Sunday, May 21, 2017

Intermediate & Above Class: Follower’s Flowy Back Sacada

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 19, 2017, Genesis Dance, San Francisco

The topic for this class was the Follower’s Flowy Back Sacada, because it is easy to communicate and to get into the line of dance.

We began with a warm-up exercise in partnership, hand to hand hold, doing back ochos.
Dancers hold each other at the hands and both do back ochos.
Dancers are close to each other, with hips in line next to each other going in opposite direction, almost touching. Their pivots need to be big, and the outside leg needs to step back diagonally across the lines, reaching toward the other dancer.  Keep the chest up, do not lean forward as your leg goes back.  The pivot needs to be complete before reaching in the next step back.  Do not step too far. Be precise.  In stepping back, aim for your partner’s standing leg.  Reach with control.  This is not a speed exercise.

Next, we proceeded to get the hard part out of the way.

In open embrace, the Leader does side steps (keeping arms low) while leading the Follower to do back ochos (these are “with” ochos).
Leader does right foot side step, then turns to his left as he leads the Follower to do the Follower left foot back sacada to the Leader’s trailing left foot, which he has left as a “goal post”.

Take care of your axis.
For the embrace, sometimes there are changes from close to open. 
The Follower’s Back Sacada is an illusion.
Going from the back ocho to the turn (overturn) is challenging.

When does the Back Ocho become a Turn (Hiro/Molinete)? When the Leader steps on his right foot. 

Follower should be sensitive to the lead.  Is he leading a pivot or he asking you to step around the Leader?  The Leader turns his sine both ways in both instances.  Is the lead around the Follower’s axis or the Leader’s axis?
Next, we worked on a simple Leader’s Sacada
The Leader settles on his left foot, turns to the right, Leader’s right foot reaches forward diagonally to the Followers trailing right foot in a forward sacada.  The Leader’s spinal rotation is such that the Follower steps around the Leader’s axis.
Then he turns to the left and leads dancers to go back to their original spots.

Next, we linked both steps together, the Leader’s Forward Sacada and the Follower’s Back Sacada.
First, we did the Leader’s Simple Sacada.  Then, instead of going back to the original spot, the Leader leads a back ocho, then another overturned back ocho, so the Follower does a back sacada of her left foot to the Leader’s trailing left foot (in Captain Morgan stance).

We drilled doing: 

Leader’s right foot forward sacada.
Into simultaneous back ochos for the Leader and Follower, Follower stepping back with her right foot, Leader stepping outside left foot back in his back ocho in the same direction as Follower. Next, Follower’s left foot back ocho into a counterclockwise turn (Hiro/Molinete) or into an overturned back ocho to left foot back sacada.

The technique is very important.

The goal is the process of getting there.

Why are we doing this?
The Sacada is an illusion.  It’s more about how we turn and relate to each other and timing involved and rotation in leading an ocho versus asking the Follower to walk around the Leader.

The Follower needs to be sensitive.  Don’t be rushed into the next step. 

For the Follower’s sacada, the Leader’s position is to get used to the Captain Morgan Stance in his trailing leg, where the knee is able to pivot to be more open and the heel is up to receive the Follower’s back sacada.  The Leader can do his kick around as the Follower comes around.
The Follower pivots a lot to step around the Leader, with long reaching steps. 
The Follower should employ good walking technique, both linear and circular.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Asynchronous Walking & Pitter Patter

Song: Cuando Estaba Enamorado by Francisco Canaro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 15, 2017, The Beat, Berkeley, CA

To conclude our monthly theme of walking, today we explored the concept of Asynchronous Walking, where one person is walking while the other person is not, using mostly Vals Music.

(1)    Pitter Patter

(2)    Leader goes, Follower goes (or vice versa)

Chapter 1 – Pitter Patter

We began with the Linear Pitter Patter, where we would walk together, using medium-length steps, into the Pitter Patter.  
Feet are both down on the floor.
Roll the weight forward.
Bend the knees.
Try not to change height.
Do not crunch toes.
Imagine that you are holding a silver dollar between your thighs, and take tiny steps. 
Go backward too.
To do the Pitter Patter to the side, imagine dropping the coin to the knees.

In Vals music, there is the boom chick rhythm (or 1-2-3, 1-2-3).
We began to drill with Canaro’s Yo No Se Que Me Han Hecho Tus Ochos.
First we walked solo in a circle, forward and back, trying to catch the places where there is the opportunity to do the Pitter Patter.
“Act of Copying” is where the Leader does it, the Follower will do it.  So the Leader should do it where it is musically appropriate.  The Pitter Patter is a “special seasoning” during transitions so it is important for you to hear the musical phrasing.

How does the Leader communicate the Pitter Patter?
He compresses and goes up a bit, giving a little extra hug. The Follower listens to the music and the Leader to how he is holding the embrace.  When the Leader decides to change the quality of walking, he hugs her extra and the Follower should hear that and respond in kind.  The Follower should hug back.

We drilled this concept to Canaro’s Vibraciones Del Alma (with Intro).

In including the Pitter Patter in our dance, there is more contrast than walking on just the strong beat.  When doing the Pitter Patter, the steps should be narrow and tiny. 
Leader should prepare the Follower’s free leg.

How do we separate it?  How do we make the Follower do the Pitter Patter while the Leader does not?  
This is more challenging to do in the close embrace.  
Leader telescopes the arms from the shoulder blades to the forearms and then pulls back a little.  It’s not just the arms, it’s the body, too. Use the floor to roll through the ankles. Push down on the floor.  Leader adds compression to the embrace and suspension and a little bit of lift to get the Follower to Pitter Patter back as the Leader remains in place.  He tilts from the ankles and telescopes his arms.

We drilled this to Sonar Y Nada Mas by Alfred de Angeles and Vibraciones Del Alma by Canaro.

The Leader is like a wall coming at the Follower, lifting and compressing.  There is lots of control and finessing.  The Leader pushes into the floor, tilts his ankles, and lifts his chest as he changes the embrace to telescope out.

Qualities of Pitter Patter: tiny steps, weight is toward the front ball of foot. Avoid changes in height by bending the knees.  Imagine a silver dollar between your thighs.  The Leader lifts a little and stays off his heels at the point of Pitter Patter.  Helpful signals include suspension, lift and compression.  The Follower has to hug back and create a little bit of lift.  This step is like the Bandoneon, or Tango Accordion.

Chapter 2 – Leader Goes, Follower Goes
We did this in more of a regular size step (not a tiny step like the Pitter Patter). 
First, maestros began with a visual demonstration of the concept to show us what we would work on in class, dancing to Vibraciones Del Alma.

For the Leader Goes, Follower Goes, we can do it in a line, forward and backward, but the Follower may be fearful of stepping into the Leader.

We practiced in solo, walking forward, to feel what the step should feel like. We rolled through the back and front forward foot, then attacked on the actual step (with only about 25% weight on that foot).
We also tried this backwards, attacking back with little weight, then rolling through.

In the embrace, for the Leader’s embrace and body, the Leader telescopes, sending ad stopping with a little bit of down energy (instead of up energy, as we did in the Pitter Patter).  Leader leads Follower to take the initial step, but doesn’t allow her to collect.  Leader rolls.  The Follower’s step is not super long, it is more of a medium size step.

Qualities: Down energy. Create a feeling of a larger, more medium step. Time it so the Follower steps less than 25% of the way, just past the beginning of the step.  There is telescoping in the embrace.  The Leader also uses his breath.

We drilled this to Yo No Se Que Me Han Hecho Tus Ochos.

This step is not everyone’s cup of tea, as it is a slinky type of walk.

What are the differences between Chapter 1 (Pitter Patter) and Chapter 2 (He Goes, She Goes)?
Pitter Patter trajectory of energy is up; He Goes, She Goes, trajectory of energy is down.
Both have compression and can have telescoping.
Both should feel very stable.

The easiest embrace to do these are somewhat open.  Use the concept of rebounding, where the Leader sends the Follower and collapses the embrace a little, the Leader goes back a little, and freezes the embrace to find a counterbalance.

We drilled, doing Pitter Patter (together and separate), He Goes, She Goes (asynchronous walk), to Vibraciones Del Alma.

Maestros concluded with class quiz and a demo dance to Cuando Estaba Enamorado by Canaro.

Notes courtesy of Anne at