Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Touch Steps

Song: A La Gran Muñeca by Francisco Canaro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
All-Nighter at The Beat, Pre-Milonga Lesson
June 23, 2018

The theme for June has been Ochos, but today we will deviate a little from that, connecting the dots at the end.

In Touch Steps, there are two methods for leading them.  (1) and (2), but sometimes leaders do something in between, like (1.5). In our class, we will try to be very clear and clean in our leading, doing either (1) or (2), NOT (1.5).

We began by drilling really clean side steps.

Reaching, sliding over, Leader's center does a "U".  He can also go extreme, by doing like a "U", but on its side.  Put curve in your step as you reach.

Exercise: Drill side steps, with Leader's center doing a U or a U on its left or right side.

Use the whole width of the foot, and whole length of the foot, especially when arriving, rolling toward the back, middle, and front, using all four corners of the standing foot.
Leader: be really stable.  You need the axis to power the next step.  Have maximum contact with the floor.
Follower: have compression/resistance in her embrace so she can feel the Leader's lead better.

Method 1: Go Down, Axis Remains in Place

Rule: Standing supporting leg bends and goes lower as opposite foot goes out; axis remains in place.

In Method 1, the Leader's side touch step is in the QQS rhythm, out QQS and smoothly back in, or Out QQS and In QQS. 
Drawing in at the touch step is less common, but we should try it in our drills.

Leader goes down as he goes out QQS as his standing leg bends. 
Make the first Q a bit small so you don't run out of leg. 
Have energy and attack.   Follower also attacks floor with pressure so the Leader can feel her.
Last S has a stronger stop energy.
Use the edge of your foot.
Put pressure on the floor, have a little bit of compression in the embrace as the Leader attacks floor.
Embrace creates the stop energy.

Forward and Backward Touch Steps
Using the Method 1 technique, the Leader leads the step as he steps forward and Follower steps back. 
He leads by beginning with a small tilt in his ankle joints.

We drilled the four possibilities:
(1) Leader left foot forward, Follower right foot back.
(2) Leader left foot back, Follower right foot forward
(3) Leader right foot forward, Follower left foot back
(4) Leader right foot back, Follower left foot forward

Follower should have compression/resistance in her embrace so she can feel the lead better.

Talk to each other.  Leader should feel Follower's pressure.  Follower should let Leader know if she doesn't feel the Leader's floor.

Method 1 is nice to do just touch steps forward and backward because you are not going anywhere and it is easy to recover.

Method 1 exits:
(1) return (come back to collection)
(2) Go (to new leg).

Method 2: Stay Up (Don't Go Down); Move Axis

Rule: Remain up as opposite foot goes out; axis moves.

In this method, the Leader creates extra hug, and Follower hugs back.

We were to try in different directions, and first in close embrace as it is easier, and then in open embrace.

In our partnered drill, if the Leader does the embrace in the wrong way/direction, the Follower should let him know.

Someone asked how to make it musical.  Maestros demo'd in class.  Bottom line is you should make it your own, make it personal.

Connecting Touch Steps to the Ocho via a Figure

Can we do touch steps in an ocho?

Here we drilled with two options:

(1) the Leader's right foot forward cross touch step directly into a right foot back cross touch step while Follower did a left foot back cross touch step directly into a left foot forward cross touch step.
(2) the Leader's left foot forward cross touch step directly into a left foot back cross touch step while Follower did a right foot back cross touch step directly into a right foot forward cross touch step.

We do not transfer weight.  Attack the floor with energy.
The standing, supporting foot lifts a little and pivots as the other foot goes from a forward cross touch step to back cross touch step (or back cross touch step to forward cross touch step) to change direction.

Communicating the change of direction: we were to try to make the transition clean.  Leader: use compression, Follower: give extra hug back.

Leader should not use his right hand to communicate the transition. He should use his spine, rotating it, and the standing, supporting leg pivots a little to change direction.

Exit: Leader's side step, together to go back to collect in the up position.,

Doing this from the ocho, with dancers perpendicular to each other:
Leader does side step, Follower does forward step
Leader does forward step, Follower does side step

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and demo to A La Gran Muneca by Francisco Canaro

Notes courtesy of Anne at