Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Leader and Follower Enrosques

Song: Tres Esquinas by D'Agostino (vocals by Angel Vargas)
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
February 23, 2009, The Beat, Berkeley, CA

We began with one dance, trying to include as many enrosques as we knew how to do.

There are many definitions of what enrosques are, but they all have a corkscrew action element to them. They can be done from the turn and sacada, sometimes with weight changes and sometimes without. The Follower enrosque from forward ochos typically do not have weight changes.

We began with a solo exercise to develop enrosques for our body: we practiced crossing our foot in front and changing weight after the cross.

There are two main shapes to enrosques:
(1) Eye of the Needle: has space between the thighs
(2) Eagle position, like in yoga, with thighs close together, going to the other side.
Both have 90 degree pivots, and the foot is planted next to the axis foot in the middle of it, with toe tip pointing down and touching floor. It is important not to sickle the foot here.The pelvis joint and how open the hips can get will determine which enrosque you do.

Next exercise in partnership:
We did forward ochos, and enrosque wrap (either eye of needle or eagle) in front without weight change.
(1) Step
(2) Position foot one next to the other (not too far way, and do not sickle).
(3) Pivot.
This was a more stilted, paused exercise to get us used to the movement and to slow us down to look at all the variables in getting the technique right.

Next option:
(1) Step
(2) Pivot
(3) Then go into foot placement.
This is a more fluid enrosque.

For Followers, no weight change is best option for enrosques.
Followers can do forward ocho into enrosque embellishment, letting her free leg go in front, cross, and then pivot. This adds momentum. She must try to step as close to the Leader as possible to maintain connection.
An alternative is that she can pivot first, then whip the leg in front. What really helps is (1) to keep good spiral in the upper body, (3) rotate the hips, and (3) keep her shoulders square/parallel with Leader's upper body, facing Leader the whole time. All ocho technique applies (spiral and counterspiral).

Next, we drilled with the Leader leading forward ochos, and Follower doing enrosque embellishments on her ochos.
Level 1: Regular enrosque (a little amague) in regular time.
Level 2: A delay, and then a speed up at the end, putting energy into hips to really get around quickly/sharply. It's a slow down, whip around kind of action.

As a reminder, embellishments are always dictated by the music and not done arbitrarily.

Next, the Leader leads Follower to do forward ochos for one or two enrosques. Then Leader leads Follower to do molinete around him while he does enrosques. The Leader leaves his hips behind, gets all twisted, and then lets go into enrosque, while continually leading the Follower's molinete with his upper body. The Leader can do his enrosque on any of the Follower's molinete steps, but the easiest is on her back step.

The question came up: How does the Follower know if he is leading a regular forward ocho (where she can do an enrosque) or a molinete (and if she does an enrosque here she will mess up his lead)?
(1) Follower can do enrosque during the molinete, but she should do it without crossing in front.
(2) Follower can cross, but she has to do it quickly and make sure she does not transfer weight.
(3) When the Leader leads the ocho, the focus is on the Follower's axis.
(4) When the Leader leads the molinete, the focus is on the Leader's axis.
Bottom line: If the Follower does an enrosque during the molinete, she can do it successfully and not mess up the lead if she does the enrosque without crossing and/or not changing weight.

Next, we practiced weight changes in enrosque, replacing one axis with another.
The exercise we did by ourselves:
weight change
step back

Next, we did another exercise by ourselves:
step right foot forward
cross left foot in front of right foot
pivot 180 degrees
pivot 180 degrees again
step right foot back.

We also tried this on the other side:
step left foot forward
cross right foot in front of left foot
pivot 180 degrees
pivot 180 degrees again
step left foot back.

Here, there is always a moment when you are sharing weight with two feet. It is important to have good technique with being on one foot and pivoting on one foot.

In the open embrace, we did Leader forward sacada of Follower's trailing foot during molinete forward step, into Leader enrosque, into Leader's back sacada on Follower's side step.

You can practice these things (enrosques, sacadas and back sacadas) wearing socks.

Follower can do air enrosque embellishments, but she needs to be careful how this is done.

Maestros concluded with a demo of what we learned to Tres Esquinas by D'Agostino with vocals by Angel Vargas.

Notes courtesy of Anne at http://scoutingtour.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Back Volcada Explored‏

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
February, 20, 2009, Just Dance Ballroom, Oakland, CA

A didactic demo was not filmed for the February 20, 2009, class. The August 20, 2007 "Tokyo Drift / Back Volcada" video illustrates many of the same concepts; thus, places in that video are referenced in the notes below to illustrate similar things we did in class.

First, we began with some exercises:
Exercise 1: In circle formation at the perimeter of the room, the class practiced moving forward using back crosses to the center of the circle.
Exercise 2: Then the reverse: In the center of the circle formation, the class practiced moving backward using forward crosses to the outside of the circle.
Exercise 3: The Leaders practiced walking forward using rollerblading footwork in a straight line, as if walking on a railroad track, while Follower maintained back cross footwork walking back.
Exercise 4: We worked on Follower's back ocho technique, doing tight crosses with minimal hip rotation in order to build to the back volcada from the back ocho. We practiced this in open and close embrace.

Leader's Volcada Technique:
The Leader gives a tight embrace with a slight lift.
The Leader creates the volcada feeling by supporting and lifting the Follower more.
The Leader controls how loose or tight the the Follower's back cross is.
We practiced with the Leader leading consecutive tight back crosses while trying to preserve the connection as much as possible, and have tight, compact crossing in the Follower. See 2:07-15 in the video for examples of Follower doing a series of back crosses (looser and larger than the ones we get in class).
Leader does not move feet, but does arch his body, taking care not to rotate his shoulders.
Leader does not go back on his axis, but maintains a forward and upward intention in his chest, as does Follower, so both dancers maintain good connection to each other.
Leader should not go down at all, and really be forwardly and upwardly intended in his chest. This was reiterated several times.
For the Leader's footwork, he goes back on his right foot while still keeping a forward intention in his chest, not going back to vertical axis.
The Leader can lead a tight cross or more open cross depending on the range of communication between the dancers, the music, mood and space available to dance.
If a more open cross is used, there needs to be more suspension and lift from the Leader as it would require more support.

Follower's Volcada Technique:
The Follower tries to stay in front of the Leader as much as possible.
The Follower compresses down on her left side, digging down with her armpit.
Follower should not hesitate, and should have a lot of power in her supporting leg, digging down into the floor to push up and against the Leader. She should use her relationship to the floor and have groundedness.
Her body needs to be stable and strong, with her core muscles engaged so that she does not have a noodle or rag doll body and so that she supports herself and her body does not break or collapse against or onto the Leader.
The Follower's right foot crosses behind the left foot, and the left foot unwinds out forward, out to the left, and back as the Leader steps forward. The Follower's foot traces a half circle on floor, and Leader can track/feel where her foot is. The goal is to have a deep and big movement.
The Follower's left leg is free, but controlled. She should pay attention to how it articulates, and she can project her foot a lot forwardly if it's a big volcada. She should pay attention and think about how her foot unwinds, trying to make it as elegant, articulate and stable as possible.
It is important that the Follower stay in front of and square with the Leader at all times during this back volcada. This was reiterated several times.
After the volcada, the Follower should not kerplunk back with her footwork; she should ease back into her normal position, rolling through her feet.
See 1:43 and 1:51 in the video for examples of the simple back volcada.

Potential Pitfalls:
If both don't keep their forwardly intended axis.
It works better when neither dancer goes down.
If Leader rotates his shoulders or chest, the Follower will be in trouble because she will peel off the Leader.
If Follower is not aggressive in terms of pushing up against the Leader, and does not really push against him. In the volcada, the energy is always up or straight ahead.

For the Leader, there are three volcada killers:
(1) If he goes down.
(2) If he rotates his shoulders.
(3) If his posture goes back to fully vertical from forwardly intended in the chest.

For the Follower, she must maintain good technique:
(1) Holding or pressing down on her left side of Leader's right side.
(2) Stay in front of the Leader.
(3) Maintain her body position, being very stable and supported in her standing leg and with her chest forwardly and upwardly intended and connected to the Leader.
(4) Engage her core muscles so that she does not have a noodle or rag doll body and supports herself so that body does not break.
(5) Don't take big steps if they are not led.
(6) Don't kerplunk in the exiting footwork.

As a treat, we also tried to do the Volcada-Plus:
From the simple tight back volcada that we worked on, the Leader brings his feet together, takes his axis back and down, which causes the Follower to do a split with her legs, and then he drives her left leg back into the forward cross.
The Follower uses her supporting right leg to have lift and have the left leg open up out to the left side.
See 2:59-3:00, and 3:02-03 in the video for similar examples on the left side, which is what we attempted. 2:20-22, 2:30-34, and 2:48-50 are examples of the right side, which we did not attempt.

Notes courtesy of Anne at http://scoutingtour.blogspot.com

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tango Accident, Tango Now & The Art of Improvisation

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
February 19, 2009, La Pista, San Francisco

This class was done in game format to spawn creativity, encourage experimentation, and to help us think outside of the box.

We began with one dance dancing as we normally would.

Game 1: Tango Accident
There are two levels to this game.
Level 1: We walked, and at some point, the Follower randomly crosses (the Leader does not lead her to cross). The Leader has to think what to do to get out of it (i.e., behave as if he led the cross). Follower can do left over right foot crosses or right over left foot crosses.
Level 2: Follower can do any move accidentally (Leader does not lead it). Here, the Leader has to recover from it. We do this continually, with Follower doing different accidents and the Leader recovering from it gracefully and smoothly.

Game 2: Tango Now
There are two levels to this game.
Level 1: While the Leader and Follower dance together, periodically the Follower says "now" in the middle of a move that Leader is leading. The Leader has to come up with a creative way to get out of it, instead of continuing to complete the move as usual. Follower should say "now" during a move Follower can predict so that she gives Leader a fair opportunity to get out of it. The Follower should follow and observe what the routine is before she says "now."
Level 2: When the Follower says "now" the Leader breaks the thought and does something entirely different.
Some problems we encountered here were that sometimes there is a lot of momentum to the move, and to stop it midway. The challenge was that when Follower says "now", it's like stumbling. The Leader should try to make the change smoothly. This game enables the Leader to try to lead something he's never tried before, to break patterns and habits.
When we give constraints, it forces us to become more creative. If there are no restraints, it is difficult to be creative.

Game 3: Tango Blind
Constraint: Leader and Follower dance together with eyes closed.
- Who is around me?
- How can I be careful?
- It can generate some very interesting things.
- Be careful.
Here, we develop increased sensitivity to our partner, and develop creativity.

Game 4: 5th Step
Level 1: Every 5th Step of the Follower must always be a back step. Follower helps Leader by counting steps out loud. Boleo is counted as 1, and leg wrap is counted as 1.
Level 2: After the 4th step, but before the 5th step, the Follower calls out a move, such as a back step, forward step, molinete, leader sacada, follower sacada, leg wrap, volcada, colgada, soltada, calesita, etc., and she can be specific (left foot, right foot, clockwise, counterclockwise, overturned back ocho, overturned wrap). This game got us to start thinking about the flow of movement. Often the Follower has a better sense of what flows nicely, and she can help the Leader to be more sensitive to the flow of the movement, giving him feedback and permission to try something new. In this game, the dancers can slow down and think about it, figure out how to do it, before moving. Follower can help Leader discover new moves.

Game 5: Leader and Follower switch embrace
(Follower's left hand and Leader's right hand become the open side of the embrace and Follower's right arm/hand and Leader's left arm/hand become the close side of the embrace; line of dance remains the same, and Leader typically walks forward and Follower typically walks back as normal). We danced, doing very basic moves like the 8CB, ochos, etc. Here, the dancers will find that the difficult side becomes easier and the easier side becomes more difficult.

Game 6: Moliono X Factor (named after a maestro named Moliono)
Maestros only demo'd this; we did not try it because no students were skilled enough.
Leader and Follower switch roles so the Follower appears to be leading, but the Leader is back leading. The goal is to back lead the Follower to look like she is leading the Leader while he does ochos, ganchos, etc. New things open up, brainwise.

Game 7: No Side Step
Constraint: We danced with no Leader or Follower side steps.

Game 8: 3 Elements
The Follower picks three elements, and the Leader had to do them in that order with no separation between the movements. Examples: side, back ocho, back boleo; half back ocho, volcada, leg wrap; soltada, calesita, colgada.

Game 9: Sacada Twister
In groups of three, we held hands and had our legs open. One dancer began by doing a wrap or sacada between one or two people's legs, and then someone else goes. We tried to keep connected with our hands, but it was OK to change the embrace (let go of hands) if we needed to. We were to try to get more than one person with our foot.

Notes courtesy of Anne at http://scoutingtour.blogspot.com