Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scouting Tour (September 11-17)

***HOT OFF THE PRESS: the TangoStudent blog is now live (with notes by me): ***

Thursday, September 11
Studio TangoVida Ladies' Technique & Milonga Lesson. We began with our usual foot strengthening/articulation exercises. Since the class was small and had no beginners that night, Maestra decided to teach something more challenging. So we put on our heels and worked on boleos and their embellishment possibilities. First we began with low floor back boleos and forward boleos from forward and back ochos. Then we did them high. Then we did them high with floor taps (1, 1-2-1, 1-2-3-1), and then with air taps. Then we did a more complicated version in the ocho with boleo on one side of the leg, then the other, pivoting to do an air arc at the end. Our final challenge was to combine them, forward and back ochos, high and low boleos, side and air arch boleos, and also adding the beat back embellishment to the ocho before doing the boleo. It was an incredibly challenging class! In Milonga we worked on the basic baldosa, the traveling baldosa, and the interrupted baldosa, and combined it with the step we learned last week (a half turn of Follower back-side-forward), and added one step to the Follower left (Leader right), followed by a forward step of Follower's left (back step of Leader's right), and then two steps to the Follower's right (Leader's left), into another half turn or resolution. It was great to see so many dedicated Leaders at this class week after week.

Friday, September 12
Private lesson with Santiago Croce. We worked on cleaning up and getting the timing right for the sequence he taught last week. We also changed it a little, working on the technique for continuous turns (which got me dizzy). He emphasized the turned-out foot placement for my left foot stepping forward, as well as the concept of letting my right arm go behind me at certain points in the sequence so that I can get more rotation disassociation in my chest (and not just be in front of the leader). It was a great class.

Saturday, September 13
Oscar Mandagaran & Georgina Vargas workshops:
Workshop 1: Magnetic Movement. We began with a little pep talk from Oscar about Tango and how everything we do (dress, body carriage, perfume) IS tango. We then did bodywork exercises led by Georgina, to help us with disassociation, followed by exercises led by Oscar related to timing, rhythm, and muscle memory that really emphasized intention (as if we were a tango show star). We did various partnered exercises: (1) Leader walking forward (while Follower walked back on Leaders right, her hand on his chest) with lots of projecting energy intention, as if he is HUNGRY, stalking like a lion or panther. (2) Same walking exercises with energy intention, only Follower is on the other side, Leader's left, to get us used to contra position in chest and body. (3) Walking with Leader alternating sides, left and right with the first step big, then the next steps shorter. The sequence taught was a simple walk with parada, Follower dramatic catch with sudden body twist to pasada. Follower adornment: Follower's left foot can cross behind right foot on the back step before stepping back with her right foot. During the catch, Follower pivots dramatically (getting in touch with her inner show tango diva), flexing a bit at her knees to go down a little, and collect her heels (and not do some other strange thing with her feet).

Workshop 2: Giros w/Sacadas. We began with exercises: the toe step pivot (or ochito). We did these fast, then slow, then alternating between fast and slow, to work on the technique of torsion in our body, and from initiating pivoting in our hips. Then we added sheets of paper to the exercise -- holding out a paper to our side face forward, taking two steps to the left, then pivoting out bodies but holding the paper in the same direction, and then taking two steps to the right, and then alternating continually between the two down the line of the room in one forward direction. Then we did forward ochos, holding the paper face up like a platter. The sequence was one of the usual ones of Follower molinete, with leader sacadas at various points, though there was one interesting "figure" during our work on technique that combined two of Follower going forward, side to the left, and then changing direction to do forward, side to the right, with a stretching, dramatic movement in between for both Leader and Follower when their bodies are opposite each other.

Oscar & Georgina are fluent, fun, friendly, enthusiastic teachers, and paid lots of individual attention. Throughout both workshops, they reiterated the Oscar and Georgina isms:
(1) Solar plexus is where the connection should be (magnetically pulled toward each other), so bring it forward with energy intention up.
(2) Imitate the bandoneon's projection and return in terms of our own energy, intention, and projection in our dance (it seems Maestros' opinion is that there can never be enough projection).
(3) Lots of emphasis of perfecting the technique of contra position.
(4) Knees can flex so that dancers go up and down for more drama.
(5) In walking forward and stepping forward, project with the toes, but step with the heel.
(6) Out turned feet for Follower for stability and balance.
(7) Follower bunion on the floor to make it pretty (not tips of toes, and not sole of foot).
(8) NO VACATION for the tango student!

Milonga with Performance and Pablo's Birthday Vals. The lesson before the milonga was a simple one (8CB with interruptions and embellishments). Since there were lots of extra beginner Followers, and the lesson was similar to what they taught earlier in the day, I sat most of the lesson out. The milonga and lesson beforehand were in the same room that the workshops were in, Hall 1 upstairs with Pergo floor. It was a well-attended milonga (about 90 people), and Ann did a great job with the decorations and food (cheese, crackers, fruit, nuts). The show tango performance of two dramatic tangos and one milonga were excellent, as was Georgina's singing. During his vals, Pablo was the beau of the ball, with all eyes on him and the many followers (including a very skilled tanguero) who cut in to dance with him.

Sunday, September 14
Oscar & Georgina workshops.
Workshop 1: Couples Adornments. We began with exercises with Georgina, the emphasis being out-turned feet. Then we did exercises with Oscar, the emphasis being intention in our bodies and being bandoneon like in our projection and return. The Followers then practiced embellishments at the barres: rulos (big, small), taps, front cross/tucks, back cross/tucks, caracia, paying careful attention to make sure our big toe (future bunion) was always on the floor. The men were doing their own embellishments with Oscar. We then partnered up, and did a simple sequence, but inserted a lot of adornments in them (rulo, crosses/tucks, and linking them). The Followers also played with changing our axis, and the relation/movement/shift of our hips when going from one axis to another. Maestra emphasized that Followers need to practice all the time ALONE, playing with all the possibilities, and with all different orchestras, all the tango music you have in the house (not just your favorite one over and over). That way when at milongas, the adornos will be natural, flowing and you won't have to think about them. For the Leaders, it was emphasized to take your time, wait, the point is to be romantic/sexy/passionate; have intention like a panther or lion, don't be mechanic, accentuate the music.

Workshop 2: Complex Tango Figures
. The Followers first began at the barres to work on boleo technique (boleoing leg's knee should be behind the other, foot in air on rotation, pivot, foot returns to the ground). The Leaders learned the footwork and technique for executing the turn in the figure. In my opinion, the figure wasn't too complicated. It involved a regular salida, then Follower boleo, then Follower molinete during which Leader sacadas and did various weight changes, to Follower forward ocho.

Wednesday, September 17
CCSF Classes. In Follower's Technique, I arrived late. I believe the video was of Rebecca Shulman on back ochos, the topic of the night. After our usual floor and barre exercises, we practiced ocho technique and embellishments at the barres, with much emphasis in starting the rotation in our chest, and then having our hips and legs come around as a consequence of our chest movement. Also, on the foot initially stepping back, the heel coming to the ground should be a controlled movement like stepping on the breaks of the car (not kerplunking). The embellishments were front and back tucks, rulos, the air boleo pivot. We concluded with doing forward and back ochos up and down the room, adding embellishments freely, including ones we made up on our own. In Advanced, it was a review day, so we did all of the different Gustavo sequence variations we had been working on (last week's was a new ending of colgada into volcada).

Come join me!

Thursday, September 18
TangoVida Ladies Technique followed by either the Milonga Lesson or La Pista milonga with lesson by Homer beforehand. I am torn. I want to go to both.

Friday, September 19
Private lesson with Santiago Croce

Saturday, September 20
Luciana Valle workshops

Sunday, September 21
Luciana Valle workshops

Monday, September 22
Orange Practica at the Beat with lesson by Homer and Cristina

Tuesday, September 23
TangoVida Ladies Technique and Tango Lesson

Wednesday, September 24
CCSF Classes

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