Friday, December 10, 2010

An Introduction to An Effective Use of Body Weight in Tango

Song: Comme Il Faut by Carlos Di Sarli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
December 8, 2010, Cellspace, San Francisco

This was a brand new, experimental class.

We began with an exercise. In teakettle open embrace (with both the Leader's hands at the small of his back, and Follower hanging on to his biceps), the Leader was to lead the Follower in a dance. The following things were things we should think about:
Leader: How do I use weight to lead?
Follower: How do I use the weight to respond appropriately to the lead?
We were to be slow and elastic, dynamic, and in control in our dance (in teakettle open embrace).

How do we use our standing leg? We should connect with the floor with our standing leg.
We should spend time and effort to really settle in to our standing leg, settling first, and then reaching with our free foot for our next step.
Try to use the connection to the floor.
The Follower's embrace is elastic: each arm can bend and flex.
In the Follower's steps and dancing, she should not be flighty and try to get away from the Leader.
She should use her whole body when she starts moving.

We then danced a song, again in teakettle open embrace, where the Leaders were encouraged to change it up more by:
Changing weight
Being subtle at times
Being energetic at times
Changing from one direction to another
Followers were instructed to be grounded, and show a bit of resistance.

The question came up: "What is resistance?"
Does the Follower slow down the Leader?
The Follower's purpose is to connect with the Leader.
The kind of resistance we hope to achieve is horizontal in energy, not vertical.
It is the Follower choosing to actively stay longer on the standing leg before reacting to the lead.
This is the Follower's way of letting the Leader know how she moves through space using her weight.

The question came up of how to handle males who follow since they have higher centers of mass. How does the Leader compensate for the male follower's higher center of mass?
Cristina's answer: You connect with the floor more.
Homer's answer: (1) You play with the tilt of the bodies/axes and (2) Make the Follower learn to connect with the floor more.

Next, we played a game.
In teakettle open embrace, in partnership we were to walk forward and walk backward.
In our forward walk, our bodies are slightly toward each other /\.
In our backward walk, our bodies are slightly away from each other \/.
Our goal in this game was to feel the weight of our bodies.
The Follower should take long forward steps, but not plank in her body. She should also not fall into her steps, especially the forward step.
Both dancers should create a natural resistance and communication in the embrace.

The Leader changes the embrace compression at the point when the direction changes forward to back, or back to forward. He does this by taking a moment to create the resistance by settling into the floor.
The Leader and Follower should both collect first, and then work through the neutral zone, and then change the direction before the next step is made.
For the exercise, it is OK to exaggerate it, to feel and understand the concept.
The Leader tilts his axis by flexing his ankles as he changes direction forward to back or back to forward. If his or her toes are crunching, he/she is too far forward. The toes should always be able to wiggle.
The change from forward to back feels like a slow vacuum.
The Follower feels the intention to change direction in the change in the tilt of the Leader's body before the change in direction, so she knows where to go.
It is up to both the Leader and Follower to build the relationship before you step/change the direction.
This game gave us a concept that will help us add elasticity to the embrace. Shifting weight has great leverage potential.

Next, we worked on the concept of Dynamics, that is, going from a linear to a circular move using the above concept.
The Follower should have an al dente embrace (not too soft and not too hard, but firm and responsive), using her back and core muscles.

The step, still done in teakettle embrace, was a simple one:
Leader's side step left (Follower's side step right) to step forward with his right foot, change weight, and then back with his right foot, as he leads the Follower counterclockwise molinete/hiro/turn around him.
This was a very simple step, and our goal was to work on quality of movement.

The dancers are close to begin with together at the side step, and then the Leader changes his axis back as he leads the molinete/hiro/turn. The Follower's embrace has flexibility (compression and extension). The Leader works through a forward tilt and back tilt during the Follower molinete/hiro/turn, and the Follower feels a "slingshot" type of energy as she comes around him.
To get out of it, the Leader captures her with another side step left.
The movement is soft and quiet, and then explodes, and then quiets down again.

The Follower should not take short steps, and not fall into her steps. Otherwise she will kill the dynamics of the molinete/hiro/turn. She should also make a good reach effort.
The Follower should really arrive on her step before reaching for the next step, and use everything in her body as she moves through space. She should not rush, and not be afraid of being left behind by the Leader.

Next, we added the teapot embrace with the Leader having a right hand handle and left hand spout to have more control.
The Follower must really hold onto the Leader.
Again, we tried the side step to molinete/hiro/turn on one side (counterclockwise) and then the other (clockwise).

The Leader should not move his body in a block when he leads the molinete/hiro/turn. Otherwise, he will be inefficient in his molinete/hiro turn lead. Instead, the Leader should use disassociation to make the movement easy and with finesse. Leaders tend to use their arms too much when leading the molinete/hiro/turn, so our work using the teapot embrace should alleviate that, and to also work on the secret agenda: that is, for the Leader to develop more pull energy with his left hand (as opposed to overusing and misusing his right hand by pushing the Follower to do the molinete/hiro/turn).
The teapot embrace also causes the Leader to engage his arms to his back to the floor.

The Follower works through many different types of strength in her embrace in this simple sequence in teapot embrace: soft, al dente, and firm, but she should always have elasticity, with each arm expanding and compressing as she goes around the Leader.

Maestros concluded with a demo to DiSarli's Comme Il Faut.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Monday, December 6, 2010

Exploration of Styles Within Colgadas with Mixed Music (Advanced Class)

Song: No Te Mires En El Rio by Enrique Rodriguez
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
November 28, 2010, Ashland, Oregon

We began with Cristina leading some physical body warm-up exercises so that we could be grounded and our bodies could be nimble and flexible.

In the first colgada class, maestros gave us a simple structure (the step-over colgada). In this class we were given options to develop our own style.

The basic foundation was the step-over colgada. It doesn't need to be too big, and can be done in open embrace. We were to stay in the line of dance.

We reviewed the counterbalance exercise and hip under posture. We were not to arch our back or have ballroom posture, we were not to plank, and we were not to collapse in our shoulders or upper body.

The idea of this class was to explore what works, and what doesn't work.

We experimented with the counterbalancing exercise with different postures and embraces:
cross hand hold
arch back/ballroom
collapsing in shoulders or upper body.
If doing any of these options hurts our backs, we were to go back to the basic step-over colgada with hip-under posture.

Next, we experimented with changes in height, changes in embrace, and changes in the leg, and turning it even more.

Our goal was to experiment with different postures with the underlying thought of "How can I make this work?"

The Follower would decide one posture, and the Leader would have to counterbalance it.

The default is that the Follower should not change her height.

The Leader has to adjust instantly.

Option 1: If the Leader changes his height (by bending his knees), the Follower copies the Leader.

Option 2: The Leader changes his posture; see how the Follower responds (she usually copies it).

Since there were some students in this class who were not in the previous class, the concept of "The Wall" was reviewed.

The Leader needs to be a wall that the Follower wants to hang from. In teapot embrace, the Leader's left hand stays fixed so that the Follower can hang from it. If the Leader's left hand/arm has give, the Follower will want to step down earlier than she should. The Follower needs to be able to use the wall. The Follower has an elastic embrace, sometimes engaging more than usual. In the teapot embrace, the Leader should practice keeping his spout (left arm) solid. The Leader uses his back to keep his spout (left arm) solid to open up his lats. In teapot embrace, the Leader should not telescope his left arm.

Going back to our colgada experimentation, we were able to change:
suspending it and letting the Follower initiate the ending.

The Follower should try to copy the Leader first before she becomes disobedient (experiments).

What does the Leader do when the Follower does an abrupt change? Colgadas have a built-in parachute if something goes wrong. You can put your leg and foot down (step). If you are in trouble, put both feet on the floor to prevent falling. If something really bad happens, like someone get stuck in their pant legs, the Leader falls first and then the Follower is cushioned by him. Do not let go of the Follower, otherwise she will fall first without cushioning.

The class concluded with a student review and maestro demo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Part I: Colgada Basics with Miguel Calo (Intermediate Class)

Song: Al Compas Del Corazon by Miguel Calo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
November 28, 2010, Ashland, Oregon

Students said they had experience, so maestros gave a simple pattern to do, to see where we were skill and knowledgewise.

Just do a rock step. Then Leader traps Follower's right foot with his left foot. The Leader traps her right foot by stepping in front of it. She makes a long step with the Leader leading it by opening up his left shoulder as if in a little turn. Then she goes into her side step with a little pivot. The Leader's weight is on his right, where he keeps turning and pulling her through, then transfers his weight after she steps over with her left foot.

Next, we tried this in teapot embrace, with the Follower holding onto his handle and spout as they do a counterclockwise turn. The Follower should take long steps all the time. The Leader traps her right foot by stepping in front of it.

Next we worked on our colgada posture by doing an exercise.

Holding at the wrists, we were in hip under position, with our hips lined up with our rib cages. The Leader's feet, which can be in a "V" position, were outside the Follower's feet, sandwiching them. Elbows have 90 degree bend to them. We were to squeeze our transverse muscles, using our center mass in our backs and cores, keeping our chest open, and pushing our shoulder blades down. We were to hang from the hips and counterbalance each other. We were not to crunch our shoulders. We could move our belly out back a little.

Leader initiates the send out. The Leaders tried with different Followers to feel the height and weight differences, and how he had to change his counterbalancing efforts depending on the Follower's height and weight. This exercise was the most important five minutes of class so that we could understand the concept of counterbalancing each other.

The Follower's embrace becomes elastic first, stretching first and then start engaging it when the movement starts.

The Leader is well aware that the Follower hangs from him. She has the freedom to extend or flex the embrace as much as she wants. Follower needs to add tone with back and core muscles and leg/foot connection on up with the floor.

As our home exercise, we can imagine that we are windsurfing, and hang away from the side of our doors, putting us in hip under colgada posture.

In open embrace, we did the following pattern:

Leader rock step, left foot trap of Follower's right foot (Leader puts weight on his right foot), Leader sends her out. Leader puts his weight on his left foot at the same time Follower transfers her weight to her right foot to send her out. Leader does right foot cheat step around Follower to provide support as she hangs and steps around with her left foot. Leader and Follower both keep their chests up. Follower steps long and around Leader as she goes over in her colgada.

Clarification: When the Leader traps the Follower's foot, he does it in the "Line of Power". Two points of his feet are in a line in the direction where the Follower's hips are going to go. The Follower's hips go out straight: that's the line of power. The Leader's left arm is what the Follower hangs onto. When the Follower steps down with her left foot, that is when the Colgada ends.

The Follower must use good molinete/hiro/turn technique. Use all your body to create the extra range of motion when you take the forward cross step. We drilled this simple Step-Over Colgada to Calo's Lejos de Buenos Aires , Que Te Importa Que Te Llore, and Al Compas Del Corazon.

In the colgada, the technique is the same as for the molinete/hiro/turn to the left for both Leader and Follower. Follower should stay up, and don't make changes in height. The Follower should use both hands to hang onto the Leader. Her left hand slides down to his bicep in open embrace. Follower should not rush into getting out of the colgada. She should step when it's time to finish.

Be careful of the line of dance when doing colgadas. Play with how much you want to do it. In the teapot embrace, see how far Follower can go out. See how far Follower can go to the end. Leader can regulate this by how much he sends the Follower out and how much he counterweights/counterbalances her.

The class concluded with a student review and maestro demo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Part II: Close Embrace Alteration & Turn with Di'Sarli with Roberto Rufino on vocals (Advanced Class)

Song: Cosas Olvidadas - Carlos Di Sarli con Roberto Rufino
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
November 27, 2010, Ashland, Oregon

Our goal in this class was two-fold:
(1) Do a close embrace alteration, which is a change of direction with circular energy.
(2) Make the turn to the right in close embrace with dynamic, but still have control.

The Leaders footwork is side step left foot, weight change right foot, left foot long forward step to the outside, right foot hooks behind on line, pivot on both feet clockwise as weight is split, to walk out.
The Follower's footwork is side step right foot, back left foot, right foot crosses in front, right foot big round forward step around the Leader as she pivots on her left foot, left foot side step, right foot back step.

How does the Follower know not to do an ocho? The Leader blocks her by stepping beyond her foot and the focus is taking her around the Leader's axis (Leader is the center of the circle and Follower goes around him).

We did a lot of drilling to this to Cascabelito by Di'Sarli with Rufino on vocals.

The Follower should use everything in her body to create the curve and length of the forward step around the Leader. The Leader's cross behind is supposed to create the space to open up his right hip so the Follower can have enough room to walk through. We tried this in various speeds, first slow slow slow, and then quick quick slow on the Follower's forward and side step.

We drilled this to many songs:
Tristeza Marina
La Pasao Paso
En un vida
Adios Te Vas

One option we worked on was to do it all in open embrace. The close embrace can open up like a hinge by the Leader. We also tried to do it on the other side. Here too, the close embrace on the other side can open up like a hinge by the Leader.

If the Leader's right hand is evil and he pulls her in, he should practice doing this in teapot embrace (with his right hand as the teapot handle behind his back, and his left hand and arm up as the spout, supporting the Follower). The Follower still hangs onto the Leader, and he still turns to his right.

The Leader does a right foot tight back cross behind his left foot, to make a tight turn to the right. Then he collects, and left foot steps out. Here, each step pivots.
Since it seemed like the Leaders had problems doing TIGHT back crosses (many were not at the Beginner lesson earlier in the day when we worked on our tight cross walking exercises), we backed up to do more tight back crosses, imagining that we were speaking behind a podium, and doing tight back crosses so smoothly that no one knew we were doing them. Next, we did tight back crosses in a circle, trying to walk forward to get to the middle. The big toe caresses the floor. Next, we tried doing tight front crosses, walking back. When we cleaned up the Leader's tight back and front crosses, we then drilled the footwork for the continuous turn.

The Follower's back cross step is truncated, tight and small.

We also tried this in open embrace to get the timing synchronized where the Leader and Follower step at the same time.


The Leader does a right foot sacada on the Follower's right foot on her left side step during her molinete/hiro/turn clockwise around the Leader. We can add these sacadas to our footwork so that we end up with full turns to the right. The Leader needs to think about evening things out in his steps and the dance.

The class concluded with a student review and maestro demo to Adios Te Vas.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Part I: Half turn in close embrace with Edgardo Donato (Beginner Class)

Song: Se Va La Vida by Edgardo Donato
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
November 27, 2010, Ashland, Oregon

We began with an exercise of crossing our feet in back, deep and tight and traveling forward. Then we did the same exercise crossing our feet in front deep and tight, and then travelling backwards. During these exercises, we were to be balanced, elegant, keep our shoulders still, have flexion in the arch of the foot, really isolate our inner muscles (our core muscles). Our feet should point like an arrow when we cross (either in front or behind).

Our second exercise applied mostly to Leaders: The Paddle.

Here, we stepped to the side, and with our other free foot, paddle ourselves around, touching the floor as we paddled. We were to use small steps, not big steps. When our weight is on the right foot, our turn is to the right. When our weight is on the left foot, our turn is to the left. We were to paddle around elegantly. The Paddle adds two things:
(1) it keeps the Leader over his axis (like a kickstand for a bicycle). Do not bounce from one foot to the other. That's not paddling.
(2) The function of the free leg helps maintain stability of the standing, supporting leg and gives power.

Here, with our paddling feet off the floor, we were to kick the heel around and turn as our standing supporting leg is on the ball of foot.
As our homework, we were to practice the four different combinations:
forward with our left foot, back with our right foot, forward with our right foot, back with our left foot.

Next level: We were to imagine kicking through our partner's legs, the goal of which is to do accurate quarter turns.

Again, the motoring around was our homework.

Close embrace ocho with no Follower hip pivot (also called the Vanilla Bean ocho).
Here, the Follower walks back. The Leader walks forward as if tango rollerblading. His body is very quiet, with no torso rotation. The Follower does not pivot, does not rotate her shoulders. Her hips can be open. The Leader isolates his chest, and walks a little side to side (as if rollerblading). The Follower moves as if she is walking on butter, really crossing behind in her step, but not rotating her shoulders. For her steps back, she should have a long reach and smooth transfer of weight, but no hip pivot.

As our homework, we can practice this anywhere at home, even on carpet.

Walking in partnership, the Leader does a weight change in place to get synchronized with the Follower. He settles on his right, takes a left foot side step, does a weight change, and then steps forward with his left foot. The Follower should stay longer on her standing leg, and use it to create a good reach with her free leg by pushing into the floor. The Leader, lifting her a little, holds her up with his right hand to prevent her from changing weight, while he can change weight endlessly.

Next, we did a musical training exercise. With the rhythm of Donato's Yo Te Amo, we were to find the strong beat and lead the vanilla bean (no Follower hip pivot) ocho.

We practiced this in partnership, stepping together and collecting together, and in open embrace and close embrace. The secret to get back into the walk after this is to change weight, and start with your left foot.

Next, we worked on our connection and close embrace a little, with hugging, one arm above and one arm below the other dancer's.

The Follower does the following footwork: Back ocho to half turn of back cross left, side right, forward cross left. The Leader is on his left foot when the Follower arrives on her left foot back step, and turns to his left by paddling with his right foot, caging the Follower in his embrace, preventing her from rotating. We were to keep our connection in the chest.

In one big circle, we all held hands and then we did a molinete/hiro/turn footwork to the right, stepping side right foot, forward cross left foot, side right foot, back cross left foot. We did this as a "white" version with very open, very big steps, and then "black" version of very right front cross steps and very tight back cross steps, lifting our opposite heels when we did this. Most of tango is "gray" in terms of step size.

The class concluded with a student review and maestro demo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Cristina Favorite Milonga Moves with Juan D'Arienzo (Intermediate Class)

Song: Silueta Portena by Juan D'Arienzo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
November 26, 2010, Ashland, Oregon

Cristina Favorite Milonga Moves with Juan D'Arienzo
Typewriter Pitter Patter and Bandoneon Pitter Patter

We began with an exercise where we lifted our heels without raising or changing our height. Our knees needed to be bent. We were to keep our thighs together, pretending there was a quarter between them that we didn't want to drop. With our heels, knees, and thighs this way, we were to work forward, and then walk back, and then in a circle. This is also known as the "butterfly" or "schmedling."

Next, we were to take our imaginary quarters, drop it, but catch it before it hits our knees. We practiced this going side to side in circle formation to D'Arienzo's Silueta Portena.


The typewriter pitter patter can be done in tango, vals or milonga. In this class, our focus was on milonga.

For the exercise, the footwork for the Leader began with forward left foot, side right foot, weight change, give Follower a extra hug and lift, and then turn at the waist to the Leader's right. She then does the typewriter pitter patter to her left.

Next, we did a hug exercise. The Leader hugs the Follower with all of his back, surrounding the Follower with his whole body. Here, the Leader was to find the sweet spot on the Follower where he can surround her just below the rib cage.

Next, he was to provide a little bit of lift, by raising his diaphragm as the Follower lifts from her body. The rib cage spreads out, the shoulder blades go down to oppose the upward momentum of the Leader's lift.

We were to practice giving "extra" hugs versus "normal" hugs.

We also practiced finding the sweet spot on other dancers, tall/short, fat/thin, standing chest to chest, trying to find the sweet spot of connection. The Leader's arms will follow that line usually, that's the sweet spot.

For the Typewriter Pitter Patter, there are two parts to the lead:
(1) the Extra Hug
(2) the lift from the Leader's whole body. The Leader needs to turn his body up to 90 degrees without moving his feet, really disassociating.

To D'Arienzo's Silueta Portena, we practiced this with the Leader forward left foot, side right foot, weight change, give Follower the compression lift (extra hug and lift), and then turn at the waist to the Leader's right as he disassociates. She then does the typewriter pitter patter to her left and then back to her right as his torso goes back to his center with no disassociation. Then the compression is released and goes back into regular embrace.

Follower should not worry if she ends up on the wrong foot after the pitter patter. The Leader will figure out where to put her.

We talked about the psychological lead. Psychological leads depend on how well we hear the short staccato notes to physically interpret it in our feet. We can also interpret with lyrics. Here, Cristina sang the lyrics to a tango song. She is great!

For the Typewriter Pitter Patter, Follower takes small steps so that it's a manageable lead for the Leader's torso.

One variation we worked on was to do it in open embrace.

Leaders: How do you encourage the Follower's pitter patter? He can put it into his feet because the Follower wants to copy him. So they do it together. He can also walk it out with her, either in a line or a circle.

Another variation we worked on was to do the Typewriter Pitter Patter in promenade with the Follower to the Leader's right in promenade. Here, the Leader gives her a sideways hug and lift, and also limits the Follower's range of motion. As long as the Follower stays with the Leader in Promenade, she can do the pitter patter. The Leader can't force the Follower to do the Pitter Patter.

Another interesting variation we worked on was the Offset Typewriter. We also changed the music to D'Arienzo's La Cicatriz. In the Offset Typewriter, the Leader goes one way in pitter patter, while the Follower goes the other way, and then there is a small jump at the end where both dancers end up back together in front of each other. Here, the Leader needs to loosen the embrace a little, but still give an extra hug and lift. He extends his right arm away so the Follower goes farther away from him, while he goes to his left in pitter patter.

Maestros showed, but we did not do the Bandoneon Pitter Patter, which is when the Pitter Patter this movement goes forward and back (instead of left and right). This is called “The Bandoneon Pitter Patter” because the movement is similar to the Bandoneon bellows compressing and expanding.


This move is not for everyone.

The Hula Hoop has a down energy, but still has extra hug and compression. Maestros showed us with a tango demo to D'Arienzo's La Bruja.

In exercise, we tried standing face to face with open legs and split weight, and space between dancers, with a sway left to right. As the Follower is in the middle weight, the Leader sends her out and the Leader goes out back in opposition. Next, we made the exercise more challenging by having the Follower's feet together. Here, it forced the Leader to be more sensitive regarding where her weight was. The Leader needs to be selective in where he inserts this move. For the Hula Hoop, the Leader compresses the embrace, and then does the down (hula hoop), and then goes back to regular embrace.

The class concluded with a student review and maestro demo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Milonga Fundamentals with Francisco Canaro (Beginner Class)

Song: Silueta Portena by Francisco Canaro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
November 26, 2010, Ashland, Oregon


We began with an exercise to help us on milonga phrasing through the tango chacarera. In chacarera formation with the Leaders all in one line and the Followers facing them all in one line, we took four steps forward and four steps back, signifying one phrase in the music. We made eye contact with each other, and our arms were in the air, as if we were doing the chacarera.

Building on this, we then freely danced, doing four steps forward and four steps back.

Our music for this exercise was D'Arienzo's Milonga Vieja Milonga, which is a very regular milonga. Most tango songs are well behaved (predictable), especially Milonga Vieja Milonga.

Next, in a partnered exercise, we worked on pausing at the end of a sentence. Here, we were to only do weight changes, walk, or rock steps. We were not to do any turns, ochos, double time steps, or traspie. Our goal was to show that we were able to control our pauses at the end of the sentence. Both Leader and Follower need to actively hear the music.

Our next exercise focused on the Follower educating the Leader. The Leader pretends that he doesn't know where the break is. The Follower tries to educate the Leader in a subtle way. Later on she can be a little more aggressive. The Follower is not to back lead, but subtly suggest ideas to the Leader where the pause should be.

She can do these subtle things:
hand signal (slight squeeze)
move hips
move shoulders
soft taps with hand
deliberately slow down
use breath to mark the end of the phrase
Basically, she should keep her subtle suggestions and signals in her upper body, and not use her legs and feet. Otherwise, she will be back leading.

The secret agenda for this exercise is to empower the Follower.

Without back leading, the Follower can add accents to the music.

When we really know the music, we will know it, we will own it and it will come easier.


Our next exercise was to work on being grounded. First, we walked on the strong beat by ourselves. Next, still by ourselves, we were to walk randomly still on the strong beat, and then imagine there is water/puddles on the floor and "splash" someone silently (not stomp) at the pause.

Our next exercise to continue our work on being grounded involved walking together in partnership, with one dancer's hands on the other dancer's hips. We did this with both the Leaders and Followers. The dancer pushing down should not bend at the waist. The Posture needs to be maintained, with good uprightness, and torso up. The dancer whose hips were being held down was to use their connection with the floor to get power. We were to be into the ground.

Q: What does grounding mean?
A: The act of not falling. You can be on the ball of the foot, but you need to be over your foot as you step.

Since this was a beginner class, the instruction was given that in milonga, you should stick to the strong beat. If you step on the strong beat in milonga, you will never go wrong. Keep it simple. You can get in trouble when doing double time/traspie.

Maestros demonstrated dancing a half song to a fast milonga: Meta Fierro by D'Arienzo. They showed that just by stepping on the strong beat, you should be able to talk and not be out of breath. If you are out of breath, you are dancing too hard.

Next, we danced 30 seconds to a medium-speed milonga: Silueta Portena by Canaro. Then we changed partners and danced for 30 seconds to the same song with our new partner. We were to include "splashes" (accents/pauses), little or big.

Next, we danced 30 seconds to a faster milonga: Meta Fierro by D'Arienzo. Then we changed partners and danced for 30 seconds to the same song with our new partner. We were to work the splash and step on the strong beat.

The Leader is responsible for initiating movement. More control has to deal with how quiet the Leader can make his upper body (with no bopping up and down or weird torso rotations). Later on, he can use the upper body as styling, but not a dance technique. The Follower also needs to be calm and quiet in her upper body to hear the Leader's lead.


We began with an exercise doing the box steps by ourselves, Leader on one side, Follower on the other.
Follower steps are back right, side left, change weight, front left, side right, weight change.
Leaders steps are front left, side right, weight change, back right, side left, weight change.

We were to put this box step over the rhythm of the song Milonga Sentimental by Canaro, where everything is on the strong beat, with our goal to hit the phrasing/end of the sentence. We were to hit the 1-2, and double double time and still hit the end of the phrase.

With the box step we can play with different grounding energy.

To get out of the box step, we walk out of it. Here, we can soften the embrace momentarily and then cut out to the outside to walk out of it.

We concluded the class with the "San Francisco exercise". Again, dancing to Canaro's Milonga Sentimental, we did the box step where when we heard the "1" in the song, that was where the "San" would be in our steps. The "2" is where the "cis" in "Francisco" would be. The rhythmically correct spot where the traspie would go would be at the "2 and".

Do not do traspie all the time. You can do it around the "1" if the melody is a little crazy. This would be called the "butterfly effect".

The class concluded with a student review and maestro demo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Homer & Cristina's Tango Teacher Training Class Handout

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
December 1, 2010, St. Louis, Missouri

Click here to download the teaching training seminar class handout from Homer & Cristina Ladas' presentation in St. Louis, Missouri, in December 2010.