Friday, August 22, 2008

Scouting Tour (August 14-20)

Thursday, August 14
TangoVida's Women's Technique & Milonga classes. In women's technique, we worked on our walking technique for the entire class (beginning with the usual foot/ankle strengthening and embellishment body/muscle memory exercises). In milonga, we began with the basic baldosa and did a very simple check step on one side and then the other. I led. It was tough. I am using muscles that I don't normally use, and nearly all the followers are taller or heavier than I am. Still it's fun in that it gets my head in a different place, and I get to interpret the song. I guess I do OK at it, because some followers asked me how long I have been leading, and they look shocked when I say a week.

Friday, August 15
Homer & Cristina Ladas's advanced seminario and practilonga at Allegro garaje on Ochos. We learned four different types of ochos: (1) vanilla: close embrace small ocho with no Follower hip rotation. It's more like a crossed back step, similar to how Maria Rivarola teaches ochos. (2) mocha java: regular ocho in a more open embrace with much hip rotation. (3) rocky road: overturned back ocho. (4) chunky monkey: contra ocho, with leader on opposing side of Follower. This is a good ocho to use to set up for sacadas because it opens up a lot of room. We also did the switch step, which is a sharp, interrupted movement, sort of like a set-up for the Americana where the couple goes from side to side to directly in front of each other (and can swivel/pivot back). There was a 1-hour guided practica afterward for Maestros to give individual attention. This seminar was couple signup only (though they did allow singles to come and it all worked out mostly in the end with only one or two orphans). We did not switch partners the entire night. I don't have a partner for the upcoming seminarios, so if any of you leaders want to join me at it, please let me know. Interestingly, Cristina took a much more active, vocal role in the teaching. The practilonga was good, though I think the lights were turned down too low (too dark to cabaceo anyone). The food, catered by Cristina, was very yummy.

Saturday, August 16
Homer & Cristina's intermediate intensivo at Allegro garaje on Ochos. The topic was the same as yesterday, but we spent much more time on the technique of the ocho. We began in one big circle holding hands and did forward ochos to one side and then the other, and then back ochos to one side and then the other. We also worked at the barres on basic ocho technique. Of the ochos we did yesterday, we only had enough time to do the vanilla (close embrace with no Follower hip rotation) and the mocha java (the more open embrace usual ocho). During the practica, Homer saw that my partner and I were playing with volcadas, and he noted that by linking the vanilla to conclude in a small, tight tucks of Follower back foot against and next to the other foot, you can basically do a series of back volcaditas. The Leader's lead for this is a sort of small circular movement in the chest. Great class, as usual, and ended early enough to go to the Emeryville Public Market food court to snarffle up dinner before going to the Danceasy in El Cerrito.

Danceasy Milonga in El Cerrito. Negracha & Diego's visit has been delayed, so Gail Robinson taught the lesson, but I got there too late to make it meaningful for me to take it, and there were too many followers in class. The milonga was OK. DJ Emilio did a find job, as usual. It wasn't particularly crowded, which was fine by me. I really like the ventilation in this place (and the food is quite yummy).

Monday August 18
Jorge Torres Advanced Workshop @ Kabuki Dance Studio ($30 per person, 90 minutes). Jorge taught a couple of interesting sequences, one in which Leader does a gentle parada of his right foot to her right foot, then she steps outside right toward him with her right foot, then Leader does weight change and walks around Follower (she does lapice ornament with her left foot), out to exit. The second sequence was the 8CB to cross, then Leader does two back ochos while leading Follower to step side right, then side left, then leading her to exit with her back ocho of right foot. These were visually simple but technically complicated sequences. Kabuki dance studio is underneath Keiko's hair salon in downtown San Francisco. It's a long, narrow space with pergo flooring. This advanced workshop was advertised as being limited to 5 couples, but 8 showed up (we did not switch partners). Jorge had his baby on his chest for all of the workshop, so it wasn't easy to see his chest movements in terms of the lead. Parking was at the Sutter/Stockton garage (next time I will park on Pine St.). Overall, I thought it was OK but a bit pricey (though he did end up teaching for 2 hours).

Wednesday, August 20
Omar Vega's lesson and grand opening milonga @ 23 Club, Brisbane. Maestro taught a couple of interesting sequences. The first was based on the 8CB, where the leader does a series of weight changes on 3 before stepping forward, and Follower, after the cross, moves her right foot from the left side of her left foot, to the right side of her left foot, and collects, before stepping back. The purpose of this step was to add more interest and accentuate the music more. The next sequence was a series of sacadas during Follower molinete, stopped with a parada on the left of Follower's left foot, or the right of Follower's right foot. The next sequence involved getting the Follower to step back on her right foot with her left foot extended straight forward while she is side by side with Leader (sort of Americanaish). Her weight needs to be all the way back on her bent right leg, then he pivots her around while her left leg is extended forward to come all the way around him. The lesson was very technical. The milonga was fun. Maestro was very gracious in that he danced with all of the Followers who had attended the lesson and most of the ones who came for the milonga.

Come join me!

Friday, August 22
Tete & Silva lesson at Monte Cristo Milonga.

Saturday, August 23
Tete & Silvia workshops
NO MILONGA for me tonight - I need to rest!

Sunday, August 24
Tete & Silvia workshops
NO MILONGA for me tonight - I need to rest!

Monday, August 25
La Cumparsita

Tuesday, August 26
TangoVida ladies' technique and tango lesson

Wednesday, August 27
CCSF classes followed by Omar Vega milonga

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