Thursday, March 7, 2013

Basics of the Funny Volcada

Song: No Se Porque Te Quiero by Rafael Canaro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
March 4, 2013, The Beat, Berkeley, CA

For the Volcada, we are doing advanced communication with each other. 

The Funny Volcada is “funny” not because it is amusing in a laughing ha-ha-ha sort of way, but because it is peculiar, odd.  What makes it odd is the position of the dancers’ bodies at the point of initiation of the Volcada: perpendicular to each other. 

The Funny Volcada starts in close embrace, then the embrace opens up, and then dancers move into slightly closer, perpendicular embrace, after which the Funny Volcada is initiated.

CHAPTER 1: TO DO OR NOT TO DO A VOLCADA.  Our goal here is to learn where the Follower’s axis is.

Functionally, to lead a Funny Volcada, we need to understand where the Follower’s axis is.  We began with the Leader leading the Follower to do back ochos in a slot. He then plants her on her axis when she arrives to her right foot and then he walks backward counterclockwise around her with no tilt. 

After the embrace is in open, it then gets a little closer as the dancers get into a perpendicular position.  This perpendicular position happens because the Leader’s hand rotates around the Follower’s axis as she arrives on her right leg, so he blocks the completion of her back ocho and she doesn’t unwind. He doesn’t let the Follower finish her back ocho, effectively blocking it. 

The Leader then walks counter clockwise doing 3 (or any odd number) back steps around the Follower as she is on her right foot.

The Follower stays on axis by staying balanced, having a soft knee in her standing, supporting, pivoting right leg, keeping the balance between the front two corners of her foot, and maintaining a good embrace.  The Follower’s hips should be level, she should not sit on it and not drop one side of her hips to maintain the integrity of the embrace.

While the Leader walks around the Follower, she is on her right leg axis. She can play by doing adornos with her free left leg/foot, typically regular floor lapices with her toe, though heel lapices can also be done.  The Follower’s left foot adorno should not be reflected in the embrace (reverberate in her upper body) because her right leg should be solid and stable. 

During this time, both Leader and Follower are on axis.

The secret for the Leader so that the Follower’s hips don’t swivel to complete her ocho is a subtle change in the embrace.  The Leader’s right arm is a bit free but secure around the Follower.  The Leader “captures the moon” by his right hand/arm wrapping around the Follower a little more. He comes to her so that she is comfortable. 

The Follower should be on the 4 corners of her right foot and secure on her left leg at this point.  When the Leader walks around her, she pivots on her right foot, with her balance focused on the middle of the front two corners of her foot and her heel unweighted so she can be free to pivot. 

After the Leader “captures the moon” the Follower stretches her right hand to the Leader’s left hand as he provides a wall for her to hang on to.  She needs to stay hanging onto the wall of the Leader’s left hand. 

For the exit: After he does his 3 (or any odd number) back steps around the Follower’s axis, the Leader makes a right foot side step around the Follower’s axis, whereby the Follower feels a big rotation, which causes her hips to swivel so she finishes her ocho. His left arm/hand also pulls in so he no longer blocks her from completing her ocho.  That’s the lead for the Follower to finish her ocho.

The Funny Volcada is the interruption of the back ocho, and then taking the Follower off-axis while she is still perpendicular to the Leader.

To reinforce our previous work, the Follower needs to stay on her right foot for the entire length of time. The Leader should make sure she does not feel vulnerable. The Follower can embellish with her free left foot by doing toe circles or heel circles.  Her right foot needs to be solidly balanced between the two front corners of her foot.  The right leg is straight, but the knee is soft so she can make micro adjustments to maintain the axis and her leg strength.

We drilled this a lot, focusing on getting from close embrace to open embrace to doing slotted ochos.  The Leader focused on his timing and hip placement to get the Follower perpendicular to him, and to get the timing of his right foot side step around the Follower so she can complete her ocho to exit the volcada.  The Follower should use the four corners of her foot to protect her standing leg (after she is no longer pivoting on her right foot).

For the Volcada portion: 
Follower: When the Leader creates the set-up, she should not fall into the Leader and she should not assume it’s a Volcada he is leading.  At the change of embrace, the Leader’s hand rotates around the Follower’s axis, so she doesn’t unwind, and then he lifts and suspends her and compresses the embrace. The Follower has a sweet spot where the Leader should hold her with his right hand, and each sweet spot is different for every Follower depending on her physical features such as height.  

The Embrace: The Follower compresses back with her left shoulder blade against his right, as if to pull herself out of a swimming pool.  The Follower’s hips should be level, and she should imagine a straight vertical line going from her right foot to her left shoulder blade. In the Funny Volcada, during his walk backwards around the Follower, he is a little farther away so that her body is tilted off-axis and yet she still remains supported by both dancers’ efforts (her left armpit/shoulder blade and his right arm/shoulder, as well as the strong vertical line from her right foot to her left shoulder). The Volcada off-axis movement doesn’t have to be large: it can be small, especially if we are just learning to do it.

As in our earlier drilling, the Follower’s weight is at the front of her foot between the two corners, NOT on her toes.  To maintain the integrity of the embrace, it is very important that during the volcada the Follower’s hips remain level; she should not sit and not drop one side of her hips.  The Leader’s footwork also remains the same: 3 steps back counterclockwise around the Follower’s axis, and then one side step around the Follower’s axis with his right foot.  

The Follower needs to always know where her left foot is, as it needs to be ready to follow the exit. Sometimes her left foot might get ahead of the Leader.  That is OK as long as it is still free and as long as she knows when to follow his lead for the exit from the Volcada.

After the Volcada, the Leader sets the Follower back on her axis with his right foot side step placement, side stepping around the Follower and close to her axis.

After the Funny Volcada, the Leader must find the line of dance again. 

EXTRA CREDIT: The Side Volcada

The Funny Volcada can go from circular to linear, and can also be minimal with little off-axis. 

In the Side Volcada, the Leader also doesn’t allow the Follower to finish her ocho. He hugs and lifts the Follower, keeping her suspended so her free leg remains free. He then extends the Follower to the side so she makes a big side step during a Side Volcada.  Here the Leader suspends the Follower to a new line to direct the Follower’s energy elsewhere. It doesn’t need to be a big side step. 

After our end of class review, maestros demo’d to Rafael Canaro’s Yo No Se Porque Te Quiero.

Notes courtesy of Anne at