Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 20-26

Friday, August 21, 2009
Monte Cristo Milonga.
I missed the lesson by Claudio y Agustina. I suspect it was a good one though, as I've taken their workshops before and found them to be excellent teachers. The milonga as usual was fun. It was more crowded than last week, but floorcraft was not an issue, so I was happy.

Monday, August 24, 2009
Orange Practica at the Beat with lesson beforehand by Homer and Cristina Ladas: Low versus High Wrap.
See the video at The topic was to wrap low or to wrap high. Like last week, communication, positioning, and energy are key. The Follower can create the shape depending on what energy she feels and what position she is in. Keep high wraps compact so that they don’t take too much space and are more socially based (as opposed to performance based where no other couples are on the floor so there is no risk of kicking anyone).

We first began with the Leader walking the Follower to the cross. Then he would try to get a low wrap from the Follower, of either his left or his right leg. After the wrap, the Leader’s feet are crossed behind. Mind the transition. This can be done from close or open embrace. The Leader leads a wrap of either his left or right foot by placing his foot next to her crossed foot where her arch is. Then the Leader takes the Follower off axis a little, letting her out while he goes back out simultaneously, and gives her a little circular energy, and then he takes her back in as he comes forward simultaneously to return her to axis and receive the wrap. Basically, his center moves out and around. The Leader bends his knee a little to get the Follower off axis. His heel is off the ground and he pushes his knee and thigh forward. If Leader’s knee is too deep, the Follower will gouge herself with her heel.

Leader needs to take care of Follower axis.

Follower should not assume/anticipate the wrap, even if she feels the contact in the leg. She needs to wait for the Leader’s lead energy. The Follower’s wrap is almost automatic when the Leader’s thigh touches hers, but she still must wait for the energy. When she does feel the energy, she needs to REALLY WRAP: that is, go with full intention of the full leg; wait for the contact (which should be mostly in the upper part of the thigh), and then let the whip bend the knee, but don’t bend by itself. Follower needs to pay attention to how she articulates the free leg for different shapes. Have good commitment, good intention, and a strong supporting standing leg when doing a wrap.

Next, we attempted to do high wraps. We started with subtle energy first for the low wraps, so that we could increase the energy to get high wraps. We also attempted to do double wraps. Positioning is key. There is a sweet spot in the relative positioning of the Leader’s knee to the Follower’s thigh and knee, to be in a safe position so she feels free to wrap with abandon. We spent a lot of time drilling this to get the positioning of our knees and thighs right, and the wrap energy right.

Next, we went from the basic wrap of Follower’s right leg of Leader’s left or right leg, into the Follower’s left leg volcada-like leg-to-leg wrap of the Leader’s right leg. The Leader pivots the Follower a little, then sends Follower back out in a colgada volcada energy to do a volcada wrap. The Follower is on axis at the point of the volcada wrap. The Leader bends his right knee to wrap his leg simultaneously while she is wrapping it with her left leg.

Next, we worked on the change of energy to get a low or high wrap. If the Leader gives more energy, he will get a higher wrap. Also, the Leader bends down with his body to reinforce the idea of high energy to get the Follower’s leg to go around his body and so that his back is in a good position to receive her wrap. We started this with the Follower’s right leg wrapping to the outside of the Leader’s left leg, first low, and then high, to the outside of the left side Leader’s waist around his back.

Maestros reiterated that in the context of social dancing and being respectful of other couples on the social dance floor, the Follower always controls the wrapping leg shape. She can keep it close. She should not let her leg fly out with heel pointed up if there are other couples on the dance floor. Both Leaders and Followers are responsible for floorcraft, and Followers need to be responsible with their free wrapping leg (and potentially dangerous, pointy heel).

The Leader’s footwork/position for the high wrap is such that the figure begins in close embrace. Then he walks the Follower to the cross. Then he does a sneak attack with his left foot to plant it in position. Then he sends the Follower off axis to lead the low wrap. Here they are in open embrace with the Follower on axis. On the rebound, the Leader gives her more energy to get a high wrap. Leader’s feet are open and wide apart to be stable. His right leg is the kickstand leg, providing rock solid support so that he is not toppled over as he gives her more energy to do a high wrap around the left side of his waist.

The question came up: How does the Follower avoid kicking the Leader? She should have the contact with the upper thigh, the upper part of her leg, so that her whole leg is in the move, and her heel clears both the Leader’s and Follower’s legs. The Leader needs to have good contact with the Follower’s leg and be in good position. The Leader needs to be in the right position, at the right time, with the right energy.

We drilled doing single, double, and triple wraps, or double low to single high wraps, or double high wraps. The key was that these were all in the Leader’s chest lead/pivot.

Key points:
Position and energy are key.
Thigh has to be in the right place.
Follower controls the wrapping leg to be able to articulate and shape, how we get in or out.
Follower should have intention to make full contact with the leg, whether it’s a low or high warp.

Maestros concluded with a demo to Adolfo Carabelli’s Porque?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
CCSF classes with Chelsea Eng.
In Follower's Technique, we began with a discussion of the questionnaire from last week regarding what we wanted out of class and how we defined leading and following. Next, Maestra discussed the concept of the heels off or on the floor (off for agility, on for stability), per Rebecca Shulman. Foot strength is key to being versatile with the heels being on or off the floor, and we will work on that during the semester. We began with our usual walking, floor, and barre exercises (barre exercises focused on surging and walking, and embellishing the walk on the "and three"). Next, we did some paired side-by-side walking exercises, stepping very strong on one and pushing off from the back foot. We also did this to a rhythmic song trying to vary how we step during the song by inserting some QQ. We concluded with some paired connection exercises using a rubber band, feeling the subtlety in lead of side, forward, and back steps. In Advanced, we continued our work on Volcadas, because from the opening day questionnaire a few people were interested in learning those. We learned two different volcadas. The first one involved walking the Follower to the cross, then leading her to take a forward step with her right leg, and then do a regular left leg forward volcada. The next volcada involved ocho cortado like timing of QQS, which was trickier to lead to fit into the music. We had plenty of time to drill. Maestra advocates a more V embrace than a flat, chest-to-chest embrace. Leader should not squeeze into Follower. The Leader's legs/hips/lower body goes away from the Follower, but his chest/body is still with the Follower so she doesn't feel abandoned and afraid of falling. For Follower's posture, Maestra reiterated that she should be long and strong in the back, as if reaching for something behind the top of the head of the Leader. She reiterated Gary Weinberg's concept of "Falling Up." It was a good class, and we concluded with reviewing the volcadas we learned last week: regular volcada, the fake-out volcada, and the volcada with Leader's molinete (back-side-forward) footwork.

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