Wednesday, October 9, 2013

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

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