next we drilled doing turns/hiros/molinetes in the sugar bowl embrace.  The Leader has his heels together in PacPerson (gender neutral of PacMan or Ms. PacMan of the 1980s video game), and through his chest rotation he leads Follower around in a turn into an ocho on her forward step, with each focusing on maintaining their axis (both Leader and Follower).  Then we switched roles.  It is important that the Leader not use his hands to guide the ocho.

The Leader’s hips get ahead of the Follower’s so he has more leverage, range of motion to turn in that same direction. 

The Follower should hold onto the Leader nicely so his lead translates well, making steps equal to each other around the Leader in her turn.  The Follower is always slightly behind the Leader.  Leader’s hips are ahead or he can do the Leader back ocho swivel.

In the Ocho Cortado, we start with a turn to the right in close embrace, transitioning to a ocho in open embrace.  The Follower side steps into an ocho cortado after her right foot forward step to the close side of the embrace and then rebounds into a left foot front cross step against her standing, supporting right leg.

Making or breaking – getting an ocho or side step.  Remain in close embrace; Leader has forward intention and should stay that way.  Turn to the right and then immediately into a turn to the left. Timing is important when the Leader turns around his axis.

How does Follower know when to do a forward step into an ocho or into a side step in the Ocho Cortado? Leader leads one or the other by turning his spine at different moments:
In the ocho, the lead is as early as possible.
In the ocho cortado, the lead is after the Follower’s forward step.

At the point of the ocho, both the Leader and Follower take their axis so they are in balance and can pivot fully.

The Follower does three things at that moment:
(1)    Rock step taking axis
(2)    Relocate left arm
(3)    Activate the ocho factory (her hips) if Leader leads an ocho.

Leader needs to communicate the transition to open or close embrace, depending on whether he leads an ocho cortado or ocho.  The ocho cortado should be done in close embrace, and the ocho should be in open embrace so the Follower can assume her axis.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz/review and demo to Dos Corazones by Lucio Demare.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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