Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Art of the Follower’s Sacada and the Follower’s Double Sacada

Song: Tigre Viejo by Osvaldo Fresedo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
October 7, 2013, The Beat, Berkeley, CA

The focus of our class was the theory of Follower’s sacada, followed by the Follower’s double sacada.

CHAPTER 1: Sacada basics

We began with an exercise in sugar bowl embrace.

Leader’s footwork:
Hypnotizing side step, with both dancers collecting on their side steps.
Leader does sneak attack with his right foot, pivots, and then turns to his left, leading Follower to sacada his left foot with her left foot.  The Follower takes a long, reaching step, completely arriving and then going.  She should control the arrival and stay on it, until the Leader leads her to exit. 

We drilled this for a while with eyes open, and then to increase sensitivity and precision of movement, we drilled with the Follower’s eyes closed.  More advanced work on this involves the Leader closing his eyes, and then having both dancers drill with eyes closed.

The sending shape of energy is circular on the forward step, as it is the start of the hiro/turn/molinete.

The Follower should try to not avoid the Leader’s leg (thus it helps to have the Follower’s eyes closed).

For the Follower’s embrace, she should have an elastic embrace where her elbows are bent, and the Leader feels the pads of the Follower’s fingers.  As her left foot extends forward, so does her right arm, allowing her embrace to breathe before completing the transfer of weight, so she doesn’t arrive too soon.  The embrace opens and closes like a rubber band.

The Leader creates space and uses pull energy to get the Follower to go around

We drilled this to both sides, in sugar bowl embrace with the Follower’s eyes closed.

For the Leaders, our work is based on the turn technique to create the space and energy for the Follower to go around. 

X marks the spot of the new axis of where the Follower will go around.

For the Follower, they are doing a very open hiro/turn/molinete, making long reaching steps around the Leader, including her side step.  So she should create curve in all her steps: forward, side, and back.  She should also stay longer on her standing leg before transferring weight.

A resolution could be the leg wrap then turning into the line of dance.

Rule for the Follower’s Sacada:
Follower’s sacadas require more space so the Leader is perpendicular to the Follower or even further away.  The Leader needs to give the Follower lots of space for her sacada.

CHAPTER 2: The Follower’s Double Sacada
Two Follower’s sacadas in a row.

The Leader’s side step is replaced with a forward step.
He does a sneak attack to prepare Follower.
Right foot reaches, he turns to the right, Leader steps forward.
Follower does forward sacada of his trailing foot as he does his front cross step perpendicular to her.
Going directly into a Follower left foot side sacada of the Leader’s right foot after he did his left foot sneak attack and ding a turn to the right (clockwise).

The Leader sets up the axis and then turns to the right.
The Leader has to do a sneak attack, reaching with his left foot before transferring his weight.

Leader’s right foot forward step is perpendicularly across the front of the Follower.
Follower does right foot forward sacada of Leader’s trailing left foot.
Both pivot here, the Follower a lot since the Leader leads her around using pull technique as if for a turn/hiro/molinete with his upper body rotation.
Leader’s left foot side step
Follower’s left foot side sacada of Leader’s trailing right foot on his left foot side step.

The Follower needs to pivot more to go around enough so that her side sacada is a true side step and not a messy diagonal side step forwardly oriented.  The Leader can help with this by employing good turn technique with pull as he keep turning to his left clockwise in between her two sacadas.

The Follower’s embrace needs to be elastic, especially her left shoulder, as she steps.

One exit is the Leader’s right foot parada/Follower’s pasada to a sandwich, and then out.

The Leader should walk like a cat and no kerplunking,  otherwise he will rush the Follower.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and demo to Fresedo Tigre Viejo.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

The Tango Turn (Beginner to Intermediate), Workshop 3: Relative Turns

Song: Romantik by Queen Bee
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
October 5, 2013, Susan’s Dance Studio - South Bay Tango Workshops

Workshop 3: Relative Turns

We began with a review of absolute open turns and absolute close turns.

Relative turns can move around the line of dance.

There are “dirty” relative turns.

We did an exercise in partnership, in teapot or sugar bowl embrace, where the Leader tries to do a sacada on every step. 

Is the Leader using push or pull energy to get the Follower to walk around him?

Follower mistakes:

She needs to make long, reaching steps around the Leader.
Her steps are circular around the Leader, staying near him, with a consistent and careful smooth transfer of weight, within the time the Leader gives the Follower.  She should be like stepping on butter, gliding around the Leader.

Next, we worked on 2-3 universal patterns:
Leader’s footwork:
Hypnotizing footsteps side to side.
Sneak attack weight change to left foot.
Turn to the Left (pivot counterclockwise)
Leader right foot sacada of Follower’s left foot on her right foot side step.
Leader’s left foot hook in front (while Follower does left foot back cross step)
Pivot (while Follower does right foot side step)
Follower does left foot back step.

The sacada is a tool for us to move around the line of dance.

In our exercise, the goal is to take the sacada on the Follower’s side step, or to do the sacada on the trailing foot of her forward front cross step.

For practical applications, in doing sacadas, we should move down the line of dance, either using the Leader’s left foot or right foot.  The point is to move around the line of dance.

If the Follower doesn’t know whether the Leader wants her to slow down or speed up, the can do the sugar bowl exercise, and he can go slow, stop the weight change, shift it, and make the turn go the other way, etc.  So he has control over the Follower’s step, and she has to have excellent walking technique (reach, transfer weight, collect).

The Leader’s shape of the sacada-ing foot is the icing on the cake, and depends on where he places it and how he articulates his foot.

The next utilitarian application/pattern:
Leader’s footwork:
Leader’s right foot sacada
Pivot counterclockwise
Right foot cross behind
Pivot counterclockwise
Come out

Leader’s left foot sacada
Pivot counterclockwise
Left foot cross behind
Pivot counterclockwise
Come out

Here the class was split in two, the Leaders with Homer working on the above footwork and Followers with Cristina to work on their turn/hiro/molinete technique.

The Leader can purposefully do a dirty absolute turn so he can move the dancers a little bit, depending on the line of dance space opening up. It’s on purpose because the Leader intentionally changes the axis, but it’s still comfortable, versus being all over the place.

The Leader must not skip the attack first part (in preparation for the Leader’s sacada on the side and forward steps, and he also needs to be able to reverse it).

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and demo to Queen Bee’s Romantik.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

The Tango Turn (Beginner to Intermediate), Workshop 2: Chapter 1 - Very Close Turn

Song: No Mienta by Juan D'Arienzo
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
October 5, 2013, Susan’s Dance Studio - South Bay Tango Workshops

Workshop 2: Chapter 1 - Very Close Turn
In the close turn, our spines are tilted, and the dancers are tilted toward each other.
The Follower’s back steps and forward steps are shorter truncated.

We began with an exercise, with the entire class holding hands in one big circle around the room.  Then we did the footwork.

To the right (counterclockwise):
Cross behind
Side step
Cross forward

To the left (clockwise)
Cross behind
Side step
Slight pivot
Forward cross step

Next, we all reviewed with the cross behind, walk forward exercise, and the cross in front, walk backward exercise, imagining we were holding a giant bowl filled with sleeping fish.  Our upper bodies need to be very quiet so we don’t awaken the fish.  This is an isolation exercise, and our hipbones remain parallel.  This exercise also helps us with coordination and timing of our knee bends and leg movements. Our upper thighs squeeze toward each other, which will help us unwind. Keep it tight.

Back to doing the turn, the Leader uses his right foot as a paddle or kickstand as the Follower goes around him.
The Follower should always try to have her hips in front of the Leader as she goes around him in the turn/hiro/molinete.

We drilled this turn in universal embrace (with both Leader and Follower having their arms around the other, one hand on top, one hand on bottom, hugging each other), as we did a counterclockwise turn.
·         There should be no sliding of bodies
·         There is space between the two bellies since we are tilted toward each other.
·         Since there is space, there should always be room for our feet.
·         Keep our bellies back so you don’t remove the space to move.

Follower’s Footwork During the Close Embrace Turn
For the Follower, there is minimal pivot, as she has no time to hang around.  So it is a side step, immediate hook behind, side step, immediate hook forward.  She should not open her hips.
Even though the steps are short, they are still each worth $100.  The side step is a step around the Leader, so she is doing a small pivot with the other foot before. 
The side step is the key to changing the shape of the turn. The side step is the only one that covers ground.
The Follower should not make her side step too small, otherwise she will be left behind. If she needs to be away from the Leader, it is better to be a little ahead.
For the Follower’s footwork, when she unwinds after her front cross, she should articulate her arch so she can unwind safely and not scrape the top of her right foot with the heel of her left foot.

Leader’s Footwork During the Close Embrace Turn
The Leader’s right foot paddles or kickstands around as his left foot is the supporting, standing foot.  So the axis doesn’t shift because the weight doesn’t shift.

Tomato Sandwich Theory of the Embrace
Dancers are like a Tomato Sandwich, where the Follower’s right hand and chest are two pieces of bread and the Leader is the slice of tomato in between.  The better the Follower hugs, the more information she gets on where she needs to go.

The Leader’s right hand is only as strong as the energy in his chest.

The Follower should match the Leader’s hugging embrace with both sides of her hands.
He can change the flavor of the embrace.

During the turn, there should be a continuous flow of energy until the Leader wants to stop (ie, the faucet doesn’t get turned off until the end of the turn).

Turning clockwise (Leader’s right; Follower’s left), the forward step after the side step is an open one (not just a front/forward tuck).

The Leader shifts his body to the left to make the clockwise (Leader’s right) turn easier so the Follower has room to do the her forward step.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and demo to D’Arienzo’s No Mienta.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

The Tango Turn (Beginner to Intermediate), Workshop 1: Chapter 7 - Very Open Turn

Song: La Capilla Blanca by Alberto Podesta
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
October 5, 2013, Susan’s Dance Studio - South Bay Tango Workshops

Workshop 1: Chapter 7 - Very Open Turn 
Workshop 2: Chapter 1 - Very Close Turn 
Workshop 3: Relative Turns

The idea of these workshops is to introduce the concept of the tango turn as having many possibilities or chapters (in Homer & Cristina’s didactic approach, this is 1 to 7, indicating very close to very open). Both leader turn technique and follower turn technique will be developed via several useful social patterns.

The difference between “Absolute Turns” and “Relative Turns” is that “Absolute Turns” do not change the axis, it stays in one position. During “Relative Turns”, the axis shifts (like when the Leader does a sacada).

Workshop 1: Chapter 7 - Very Open Turn

When we dance in open embrace, both dancers are on vertical axis, straight up and down.

We began with a very simple pattern: Leader’s right foot rock step forward outside partner, to lead her to do a turn/hiro/molinete, concluding with a Leader parada/Follower pasada on the close side of the embrace.

The Followers have a lot of work to do. The Follower should step long to help the success of the movement.

Our goal as both Leaders and Followers is to make the turns clean.

Follower’s exercise:
Leader in the middle
Follower brings arms up and does turn/hiro/molinete footwork around the Leader, starting with her inside foot and doing a forward step.
So her footwork is:

She should control her big back before stepping back. She needs to make the back step with control.
The side step finishes where she starts
For the side step, she should reach first, then power into the floor to get a big pivot on her next step. Follower should lengthen her sides, make her spine long, and use the floor to power her pivots.
In the back step, she can do more of a back cross step across her body, instead of a straight back step.
Next, the class was split in two, Leaders with Homer and Followers with Cristina

Worked on the 3-point turn (Forward, Side, Back), starting in front of the Leader and trying to end there, making just three steps to get all the way around the Leader. The point of this exercise is for the Follower’s to get used to taking long, reaching steps, but still keep the circle small and close to the Leader.
  • She should hold her arms out, making sure her shoulder blades come together and using her back muscles.
  • She should try to be close to the Leader and not float away with any of her steps.
  • Side step is long and reaching in front of the center person.
  • She should create reach first.
  • The dynamic change of weight is at the pivot as hip swings around.
  • Back step finishes where she starts
  • The Follower’ steps are all done with control.
  • She should not fall to the side, otherwise she will pull the Leader and will be ahead of the turn.
  • She should hang back a little to keep the circle more stable.
Homer worked on a series of exercises with the Leaders:
  • Turning in a block as the Leader is the center of the circle
  • Pac Man footwork
  • Washing Machine disassociation exercise (send chest first, then hips come around as a consequence, and exceed where chest is)
  • Cross forward steps, while walking back
  • Back cross steps, while walking forward
  • Aronde: What the Leader can do as the Follower goes around him.
  • 1. ¼ turn and point the foot with the foot to the ground all the time.
  • 2. ½ turn and point the foot with the foot to the ground all the time.
  • 3. Full 360-degree turn and point with the foot to the ground all the time. This can never happen in real life as a Follower cannot go around that fast. But it was a stretch-goal exercise.
What kind of turn is the Leader making?
Kick the heel around. Spiral in his upper body and kick the heel around.

Returning to our original pattern, we added to the Leader’s footwork:
Right foot forward rock step outside.
Right foot front cross tuck against his standing, supporting left leg (called the “Secret Garden” because the Follower does not see the Leader’s leg at this point)
Spiral starting with shoulder first, then hip coming around smoothly (washing machine)
Aronde with right foot while his weight is on his left foot.

Some questions that came up from the Leaders:
Question: How to avoid colliding with the Follower during his Aronde?
Answer: The Leader’s secret garden. Here his right leg is hiding in his right foot front cross tuck in front of his left foot, and his chest is disassociated in starting the spiral turn. He should keep his foot/leg in the secret garden until she makes her back step. The magic spot, when the Leader releases the spiral, is on the back step of the Follower.
As the Follower is pivoting, so does the Leader, so they are pivoting at the same time (back) as if they are going to do a back ocho.

We drilled in partnership.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and demo to Podesta’s La Capilla Blanca.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Not Another Musicality! Workshop

Song: Cordobesita (played two different ways)
Instructors: Mari Black and Tilly Kimm of Orquesta Sin Trabajo
October 2, 2013, CELLspace, San Francisco

Orquesta Sin Trabajo is a tango band where the members are both tango dancers and tango musicians.

In this class, as we embark on a journey where we listen and reach, we will approach tango from the musician side and from the dancer side. We will explore what we listen to and how we express it in our dancing. There are different contrasts in tango music and we will explore how we can express these in our dance. We can create a beautiful dance without tons of steps.

Thus, for our warm-up dance and throughout this class, we were to dance doing just three things:
(1) walking
(2) rock step
(3) ocho cortado

These are the three tools we will use to explore musicality. If you don’t know how to do one of the above steps (like the ocho cortado) just do walking and rock steps.

Our song for the evening was Cordobesita.

Maestras did a demo dance, dancing to a phrase of music from Cordobesita, doing it two different ways.
  • First one: Executing steps, like a train. 
  • Second one: Dancing with each other, with music, creating a story.
We noticed the difference in the two ways they danced: timing, pauses, syncopation, energy levels, extended beats, more dynamics.

Next Maestras played a phrase from the song Cordobesita, Mari on the violin and Tilly on the piano, doing it two different ways:
  • First one: regularly 
  • Second one: with volume changes, legato, using notes and music to create a conversation.
We will explore the tools to make the difference from the first way to the second way. These are called Tone Factors, which are independent things you can do to change the sound.

Volume changes: Forte v Piano
  • Forte = Bigger Volume 
  • Piano = Smaller, softer volume
In dance we change our bodies to create forte or piano by taking larger or smaller steps. In our drilling, we explored the length of our steps, our range of motion, making big, long steps during forte and making short, small steps during piano.

Musicians change how they play a song, and we dance in reaction.

Another thing we can do to express volume is to have more energy in our forward momentum. This relates to dynamics.

Regarding length of step momentum, more compression goes with longer steps.

Moving on to play with another tone factor, we focused on Articulation.

Here, we can change how we attack our steps on individual notes.
  • For the staccato notes, we should have short steps 
  • For the legato notes, we should have long and connected steps.
The band just played. Then it was asked of the band, who was leading and who was following? During the song, the pianist was following the violinist, and the bassist was also following, but then would sometimes take over the leading, and sometimes the pianist would do something intentionally different, specifically NOT following the violin. So the musicians play off of each other.

As dancers, who do we listening to? What instrument do you usually listen to (ie, the violinist)? When we danced the next song, we were to listen to someone else (ie, the bassist or pianist or bandoneonist) to see how this changed our dance.

There are layers of music to tango. There’s always something new that you haven’t heard before, even if you’ve listened to the song many times.

Still working on expressing Articulation, we next drilled by focusing on the speed of our collection.
- quick for staccato
- gooey for legato

In the next drill, we were to express articulation by the speed of our collection, but we were to listen to a different instrument in the band.

Another Tone Factor is Tension and Release.

Here we can Be a Musician, and we can Be a Dancer.

In Tension, we fill our lungs with air to expand them, and breath and oxygen are an important part of tension.

In a song’s cadence, the last two notes, the first note creates tension and the last one releases it.

The release can be done several different ways:
- hard
- light/soft
- not release (Rodriguez)

You do not release until musicians release you (breath oriented).

Maestras concluded with a class summary and by playing Cordobesita two different ways with the class dancing.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Social Side-to-Side Alteration

Song: Champagne Tango by Carlos DiSarli
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
September 30, 2013, The Beat, Berkeley, CA

Chapter 1: The footwork (the broccoli)

We began with a demo of maestros showing us the step.

Leader’s footwork: 
Side left
Right foot forward outside partner
Left foot side
Change weight

Follower’s footwork 
Side right
Left foot back step
Clockwise Pivot
Right foot side
Then either:
Weight change in place to left foot so right foot is free (Follower should enjoy the transfer of weight)
Side step side step to Follower’s left (Leader’s right)

Of the two options above (weight change to left foot or side step to Follower’s left), we communicate the weight change in place versus the side step to the Follower’s left as follows:

By having a settling energy on the weight change. The Leader is still in the “up” position. The Follower’s knees are still soft. The movement is still and streamlined. The Leader holds the Follower, then goes up and then settles in place with heels together.

The side step has more of a “U” energy (going down and then up), with the Leader’s knee softening as he goes down and the Follower matching him, and them coming up together.

For the footwork in the step, the Leader should not cut off the Follower’s right foot side step, which could happen if he mistakenly pivots around her two much. It is a 90-degree pivot, not a 180-degree pivot. He should also make a longer right foot forward step before, and his thigh can caress the Follower’s thigh, and make sure his feet are in a line, not drifting across lines. This step should be long and close in a line.

We also drilled this on the other side.

Chapter 2: Here, we got more dynamic and fun, adding the spice or cheddar cheese to the broccoli.

Note that this step will start and finish in the line of dance.

In the side-to-side alteration, the footwork is as follows:
Left foot captures the moon,
Clockwise pivot
Right foot side step.

Right foot side step (Leader captures the moon here)
Clockwise pivot
Left foot side step
So for the Follower, it’s a whipping around motion.

The Follower’s knees need to be soft so she can push off and have a good, long side step.

There are two aspects to alterations:
(1) Capturing the moon
(2) Changing the Follower’s direction

The Leader’s left foot on his capture of the moon needs to be outside the Follower’s right foot. He should be comfortable with his “sneak attack”, going long and around the Follower’s foot. Capturing the moon is all about real estate. He needs to own that position.

The Follower needs to arrive on her right foot securely at the point of the capture of the moon, with her knee soft, so that the can access the power in the floor and in her leg and respond to whether the Leader pivots her or leads her to make a side step.

At the end of class, maestros showed us (but we did not attempt) how to link side to side alterations going down the line of dance.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and demo to diSarli’s Champagne Tango.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Tango Performances by Homer & Cristina Ladas

Song 1:  Romantik by Queen Bee
Song 2:  The Luckiest by Ben Folds
Song 3:  La Milonga De Buenos Aires by Francisco Canaro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
September 20-22, 2013, TangoPulse Workshops in Northampton, MA

Crazy Out of the Box Stuff, Part 2

Song: Somebody That I Used to Know by Pentatonix (Goyte cover)
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
September 20-22, 2013, TangoPulse Workshops in Northampton, MA

The focus of our class would deal with more compact turns, and Boy/Man boleos and Boy/Man ganchos.

The Boy Gancho from the Alteration

First we began with an individual exercise to loosen the ball socket of our hip (improve the range of motion for our hip rotation), to both sides of our hips.

Then we did amagues on the floor, without pivoting on the floor, to see how far our feet could get. We switched feet to work our other side. We were to grow our amagues bigger, letting our feet go, to get a thwack on the opposite side of our hips in a boleo.

Next exercise:

Self gancho

We began with knee ganchos (boy ganchos), and then made them bigger to get them higher to the opposite outside hip. Do not sickle the feet, and try to point the foot.

Next exercise:

In partnership, the Leader’s left foot sacada during the Leader’s right turn, sacadaing the Follower’s trailing foot of her right foot side step, after her forward step. Leader does right foot boleo to the left side of his left hip.

In the clockwise turn/hiro/molinete, the Leader’s right foot sacada on the Follower’s trailing foot of her forward step, into a stop with his left foot of her right foot side step, to do a Leader’s right foot boleo.

The Follower is the foundation. She has to place her back cross step carefully, because if she does it wrong, she will pull him, or push him back if she falls forward. Her steps need to be nice and controlled and even.

Instead of the boleo, the Leader can do a baby amague.

After the Leader’s boleo, he can do a right foot back cross tuck against his left foot, like his cross behind and walk forward exercise.

In close embrace, the Leader can just come in on her side step (basically just do the second sacada and skip the first one).

Chapter 2

Functional use of Alterations to do the Man Gancho (not the Boy Gancho). Pay attention to how slow the process of snaking up the leg is. It’s a slow, snaky wrap.

The Boy Gancho is from the knee down, and is dangerous. The Man Gancho uses the whole leg.

We worked to refine the leg swing of our Gancho Technique.
We were to avoid the knee gancho, where the leg bends at the knee and the thigh is not involved in the gancho at all.
We step 1.5 meters away from the wall.
Arms were held out such that we imagined we were holding a large bowl of sleeping fish.
Swing one leg with lazy bent knee on the way up, and swing it back.
Keep our upper body quiet so that sleeping fish were not disturbed.
Connect the four corners of our standing foot to the floor.
Use the floor to power the working leg.

In partnership, with both dancers side to side next to each other, Follower was to keep consistency of swing in her leg while the Leader goes behind or in front with his Captain Morgan leg. The Follower does not change the angle of the swing of her leg, and she should not look for the gancho.

The Leader’s job is to be in the right place at the right time with his Captain Morgan leg. With different height dancers, the Leader’s leg can go up or go down. He would use his opposite elevator leg to go down when dancing with a very short Follower.

For the Follower, on her leg swing, she should go with a pointed toe, and come out trying to create a little bit of turnout. Level 2 of this exercise is for the Follower to close her eyes. Level 3 is for both the Follower and Leader to close their eyes. The Follower needs to have strong legs (don’ be wimpy). The Followers should be tigers, squeezing the Leader’s leg with her swing leg, really letting it go to wrap around the Leader’s thigh. The Follower’s leg is like a whip, if she can wrap around the leg/joint it makes things all the sweeter. The Follower needs to really let the whole leg go.

The thighs have eyes – they can feel what they need to do, where they need to go.

Back to the pattern, there were 2 versions:

A version 
Follower’s right foot forward step
Leader’s right leg wrap

B version 
Follower’s left foot back step
Leader’s right foot back gancho of Follower’s right forward leg
Leader takes a step left foot diagonally back to cross the Follower’s pivot point.

Then we backed up to work on just a small amague.
Leader’s footwork:
Right foot side step back
Turn to the left
Pivot a lot
Left foot diagonally back into the Follower’s space
Lead the Follower to do a hiro counterclockwise.
Leader’s baby amague on the floor with his right foot.

The Follower steps forward, pivots, and then steps back. The Leader goes from clockwise to counterclockwise around the Follower, like a tango slingshot.

The Follower senses the presence of the Leader’s leg, and his calf going in, which prevents her from collecting and so she makes a back step around the Leader instead.

The Follower’s tricky step is her back cross step. It needs to be around the Leader with a smooth transfer of weight.

Instead of the Leader’s right leg amague, he can do a gancho.

Leader’s right leg gancho of the Follower’s right leg forward step as he pivots into her left foot back step to lead the Follower to do a counterclockwise molinete (taking a back cross step first).

Leader rocks forward on his right foot, then she steps left foot back in her alteration, where the Leader ganchos her right leg with his right leg.

The Follower needs to have good turns technique.

For the Leader to pivot, he does the kick the heel around, with the body in a block. His goal is to be smooth.

The Follower needs to have good walking technique on her forward step into her back step, by opening her left hip as she reaches around, and transferring the weight carefully.

We drilled this in teapot embrace to prevent the Leader’s from overusing his right hand and for the Follower to actively engage her right hand/arm.

Maestros concluded with a quiz and demo to the Pentatonix cover of Goyte’s Somebody That I Used to Know.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

The Compact Colgada

Song: El Huracan by Edgardo Donato
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
September 20-22, 2013, TangoPulse Workshops in Northampton, MA

A lot of this class built on last night’s class, specifically, the 3rd Surprise.

Single-axis turn / colgada

We began with maestros demonstrating the step:
Right foot side step
Left foot forward step
Right foot side step around the Follower
Leader keeps walking counterclockwise around Follower until she releases

Right foot back step
Left foot back step
Follower pivots around

Leader should not make the Follower collect, but should try to make her spiral for as long as possible before unwinding out.

Follower should keep her chest up, do not tilt as she is the center of the circle.

This is a micro colgada with “we time”

Leader’s footwork:
Left foot forward on close side of the embrace
Right foot forward on open side of the embrace
Leader opens his embrace so he can sneak around Follower
Right foot step around Follower
(kind of pigeon toed)
Leader steps equidistant around the Follower
Left foot should be targeted toward Follower’s heel
The Leader’s feet turn in and then out as he walks around the Follower in their shared axis turn.

Follower’s footwork:
Left foot back
Right foot back
(she twists from side to side)

Follower: Do not push your pelvis in in panic
Leader’s movement/power/energy sends the Follower out a little.
The Leader’s embrace should contain the Follower, but allow her to settle out. It’s a hug and gentle lift with no compression.

The Follower decides to put her back into the Leader’s right arm as soon as she commits her weight to her right foot and he starts walking around her.

We need to keep practicing this, and troubleshooting this:
  • How the Leader steps around the Follower 
  • How the Leader sends the Follower out 
  • We need to do this a lot and know how to fix it instantaneously. 
  • The Follower is always actively adjusting her embrace to stay in front of the Leader.
 Note that the Line of Dance has changed.

From the Leader’s rock step

Left foot side step back to step Follower’s right foot, then shared axis turn.

There are different ways to get into the shared axis turn/hurricane. From the Leader’s left foot rock step, to pivot counterclockwise, and then Leader walks around Follower counterclockwise.


At the Follower’s forward step in the clockwise turn/molinete/hiro, she is already in colgada setup (a colgada is a bigger shared-axis turn).

There was a discussion of colgada posture:

Have good posture, the way they teach it in Alexander Technique:
Belly to sternum is zipped.
Head floats above neck.

In the parada, the weight is on the back foot. In the colgada, the posture is the same, but the weight is on the forward foot.

Maestros concluded with a quiz and demo to Donato’s El Huracan.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Close Embrace Surprises (All Levels)

Song: Cicatrices by Carlos Di Sarli y Su Sexteto Tipico
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
September 20-22, 2013, TangoPulse Workshops in Northampton, MA

Maestros began with a demo of a split-weight surprise.

1st Surprise: Split-weight stops with weight transfers and penguin walk side steps

We began with walking. Then we did side steps. Then the Leader does playful stop foot work as he steps inside her feet, one foot then the other, and then plays.

The details: Leader does left foot rock step, turns his body, and then steps back into the space he just left. He leads the Follower to do a right foot side step, then he stops/meets her left foot with his left foot. Then he shifts his left foot to her right foot and his body shifts the weight to his left foot. Then his right foot sneaks in next to her left foot. The Leader’s left foot sneaks to the other side of the Follower’s right foot, and then he lifts her to lead her right foot to collect and their feet are all next to each other, then he leads them to do the side penguin walk side steps continually together linearly to the direction of the close side of the embrace (Leader’s right, Follower’s left), starting with her left foot side step and his right foot side step.

The Leader shifts the Follower’s weight from one side to the other as his left foot blocks from her left foot to her right foot, and then his right foot sneaks in to block her left foot. He does a little lift to make her right foot collect as he gets to his left foot.

The Follower should be straight up and down when the Leader is that close to her during his steps.

2nd Surprise: Follower’s split-weight pivoted change of direction (a sexy promenade back into the line of dance)

We began with moving our hips as if doing the 1950s dance the twist.

This second surprise will help us enjoy the middle, and is great for stretchy melodies.

From the parallel system walk, on the Follower’s right foot back step, the Leader stops her in the middle of her weight, pivots her on both feet clockwise, and then steps out in forward step (Follower’s left foot forward step; Leader’s right foot forward step). During this pivot, the Leader sends the Follower around (like a small stirring motion at the point of her pivot), stirring the caramel. The caramel is the middle of the stir. The entire movement feels like a promenade, but it’s not exactly a promenade.

The Leader should try to stay relatively close to the Follower. Having good real estate is the first thing, he shouldn’t be too close, but not too far away. He should be stepping on the third track.

The Leader stops the Follower’s weight transfer in the middle, preventing her from collecting. The Leader turns his spine, so the Follower’s spine turns too, and the Leader opens up the embrace.

The Follower’s feeling is that he is really turning her around. He brings her back and around, and it’s a little bit sway-ey. The Leader’s chest is involved in making the Follower’s caramel.

3rd Surprise: A functional tool to generate 7-8 different things.

The Leader shifts his weight so that his left foot is free. The Leader stops the Follower with his right foot forward outside step on her right foot back step, and then he steps around her right foot with a left foot side step, so there is a moment of shared axis, preventing her from collecting and she is pivoting on two feet.

From this position, he can lead many things:
Single-Axis Turn
Leg Wrap

The Leader’s goal is to sneak around, stepping around the Follower’s axis as she is on two feet as sneakily as possible until she eventually releases. The Leader’s goal is to maximize the Follower’s time on two feet so she has nice spiral energy.

The Follower should let her upper body go first as much as it can, and then delay the hips to actively spiral out of the movement, milking the spiral energy as much as possible. She should also pivot as much as she can when her lower body does come out of the spiral.

Maestros concluded with a quiz and demo to Carlos diSarli y su sexteto typico’s Cicatrices. 

Notes courtesy of Anne at