Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Scouting Tour (November 20-December 3) Fandango + CCSF

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Fandango de Tango notes (November 26-30)

Guillermo Merlo y Fernanda Ghi
Quality of Movement in Sacadas
We did simple sacadas of Leader's left foot of Follower's right foot to back cross pop of Follower's left foot forward to resolution (with Leader weight changes). We also did this on the other side. We did this to slow diSarli music, then to faster, rhythmic D'Arienzo music. The focus for Followers was quality of movement to make this look elegant. The focus for Leaders was to learn how to lead this.

Guillermo Merlo y Fernanda Ghi
Dance Utilizing Momentum
We did a change of direction with pivoted weight change for Leader so Follower steps perpendicular with left leg, and Leader's left leg, followed by Follower molinete (side, back, side, forward) to resolution. For the next figure, we did a reverse Americana with opening on the open side of the embrace, so Follower does something like a back boleo with her right leg (Leader with his left leg), side step, Leader sacada to other side (reverse). Change in dynamics: sometimes you go fast, and sometimes you hold (or go really slow). In tango, one person sends the information, and the other receives it. That's how we dance. We need connection and we need to wait to hear the information that is being conveyed.

Fabian Salas y Maria Paz Giorgi
Sacadas Technique & Combinations
We began with Follower forward ochos. Then we did Follower overturned forward ochos (note: Follower's arm slides/adjusts). To this, we added Leader sacadas (which are Leader regular forward ochos), which had the effect of making the dancers go in a diagonal zig zag direction down the line of dance, taking their ochos steps opposite to each other. Next figure: Leader back sacada. Leader does forward sacada with right leg to Follower's left leg on the open side of the embrace. Then Leader does left leg back sacada of Follower's right leg on the close side of the embrace. Here, the dancers are almost in a straight line, and the close side of the embrace adjusts. Maestro emphasized that the Leader's feet for the back sacada are in 90 degrees to each other. From here, we go into Follower clockwise molinete. On the side step, Leader does regular sacada out to salida to cross. Next Figure: Follower steps side right (Leader left); Leader lifts her, then changes his weight. She does back step, side step, forward step for molinete. On her forward step, Leader does sacada. Then we did a series of pivoted turns with changes in direction. Leader should use Follower momentum to get around.

Thursday, November 27, 2008
Guillermo Merlo y Fernanda Ghi
Synchronizing Turns & Combining Elements
In the molinete, Leader kicks on her back step, starting with back-side-forward-side. Change Leader kick to Leader sacada (which goes side, back [Leader sacada]). Leader steps back with right leg; Follower steps forward with right leg simultaneously to rotate completely around. Leader is slightly forward intended; Follower must not be back intended, but on the balls of her feet. Follower steps forward with her right leg.

Pablo Pugliese y Noel Strazza
Back Sacadas for Leaders & Followers
"sacada" comes from the verb "sacar" - to take out. In tango, we should consider it an "entrance" or a "back step to a certain location." There should be clean, easy contact with the feet (not abrupt, or that would cause a huge movement on Follower's part). In dancing tango, it is important to know who is the center of the rotation, and where the axis is. The Leader rotates so that center of turn is where Follower is. The most important concept is where the axis is of the turn when you do the sacada and how can we walk around this axis. Also important: timing. The figure: Leader back sacada when Follower goes forward. Follower back sacada of Leader's back left leg when Leader goes forward with his right leg, with Follower front contra boleo to pivot all the way into back sacada of her right leg, then she steps side, forward to resolution.

Nito y Elba
Different Caminadas & Resolutions
In walking, we did Follower back step, back step, cross, while Leader walks in and out, weaving (if Leader hooks behind with his feet, he will always step forward with his forward leg). Based on this step, we did variations: (1) A rock step for Follower whereby Leader gets around her clockwise and counterclockwise. (2) For Follower, Forward overturned front ocho steps, where Leader sandwiches her foot at each step. The resolution is Follower right leg back gancho of Leader's right leg, when she is outside him, on the closed side of the embrace, to optional boleo, to step. Leader stops her left foot, then does 2 barridas circularly around her to resolution. This was a fantastic workshop. In the past, I've always had varying levels of satisfaction when it came to the lessons I've taken with Nito y Elba, and it dawned on me that it entirely depended on how much I understood their Spanish. So I struggled in their class in BsAs since there was no translator, but I always do great in their classes in Austin because there is a top-notch translator. Tango is often spoken of in terms of "vocabulary" and it seems that Nito's vocabulary is of someone who has three Ph.Ds (in Physics, Sociology, and Classical Literature), so he knows lots of really interesting words and really interesting ways to string them together, while the rest of us are at grade-school level vocabularies. So we all have the same alphabet, but Nito's words and sentences are truly genius and so much more beyond...what most of us can think of creating improvisationally and musically.

Friday, November 28, 2008
Fabian Salas y Maria Paz Giorgi
Combining Colgadas & Volcadas
When Leader sends out Follower's back left leg, that's the colgada portion. We practiced sending out Follower's left leg to settle in back cross of right leg, which causes the right leg to pop forward. Then we tried the same thing in circular, suspended motion with Follower's left leg hanging back straight out. (Follower's technical point: keep left foot toe touching floor). Then we did a gancho of Follower's right leg of Leader's left leg, so her weight is on her left leg and right leg is free. Here, Leader sends her right leg back, then hooks it around behind her left leg to make her left leg pop forward. To get her to gancho, from the cross, Follower steps forward outside Leader with her right leg, then takes a side step with her left leg, whereby Leader sacadas to lead a gancho of her right leg of his left leg. Follower's technical point: Gancho goes high (not low). Then we attempted to make the post-gancho colgada circular and suspended with two steps for Leader.

Guillermo Merlo y Fernanda Ghi
Vals & the Giro
For some odd reason, I took no notes during this class.

Alex Krebs
Musicality: Hearing & Interpreting Different Rhythms
What does it mean to be musical? How do you interpret rhythm? We first practiced walking, backwards, forwards, double slow, single time, and double time. We then did one dance, dancing on just the slow beat. Then we did one dance, dancing on the slow beat or on 3. The Leader's lead comes from the impulse pushing his body forward, which comes from his standing leg. We then practiced walking with cadencia (up and down in our ribs), and with torsion (forward and back rotation in our chest), and with combining them both (which Maestro called "kayaking" and which results in a rolling motion in the upper body, as if you were rowing a kayak). When dancing to Pugliese, the Leader dances as if someone is pulling him from the chest. When dancing to D'Arienzo, the Leader dances as if someone is pushing him from his back. We did one dance to Pugliese's Gallo Ciego and one dance to D'Arienzo. Maestro made a comment about Leader's toe lead in the walk forward: A toe lead prevents forward movement of the body because of friction on the floor (so don't do it). He advocates more of a heel lead (like regular walking) or whole foot engagement for leader (with toes sweeping floor in motion, but landing on heel when stepping). Next, Maestro played D'Arienzo's Rawson, a song with a lot of syncopas in it. Syncopas are never predictable where it happens in the music, which is why you have to be familiar with every single tango song in existence. In dancing, the head and core should always be even (no bouncing, no step & go). Our homework: Listen to your tango collection and try to find the syncopas. Every orchestra has them.

Fabian Salas y Maria Paz Giorgi
Sacadas for Men & Women
Bottom line: it is better when dancers are farther apart than close to each other when doing sacadas. I skipped out of class early, and instead, went on over to:

Diego DiFalco y Carolina Zokalski
Variations in Rhythm & Examples
We danced to Pan y Agua, El Choclo, El Flores (Pugliese), and a Canaro during his movie period. Then we practiced dancing during different instruments (just violin, just bandoneon, just piano, etc.). This was a truly excellent class.

Saturday, November 29, 2008
Diego DiFalco y Carolina Zokalski
Milonga Lisa
Milonga Lisa is flat, plain milonga (like Tango salon-- elegant, proper, smooth), with not much traspie, and the most important aspect of which is walking. The steps are longer than traspie, faster, and there is more travel, and less syncopation. Try to find your personality when you dance. Milonga Lisa is flat, elegant, moving, long steps. Traspie does a lot of small, tight moves. There's always space to dance, you just have to manage the space.

Diego DiFalco y Carolina Zokalski
Enrosques & Planeos for Lead & Follow
We did simple planeos with Follower leg back, both clockwise and counterclockwise, and leg forward (left clockwise, right counterclockwise). Then we worked on enrosques. Enroseque comes from the verb "enroscar" - to coil, to wind, to screw. We did 8CB to 5 (cross), with Follower enrosque while leader walks around her. Then we did Follower molinete while Leaders feet is in enrosque. Many leaders realized it is hard to turn on one leg all the time. Then we practiced the Leader doing enrosques and lapices continuously while Follower does molinetes around him. Then we tried the Leader doing planeos and enrosques while Follower does molietes around him. For both, it is important to keep head level, and have knee flexion (not forcing ankle strength). The key is the control the movement.

Nito y Elba
Steps for Tango Show
These were basically steps from their tango show, Tango Porteno. We began with a series of embellished walking exercises: walking with back tucks, walking with back boleo into amague, walking with front enrosques to end in front tucks. Taking these steps, Follower does simple counterclockwise molinete while Leader does a series of fancy footwork: a lot of enrosques, lapice, into four back ocho tuck steps, into lapice, into sacada of his left foot of her back right leg on her forward step. Next, we did another sequence: Follower does counterclockwise molinete whereby Leader sacadas on her forward step, and another sacada on her side step, to displace her right leg with his right leg, to lead Follower to do back boleo into a forward kick in between leader's legs. Follower can do multiple boleos/kicks as Leader leads them as he walks around. Maestro says there are lots of possibilities in tango. We should think about them and figure them out. The goal is to be able to be spontaneous with them. That's improvisation.

Nito y Elba
Agujas (Needles)
We began with the same series of embellished walking exercises as the prior class. Maestro emphasized that it is important to have good technique for doing the molinete, and that you should do them around a chair five minutes a day, every day, so that you can do them yourself and not rely on your partner for support and so that you don't pull him off axis. We learned a couple of pretty figures with needles for the Leader (rulo into front cross amague), then spin pivot on one foot.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Guillermo Merlo y Fernanda Ghi
Milonga with Amagues (Provoking)
This was basically a traspie class. We began with exercises to get the traspie footwork (forward left, right; side left, right; back left, right). Then we did a turning figure using traspie, which was basically a series of crossed/diagonal steps to go around in a circle. The second figure was a "show tangoish" pose figure.

Guillermo Merlo y Fernanda Ghi
What's Going On With The Music?
This was an excellent musicality workshop. We began with walking exercises, stepping only on the 1, and then on the 1 and 3. Next, doing on the 8CB and walking, we danced to diSarli's La Cumparsita, to understand when to step to recognize the beat. Then we did the 8CB and walking to diSarli's Don Juan, trying on the 1, on the 1 and 3, and the 1 and 4, and on the 1,2,3 and 4. Then we added ochos, forward and back, on the 1 and on the 1 and 3. Next, we did Follower clockwise molinete whereby Leader does series of sacadas with his right leg (doing weight shift and collections) to her forward, side, and back steps. He then pivots her around to resolution. We tried this figure of molinete + sacadas stepping only on 1 and 3 to diSarli. Then we tried dancing everything only on 1 (which made us all dance very slowly). Maestra noted that when you change the orchestra, there is different emphasis. As an example, they played Gallo Ciego -- first Salgan's version (which has a 1, 3 emphasis), and then Pugliese's version (which only has the 1 emphasis). We then danced these concepts (on the 1 or 1 and 3) to D'Arienzo's Pensalo Bien, a slow Piazzolla (Piazzolla is more challenging to dance to since the melody is so strong that it is hard to keep the rhythm). You can change the feeling between dancing on the 1 or 1 and 3 in the same song. This was an excellent class.

Diego DiFalco y Carolina Zokalski
Corridas & Variations in Speed.
Corrdias are fast running steps. We began with the Americana into fast ochitos facing each other. Here, we need to make sure both sides are even. Then we did a walking exercise, with walking with our feet in front corss (left and right, forward and back) and in back cross (left and right, forward and back). We revisited the ochitos, this time doing it forward to back to forward, so hips face all the way forward facing each other, then all the way away from each other, then all the way forward again, like tiny, fast molinetes. Next, we did Leader's corrida with crossed feet where he is center of the circle while Follower does molinete clockwise around him (Leader's feet are crossed with his left leg in front of his right leg in his corrida steps). Then we linked them all together: Linear forward ochitos to Follower's right, reversing to linear micro molinetes to Follower's left, to reverse jump to Follower back ocho with right leg to clockwise molinete around Leader doing crossed feet corrida when he is center. It was a great class.

Overall, this was a really fun, great conference. This year, Guillermo y Fernanda, Diego y Carolina, and Nito y Elba were my favorite maestros. The Thanksgiving Brunch was divine, and even though the food selection was smaller than last year, the item selection was superior. Fabian is looking good -- he's slimmed down, and seems really happy (joyful!) with Maria Paz (they shared smooches and smiles in class). The hotel staff was extremely attentive, and it's super convenient to charge everything to my room, even the $1.08 purchase from the snack shop. I love the South Austin Salad from the Lobby Bar, and the Southwestern Salad from the snack shop. My feet do not feel like raw, bloody stumps, since I had the sense this year to wear dance sneakers to every class, saving my heels and feet for the milongas. Sunday's milonga is always my favorite. It is less crowded overall, so basically everyone has a chance to dance with everyone else, and floorcraft is easier. The Masters show was more enjoyable than last year, since the time between the two portions was shortened (so flow was maintained). (Maria Paz wore Alanis shoes during the performance). Happily, two of my tango buddies joined me for this, and had a fun time as well. I even ventured to WalMart on Black Friday (don't hate me), just to see how to get there (it's tricky walking across the busy roadway, and if you take the wrong crosswalks, you might end up on a much lengthier route), and what they had (full grocery section). In the classes, there were slightly more women than men, which was a tiny bit of a bummer for me since I had to stand out more than last year. I took it all in stride though... It was marvelous fun dancing with so many of the great leaders that I met last year, and who have improved since then as well. The conference wasn't super huge, but wasn't super small. It felt very good in size, never too crowded or empty.

Random interesting things I heard at the conference:
The Leader dances with his upper body, the Follower dances with her lower body.
Tip for men: Use moleskin for converting the bottom of shoes to tango shoes.

Wednesday, December 3
CCSF Classes. Maestra was in BsAs to teach at the Queer Tango Festival and dance with Tango Con*Fusion. In Followers' Technique, we did dance conditioning with Annie Roake. Then, by popular request, Jessica led some foot strengthening exercises and forward and back ocho review at the barre. In Advanced, David and Nancy Mendoza taught the lesson. The subject was molinetes (which means "windmill"). Maestros noted that molinetes are best done in open embrace as it works better that way. The Follower has to look at the Leader's left shoulder and follow it. There is lift in the arms for both Leader and Follower, as if they are picking up beach balls. Elbows are down; otherwise they put too much force on the partner. Maestros discussed the historical roots of open versus close embrace, as well as the spatial and cultural aspects. They noted that to be a well-rounded dancer, you should be able to dance in both open and close embrace, as in open embrace there are many interesting figures that can be done that can't be done in close embrace. We began with both Leader and Follower doing molinetes around each other, both clockwise and counterclockwise, back-side-forward-side. Then we did the simple molinete with Leader with teakettle arms (down behind his back) in the center just stepping while Follower does back-side-forward-side around him, imagining there is a golden hula hoop placed around him on the floor, and to step on the hula hoop. Then we added the open embrace, and Leader sacadas. 8CB to 5 (cross), with Leader right foot hooking behind his left foot into a "T". Follower does forward step with her right foot in clockwise molinete; Leader sacadas with his left foot. Follower does side step, Leader sacadas with his right foot. Here he can turn this into an ocho cortado by leading her back into the cross of left foot over right foot. OR, she can continue the molinete with her back step, then he pivots so that the inside of his left foot meets the inside of her forward left foot. Then she does her left foot side step to the left, and Leader does side step to the right. Both collect. It was nice brushing up on the molinete and hearing their technical refinements of it. Maestro noted that when the Leader's knees are too straight, it causes him to tip forward on top; so it's important for the Leader to have flexion in his knees. Maestros did a wonderful performance to DiSarli's Don Juan that included the figure they taught, and also much much more, with kicks, air lifts, suspended legs, ganchos, boleos, Follower and Leader embellishments, etc. It was quite a treat.

No comments: