Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 5-11

Saturday, March 7, 2009
Gustavo & Jesica Hornos workshop on Balance.

We began with a discussion of what balance means, what we need to attain it, and what compensations we need to make in our bodies to achieve it. It takes lots of work to be balanced. When we are not aligned, it is a serious issue when we move with a partner. We warmed up with rotating our upper body, keeping our lower body planted but knees bent a little, and letting our arms fly out free from our bodies like a windmill. Then we added our head. The torso has lots of possibilities to keep us aligned well and centered. We did some head and neck exercises, and became aware that our ears, neck, skin, reflexes, and many other things in our body help us find balance. On two feet, we slowly moved our body weight as forward as possible, as back as possible and to the left as possible and to the right as possible, moving our weight as far as it would go, but all without stepping, to feel the different muscle engagements as our weight shifted from one direction to another or one side to another.

Exercise 1: In partnership practice hold and slightly outside to each other, we lifted one knee simultaneously to be on one foot, with our outside legs touching each other as our knees lifted. Then let it down, shifted the weight to one side, then lifted the other knee/foot. And back and forth (L+L and R+R).
Exercise 2: We added a finger to finger touch of the same arm as the leg that is lifted.
Exercise 3: Then we added the finger to finger touch of the opposite arms, alternating stair step style, while we continued to lift our same knees to be on one foot.
Exercise 4: Palm to palm, we lifted our knee/leg forward and back, first one leg, then the other leg, with both partners doing the same leg at the same time (L+L, R+R).
Exercise 5: Palm to palm, we lifted our knee/leg forward extend, back extend with both partners doing the same leg at the same time, and then forward and back again using the different foot. We were not to lean, just connect in the palms, and move our leg without influencing or using the other person for balance.
Exercise 6: Same as prior, only with no touching and being 2 inches apart in our palms.
Exercise 7: Bend knees and try to find each other's foot and touch toe to toe or toe to sole: Leader's L with Follower's R, Leader's R with Follower's L. When we made connection we were to press a little to stay connected. Keep your head straight, eyes forward (do not look at your feet to do this).
Exercise 8: Same as 7, only do it with crossed feet (L+L, R+R), and increase the pressure and touch with the sole.
Exercise 9: Same as 7, only we connect with one hand crossed arm (Leader's and Follower's right, or Leader's and Follower's left), and also try to connect with sole/feet using the crossed leg (L+L, R+R). We were to try to connect with both sides.
Exercise 10: Palm to palm, and foot to foot using crossed feet (L+L, R+R), we were to take three steps forward, and then three steps back.
Exercise 11: In 3 person partnership, there is one person in the middle, while one person is in front of him and one person is behind him. The person behind pushes the middle person straight forward, the middle person takes a step, arriving and holding the weight on one foot, and then the person in front of pushes the middle person straight back, and he again arrives, holds the weight on one foot, and then the person behind pushes forward, etc. The goal is to really be aligned and stable on one foot.
Exercise 12: Same as 11, only with eyes closed.

Be calm, have a sense of alignment, breathe deeply and in the lower part of your stomach, and bend your standing foot. Try to always be aligned in the body. Think about what muscles are compensating when we are out of balance. This takes slow awareness and finding new ways of sustaining balance. Ideas apply to our dancing: Be aware of your core and your own axis. Be calm. Go very slowly to feel the movement. Our homework is to try to be very difficult to be out of the state of balance. Be aligned, grounded, centered. We have have lots of tools to return us to balance. We can practice good alignment in what we do every day: walking in the super market, sitting in a chair, driving our car.

Sunday, March 8, 2009
Facundo Posadas workshops and chat
(1) Milonga Traspie assisted by Christy Cote.
Mastro taught us how to zig zag and do 180 degree turns (left and right). He also taught the side steps to the Leader's left (Follower's right), noting that it is a movement with short steps and on the ball of your feet. On the last side step, there is a slight lift (Leader has to have a strong arm) and the step is bigger to signal to the Follower that that is the last step.

Tango Chat translated by Adolfo Caszarry: Maestro commented that when you dance slow as they do in BsAs, you can see all the mistakes. So the preoccupation is to be perfect in their steps. One frustrated tanguera asked what is the best way to learn tango and who would he recommend as the one best teacher from whom she should learn in BsAs? Maestro answered: Know how you want to dance. Who do you want to dance like? It is very important to see the difference in styles. There are lots of tango teachers in BsAs; they are all good, the best in the world. Someone asked if there were any "internal rules" about how he dances that make him move so well. He said there are not. It's just the music that dictates what he does.

(2) Milonga Candombe assisted by Christy Cote.
Maestro gave a little overview of what candombe is and where it came from. In old candombe, there is no embrace, it's open, a dance of the pelvis, a dance done while working in the fields, with your hand up to shield the sun from your eyes as you were looking out to see if the land owner was watching you from far away. We listed to the candombe music, being sensitive to its difference from milonga, and noting that the movement in candombe is different from how we dance milonga. We began with just walking to the candombe beat. The walking was similar to samba. Then we walked, but with a slight step back on the second step (also very samba-like). Next, we added the steps we learned in the prior class, only doing them to the camdombe beat and in close embrace. Maestro taught the rock step in a circle, with the Leader's right foot forward, and then using his left foot forward, and then alternating between the two feet doing only one turn step with each foot. We also did the touch step to the side, and touch step to the back in mirror image: Leader left side, right forward, and Follower right side, left back. Then we tried to disassociate the movement for the Leader: Leader does left side or right side or left forward or right forward, sometimes in between the Follower's feet, or connecting to the side of her feet. Maestro taught us the side step pivot beginning from the Americana position to Leader's left and Follower's right. Both need to keep their knees together, and be on the balls of their feet to pivot. The class concluded with a couple of swing dances and chacarera.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
CCSF classes with Chelsea Eng.
In Follower's Technique, Maestra shared an article: "Lunfardo Women in Tango" by Celia Merritt, which noted the various names for women in tango lyrics:
Chorra: a woman who steals
Grela: A woman works in the dance halls and lives a loose life
Jermu (from a mixed up spelling of "mujer")- a minor, a beautiful young woman
Milongita: A prostitute, named for the place she frequents
Mueble: Furniture, a woman who is moved place to place like a piece of furniture.
Pebta: A young woman, usually the object of affection
Percanta/Percantina: From the word percale. A young woman.
Piba: A young, pretty woman.

In both Follower's Technique and Advanced, since it was midterm review, we reviewed all that we learned so far: walking/rhythm exercises, floor exercises, barre exercises focusing on walking, ochos, molinetes, dancing with alterations/changes of direction.

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