Thursday, October 2, 2008

Scouting Tour (September 25-October 1)

Friday, September 26
Homer & Cristina Ladas Advanced Seminario @ the Garaje @ Allegro; topic: Turns. We began separately with the Leaders on one dance floor and Followers on another. The Leaders worked on doing their footwork for their part of the molinete (the Needle and the Power Sacada). The Followers worked on doing a 4-point turn around a standing person, trying to do the forward-side-back-side steps to get completely around the person in four steps. Then we did a 3-point turn, doing the forward-side-back steps trying to get completely around the person (really taking big steps and carving around the Leader) in three steps. Then the Followers did the anti-molinete, with our backs to the leader (not facing) and doing the reverse footwork for the molinete -- back with the inside leg, side, forward with big pivot, side.

When Leaders and Followers came together, we did several different molinetes:
(1) The Chicho Bubble: The way to stat this turn is in the open position, and Leader gets a little ahead of Follower, but still faces her, then collects and leads her around to turn her on her side step. Here he can do the power sacada. Leader changes axis once. The Follower has to oppose the Leader with slightly tilting back on her own axis to match and be sensitive to the Leader. Follower makes long steps, do not shorten the side or back steps. The Leader's embrace is loose, opening up and engaging, to fit her body. The Follower needs to really hold on, otherwise she will go flying, but not rigid; she needs to be flexible and elastic.

(2) The John Sebastian Slingshot. Here the Leader and Follower start in close embrace. The turn is similar to the Chicho Bubble, but is in close embrace and emphasizes the use of the axis. The movement is compact and takes less space, but has similar dynamics as The Chicho Bubble. It is a beautiful way to transition from open to close embrace in a more dynamic way. It begins in close embrace, and can also include the power sacada. Leader does cross behind. If Leader gives Follower a lot of energy in the power step, there is incentive for Follower to do lots of pivot because she has lots of power in her hips. But she is constrained by close embrace, so she may do a more truncated step. The Leader needs to make space for her to pivot. This close embrace turn has a mellow energy. In the Power Turn, the Follower needs to engage more in her embrace and needs a lot more room in her back, core ribs to create a lot more spiral. Use the embrace to create more torsional energy. This turn can be done from any embrace (except standard), and we attempted to do it starting from the Sweetheart embrace. We also attempted to do it in the opposite manner, i.e., the anti-molinete (which begins when the Followers back is to the Leader). Leader can add sacada, gancho, enrosque to the anti-molinete. For the Follower, the orientation in the anti-molinete is disconcerting, but she MUST NOT fall into her step; just take it slow, pay attention to collecting, and be strong on her supporting leg; continue to have good walking technique. Leaders do not lean forward, otherwise you might get into an unled colgada.

(3) The Coriolis (also from John Sebastian). This turn utilizes centrifugal force and outward spiraling. It is a single-axis shared turn, and the shared axis is what gives it the counterweight feeling. The Leader steps back and a little across himself (rock step, forward step) to draw Follower in that direction (get Follower to right) , to make back step of molinete around Leader.

The practilonga was good. Trio Garufa played, and yummy food (chips & guacamole, baba ganouj, cheese & crackers, veggies, fruit) was catered by Cristina.

Saturday, September 27
Luciana Valle Workshops:
(1) Barridas
(2) Tomas & Pasadas
(3) Perpendicular Colgadas

Barridas: As in all of the Luciana's workshops, we work on (1) mechanics of the move, (2) technique (how to make it work right), (3) structure (working on the possibilities), and (4) dynamics (changes of qualities and motion). In all of tango, and in today's topic Barridas, there are circular or linear moves. In circular there are: (A) ones in direction of the turn (where Leader accompanies Follower and she would step around anyway with her): (1) to respect the code of the turn, or (2) to change the code of the turn. Or (B) ones that change the direction of the turn (called contrabarridas). Both Leader and Follower can do barridas.

In the workshop, we focused on circular barridas that go in the direction of the turn, and which respect the code of the turn. Here, the Leader's top of chest is with Follower, but hips are ahead at Follower 's back step. She does a clockwise molinete, and Leader sweeps the Follower's left foot with his left foot. We worked on other barridas: Leader's left foot of Follower's right foot; Leader's right foot of Follower's left foot; Leader's right foot of Follower's right foot; from clockwise and counterclockwise molinete. We also practiced changing sweeps from Leader to Follower and Follower to Leader.

Tomas & Pasadas: Tomas comes from the word "tomar" -- to take. Here, the Leader takes the standing leg of the Follower and makes her keep going by stepping over it (pasada). Going clockwise, the Leader takes the Follower's left standing leg with his left foot while facing her (not behind, and not ahead). The Follower steps over with a step forward. Here there is a continuous change -- who is the center, and who is going around. We worked on tomas and pasadas from the front, back, open, and forth sacada legwork.

Colgadas: Maestra emphasized that you need to take many, many workshops on the same subject (like colgadas) to finally get it--it is not possible to be instantly able to do colgadas after just one workshop. Colgadas are an off-axis position, with Follower off axis, and Leader compensating for this. Follower is perpendicular from the shoulders to the tops of her hips, but legs are diagonal. This 90 degree angle of body and hips to floor is key. We began with some posture exercises, first face to face with Follower in the middle of Leader's body, facing him. Then Followers shifted from side to side, but still maintaining colgada posture, the goal of which was to feel the moving line of support. For the Leader, we did a hand-to-hand exercise so he could understanding the concept of his toes clawing into the floor so that he can remain straight and upright, while Follower tried to exaggeratedly pull him in the colgada. Then the colgada: the Follower does a molinete; Leader stops her, then positions her perpendicular to him, and sends her out to the side at a perpendicular angle on the close side of the embrace. Here, the Follower's energy is out and up to maintain a perpendicular body (not curved concave or convex). On the close side of the embrace, using the barrida for the Follower, the Leader sends her out into a colgada; then he steps around and behind. For the Follower, if her hips pass his, then her free leg must step. The Leader steps behind and around Follower as she steps through.

Sunday, September 28
Luciana Valle Workshops:
(1) Rebotes 1: Techniques & Mechanics
(2) Rebotes 2: Structure and Dynamics
(3) Dynamic Combinations

Rebotes 1 and 2: Rebotes are a combination of sacadas and changes of direction, which creates a rebound motion that is very dynamic. First we worked on sacada technique. In sacadas, there are two parts: (1) the entrance/positioning of the foot, and then (2) the transfer of weight. These two things happen sequentially, not at the same time (which is more typical for tango, where body and leg go together always when the leader moves). In sacadas, first the leader marks the place with his foot, sends Follower with the Leader's top, then commits by the Leader changing his weight. We did sacadas in parallel and cross systems. Leader must pay attention to the sanding foot. For Follower's technique: for the curve of the front cross, (1) bra line is toward the leader, and (2) step should be curved (like for molinete). The sacada rule is a big step out of radius farther from center creates the sacada, and Leader sends Follower slightly far to make room. During the change of direction, the Leader accompanies the Follower's standing leg. In this case, the move is linear because Leader and Follower are going in opposite circles.

For the actual rebotes themselves, we worked on forward and back ones, left and right ones.

Dynamic Combinations: In this workshop, maestra had us do sequences that combined what we learned in her workshops (linear boleos, barridas, tomas & pasadas, colgadas, and rebotes).

Wednesday, October 1
Technica (Naturaleza del Movimiento) class taught by Alejandra Gutty @ the Escualea Argentina de Tango (EAT) Centro @ the Galerias Pacifico (19.50 pesos, or 210 pesos for a 12-class card). EAT Centro now has two rooms, not just one, so there's now double the opportunity for fun and learning, with a lot more milonga and technique classes. We worked on a very simple sequence, but the sequence was not the point. The point of the class was to match our breathing to our partner and to the movements of our dance, to step together with intention, intensity and unctuousness. Maestra taught that the movement in our dance comes from our bodies and hips before our legs. Her style is with a fully vertical (no lean) on-axis posture of head over hips over feet.

A Puro Tango afternoon/early evening milonga @ Salon Canning (Scalabrini Ortiz 1331, 10 pesos). This milongo was mostly porteno with very few international tangoheads (except for me and two other folks that I could tell). It wasn't overly crowded, and the seating was somewhat structured with men mostly on one side of the room, and women mostly on another, but there were also couples (same and opposite sex) seated by the host in those areas. So it was somewhat more random than traditional milonga seating. I did not call for a reservation, but got there early enough so that wasn't an issue. I had an OK time. They served complimentary pannetone, which was a treat.

Note of the day on my life in Buenos Aires: The apartment is centrally located, near Confiteria Ideal, which makes it really convenient, but the grocery and food stores are not quite as nice as in my old 'hood (Palermo). Certainly, there is nothing like my favorite, Lo De Las Chicas (Guise 1879), which sells absolutely delicious home cooking, hechas con amor. I like that place so much that it was worth it to duck out of A Puro Tango early enough to make my way over to pick up dinner for a few days. Their lasagna is divine. I also bought meatballs & mashed potatoes/mashed calabasas, a chicken leg, a couple of portions of tartas, and acelga (swiss chard) balls, all for a whopping 50 pesos (US$17). I suspect I will try to go there as much as possible, despite it being quite a way away and only convenient if I go to Canning. Yes, it is that good, yes it is worth it. Their hours are Lunes a Viernes 11:30 a 16 y 19 a 23 hs; Sabados 11:30 a 15:50 hs. Unfortunately, my favorite wine/cheese/meat shop (Pampa Linda, on the corner of Guise y Mansilla) was already closed for the night, so I had to pick up a bottle of wine from Carrefour (large supermercado). It sucked. The cork had no wine stains on it (which means it was stored upright for most of its life). There seems to be a weird shortage of coin change here right now (which means lots of free rides on the subte, but longer lines at the supermercado as the checkers portion out their coins carefully).

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