Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 11-17

Saturday, June 13, 2009
Humberto Décima Workshops with Carolina Rozensztroch:
2:00 to 3:30pm Linear and Circular Boleos, Dynamic and Frozen Boleos
3:45 to 5:15pm Atypical Ganchos. Ganchos with Enganches and Colgadas

First Workshop (Boleos): We began with an exercise to release the Follower's hip joint, where while the dancers are 90 degrees to each other, with the Leader just providing support for the Follower as she swings her leg straight forward and straight back in a linear fashion. The standing supporting leg should be a little bit bent, and the foot a little out turned, as if normally dancing; thighs and knees can be a bit apart as they pass each other, and it is OK to counterbalance in the torso. Next exercise was the linear back boleo, where the Leader would lead by pushing with his standing leg, taking energy from the floor, but not extending his arms, with the Leader walking forward and the Follower walking back. It is important for the Follower to maintain good arm connection of the Follower's left hand on the Leader's back. Leader does not move arms/torso, and does not lean forward into Follower. The Leader pushes forward, but pulls back to stop his body from going forward. The Leader's hips and legs have forward energy, but goes "up" as he stops a little, so it is a push, go up, go back flow of energy. Next, we worked on the side linear boleos, with dancers at 90 degrees to each other. The Follower's leg goes straight forward across the front of the Leader's body. The Follower needs good support/resistance in the embrace, and her arms should not absorb the lead. The Leader should not be forceful with his arms. The Follower needs to keep the connection, embrace, and consistency so that the Leader can stop her with his left arm, and the Follower's body resists going forward, but her free leg keeps going forward and up into the air in a boleo. To this side linear boleo, we added the hip pivot, similar to the forward ocho (air rulo), where the Leader leads the Follower to pivot when her leg is at the apex of the boleo, to go back down and forward to the other side, as if leading an ocho, so that her hips turn and she goes from one direction to the other. Follower should be sure not be pigeon toed during this, and be sure to step with the same turnout in the foot to have a good pivot. The Leader's feet come together in his step. Follower collects legs. The previous was pretty much the same as what Luciana Valle taught in her Intensivo. However, the next part was different and new to me. We did the Follower leg pendulum swing diagonally as Leader walks forward and back diagonally. So dancers are oriented like this: \\ The Leader's footwork is right foot forward diagonal, collect, right leg back diagonal, collect, right leg forward diagonal, collect, etc. During this, the Follower is on her standing weighted left leg and her right leg goes forward as Leader steps forward, and then back as Leader steps back, so the energy is opposite to each other since dancers are facing each other. The Follower resists with her left hand thumb as the Leader goes forward, and with the back of her fingers as the Leader goes back. One variation on this is that the Leader leads it, and then when the Follower's leg is in the air, he stops her and walks around her and catches her foot. This is how we transitioned to the Frozen Boleos (so NOT Luciana!). So for these frozen boleos, there is a block/push, stop, up kind of flow to the energy, where the Leader literally stops the moment, energy, and movement. It is important to be really connected. To work on Frozen Boleos, we began with a Follower back circular boleo where the Leader stops her right leg at the apex of the boleo (on the close side of the embrace), catches her foot, raises his left arm to lead her to do a soltada clockwise, which then causes her right leg to be forward, then he sends her right leg back out counterclockwise to an outside boleo against her standing, supporting left leg. Obviously, her left leg needs to be very strong and stable, and her ankle strong so that she can pivot well and have good balance and be on axis for all this to work together and look good. For the freezing boleo to the left, the Leader freezes the Follower's left back boleo at the apex (on the open side of the embrace), catches her left foot, steps in with his left foot a little behind her right standing supporting leg, then throws her left foot out clockwise around to forward wrap his outside right hip as dancers face each other.

Second workshop (Ganchos): We began with simple ganchos, attempting to really clean up technique. We began with the Follower's right leg back gancho of the Leader's left leg on the open side of the embrace, and of the Follower's left leg back gancho of the Leader's right leg on the close side of the embrace. Someone asked about the difference in leading a back gancho versus a figure 4. Maestro said the Leader is from the Leader's chest, so that it is more sideways for a gancho, but more forward and circular for a figure 4. The Leader's left foot when he goes in to meet her back left foot is really to the other side of it (9 o'clock toe tip, heel off ground). She ganchos with her right leg. Leader needs to be very precise with his footwork, and his left leg needs to be weightless and free, and he needs to be close to her. For the Follower, she needs to hook and find the thigh, then go back (do not lift the knee in expectation of ganchoing). Next, we added more dynamic to the ganchos, where the Leader catches the gancho and sends the Follower's leg out the other way. We did various gancho combinations on the close side and open. Next, we moved on to atypical ganchos, which occur when we are in unusual embraces, like when both dancers are alternating doing forward and side steps (Leader forward steps while Follower side steps, Leader side steps while Follower forward steps) while they are in 90 degrees to each other, then Leader leads Follower to back gancho the Leader's right leg with her left leg. Here, there has to be lots of contact and connection for this to work. If they are far away, it will not work. Next, we did an outside hip gancho of the Leader's left hip/thigh with Follower's left leg, like a baby piernazo. Next, added a gancho of his right leg immediately after this for two simultaneous ganchos with her left leg, and we practiced this as he walks around her, alternating it continuously in a circle of ganchos of his right leg then outside his left hip. Our last atypical gancho was a weird one that required extreme overturned body positioning and release of the embrace: the Follower's back gancho of her right leg of Leader's right leg in between Leader's legs toward the close side of the embrace. She faces forward and he gets his legs in position for her to gancho by walking around her, and stepping onto his right leg around and behind her as she faces forward. The Follower needs to release the embrace and do an extreme overturned step, so dancers are both facing forward. For her, there is a little bit of colgada energy in her torso for her to be able to have enough room in the legs to do the gancho. This step can be concluded by getting back into a clockwise molinete.

Sunday, June 14, 2009
Julian Ramil's Intermediate Tango Class & Practilonga @ The Allegro.
The subject of the day was sacadas, and it was a very basic lesson. It was the small room, between the main ballroom and the nicely built out garage ballroom. I found it difficult to concentrate and dance because the room was very hot and stuffy, so much so that I didn't even want to stay to practice anything. One interesting thing Maestro mentioned was his upcoming Tuesday milonga at El V with Pablo Motta, who was going to do a talk beforehand. It sounded really exciting...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Tango Lecture by Pablo Motta (Contrabass) & Seth Asarnow (Bandoneon) "A la Parrilla": History and Process.
Actually, I did not attend this, even though I wanted to. However, Junior Scout Extraordinaire has kindly agreed to let me reprint her fantastic Tango Report From the Field:

The lecture was interesting, without it the evening would have been far less rich.
Pablo Motta spoke and led the lecture. Seth and Pablo demonstrated how they communicate with each other and play off each other. Sometimes in a duo, the bass picks up the melody - which doesn't work in an orchestra because the bass usually has to follow everybody else and the melody would typically get lost if played by the bass in a full orchestra. "Seth is a monster. He has about 5,000 pieces of music, studies them all the time, and is also a jazz pianist." They demonstrated styles of orchestras, played sections of La Cumparsita in varying styles, played a long section of it with the bassist switching styles and Seth having to guess which orchestra Pablo was emulating for Seth to pick it up and play that way. They even did a D'Arienzo version (Pablo didn't know of such a recording), which was wild, stunning, with fast fingers on the bandoneon. Pablo commented that D'Arienzo had some examples of recordings with out of tune bass, so sometimes Pablo plays D'Arienzo out of tune on purpose as a sort of homage until Seth notices and glares at him. They demonstrated this, Pablo played more and more out of tune until we could all hear it (even the non musicians in the audience) and suffered.
They did the same type of demo with El Choclo, playing some sections from Pablo's laptop, demonstrating what worked and what didn't for tango music (playing "square" vs. syncopa), and a ballroom orchestra accordion version that was held up as what not to do. I don't need to hear La Cumparsita again for awhile, but all in all good!

Thanks, JSE, for your report from the field.

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Whitmor 36 Pair Over the Door Shoe Rack

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