Thursday, January 22, 2009

January 15-21

Friday, January 16, 2009
Monte Cristo Milonga with lesson by Cecilia Gonzalez and Donato Juarez: Parada and Pasadas.
We did a regular parada and pasada. Leader's right foot meets Follower's right foot on closed side of the embrace. Weight transfer. Leader goes back to give Follower room to rotate and do her pasada from the closed side to open. Technical points: Don't be too tense with the arms. Leader's right foot goes toward the center of Follower's foot to give her room to pivot. If it's too near the heel, she can't pivot. If it's too close, she doesn't have room to move. Next: Leader right foot steps back, Follower left foot steps back outside partner. There is a change of direction to other side. Leader does forward ocho while Follower does back ocho. Leader's left leg paradas (with weight change back to front and around); Follower does right leg pasada to the close side of the embrace as she stands on her left supporting leg. Follower forward ocho to resolution. Technical points: Follower always bends knees. Next: Follower back ocho to close side of the embrace. Leader's left leg "sacadas" Follower's left leg. Next: Leader left leg steps forward outside (Follower right leg steps back); Leader's right leg steps forward (foot can be a bit angled in to help with what's coming next), while Follower left leg steps back. Leader pivots counterclockwise on his right foot (foot turns to point toes into 10:00) to do a back sacada catch with is left leg of Follower's left leg. Leader does reverse pasada with his right leg, stepping back over Follower's left leg. Follower does pasada with her right leg (standing on supporting left leg) from open to close side of the embrace. Technical points: Leader needs to relax the embrace as he pivots around in the back sacada catch, and the Leader's feet touches the Follower's foot, but not too close because she needs room to pivot. Next: Leader right foot steps forward, Follower left foot steps back. Leader left foot forward parada while Follower steps right back. Leader's left leg; Follower's left leg. Leader pasadas with right leg clockwise. Follower's right leg steps forward. Leader sacadas with his left leg the Follower's trailing left leg. Leader sacadas with his Right leg the Follower's trailing right leg. Since the class was extremely crowded and the students very intent and enthusiastic about trying out what they learned, Maestra emphasized that as dancers, we are part of the community of Argentine Tango dancers at the milongas and in class, so it is very important that we pay attention to floorcraft as we are part of a shared bigger picture. Despite her emphasis, the floorcraft at the milonga afterwards was unruly.

Saturday, January 17, 2009
Cecilia Gonzalez and Donato Juarez workshops.
(1) Milonga: Looking Beyond Traspie.
Indeed we did. We worked a lot on pivoting around each other and changes of direction, Follower forward sacadas and Follower boleos in the context of milonga.

(2) Ganchos: Get it right! Technical aspects in depth. We began with one dance doing all the ganchos we knew. First gancho: In cross system, we began with the Follower back ocho. Leader steps to the side. Follower does overturned back ocho, back step right leg. Leader "sacadas" with his right foot, the Follower's right leg, with his heel a little up and knee bent and rotated a bit. Follower does gancho of Leader's right leg with her left foot, with her hips facing away from Leader. Next, we tried doing this on the other side, where we needed to open the embrace a little bit to make this work. Here, it was especially important that the Leader really lead the overturned back ocho so the Follower is near and goes around very close to him. The Leader lets the shoulders open on the close side of the embrace to lead the Follower's overturned back ocho easier. The Leader's embrace changes, as Leader's left hand goes in close to his shoulder when he leads the Follower to overturned back ochos on the open side of the embrace. Next, we combined two ganchos in the line of dance with the idea of leading ganchos to the outside of the dance floor, so there is a Leader pivot in between each gancho. The Follower steps forward with her right leg, then a Follower left side step pivot, stepping back with her left leg to do a back gancho with her right leg of Leader's left leg on the open side of the embrace. Next: In a 45 degree V embrace, the Leader's right leg meets Follower cross (no weight change for Leader, but weight change for Follower because of cross). Leader arrives to his axis, transfers the energy to release Follower's right leg, then he brings her back into him to gancho his extended right leg as they face each other on the close side of the embrace. Technical points: In the gancho, the Follower's knee points down. She must always be on her axis and maintain connection while doing the gancho, and when she does the gancho, she should have the same energy as what the Leader leads (not overdoing it or underdoing it). The ganchoing leg movement is from the thigh/hip joint (not just below the knee). The supporting standing leg is bent. The Follower's thigh makes contact with with the Leader's thighs. Leaders should not wait to for the gancho; they must lead it.

(3) Ganchos for Men and Women. New, exciting (and challenging) combinations with ganchos. In close embrace, Follower steps side right, Follower steps left foot forward, leader steps back left and turns hips. Leader does right leg gancho of Follower's forward stepping left leg. Dancers are at 90 degrees to each other, with their hips touching. Follower does back ocho, going forward and back, with Leader (not when Leader goes side to side) on the open side of the embrace. Leader leading the intention of the boleo turned this Follower overturned back ocho into into back linear boleo (gancho) through Leader's legs. For Follower's technique: She should pivot with her feet together, then let the leg go straight back at the last moment between the Leader's legs.

Sunday, January 18, 2009
Cecilia Gonzalez and Donato Juarez workshops.
(4) Giros in Combinations (i.e., sacadas). Techniques absolutely necessary for lever level of tango.
Follower did counterclockwise molinete: back left, side right, forward left, collect. Leader's part during this time: he does his weight changes, etc., and he also steps around the Follower (he does not stand in place). Pivot to change direction to clockwise molinete: back right, side left, forward right (Leader does left leg sacada of Follower's trailing left leg), small side left (like a collection) to resolution. We spent a lot of time on this, specifically the timing and trying to staying the line of dance and our floorcrafting. Follower must not be too stiff. Next: Follower steps back left (Leader forward right), to clockwise molinete: Follower does back right (Leader forward right to take space Follower leaves), side left, forward right (Leader left leg sacada of Follower's trailing left leg). Next: Counterclockwise molinete: Follower Back left, side right, forward left, side right, back left. First ending: back ocho reverse to other side back, side. Second ending: collect, turn her to do clockwise molinete forward right, side left, back right, pivot back into line of dance.

(5) Sacadas for Him & Her. Indispensable technique. From the normal system walk, there is a stop and pivot. Follower does forward ochos while Leader does side steps, back into normal system walk. Follower counterclockwise molinete of forward left, side right, while Leader does pivot on his right leg to do back sacada of left leg of Follower's trailing left leg. Next: Follower does back ochos, to the left and to the right, while Leader steps opposite to where the Follower is. This was tricky. On the closed side of the embrace, after the weight transfer of her back ocho lands on her right foot, she does overturned back ocho so her left leg sacadas, going back in between leader's legs. Follower's technique: She needs to pivot a lot, but not twist the spine more. Her right arm needs to be free, not blocking the range of motion, to have maximum pivots. The leg that sacadas (enters) is weightless, and then after that there is a transfer of weight (so you don't kick through or cause pain to the sacada receiver). From the close side: Back ocho. Overturned back ocho. Follower left leg sacadas in between Leader's legs. Leader and Follower back sacads in the context of turning and swirling around each other. Open the steps so he can enter.

(6) Planeos and Sacadas. Beautiful complex combos for men and women! First: Men's Planeo as Follower molinetes clockwise around him. He does the amague needle of his right leg while standing on his supporting left leg, into a reverse rulo into a right leg sacada int Follower's trailing left leg. Second: Follower Planeo: From Follower forward ochos, as she steps left toward the open side of the embrace, the Leader projects the energy intentional diagonally and down, so she does an exaggerated ocho of her right leg way out behind and to the right side, then Leader lets the energy back up at the point of Follower collection. It is not necessary for the Leader to go down too as the Follower goes down, but he can. His goal here was to try to just lead her energy intention down while he remain upright. Third: The relationship of dancers was similar to the Funny Volacada, only the angle of lean is with Follower forward. Follower steps forward left as dancers are in 90 degree angle toward each other. Leader oversteps her so Follower if off axis, with body tilted forward. Her right leg is free, so it falls forward and then leader leads it to cross in front of her supporting standing left leg. For the leader there is no twist of hips. For the leader to lead this, he just needs to overstep to the outside of her to get her right leg to be free, and then side step to the his right to get her free right leg to back cross in front of her left leg. Fourth: This was an away outside planeo, using colgada energy. From the Follower ochos overturned forward ocho, Follower steps forward with her left leg, while Leader steps outside and diagonally forward (parallel to hers) with his left leg. This sends the energy intention of her right leg out, then it comes back in to cross in front of her left leg. There is a weight change to pivot around so her weight is now on her standing supporting right leg (basically, this whole right leg out to pivot then change weight to stand on right leg is a needle [aguja]), then her left leg does back sacada between Leader's legs. To emphasize again: The embraced has to be relaxed here, otherwise movement will be blocked. We then linked this last "planeo" to the Leader's needle/rulo/sacada "planeo" during Follower clockwise molinete.

Quite frankly, I was a little disappointed with these workshops (so it was kind of agony transcribing my notes). The workshop titles seemed to emphasize technique, yet there was little discussion of the any in-depth technical aspects. Mostly, maestros taught very interesting steps/sequences, many that I had never done or thought of before, but some were the standard same old, same old (Leader's back sacada, anyone?!). One interesting thing I noticed about Maestra's teaching style (Maestro spoke in Spanish so Maestra translated), was that her language and verbiage is different from what I am accustomed to. So it was more difficult for me to understand her audibly even though she spoke fluent English. In describing what went on in class, I have used my verbiage, not hers (especially for the planeo seems she calls lots of moves planeos, even though I would have labeled them agujas [needles], volcadas, colgadas, rulos, exaggerated ochos, etc.). That being said, I did like maestros' communication energy -- they are very calm, their voices melodic and soothing, with a very patient cadence. And kudos for them for reiterating ad nauseum the importance of floorcraft and being in community with other dancers, so point your boleos and ganchos outside so none of the other dancers on the floor will get hurt.

Studio Gracia Milonga. I missed the lesson by Negracha y Diego, but had a fantastic time at the milonga itself though it very crowded, and floorcraft was an issue at times. Regardless, the milonga was great fun and I had a truly splendid time catching up on dancing with many of my favorite leaders. There were many folks who were celebrating their birthdays, so the birthday vals was quite crowded. We had two large cakes to celebrate. Negracha y Diego did two dance demos. We attempted to do Chacarera, but Diego was not happy with the Chacarera song the DJ played. Negracha y Diego will be back in the SF Bay Area in May. Woo hoo!! The Bay Area tango community is truly blessed to have such talented maestros visit us so often and for such extended periods of time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Studio TangoVida.
In Fundamentals, we worked on walking: forward, back, with partner. We also worked on leading: how to do it, where does it come from, specifically how to move the Follower's legs. It is important to think of the legs as starting from the rib cage. To help us understand this concept, we did partnered exercises: Leaders held on to Followers' rib cage and moved her right land left with his torso and hands. We moved Followers side to side, then side to pivot around left and right. Then we walked and did a fast shakey shakey (pivot). The trick to getting her to stay on her leg and pivot was to give her a slight lift. Then we walked in the embrace, forward, side to side, and paused.

In Dramatic Tango, we worked on a very simple parada in the close side from Follower clockwise molinete. Follower steps side right (Leader side left); left leg back ocho, back right, side left, front right, Leader rotates Follower, Leader paradas with his right leg, Follower pasadas with her left leg. Optional pasada embellishments: Knee Up with or without air circle or air bat side to side, caracia down other side. Maestro spoke a bit about the "variaciĆ³n" in tango music (specifically Pugliese, Troilo, and Laurenz, but it happens in a lot of other composers' and orchestras' music too) -- which is when the bandoneon comes in; here is where you should save your best "showy" moves.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
CCSF Classes. In Followers' Technique
we did our usual walking, barre, and floor exercises, focusing on perfecting our walks and weight changes, and adding tuck embellishments, as well as focusing on getting liveliness and animation from our trailing foot. In Advanced we worked on a lot of walking exercises with and without partner, with the tuck embellishment, and the right turn.


Friday, January 23, 2009
Homer & Cristina Advanced Seminario co-taught with Felipe y Rosa on "The Hard Side"

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Homer & Cristina Intermediate Intensivo co taught with Felipe y Rosa on "The Hard Side"
Gustavo & Jesica Hornos workshop & milonga in Sausalito

Sunday, January 25, 2009
Jorge Torres workshops @ Alberto's:
1:00-2:30 p.m. Surprising Changes of Direction
3:00-4:30 p.m.. Fluid Turns in open and close embrace
5:00-6:30 p.m.. Dramatic & Dynamic Energy for social dancing
Studio Gracia Chinese New Year's Milonga

Monday, January 26, 2009
Orange Practica @ The Beat with lesson by Homer and Cristina Ladas: Decareay School of Music.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Studio TangoVida

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
CCSF classes with Chelsea Eng -- time is running out to add... be there or be square

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