Thursday, November 13, 2008

Scouting Tour (November 6-12)

Thursday, November 6, 2008
TangoVida Ladies' Technique and Milonga lesson. In Ladies' Technique we began with our usual foot strengthening, articulation and embellishment exercises. Then we worked on the posture and weight change of our feet, forward to back and back to forward. Then we did walking exercises, first with no shoes, then backwards with shoes, then forward with shoes. In a linear fashion in front of the mirrors, we did the back, side, forward steps of the molinete. Finally, we worked on doing quick quick steps. In Milonga, we began with the basic baldosa. Then we did the alternate baldosa (without the back step). The step was a cute one in parallel system: Get Follower to cross, then Leader walks back counterclockwise in a circle, while Follower does forward ochitos counterclockwise. We did the Pepito alternative, which is in cross system, where Leader does kicks in front of the Follower ochitos as she goes around him. The tricky thing about both alternatives was the timing of getting out of it.

Friday, November 7, 2008
Forever Tango Workshop on Giros and Sacadas taught by Vanesa Villalba y David Leguizamon. Vanesa speaks English, David does not. We began with walking. Maestra emphasized the heel being close to the floor when walking, the continual centered weight shift (your chest not being behind your legs or in front of your legs, but centered over on top of your legs as you step), and counter rotation in the chest. With respect to the giro, the Follower's timing depends on the Leader's opening of the chest, as communicated through his arm pull. It can be regular normal timing, or fast. The Follower always has to be in front of the Leader. Follower needs to change her speed if the Leader changes his speed. In the fwd-side-back-side-fwd steps of the giro, the back-side steps are usually double time. It was a very small class, with one Leader and four Followers, so it was more like a private group lesson, with each Follower being being able to dance with Maestro and the other Leader (who was very good). They gave us a lot of individual instruction and group criticism. Of the group Follower criticisms, Maestro said our weight was too up -- that he couldn't feel us and that we kept by ourselves. He recommended we try to be more grounded, that the Leader needs to feel the Follower, and vice versa. Also, we all tended to have our arms too up -- like chickens. He emphasized we needed to be more down in our shoulders, but up in our centers (this reminded me of what Alejandro Biggo teaches). Regarding the giro, the back step is an overturned back ocho. The Leader makes space -- lots of it -- for her to keep close to him on her back step. Follower needs to wait for the pivot. When the Follower steps in the giro, it is helpful to imagine a line that goes down to the floor from the Leader's elbow, and to always try to step on that spot. We did the giros in close embrace, with no Follower counterbalance or weight with backward intention, and leading being straight up on his axis (though our leader had a tendency to tilt forward in the chest, which a lot of them do). Maestros emphasized that the counterbalance/centrifugal force thing happens only with faster (open) giros, but was not necessary in close embrace. Also, in case embrace, there is less pivot and hip swivel on the back step, and be more like a back cross step so that connection is maintained and not broken. Adding the Leader sacada, the Leader in the giro should always have his feet touching the floor as much as possible -- either heel or toe, it doesn't matter which (and Maestro showed us doing it both ways). Leader can have upward or downward intention. The step was a simple one, but we did a lot of work on quality of movement: 8CB to cross, Follower pivots (on the open side), collects her feet dramatically with downward intention and knees bent, does air tap embellishment to step over forward across Leader, Follower left side step during which Leader sacadas, then back into cross for resolution. It was great to see so many good dancers in this class -- Olivia, Andre, Bobbi -- and what a sport of Maestro to dance with us (I've been in classes where the Maestro refuses to dance with his students because he was performing that night and didn't want to mess up his form).

Monte Cristo Club milonga. I skipped the lesson (soltadas, with Gary and Lisette). The milonga was only lightly attended, but many of my favorite leaders were there, so I had a wonderful time. Floor craft was not an issue at all. Negracha y Diego were there, and danced with the locals. They are such awesome people. :o)

Saturday, November 8
Forever Tango Workshop on Boleos and Ganchos taught by Victoria Galoto y Juan Paulo Horvath. Both speak English and are warm, nice, friendly teachers. They started us right away on a sequence and gave us much individual feedback: Follower steps side right. Weight change. Left foot forward step. Weight change. Left foot back step. Right foot back step. Follower pivot cross back to close side. Forward ocho with left foot across front of Leader to open side of embrace (Leader opens up his shoulder to open space). 2nd forward overturned ocho to closed side. Leader back gancho of his right leg to Follower's forward right leg, then back to collect (At the gancho Leader and Follower hips need to be together at the point of the gancho. It's a relaxed kick in the gancho, not a forced one that makes the Follower jump up.) Follower steps side right. Low floor boleo of left foot (with Leader having down energy and lots of impulse in his knee flexion of his right knee). Sandwich stop. Follower outside enganche leg wrap of Leader's right leg with Follower's left leg, and then another back boleo snap of Follower's left leg. Follower steps forward with her left leg, then does outside leg wrap of Leader's left leg with her right leg, to collect and then directly into a forward ocho of right foot across, in and around Leader. Side step left. Outside leg wrap of Leader's sacadaing right leg with Follower's right leg. Technical points: (1) In boleo: knees together, one behind the other; (2) Follower should always follow the Leader's shoulders; (3) Follower weight changes need to be at the same time as Leaders. They can practice this at home alone, stepping with weight changes to be faster and more responsive. (4) Knees should be relaxed and not locked or overextended. (5) Leader and Follower should move together with their centers. You can practice this lead/follow exercise with Follower hands on Leader's shoulders. It was a great lesson, with the same number of folks as yesterday, so it was like having a group private. What a treat it was for us all to be able to dance with and get lots of individual instruction and pointers from los maestros.

La Milonga De Nora @ Allegro with Los Hermanos Macana teaching the lesson. The lessons were packed. In Beginner, we began with one tango. Then we reviewed the basics. We began with feet together, parallel (not turned out). In the Follower's cross, feet should be together (not widely crossed with feet not touching at all). The open side of the embrace is always to the center of the room, to respect the line of dance. At 2, there is contact with the legs. For Leader, the 3 step is on the inside. To get Follower into the cross, the Leader turns his chest. The sequence taught was an easy one: Follower side step right, Follower back ocho. Parada on open side of the embrace, Leader walks to other side, Follower pasadas to open side. In Milonga, maestros noted that "traspie" is "tras" = behind + "Pie" = foot. The did four steps: (1) Traspie to Follower's right (Leader's left); (2) Iupi (yupie) step, which is Follower back left, collect with right, side step left, collect with right (opposite footing for Leader); (3) "downtown" which is Follower left foot forward (with downward intention led by Leader) then two side steps of the right, collecting each time, and with upward intention, to step back with her left foot, collecting or doing a traspie step with right foot; (4) Follower forward traspie (Leader back traspie). This is basically a stutter step of two small forward steps for Follower in same time that she usually does one step (or two steps back for Leader). The performance was truly outstanding. Los Hermanos Macana are wonderful, fun, at times campy showmen. Their lead transfers were fast and witty. Their leg work -- oh my! The cast of Forever Tango showed up to enjoy the performance, as did many of the local maestros. The milonga had many extra followers, so I sat out a lot.

Sunday, November 9
Ushering at Forever Tango. It was a great show. I found it more accessible and understandable than when I saw the 2002(?) production, likely because my tango is a lot better now than it was then. Funny, I have taken lessons with half the cast (Jorge Torres, and the others mentioned in this Scouting Tour).

Studio Gracia Milonga with Lesson by Negracha y Diego Lanau. The lesson topic for this month is Milonga. We began with walking on the beat, both inside and outside partner. Then we walked with counter rotation and connection to each other in the chest. The step taught was a turn where follower is walking back two steps, then side, then forward two steps. We practiced this with chairs as obstacles. It was a great class. I had a great time at the milonga, even though it was lightly attended (likely because of the competing Cafe Cocomo milonga). I got a chance to dance with leaders I never danced with before, and with some that I hardly ever dance with.

Wednesday, November 12
CCSF Followers' Technique and Advanced classes. The topic of the night was Milonga, and we began with a video clip of the CITA 2007 performance of Javier Rodriguez and Andrea Misse dancing to Canaro's Reliquias Portenas. This is not the exact clip, but one similar In Follower's Technique, we began with walking exercises, really trying to stay calm and catch the end of the beat with our steps, which gives us a little bit of time to play in our footwork. Maestra noted that, unlike tango, is no caress of the floor in milonga, there is no lick, and feet can ride a hair above the floor than normal, and that you can pick up your feet a slight bit more. We also worked on the toe tap embellishments, doing toe taps behind us as we walked forward, and doing heel taps in front of us as we walked back. While doing the grapevine, we practiced doing the beat back embellishment on the outside after our back step. Then we practiced doing ochitos. In Advanced, we worked on a turn sequence.


November 13 TangoVida Ladies' Technique & Milonga Lessons

November 16 Luiza Paes Workshops & Milonga @ Alberto's in Mountain View

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