Friday, April 10, 2009

April 2-8

Thursday, April 2, 2009
Milonga Roja @ La Pista with lesson by Rina Gendelman.
I went thinking that the lesson would by by Ruben and Enriqueta, but there was a miscommunication somehow, so Rina taught the lesson: Subtleties of the Cross. Rina often teachers complex, high level concepts of very simple figures, and tonight was no different. It was an excellent lesson. We began with the cross, with Leader changing weight left to right while Follower is on her right foot. The purpose of this is the Follower letting her free leg hang free and the Leader leading it to go in and out of the cross and to uncross. We did a ribcage exercise where the Leader holds the Follower's ribcage and moves her leg back and forth with no pivot. Here, only the standing leg is engaged, and Follower needs to maintain her axis. Hips are parallel to the ground. Next, we practiced going to the cross, immediately into the uncross. Next, we attempted to go directly into the cross by planting the Follower's left foot down small and short, and keeping the embrace close in apilado style with lean into each other, then drive Follower's right leg back as Leader steps forward strongly. Linking these two concepts together, Leader can try to get Follower directly into the cross, and then directly to uncross. Ruben and Enriqueta came by later on and did a very lovely dance demo. The milonga was OK. It wasn't overly crowded, and the dance skill reasonable, so floorcraft was generally not an issue.

Sunday, April 5, 2009.
Workshops with Michelle & Murat Erdemsel: (1) Terminology of Sacadas (Int) and (2) Leader and Follower Sacadas (Int-Adv).

These were two excellent workshops, taught by excellent teachers Michelle and Murat. We began with a game so that we were all on the same page regarding awareness and being able to recognize things; how to read the notes of tango, and be expressive, creative, and be able to read other people's work by understanding the structure of the song better (to play with the phrases) and to communicate with others. Basically, we first worked on the notation of the dance. We did this by doing six things (walking, ocho, molinete, cross, sacada, and weight change), and the Follower naming them as the Leader led them. Then we changed the rules were the Follower dictates them, and the Leader does them. Next, we did a really helpful thing: all 36 sacadas: To the open step, forward step, and back step, we did forward sacadas with our left foot, our right foot, and a back sacada, and we did this for both Leader and Follower and clockwise and counterclockwise (3x3x2x2=36). The goal of sacadas are for dancers to rejoin at the end, and if they do not, they are considered irregular sacadas. Thus, we should also try not to distort the embrace when doing sacadas. The most comfortable, easy sacadas are forward sacadas on the side step. Next, Maestro talked about the Mingo Pugliese (father of Pablo Pugliese), who developed a system for sacadas. There were six sequential sacadas that we practiced in this system, going to the cross from the molinete with Leader doing sacadas at various steps of the Follower's molinete. Roughly, they are (from clockwise molinete): (1) Leader right foot forward sacada to Follower's forward cross step to her left; (2) Leader's left foot sacada to the Follower's left foot on Follower's open side step to the right; (3) Leader's right foot forward sacada of Follower's left foot back cross, (4) Follower's right foot forward step with Leader's left foot sacada to Follower's trailing left foot, (5) Leader's right foot sacada to Follower's right foot on her side step to the left; (6) Leader's left foot sacada to Follower's left foot as she takes a a back cross step with her right foot. The first three (1, 2, 3) are in cross system, and the last three (4, 5 and 6) are in parallel system. Once we did all six sacadas, Maestro would come around and tell us 4-6-1, 2-2-1, 3-5-2, etc., and we would have to do the sacadas in that order.

In the second workshop, we were to work on our intention, specifically doing sacadas with the intention of doing additional molinetes, with the intention of stopping, or with the intention of exiting. We also worked on the concept of the "almost" sacada -- like a rock step of Leader's right foot to Follower's right foot. We also tried the concept of "almost" in our other steps, trying to find it and play with it. The point was to not complete it; leaving the step open allows it to do different possibilities to navigate the partnership and the dance floor, and you still have control over it. With the "almost" sacadas, we were able to rotate it, and then complete it. We worked on a sequence: Follower right leg forward sacada to Leader's trailing right foot on his side step, to Follower's forward step with her left leg and Leader steps back with his right leg. And another sequence: Leader invites her to forward sacada of her right leg to Leader's right leg (his standing, weighted leg) for Leader to attach and wrap with his feet sandwiching her right foot into a colgada. Here the Leader repositions his right foot to sandwich the ball of her right foot with his left foot, side stepping to pivot around. Follower does left foot forward step into a colgada while and Leader steps back with his right foot.

Maestros concluded with a comment that it is important to take the step classes like sacadas, volcadas, colgadas, etc., in addition to working on the concepts of embrace, musicality, and navigation to be a well-rounded dancer.

Chacarera class with Marcelo Solis. This was likely the best Chacarera class I had ever taken. Maestro was excellent at explaining the steps clearly and simply, and was fantastic at explaining the musicality of the Chacarera (which had always eluded me). The singer signals many things: When the dancers actually start walking forward in the beginning, during the Follower's diamond & Leader's zapateo and at the last part where dancers end in the middle with arms framing each other's face. The Follower's diamond begins with left foot stepping across to the right side of the bottom part of the diamond. The Leader's zapeto begins with a slapping of his right foot on the floor, like a horse, and follows with two hops, the second one being a stomp. The diamond/zapateo is done twice in a row. For the exchange of sides, you take 4 counts to get to the other side. We even had time to learn some Chacarera embellishments and variations (Chacarera Doble [where the singing lasts longer and it has the same elements, but different structure], Gato, Leader's back tap during zapateo, contact in the half circle where Leader catches Follower and turns her, during the big circle from one side to the other, the dancers can twirl away from each other but this needs to be done after the middle point where there is eye connection). For the hands, the finger snapping is at eye height straight in line with your head. When dancers are doing the big circle to exchange sides and little circles, their chests should be facing inside the circle and not have any contrabody rotation to it toward the outside away from each other or outside the circle. I hope Chacarera will be played at more milongas in the Bay Area, like they were later on that night at Alberto's.


Ruby Fuerza AKA Lucille Brawl said...

I am eager to brush up on my chacarera! Any idea if there will be any classes coming up in the bay area - I cant believe I just missed this! Please let me know -
xx ruby

Ana de San Francisco said...

Marcelo is an awesome teacher of Chacarera, so you may want to contact him directly to see when he will teach next:

Alternatively, Christy Cote of Cheryl Burke Dance often teaches chacarera after her Tuesday night classes, so you might want to drop in.

But definintely, the more teachers we bug about teaching chacarera, maybe more of them will listen!!!!

And we need to bug the DJs too to play Chacarera!!!