Sunday, May 21, 2017

Intermediate & Above Class: Follower’s Flowy Back Sacada

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 19, 2017, Genesis Dance, San Francisco

The topic for this class was the Follower’s Flowy Back Sacada, because it is easy to communicate and to get into the line of dance.

We began with a warm-up exercise in partnership, hand to hand hold, doing back ochos.
Dancers hold each other at the hands and both do back ochos.
Dancers are close to each other, with hips in line next to each other going in opposite direction, almost touching. Their pivots need to be big, and the outside leg needs to step back diagonally across the lines, reaching toward the other dancer.  Keep the chest up, do not lean forward as your leg goes back.  The pivot needs to be complete before reaching in the next step back.  Do not step too far. Be precise.  In stepping back, aim for your partner’s standing leg.  Reach with control.  This is not a speed exercise.

Next, we proceeded to get the hard part out of the way.

In open embrace, the Leader does side steps (keeping arms low) while leading the Follower to do back ochos (these are “with” ochos).
Leader does right foot side step, then turns to his left as he leads the Follower to do the Follower left foot back sacada to the Leader’s trailing left foot, which he has left as a “goal post”.

Take care of your axis.
For the embrace, sometimes there are changes from close to open. 
The Follower’s Back Sacada is an illusion.
Going from the back ocho to the turn (overturn) is challenging.

When does the Back Ocho become a Turn (Hiro/Molinete)? When the Leader steps on his right foot. 

Follower should be sensitive to the lead.  Is he leading a pivot or he asking you to step around the Leader?  The Leader turns his sine both ways in both instances.  Is the lead around the Follower’s axis or the Leader’s axis?
Next, we worked on a simple Leader’s Sacada
The Leader settles on his left foot, turns to the right, Leader’s right foot reaches forward diagonally to the Followers trailing right foot in a forward sacada.  The Leader’s spinal rotation is such that the Follower steps around the Leader’s axis.
Then he turns to the left and leads dancers to go back to their original spots.

Next, we linked both steps together, the Leader’s Forward Sacada and the Follower’s Back Sacada.
First, we did the Leader’s Simple Sacada.  Then, instead of going back to the original spot, the Leader leads a back ocho, then another overturned back ocho, so the Follower does a back sacada of her left foot to the Leader’s trailing left foot (in Captain Morgan stance).

We drilled doing: 

Leader’s right foot forward sacada.
Into simultaneous back ochos for the Leader and Follower, Follower stepping back with her right foot, Leader stepping outside left foot back in his back ocho in the same direction as Follower. Next, Follower’s left foot back ocho into a counterclockwise turn (Hiro/Molinete) or into an overturned back ocho to left foot back sacada.

The technique is very important.

The goal is the process of getting there.

Why are we doing this?
The Sacada is an illusion.  It’s more about how we turn and relate to each other and timing involved and rotation in leading an ocho versus asking the Follower to walk around the Leader.

The Follower needs to be sensitive.  Don’t be rushed into the next step. 

For the Follower’s sacada, the Leader’s position is to get used to the Captain Morgan Stance in his trailing leg, where the knee is able to pivot to be more open and the heel is up to receive the Follower’s back sacada.  The Leader can do his kick around as the Follower comes around.
The Follower pivots a lot to step around the Leader, with long reaching steps. 
The Follower should employ good walking technique, both linear and circular.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Asynchronous Walking & Pitter Patter

Song: Cuando Estaba Enamorado by Francisco Canaro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 15, 2017, The Beat, Berkeley, CA

To conclude our monthly theme of walking, today we explored the concept of Asynchronous Walking, where one person is walking while the other person is not, using mostly Vals Music.

(1)    Pitter Patter

(2)    Leader goes, Follower goes (or vice versa)

Chapter 1 – Pitter Patter

We began with the Linear Pitter Patter, where we would walk together, using medium-length steps, into the Pitter Patter.  
Feet are both down on the floor.
Roll the weight forward.
Bend the knees.
Try not to change height.
Do not crunch toes.
Imagine that you are holding a silver dollar between your thighs, and take tiny steps. 
Go backward too.
To do the Pitter Patter to the side, imagine dropping the coin to the knees.

In Vals music, there is the boom chick rhythm (or 1-2-3, 1-2-3).
We began to drill with Canaro’s Yo No Se Que Me Han Hecho Tus Ochos.
First we walked solo in a circle, forward and back, trying to catch the places where there is the opportunity to do the Pitter Patter.
“Act of Copying” is where the Leader does it, the Follower will do it.  So the Leader should do it where it is musically appropriate.  The Pitter Patter is a “special seasoning” during transitions so it is important for you to hear the musical phrasing.

How does the Leader communicate the Pitter Patter?
He compresses and goes up a bit, giving a little extra hug. The Follower listens to the music and the Leader to how he is holding the embrace.  When the Leader decides to change the quality of walking, he hugs her extra and the Follower should hear that and respond in kind.  The Follower should hug back.

We drilled this concept to Canaro’s Vibraciones Del Alma (with Intro).

In including the Pitter Patter in our dance, there is more contrast than walking on just the strong beat.  When doing the Pitter Patter, the steps should be narrow and tiny. 
Leader should prepare the Follower’s free leg.

How do we separate it?  How do we make the Follower do the Pitter Patter while the Leader does not?  
This is more challenging to do in the close embrace.  
Leader telescopes the arms from the shoulder blades to the forearms and then pulls back a little.  It’s not just the arms, it’s the body, too. Use the floor to roll through the ankles. Push down on the floor.  Leader adds compression to the embrace and suspension and a little bit of lift to get the Follower to Pitter Patter back as the Leader remains in place.  He tilts from the ankles and telescopes his arms.

We drilled this to Sonar Y Nada Mas by Alfred de Angeles and Vibraciones Del Alma by Canaro.

The Leader is like a wall coming at the Follower, lifting and compressing.  There is lots of control and finessing.  The Leader pushes into the floor, tilts his ankles, and lifts his chest as he changes the embrace to telescope out.

Qualities of Pitter Patter: tiny steps, weight is toward the front ball of foot. Avoid changes in height by bending the knees.  Imagine a silver dollar between your thighs.  The Leader lifts a little and stays off his heels at the point of Pitter Patter.  Helpful signals include suspension, lift and compression.  The Follower has to hug back and create a little bit of lift.  This step is like the Bandoneon, or Tango Accordion.

Chapter 2 – Leader Goes, Follower Goes
We did this in more of a regular size step (not a tiny step like the Pitter Patter). 
First, maestros began with a visual demonstration of the concept to show us what we would work on in class, dancing to Vibraciones Del Alma.

For the Leader Goes, Follower Goes, we can do it in a line, forward and backward, but the Follower may be fearful of stepping into the Leader.

We practiced in solo, walking forward, to feel what the step should feel like. We rolled through the back and front forward foot, then attacked on the actual step (with only about 25% weight on that foot).
We also tried this backwards, attacking back with little weight, then rolling through.

In the embrace, for the Leader’s embrace and body, the Leader telescopes, sending ad stopping with a little bit of down energy (instead of up energy, as we did in the Pitter Patter).  Leader leads Follower to take the initial step, but doesn’t allow her to collect.  Leader rolls.  The Follower’s step is not super long, it is more of a medium size step.

Qualities: Down energy. Create a feeling of a larger, more medium step. Time it so the Follower steps less than 25% of the way, just past the beginning of the step.  There is telescoping in the embrace.  The Leader also uses his breath.

We drilled this to Yo No Se Que Me Han Hecho Tus Ochos.

This step is not everyone’s cup of tea, as it is a slinky type of walk.

What are the differences between Chapter 1 (Pitter Patter) and Chapter 2 (He Goes, She Goes)?
Pitter Patter trajectory of energy is up; He Goes, She Goes, trajectory of energy is down.
Both have compression and can have telescoping.
Both should feel very stable.

The easiest embrace to do these are somewhat open.  Use the concept of rebounding, where the Leader sends the Follower and collapses the embrace a little, the Leader goes back a little, and freezes the embrace to find a counterbalance.

We drilled, doing Pitter Patter (together and separate), He Goes, She Goes (asynchronous walk), to Vibraciones Del Alma.

Maestros concluded with class quiz and a demo dance to Cuando Estaba Enamorado by Canaro.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Friday, June 3, 2016

Colgada into Leg Wraps with Back Hook Exit (Advanced)

Song: Down by Jason Walker
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 29, 2016, Ardingly College, England 

Exploring Colgadas
We began with doing a back step over with no Colgada, turning to the left of the Leader (counterclockwise), in open embrace using the teapot embrace.

The Leader captures the Follower’s back step whereby he gets the inside arch of his left foot to her outside foot in her left foot back step, then gets her to step over with her right foot.

We also tried this on the other side: Leader captures Follower’s right foot back step by stepping inside the arch of his right foot, so that she steps over with her left foot.

The Leader uses pull energy as he leads Follower to go around him in her turn.  Follower uses both sides of her embrace to remain connected with the Leader.  The Follower will feel contact with the Leader’s foot when he captures it.  She can cross in front, and then step over to step over as gracefully as possible. 

Next, we learned out to create counterbalance to be stable.

At the point of our feet meeting, the Leader prevents the Follower from stepping over.  He steps in so his feet are parallel.  He then becomes like a mountain (Mount Teapot) and the Follower hangs away.  The exit is a side step together.  The counterweight should feel like you are both stable, so it is not a huge Colgada. 

The Leader sends the Follower away by leaning toward her a bit, and then leaning back to create a stable counterbalance.  Here we learned how to hold each other.  If things aren’t going well, and the Follower feels like she is falling, she can employ the Golden Parachute (put her foot down).

The Follower can play with her right leg/foot as she is strong on her left foot with the 4 corners of the feet pushing into the floor.  The Leader can get the Follower to lift her heel off the floor by leaning back a bit more so he can sway or pivot the Follower on her standing / supporting leg.  Follower’s hips should be under, but she should not sit.  Follower should not open her hips.

How do we build trust?  How do we initiate the Colgada?

Someone interrupts the Follower’s step.  The Leader changes his body to create the Colgada.  The Leader interrupts the turn at the Follower’s back step.  The Leader creates the off-axis orientation of the dancers by employing the Line of Power, going from his back foot to his forward foot.  He comes in and sends her back and she allows her body to keep going back until the Leader counterbalances her weight.  Follower should keep her hips back.  

Some Followers are afraid to go back.  She needs to trust the Leader and their embrace.  The Leader should not collapse his left hand.  We backed up to doing the counterbalance exercise in sugar bowl embrace.  Followers should be like tigers and really send their hips back.

She Goes, He Goes
If the Follower goes into Colgada, the Leader can step through as well. This is the “She goes, he goes”.  Leader steps forward with the Follower with his inside foot after she does her Colgada.

The Follower should have lots of pivot in her back step so the Leader can easily capture that foot. 

The Leader steps over to the open side of the embrace.

If things are going well, you can add the Baby Boy Gancho.

Baby Boy Gancho (from left foot to left foot colgada)
Leader’s left foot gancho after his right foot forward step in the She Goes, He Goes, whereby he holds Follower so that she does not completely change weight on her right foot forward step (so she is about 80% on her right leg, 20% on her left leg) and Leader does a left foot back gancho between her two legs after his right foot forward step.  The Leader locks the Follower in place with his left hand during his left foot gancho and he embrace changes so dancers are closer.

Follower’s Boleo into Spin (from right foot to right foot colgada)
Spin (Hurricane) or Boleo into spin because of the nature of the embrace.

In the process of the dance, be there, look at your partner, do not look down but use your peripheral vision.  Do not just be focused on the pattern/step.

Outside leg wrap
After the Colgada, the Follower’s free right leg wraps around the Leader’s left leg to hook behind her right foot against her left foot.  Here the Leader’s left thigh makes contact with the Follower’s left thigh (“the thighs have eyes”).  The Leader can lead this wrap by giving her linear energy (Homer’s preference, forward-backward energy) or circular energy.  Follower can shape the wrapping leg, trying to be as elegant as possible.

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

Notes courtesy of Anne at 

Four Corners of the Feet and How We Connect to the Floor (All Level)

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 29, 2016, Ardingly College, England

Cristina led the class first.
In bare feet, we stood with feet hip width apart, with our feet parallel, making an “11” shape instead of in a turnout “V” or pigeon-toed “A”.
Spread your toes.
Keep your hands by your side.
Shoulders are down
Get head up and back (not tilted forward).

Look to your right. Hold.
Roll left shoulder back gently.
Look to the middle.
Look to the left. Hold.
Roll right shoulder back gently.
Look to the middle.
Try to touch your right ear to your right shoulder, and roll your left shoulder forward three times.
Head in center.
Check your feet.  Are they still in the center?
Try to touch your left ear to your left shoulder, and roll your right shoulder forward three times.
Head in center.

Pump knees softly as if they have hydraulics in hem.  Roll knees forward and back.
Notice how the weight goes down from one foot to the other, front to back.
Get everything to move: shoulders, hip joints, ankle joints.

Stand on the right leg, putting all the weight on your right.  Put weight on the ball of the foot, pressing into the floor.
Roll the wrists forward.
Change weight.
Stand on the left leg, putting all the weight on your left.  Put weight on the ball of the foot, pressing into the floor.
Roll the wrists forward.
Shake it off/out.

With feet still hip width apart, and the feet parallel in an “11” or “H” shape.  Shift the weight to the front of the foot by flexing your arches.
Gently shift the sternum to the heel/tailbone with the toes lifting.  Do not fall back.
Move the weight back to the front.  Wiggle your toes.

When we dance, we try to keep our toes spread out.  Do not curl them in.

Bring the sternum to the middle of your two feet (the arches).

Each foot has 4 corners: 2 in the front toward the ball and 2 in the back toward the heel.  These four corners are like suction cups, whereby they push down to get a pulling up, without locking, to create length in the body.

Put the left foot on top of the right foot.
Hold arms out as if holding a big bowl of fish, with your elbows in.

Change the weight to the right leg, imagining that the right leg is a big tree trunk. Active the right leg by pushing down on the 4 corners of your feet and turning on the suction cups, but try to create length by pulling up. Imagine the right thigh is turning in.  The belly button wants to go back to your spine. This turns on the lower belly muscles.
Hold out your arms as if holding a fishbowl, gently rolling your arms out. This turns on the lats.

Really feel the back of your neck trying to stay long.
Keep squeezing your inner thighs to turn on the lower belly muscles.
This turns on our core and back muscles without tightening or locking them.  Do not pike back or lean forward.
Shake off right leg.

Put the right foot on top of the left foot.
Hold arms out as if holding a big bowl of fish, with your elbows in.
Active the left leg by pushing down on the 4 corners of your feet and turning on the suction cups, but try to create length by pulling up. Imagine the left thigh is turning in.  The belly button wants to go back to your spine. This turns on the lower belly muscles.
Hold out your arms as if holding a fishbowl, gently rolling your arms out. This turns on the lats.

Really feel the back of your neck trying to stay long.
Keep squeezing your inner thighs.
This turns on our core and back muscles without tightening or locking them.  Do not pike back or lean forward.
Shake off left leg.

Now we can start moving.

The Reaching Game
Both legs are working, but doing different things, using different muscles.

Activate the right leg.
Get the left leg to come in as if the inner thighs have magnets and they are trying to meet.  The left leg is like a pendulum, hanging long.
Push with the right leg/foot into the floor.
Reach with your left foot.  The leg bones should really point forward.
Push with your right leg.
Turn on your inner thigh magnets as the thigh pulls back in collection.

Do the same with the left leg on the floor and right leg reaches forward. 
Do not lock anything.

Next, activate the right leg and the left leg reaches to the side. 
Think of the opposing energy to keep the body stable and to create length with the right leg.  Keep a long line on your standing leg.  Be fluid.  Breathe.

Do the same on your left leg, with your right leg reaching to the side.

Next, active the right leg and reach back with the left leg.  The foot can be straight or turned out, but not turned in.

Do the same with the left leg with reaching back with the right leg.

Next, we were to take two steps forward and 2 steps to the side.

Active the right leg. 
Reach forward with the left leg.
Start rolling slowly from the back 2 corners of the right foot to the middle, then to the arch to transfer the weight.
Activate the left leg.
Turn on your inner thigh magnets.
Activate the left leg, etc.
Activate the right leg as we reach to the left.  Use all of the right foot from the outside to the inside as you roll toward the center of the left foot.  Turn on inner thigh magnets to collect.

Active the right foot.
Reach back with the left foot.
From the front of foot, start to roll the weight by pushing back.

The other foot starts to receive the weight.
Active the 4 corners of your feet. 
Roll through.
Active your thigh magnets to collect.

Homer then joined in the teaching.
In partnership, we did the statue exercise.

Here, one person is still on one foot, while the other person gently pushes against him with one palm in various locations using consistent pressure – the middle of his upper chest, the side of his arm, at his hip, etc.  The person remains stable by pushing against the person pushing him.  Do this slowly to allow the person being pushed enough time to recover.  Each time the person creates resistance, he should think about squeezing his inner thighs, as it immediately turns on core engagement.  Have a long neck.

Next, in partnership, we built on this exercise, where one person walks back while the other person has his palm to that person’s chest and pushes them back with consistent pressure to walk back.  The same person walks forward with the person in back pushing him with his palm.  We also did this walking to the side, both left and right.  The recipient of the push always opposes the direction of the movement by using his core muscles, his inner thighs, and the 4 corners of his feet.

Note that the lead comes from the earth first, and so we need to become aware of how we relate to the floor.

Be very limited with what we lead or follow.  We need energy and space to lead and follow.  Using psychological energy and presence.

In no embrace, we did a lead – follow exercise just doing very simple steps of walking forward, backward, side steps and weight changes.  Both people took turns at leading and following their partner.

We were to be active in activating our leg and proposing the direction.  Do not have/make sudden movements. 

Next, we put our shoes on.
In partnership, but still not touching and without an embrace, we were to do the lead-follow exercise, but also include simple things like turning, ochos, paradas, pivoting, and turns/hiros/molinetes.

The Follower should not look at the Leader’s chest as it changes her posture.  She will get more information by keeping her head up as she will have more in her field of peripheral vision.  Leaders and Followers should not look at their feet.  To have psychological presence, and to be there for each other, you should look at the whole person.

Next, we played the Capture the Moon game
The Leader is the Earth and the Follower is the Moon.  The Leader (Earth) walks forward in small steps, and sends the Follower out around him as the Moon.  As the Moon orbits around the Earth, the Follower does hiro/turn steps.  The Leader stops her by capturing her in a snap back on her side step.  Then he reverses her in the opposite direction.

The Leader can capture two ways:
     (1) Dramatically, by using his body.
     (2) Subtly, by using his eyes only.
We were to practice this by orbiting twice in one direction, Leader capturing Follower and sending her back in the other direction and the Moon orbiting twice from there.  After the Leader captures the Follower twice, the Moon can become the Earth (they switch Leader/Follower roles).  The Earth should take small steps so the Moon can go around him doing her turn steps without difficulty.

The Leader captures the Moon by turning his shoulders to the left or the right to send out the Moon, then snapping back and start walking forward.

We explored the practical application of this exercise, still with no embrace.
From a side step, how can the Leader lead the Follower to take a forward step or a back step?  (aka, How to Start Turns or Creating and Blocking Space)  By tilting his axis.  By going away, he invites her to step forward and the focus is on his axis.  By going forward toward her, he blocks the space so she goes back and the focus is on her axis as she does her ocho step.  The Leader tilts the axis by using his feet.  We explored this idea via the Capture the Moon game, still in no embrace.

Next, we did this exercise using the embrace. The Leader was to focus on his axis.  Remember to use the 4 corners of the feet, inner thigh magnets, and axis tilt. Capture the Moon. Dance simply. Focus on the music. We should be in tune with each other.  Because we did not use our hands/embrace previously, it sharpened our senses and awareness of each other.

There is no such thing as a Free Leg as we still use muscles to create articulation. 

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and short demo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Theory and Technique of Alterations with Front Boleos (Beyond Intermediate)

Song: All of Me by Ray Boudreaux
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 29, 2016, Ardingly College, England

We began by first getting our legs ready to do Boleos.

Stage 1
First, our free leg goes across in front of the outside of the other leg, with our feet making an “A” shape.

Stage 2
Next, we were to strike our feet like a kitchen match, making a straight boleo or a more turned out one. Putting energy into he floor and using our hips to rotate.

Stage 3
We can lift our thighs a little bit to clear the other thing to get the “thwack” sound, a snapping noise.  We do this by lifting at the thigh as you strike the kitchen match.

          (1) Back to floor with feet
    (2) Lift knee, caress leg and then back down the other side.

Open embrace technique doing turns to get us warmed up and connected
Capture the Moon
Follower takes long reaching steps around the Leader.  Both dancers keep their head up. 
Make 1 change in axis. 
Follower is the Moon.
Leader is the Earth.

Leader takes step with partner to establish the new center of the earth.  Then he changes the direction of the turn. 

Follower:  there is no ocho in the change of direction, just a step forward (or step backward).
Capture the Moon
Change the Axis
Change the orientation of the orbit
The Leader can capture all three steps of the Follower (forward, side, back). 
The Leader makes just one step to capture the Moon.

Next game: Follower calls out 2 steps and the Leader has to capture her on the first step, using the second step that she calls out. So,
1st step: her step where Moon is captured
2nd step: his step that he takes to capture the Moon

Examples: forward, back; back, forward; side, forward; side, back; back, side; forward, forward, etc.

We added the embrace at this point.

The Leader can block the Follower with the embrace to block the A.O.R. (automatic ocho reflex).  We want to avoid the A.O.R. because another possibility exists other than the ocho: that is, the alteration.

The drawback of the embrace is it is harder to capture some steps (like back to back).

From the turn/hiro/molinete, the Follower should do good open embrace turn technique, and all slow steps (no automatic QQ on the back, side step).

Next, we were to add spice.

Alterations are like tango slingshots that help us to navigate on the dance floor.

When the Leader captures the moon, he gets close to her.

1st alteration: Follower Forward step, Leader Side step.  The Leader steps in front of the Follower’s foot, then collects.

The pattern is the cadena, or chain or link.

The Leader captures the Moon on her forward step by stepping in front of her foot to block her, then do the alteration by sending her in the other direction.  The Leader’s energy is he is leading a turn, then interrupting it, and then leading a turn again.  Keep this in the line of dance.  The turn is going clockwise.

Follower’s left foot forward step, Leader blocks this step with a left foot side step. Follower goes right foot back as her body is sent back like a slingshot, Follower does side step and right foot forward step in a clockwise turn, where the Leader can do a right foot sacada of Follower’s trailing left foot, powering the Follower’s big pivot, at with the Leader can lead a left foot boleo to the outside of Follower’s right standing leg.  Then he can link this and do the pattern all over again (starting with Follower’s left foot forward step).

For every transition/alteration, there is a change in the embrace, but do not completely let it go.  Be elastic, but remain engaged in the embrace.

The Followers hips are ocho factories, amplifying the spiral rotation of the Leader by at least 3x. 

Since the Moon can make three steps (forward, back, side) and the Earth cane make three steps (forward, back, side), there are 9 possibilities on each side, so 18 possible different types of alterations.  We can play with each permutation.

Meastros concluded with a class quiz and a demo to Ray Boudreaux’s All of Me.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Adding A Nuevo Flavor To Your Dance (Intermediate)

Song: Beautiful Tango by Hindi Zahra
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 28, 2016, Ardingly College, England

Our work began with the most subtle wraps in tango, which Maestros have dubbed “The Ismael Wrap”.

This wrap is a nice surprise for the Follower.

We began standing with split weight facing forward. We then pivoted forward and then the other way to feel what this felt like to still be at split weight while pivoting.

In partnership, we walked together, and the Leader led the Follower to do a right leg wrap of the Leader’s right leg on her left foot back step.  He did this by settling on his left, then step past the Follower’s forward leg, in a deep step so that his right foot heel is behind the Follower’s right foot heel, then twisting his body to the open side of the embrace.

Note here that his left leg is free to come up, and he twists the other way to lead the Follower to wrap that leg with her same right wrapping leg.

The Follower feels the presence of the Leader’s left leg. The Leader slowly settles the Follower on her left foot.  She feels his twist, which is the invitation to wrap, of first the Leader’s left leg, and then he changes weight so that his left leg is free.  He then lifts this free left leg and invites the Follower to wrap it with her same right leg.

Then he can invite her to wrap again his original left leg (so do 3 wraps in a row).

The lead is the Leader squeezing his thighs together.

The lead for the third wrap is the Leader bringing the Follower’s right foot back with  his left leg.

The Follower should emulate a tiger in being very grounded when doing these wraps.

In the first wrap, the Follower will feel the Leader’s lead with his spine and rotation in it and he will lift his knee.

The second wrap is done with the Leader’s joint manipulation and surrounding the Follower’s thigh, so she wraps.

Then he sends the Follower’s leg back immediately back out to the third wrap as he steps back down and slightly back.

The Leader squeezes the Follower’s thigh from the first to second wrap.

The Follower’s goal is to Follow the articulation of the Leader’s leg.

If these wraps are easy, try the other side.

The exit after the Leader steps down and back with his left foot is a left foot forward step (so his left foot stepping down is a touch step, not a complete weight change step as he will step forward with that same left foot afterwards – so his weight is on his right foot the whole time).

Part B
Returning to the 1st idea of the split-weight pivot.

The Leader gets into the cross system way of walking in close embrace by doing a sneak attack weight change, then Leader walks inside and around the Follower starting with his right foot forward to Follower’s right foot back step, then transitioning into an open embrace as he does a left foot cowboy side step around the left foot of the Follower.

Here the Leader stops the Follower just before the middle of her weight change as he cowboy side steps around her, and she pivots on her right foot into her left leg wrap as she transfers the weight.

The Leader is in Captain Morgan stance with his left, whereby his heel is off the ground and his knee can swing both ways, in and out. 

The Follower’s outside wraps with her left leg around the Leader’s right leg on his left foot side step around the Follower as he transfers her weight and rotates his chest and does the Captain Morgan stance of his right leg.

There are two exits from this wrap, which is basically a Follower’s forward boleo:
     (1) Follower collects.
     (2) Follower’s knee goes up and then slides back down so that feet collect. 

In either exit, the Follower needs to commit to it, and she needs to collect with either exit.

We then had a class quiz followed by Maestros’ demo to Hindi Zahra’s Beautiful Tango.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Sustained Volcadas Explored & Expanded (Beyond Intermediates)

Song: Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
England International Tango Festival
May 30, 2016, Ardingly College, England

Since it is really important in Volcadas to make the Follower feel comfortable, we began with hugging each other, one arm on top, other arm on the bottom so arms are in an X pattern.

The Leader and Follower side step to put the Follower on one leg.
Leader engages a bigger hug with a bit of lift from his rib cage (not just his arms)
Follower pushes down with her shoulder blades as if trying to get out of a swimming pool: pushing down to lift up.
Leader takes a few steps back
Leader and Follower breathe with intention (check that hug is still engaged)
Follower pushes down with her standing leg, but her knee is still soft, with hug engaged and still pushing down with her shoulder blades, using her lats to protect her back. She should use the whole fit to create a very strong line from her standing supporting foot to her opposite shoulder.
Leader walks forward.

There are two characteristics of Volcadas that change with the Sustained Volcada:
(1) Leader is always tilted forward (Leader is straight in sustained)
(2) Leader does not change height (Leader changes height in sustained)
In Sustained Volcadas:
      (1) Leader is not always forwardly intended (he is at times vertical)
      (2)  The Leader’s height changes to get into and out of the sustained volcada

The Sustained Volcada is a more advanced concept where the Follower is at split weight and her legs go out in an inverted Y and Leader drives Follower across the floor.  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 with both feet on the floor. 

In the Standard Volcada hug, Leader and Follower do side steps, Leader walks back a few steps, then walks right foot forward, driving the Follower’s free leg back into a forward cross of her left foot over her right foot.
We drilled the standard volcada.
The Follower needs to really engage to protect her body.

In the Sustained Volcada, the Leader and Follower do side steps.  The Leader is upright with no forward tilt.  He hugs and slightly lifts the Follower. The Leader steps back and goes down a little bit in height by bending his knees (NOT by bending at the waist).  The Follower’s left leg starts to have weight (it is not completely free) as both Leader and Follower axis are vertical.  Leader and Follower spines are vertical.  Both Follower’s legs are working as she paints the floor.  She needs to zip up her middle throughout.  As Leader walks backward, but comes up, and Follower feels this change in height, her legs come together in collection.

Note that Leader remains vertical the entire time.  We can move this in any direction and on any step.  Leader should be consistent with his hug and suspension of Follower.
Leader and Follower should be close and vertical the entire time.
Follower should have more hold rather than less hold.
Follower uses her inner thigh muscles 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’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.

We drilled doing this from the Follower’s hook behind (right foot), going into a sustained volcada, back into the cross.  We also switched going from one form to the other (Standard versus Stained).

There are two ways to start the sustained volcada: from the Follower’s right foot hook behind, or from a rock step.

Next, we worked on the Funny Volcada

The Funny Volcada is still a standard volcada because there is still lean and the Leader does not change height.
Maestros showed us what it looks like.
The Follower falls sideways instead of forward.

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 from the Follower’s right foot back ocho step, which the Leader uses a right foot side step to catch. The Leader settles the Follower on her right foot when he is on his right foot.

Leader's footwork

Follower's footwork
Left foot forward on close side

Left foot back
Right foot side

Right foot cross (back ocho)
Turn partner as if calesita, but off axis

Remain on right foot as Leader walks backward around (left foot is free)
Walk backward around Follower

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

Leader: Do not squeeze too much as you walk around backward.

Follower: Completely arrive on your right foot back step with confidence.  Be sure the standing supporting leg is strong and stable.  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.

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).

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 Follower falls completely sideways in the Funny Volcada, and 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, 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 odd number (7, 9, 11, etc.) of steps around the Follower, giving time to the Follower to practice her embellishments. 

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.

Adding the Sustained Volcada after the Funny Volcada

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

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 (Funny Volcada; Follower’s free leg embellishes), and then walking away from the Follower (Sustained Volcada; Follower is at split weight and both legs are straight).  So the Leader first walks circularly, and then linearly, tangent to the circle.  The Follower’s free leg always tracks the Leader, whether he is doing a circular or linear walk, so as they go from the Funny to Sustained Volcada, her leg goes from inside in front of him to outside of him on the close side of the embrace.

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

Maestros concluded with a class review and demo to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s Falling Slowly (from the motion picture Once).

Notes courtesy of Anne at