Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Art of the Leg Wrap (All Levels Class)

Song: Sonar y Nada Mas by Alfredo de Angelis
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
April 7, 2013, Yale Tango Fest

Ganchos are in the family of leg wraps.
Communication is key
The Follower needs to do her part.

There are many families of leg wraps:
-           From Ochos
-           From Turns
-           From Crosses – the focus of our class

Chapter 1
The Leader leads the Follower to the cross.
He then puts either foot next to her right side of her crossed left foot and then leads her to wrap her right leg around his leg. 
At the point of the wrap, the Follower needs to be on axis so she doesn’t fall into the Leader.
The Leader sends her linearly back, as if for a straight back step, and on her return, his left knee comes forward in straight ahead Captain Morgan stance as he meets her half-way.
The Leader’s Captain Morgan knee needs to touch the Follower’s left inside knee so she feels contact and for him to lead the wrap.
The Follower should point the toe of the right foot at the point of the wrap.

Leader’s Captain Morgan Leg is Key
The Leader’s Captain Morgan stance with heel lifted off the ground accomplishes several important things:
-           Gives his leg more flexibility.
-           Gets his knee closer to her knee
-           Creates space between his legs for her to  wrap
In the wrap from the cross, at the point of the Captain Morgan stance (which in this case is with his leg forward instead of the off to the side), and where the Leader has come in to meet the Follower half-way on her return after he has sent her out, both his feet are weighted.  The weight is at the center, and the Leader is on axis. The Follower is also on axis during her wrap.

Follower’s Technique during the Wrap
Precursor: The Follower should do deep crosses in her feet.
The Follower should try to always keep her foot on the floor, even when it goes forward. Only when she feels the obstacle of his leg should she wrap around the meaty, fleshy part of his thigh (so higher than his knee).
The Follower creates the shape of the wrap.  The Leader leads it, but the way the Follower answers is all in her control.

Follower’s Exit: 2 options
-           Collect in place with foot staying on the floor
-           Knee up and collect at conclusion.
Either way, the Follower should not anticipate the next step as it could be a back step or a back ocho.

For the Leader’s forward Captain Morgan stance, he should not turn his knee outside as she is squeezing his leg with hers. Because of the joint, her knee bends.  “The thighs have eyes.”  Maestro illustrated this concept with a blind student in class.

Note that there are two back and forths:
  1. The Leader sends the Follower back in colgada-like movement and he goes back a little.
  2. Then he brings her forward to him and he stops.
In our drilling, the Leader should focus on feeling the Follower’s momentum and direct it in the wrap.   The Leader should cage the Follower, but must not send her too far back, otherwise she will take a step.  It is a very small, slight colgada feeling/movement, and then stop the energy, and try to get her to come forward.  As she comes back in, the Leader makes Captain Morgan leg contact.

Chapter 2 for the more advanced: Double (or Triple, Quadruple, etc) wraps

Music is the master.
Physical communication is key with the transfer of weight from one leg to the other, moving through the base.
The Leader’s heel remains lifted.

The Leader needs to do the lead for the double at the right time.  He has to catch the moment of time of the Follower leaving to lead the second one.  In leading a double or triple wrap, there is a rule: The Leader must lead the first one first (Follower cannot do the double or triple on her own accord).

For the Follower, it is difficult to steal a gancho or a wrap as it has to go with the music.  In this class, the Followers were instructed to NOT steal ganchos.

How to lead the double or triple wrap:
The Leader needs to do it while their thighs are still touching
The Leader should practice his Captain Morgan linear pulses.

For the Advanced: Doubles on one leg, then the other.  Maestros demonstrated this, but no one else tried it.

Chapter 3: Wraps from the Hiro (Turn/Molinete)
The Follower has to commit to her wrap. She should not be tentative.
The easy side is with the Leader turning to his right (counterclockwise).  After the Follower’s forward step, on that side step is when the Leader enters with his leg.  The Follower needs to have consistent long, reaching steps around the Leader.

Hint: The Leader needs to really open up his legs in full Captain Morgan stance to the side, so that his thigh is open and his heel is up.

For the Leader, it is a slow transfer of weight. He should also stay low and not rise.

Demonstration Only:  Sequential alternating wraps
There was a lot of student interest in this after Maestros performed it at Friday’s opening milonga.
Leader does a tight leg wrap of her lead leg so that the Follower gets almost a boleo.
Leader steps long and away, doing a tight right leg with Captain Morgan turned out, and then a cowboy left leg with Captain Morgan turned in.

Demonstration Only: Overturned Ganchos
This is where the Follower’s leg goes back in between the Leaders.
Maestros concluded with a class review and a demo to Sonar y Nada Mas by Alfredo de Angelis.

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

The Body Spiral Connection: Overturned Movements (Intermediate-Advanced Class)

Song: Somebody That I Used to Know by Pentatonix (Goyte cover)
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
April 7, 2013, Yale Tango Fest

There are many examples and reasons why we do overturned movements:
-           Follower’s forward ochos with Leader’s forward sacadas
-           Leader’s back sacadas
-           Follower’s back sacadas

The first part of the class was dedicated to exploring the Overturned Ocho.

The Overturned Ocho
The secret to the Overturned Ocho is in how the Leader “attacks” the floor with his foot, giving it more energy. 

We drilled this concept, with the Leader instructed to start thinking about how much energy to give the Follower, with an eye to:
-           giving impulsive energy to lead an overturned movement, or
-           without giving impulse energy, but still lead an overturned movement.

The Follower does overturned forward ochos while the Leader walks forward. He can do a sacada to her trailing leg or not (just walk in between her feet). 

The Leader leads the Follower to walk forward into him while he does forward ochos.

This was a test of:
-           Communication
-           Posture
-           Elasticity of the embrace

ELASTICITY (this concept is very important)
In hand-in-hand embrace, the leader walks back and the Follower walks forward, but she takes her time and stays a little longer on her standing leg, so there is a very slight lean back, as she provides a little bit of resistance to help stabilize the movement.  Recall that in our hand-to-hand partnered ocho exercise, there is a slight lean away so that we balance each other.

In their observations of us, maestros noted that for the Follower’s overturned back ocho, the first two are fine, and then the rest look a little bit rushed and uncontrolled.

There are two different ways the Leader can walk into the Follower:
-           By doing regular forward sacadas to her trailing foot
-           By having a sexy forward ocho walk with more rotation/torsion/disassociation

He can also lead the Follower to
-           Walk straight
-           Walk with a slight ocho

In fingertip hand-to-hand hold, we held each other gently as if there was a big fish bowl filled with sleeping fish in between us.  We were also supposed to do these two exercises (Leader walking into Follower or Follower walking into Leader) in the line of dance.

The Leader hangs a little back, he should not push into the Follower when she is doing her ochos.  He should lean back to create balance.

Since Followers do not walk forward in the tango very much, they might find it difficult in walking forward to create a long step and also hang back.  To help, the Follower should lengthen her step by transferring the weight slower so that the Leader finds stability, connection and communication. She needs to work on this technique.

There are three options for the Follower’s foot movement in walking forward:
-           Going with toes first, then sliding more into the step
-           Going with heels first, weight flat back and then going to the middle
-           Going with toe reaching, then foot rolling so heel lands first and weight goes to the middle of the foot on transferring weight.
While each is a valid way of stepping forward, whatever option the Follower chooses, she should arrive with stability and not be wobbly.  Cristina uses the third option (toe reaching, then foot rolling with heel landing first), and notes that there is the risk of being short or pulling forward more with the first option (toes first).

The Lead for Impulse Energy
The source of Leaders’ power is in the floor and in the timing.

As an exercise, in fingertip hand-to-hand embrace, the Leader leads the Hiro (Turn/Molinete), with impulse at the point of the Follower’s ocho.

Application of the Impulse:
Maestros demonstrated two ways/flavors to lead ochos:
·         Mocha Java: mellow and sweet consistently throughout, like the ice cream flavor
·         Rocky Road: give a little more energy, like the bits of interesting exploding accents dotted throughout the overall smoothness, like the ice cream flavor

Leaders should use his foot and the floor to create impulse (not just their arms).  In attacking the floor, the four corners of his foot act like a section cup, sucking down but pushing up. One foot will be stronger than the other. We need to work on strengthening the weaker foot to have symmetry in our dance skills.

The Leader gives impulse to the Follower at her maximum tension (you will see the extreme lengthening in the diagonal folds of her dress/shirt) as she is about to transfer her weight, so just before her foot lands in the ocho step. 

The difference between the Ocho and the Hiro is who is the center of the axis:
-           Ocho: Follower’s axis is the focus
-           Hiro: Leader’s axis is the focus

Next exercise:
To illustrate the concept of Impulse, we applied it to the Ocho Parada, with the Leader giving the Follower impulse energy at the point right before she does her ocho.  As the Leader attacks the floor with his foot, the energy goes up into his center, into his embrace, which transmits to the Follower as impulse energy. 

Efficiency in tango
It is inefficient for Leaders to use their arms to lead the ocho.  We are on Earth, so there is gravity and we are connected to the Earth.  Thus, we should use this fact in our dance and use the floor.

Concluding comment:
There is more than one way to lead anything in tango.

Maestros concluded with a class review and demo to the Pentatonix (Goyte cover band) version of Somebody That I Used to Know.

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

Happy Sacadas with Francisco Canaro (Intermediate Class)

Song: El Rey del Bosque by Francisco Canaro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
April 6, 2013, Yale Tango Fest

Video courtesy of Steven Spura

We began with a warm-up song, just doing regular dancing for the first half of the song. Then the song was paused and we were instructed to then dance the second half of the song doing as many sacadas as we knew.

Next, we were told to dance doing forward sacadas, seeing how many we could do in a row with each other (so both Leaders and Followers doing sacadas to each other).  Here the communication and integrity of the embrace are key.  We were to try to get 4-6 in a row, on either side, although it was easier to do left leg sacadas during turns to the right.

The idea of this class was to have fun and be happy playing with sacadas to the mellow, easy beat of Francisco Canaro.

We started with the forward sacadas. 

Sacadas are like Closets
In their home, Cristina has more shoes, more clothes, and more grooming products than Homer, so she has more closet space, more shelf space, because she needs it.  The same is true for Sacadas.

In Sacadas, the Leader needs to give the Follower more space for her to do her Forward Sacada into the Leader, but when he does his forward sacada into her space, he can be closer.  If the Leader walks near/around the Follower, the Follower feels crowded and may hesitate and feel uncomfortable about walking forward in her sacada.

Elasticity of Follower’s Embrace
The paradoxical nature and idea of the elasticity of the Follower’s embrace is to allow it to stretch if it needs to so that the Follower can take her long, reaching steps into the Leader during her forward sacada.  She should use her embrace to help facilitate this.  However, she must always hold on and maintain connection with the Leader in her hands, with the pads of her fingertips

During the Follower’s Sacada, the Leader should maintain visual connection with the Follower by looking at her as he walks away from her in a tangent to lead the Follower to do her Forward Sacada step into him.  He should create the space for her to feel comfortable walking into his space.

Both dancers must control the speed to make it a nice, smooth movement, keeping the embrace elastic as there will be points where we need to be farther way from each other, and then closer.

The Leader is leading two things:
  1. The Follower’s Forward Ocho
  2. The Follower’s Hiro while the Leader is stepping away in a tangent to her.
We worked on doing this in Sugar Bowl (aka “Less Blame”) embrace, to help us understand that the Follower needs to be more active in her embrace.  Here, the pads of the Follower’s fingers are always on the Leader’s arms, but her arms are flexible so she can open up the embrace a bit when she needs more space to take long reaching steps into the Leader’s space.  In her Sacada, she should reach with her foot and leg first, then bring her hips forward as she transfers the weight and takes his space during the sacada.

We then switched gears and started with the side-step hypnotizing setup.

Here the Leader steps side to side, and the Follower follows with her side steps.
The Leader then plants his left foot, pivots 90 degrees so that he is perpendicular to the Follower, and then he steps forward with his right foot on a line tangent to the Follower with his right foot. This leads the Follower to step forward into his space in her sacada.  The Follower needs to recognize that after the Sacada, the Leader is leading a movement: the forward ocho (forward pivot).

The keys for the sacada are:
·         The lead for the Sacada is based on the Hiro
·         Both Leader and Follower need to do Big Ochos right before walking into their partner.

Other tips:
  • Keep your chest up.
  • Do not rush.
  • Follower needs to have good ocho technique with good energy in her hips.
  • Leader needs to have good ocho technique with good energy in his hips. If he does not, then he needs to work on his Follower’s technique.
Stride Length
The Leader enables the Follower to make good steps by not constraining her. He must not push her or rush her step and give her clear space. 
The Follower must still be connected to the Leader with her hands and pads of her fingers, even though her embrace opens up with elasticity in her arms.

Next we changed the exercise:
Still starting with the hypnotizing side steps.
The Leader extends his left foot in a sneak attack, then transfers weight and turns to the right to lead the Follower to do a right foot forward sacada into his trailing, now unweighted right foot.

We also tried this on the opposite side:
The Leader extends his right foot in a sneak attack, then transfers weight and turns to the left to lead the Follower to do a left foot forward sacada into his trailing, now unweighted left foot.

As we do these Follower forward sacadas into the Leader, he becomes a moving target as he changes the location of the axis.  The Follower needs more space to feel comfortable walking into him.

Snakey Sacadas
The Leader leads mini forward sacadas in sequence (snakey sacadas).  These are snaky ochos into him. The Follower should not fall forward in her forward steps. She needs to reach, and arrive completely instead of cutting through the movements and moving continuously.  When she arrives, she needs to really connect the four corners of the foot to the floor.

These continuous snaky Follower forward ochos are an academic exercise as it goes against the line of dance as the Leader is walking backwards and the Follower walks forwards into him.  If done on the social dance floor, the most you would do would be 1 or 2. Otherwise, you will crash into the couple behind you.

The secret to doing continuous Follower forward sacadas is to take it back at an angle by turning our shoulders diagonally opposite (like what we did in our earlier sneak attack exercise), and then do another, angling it a bit.

For the Leader, it is very important that he collect in between the steps. However, if doing this move in double time, he will not be able to collect. If the Leader does this in double time, he still needs to have control. And the faster they go, the more the Follower needs to hold onto the Leader.

Maestros concluded with a class review and demo to Francisco Canaro’s El Rey del Bosque.

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

The Ocho Rock Step Parada Transition Done While Looking Cool (Pre-Intermediate Class)

Song: El Yacare by Angel D'Agostino with vocals by Angel Vargas
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
April 6, 2013, Yale Tango Fest

Maestros demonstrated the simple step we would learn in this class: the rock step to the Follower’s forward ocho, to the Leader’s parada on the close side, to the Follower’s pasada to the open side. 

The class was first separated into two sections with Leaders on one side and Followers on the other side facing the Leaders. Maestros then went through the footwork first and the students mimicked them from behind.

Then the groups were reunited.

The Rock Step
We began in open embrace and focused on doing the rock step and Follower’s ocho and step around (so we did not do the Leader’s parada at this point)

Leader’s footwork
Leader’s left foot rock step forward
Right foot rocks back, crossing behind
Right foot opens to the right as Follower walks forward, she does a weight change, then pivots.
As the Leader leads the Follower around, the Leader goes with her and pivots on his left and steps off.

Follower’s footwork
The Follower’s right foot steps back.
Then her right foot rocks forward where she takes a long step around the Leader and does a big forward ocho pivot on her now-weighted right leg as the Leader’s right shoulder opens up.
The Follower then steps around the Leader with her left foot and then back out with her right foot.

If we found this easy, we were to do it in Teapot Embrace (Leader’s left hand up and out as the spout, right hand at the small of his back, his right arm as the handle).

In tango, for both Leader and Follower, we must always maintain the three Cs:
1.      Comfort
2.      Clarity
3.      Consistency

From here, we moved to the Sugar Bowl embrace (aka the “Less Blame” embrace), with the Leader’s hands at this small of his back and both arms as the handles.  This embrace is “Less Blame” because the Leader’s right hand is not on the Follower’s back so he can’t push her around.

The Big Ocho Pivot
In doing the rock step parada pasada, there is a transition period where the embrace starts with the dancers in close appilado style with a tilted axis, to a fully vertical one at the point of the Follower’s pivot.  To lead this opening up of the embrace to fully vertical, the Leader needs to take his axis to fully vertical.  The Follower will automatically mimic this movement and take her axis at the point of her big ocho pivot on the close side of the embrace.

The Follower needs to take long, reaching steps around the Leader to remain close to him, because if she takes short steps not around the Leader she will end up being very far away from him.  The Follower’s default should be long, reaching steps.  To illustrate this point, the Rule of the Hip was introduced.

The Big Ocho Pivot: The Rule of the Hip
The Follower’s hip will touch the Leader’s hip at the end of her big ocho pivot.  That’s how close they should be.  This rule applies to both the close and open sides of the embrace.  Here the Leader has to make his base small with his feet together (not apart), otherwise the Follower will have more difficulty getting around him.

The Follower at the moment of the ocho must be on vertical axis, as this will help her pivot a lot and maintain balance.  In all our dancing, we must exercise control. We must not fall forward and we must not rush to the next step (which for Followers is the pasada).

The Leader’s Parada
To add the Leader’s Parada, we began with working on an exercise to get the Leaders used to the footwork.
The pre-exercise was the pivot with a little kick around with our bodies like a block.
The exercise was the Leader standing on his left foot and then pivoting around while fanning out his free foot in “ronde” movement.  With each pivot/fan, he would try to turn 90 degrees. The Leaders goal was to use the movement of the ronde to get around. 

Next we drilled and became infinite ocho parada machines.

The Follower’s Pasada
When stepping over, the Follower should not step over as if stepping over a box as this is very inelegant.  Instead, she should imagine her foot as an airplane coming in for a landing to have a smooth, gliding effect.

Maestros concluded with a class review and a demo to El Yacare by Angel D'Agostino with vocals by Angel Vargas.

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

Brain Sizzler Special: Enrosques for Leader and Follower (Advanced Class)

Song: Esta Noche de Luna by Ariel Ardit y su Orquesta Típica
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
April 6, 2013, Yale Tango Fest

Video courtesy of Steven Spura

Exercise 1: Forward ochos with crossing in front
In partnership using hand-to-hand embrace, we did forward ochos concluding with our trailing (unweighted)  foot crossing in front of our leading (weighted) foot, either really tight and snug, or with our trailing leg having a looser, more open eye-of-the-needle stance.  Either way, at the conclusion of the ocho, the outside of our trailing foot has to be in contact with the outside of our standing foot.  This entire movement is the basis of our enrosque.

Exercise 2: Step forward, enrosque, weight change, step back
Building on our first exercise, still in partnership using hand-to-hand embrace, we were to step forward, do the enrosque, change the weight, and step back.  The goal was to embellish the forward ocho, to pivot completely, and to cross fully within the time the Leader gives the Follower to do her forward ocho.

We backed up a little and Maestros quickly conveyed the concept of crossing in front while walking backward while having little change/movement in the upper body and being really tight in the footwork and having an A shape in the feet.  And also crossing behind while walking forward.  It is important that the big toe go first, and then the weight is transferred to the middle of the foot.

Exercise 3: Adding sacadas
Follower does 1-2 forward ocho enrosques with no weight changes. Leader does left foot forward sacada of Follower’s trailing foot. Leader steps back on Follower’s back step (can be a left foot back sacada if he has enough disassociation; if choosing this option, he should do his left foot back sacada on the Follower’s trailing left foot of her right foot side step). Our goal in drilling this was to figure out the timing: The Leader does a forward sacada on her forward ocho step trailing foot, and an enrosque on the Follower’s side step.  The Leader’s enrosque needs to have better A positioning in his feet when he finishes so that he can get into position to step back.  The movement goes where it needs to go to maintain the relationship between the dancers.

The Leader needs to be very clear in leading a Forward Ocho or a Hiro (Turn/Molinete).  For the Hiro, the biggest issue for the Follower enrosque is that the timing to do a good side step is compromised.  In our class, while the Followers were practicing the enrosque, they should not always assume it will be a forward Ocho the Leader is leading.  If she assumes this during a Hiro, it will get in the way of her doing a good long, reaching side step. 

In all our dancing, we should always maintain good walking technique and take long, reaching steps around the Leader.  When the Follower reaches and transfers the weight is when the Leader has time to do his enrosque, so she should not cut short or rush through the movement. 

In the Hiro, the Leader does his job, but the Follower has to do her job as well.  The foot arrives on top of the strong beat, but she should take the whole beat to transfer  weight.

The Leader needs to be very clear whether he is leading an Ocho or a Hiro.  The Fundamental difference between the two:
·         Focus of Ocho: Follower’s axis
·         Focus of Hiro: Leader’s axis

In Sacadas, the Leader is taking the Follower around him (his axis is the focus).

The Follower needs to be aware in both sides of her embrace to receive the appropriate energy that the Leader is giving.  She needs to be connected to the Leader, otherwise the message will be lost.

The class was then split in two groups: Leaders and Followers, where we could practice our respective gender footwork.

Leaders group footwork:
1st partnered exercise with hand-to-hand embrace:
-           Step forward
-           Ocho with Enrosque
-           Step back

2nd partnered exercise with hand-to-hand embrace:
-           Step forward
-           Hook behind and pivot (this is called a back enrosque)
-           Unwind
-           Change weight
-           Step back

Followers group footwork:
1st partnered exercise with hand-to-hand embrace:
Forward ocho with Follower’s enrosque embellishment of an outside rulo (curly Q, swirl).
We were to practice this, as one side is easier/more difficult than the other.

To do this, our foot goes with toes pointed to the floor out as our hip opens up with the inside of our thigh exposed. Then we draw a quick little circle with the tip of our toes, after which we bring the leg back in so that our foot remains tucked against our standing foot at the conclusion of our pivot.

To add to this embellishment, we can take it into the air (only during performances or when milonga space allows) by adding a kick / tail end flick at the end of the rulo.

The floor is the source of power.  How the Follower connects with the floor determines how much power she has in her dance.

Back to the Leaders’ group…
Focus on the sacada:
During the Follower’s Hiro, the Leader should do the forward sacada on her side step.  This puts them in position so that afterwards they are simultaneously doing back pivots.  It’s a “we” feeling at that point, which is very nice and fun.

There can be different timing to the Leader’s enrosque where there is the ocho hook in front and simultaneous pivot, or the ocho hook in front first, and then the pivot afterwards.

Here, we backed up a little and Maestro quickly went over the washing machine exercise to get more disassociation in the body and to really focus on moving from the top first, and then down, or moving from the bottom first, and then up.  This exercise can be done on either weighted leg, and in either direction. Our homework is to practice all the options to work this movement into our muscle memory.

In close embrace Hiros, the Follower’s back cross step is truncated (so more like a little tuck than a big back cross step). For Leader’s technique, he should keep his upper body going, creating disassociation to keep the spiral movement going.

Then the two groups got back together and we drilled for a few songs.

Maestros concluded with a class review and a demo to Esta Noche de Luna by Ariel Ardit y su Orquesta Típica.

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

Fundamentals of Musicality for Everybody: Concepts of Rhythm, Melody and Phrasing (All Levels)

Song: Poema by Francisco Canaro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
April 5, 2013, Yale Tango Fest

In this class, we would work on these concepts in just one song: Francisco Canaro’s Poema, which can be heard at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyyw6FN4dtk

We began with doing one dance to Poema.

We did an exercise to help understand 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 made eye contact with each other, and raised our arms in the air, as if we were doing the Chacarera. We then took four steps forward, where we met in the middle, and then took four steps back, signifying one phrase in the music.  Our goal was to always be back where we started at the end of a phrase.   The song Poema was used because it is a very regular song, phrasewise.

We started the Tango Chacarera just walking to the beat to get our ears used to finding the beginning of the phrase, which would help us to achieve our goal of getting back to our starting place at the end of the phrase.  Building on this, we then danced more freely, still doing four steps forward and four steps back so we could end up at the same place where we started at the end of the phrase.

Next, in a partnered exercise, we worked on pausing at the end of a sentence. Here, we were to just only walk for 8 counts, or one sentence/phrase and then hold it for the next 8 counts (sentence/phrase), where there would be no forward movement, but we could do things like weight changes, rock steps, or other types of movements that stay in place. Our goal was to show that we were able to control our pauses at the end of the sentence.  We could move for a while and then stop.

Both Leader and Follower need to actively hear the music, and the Follower is equally responsible for the musical interpretation of the dance.  We help each other with the phrasing. 

In Poema, the end is the only sentence/phrase in the song that is incomplete (it is missing the last beat or two).

This is an academic class, so we did several rhythm exercises to help us understand the concepts, but which we might not want to actually do at the milonga.  For the rhythm exercise, we were to dance staying on a defined rhythm that Maestro would call out while we danced.

We were given a choice of two different rhythms:
-           S-S-Q-Q-S  (this is the option we chose)
-           Q-Q-S-S-S
For this exercise, we could do things other than walking, but we needed to on the prescribed rhythm at all times.

Afterwards, we discussed what was challenging about this exercises, and the Leaders commented that the most difficult part was going to Q-Q from S.  In addition, the Leaders’ intention was off because they were focused on the steps.  Navigation and distractions proved problematical as well.

We concluded that sticking to a prescribed rhythm is not a good idea for dancing at a milonga, but it is a good exercise since the rhythm in tango is always changing, and dancers have to be aware of that and know how to deal with it.

Maestro asked if anyone felt moments where the S-S-Q-Q-S fit?  Some folks said yes.

The purpose of our focus on melody is to move to the lyrical melody.  To help us focus on the melody of Poema, we did not listen to the recorded Canaro version at all, but danced to the lyrics alone, as sung by Cristina. 

Focusing on the lyrics is another layer of musicality we can explore, and the lyrics are directly connected to the musical phrasing of the song.

In Argentina, what draws people into tango are the lyrics of the songs.  When Cristina hears the vocals, it is what really connects her to the music.  In class, our goal in dancing was to follow the poetry of the song with Cristina singing.  In doing our homework, we would focus on Roberto Maida. :o)

We were only to move when we hear Cristina’s voice.  We would also be sensitive to the intonation of the lyrics. 

Every song has a secret that advanced dancers know about and share with the people they are dancing with.  These are called “Golden Eggs”.  Golden Eggs are the fills between the sentences, and they are things we can listen for to play with different rhythms.

In Poema, there is a fill/transition that is done twice in a row and comes and goes in a song.  It is the “bling bling bling” chime at 00:07-00:08; 00:16-00:17; 2:58-2:59; and 3:06-3:07. 

TangoStudent comments:  While the “bling bling bling” also occurs during the lyrics at 0:58-0:59; 1:07-1:08; 1:33-1:34; and 1:41-1:42, we did not listen to or dance to those as we only danced to Cristina’s singing during our focus on dancing to the lyrics.

Our challenge was to always hit the “bling bling bling” while we danced, doing the simple footwork of Leader’s left foot forward, right foot side, left foot together (Follower’s right foot back, left foot side, right foot together), which really puts a Period at the end of the Sentence (musical phrase).  To help set this up, it helped the Leader to pause beforehand.  In doing the same pattern at each Golden Egg, we make an interesting statement about the music.

The Follower should encourage the Leader in a positive way. The Follower should never back lead, but she can subtly suggest ideas to the Leader of where the pause should be, or add more pressure against him to slow him down if he barrels through the song with no pausing.

She can do these subtle things:
·         Take a deep breath before the phrase starts to mark the beginning of a sentence
·         Add a little more to the embrace, squeezing into him a little more
·         Slightly squeeze her right hand in his left hand

The Follower is not back leading, but using her upper body to indicate the beginning of the phrase. She can also use her fingers and gently squeeze. 

At some point the Leader will become more aware and get in sync.

In our exercise, we tried this with the Leader pretending he can’t hear the sentence and the Follower giving him clues about where the sentence begins and ends.

Maestro shared that he learned a lot by dancing with really tall Followers as then he could really feel the way her spine and rib cage moved and how she was interpreting the music, including the subtleties. 

The Follower’s playfulness is in between the rhythm that the Leader puts down.  The better she knows the music, the more opportunities she has to play.

What if the Follower is off beat?  Then it means she has bad habits. For the Leader, he should do less, and not try to contradict her movements with more movements.

Almost every song has a little bit of Kiss Me Goodnight (syncopas, syncopations). KMG syncopation is prevalent in many orchestras and you'd be surprised at what you can do with it. Our goal is to capture the interesting parts in the music that are off the square of the music.

Poema has a section of it, where you feel like you really want to rock it out.  It is at 0:35-0:50 and 2:00-2:15. The syncopa is in between the lyrics. 

In partnership, we were to do rock steps during the Kiss Me Goodnight (syncopa) portions of the song.

Maestros concluded with a class review and demo to Francisco Canaro’s Poema.

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