Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 3-9

Friday, September 4, 2009
Monte Cristo Milonga with lesson beforehand by Chelsea Eng and Gary Weinberg on Tiny Turns in Close Embrace.
We began with an exercise to build the embrace: walking with just torso contact, no arms and no hands. We needed to come forward and toward each other and the Leader had three options: (1) weight shift; (2) walk forward; (3) side or open steps. We were to keep our sternums, our solar plexi up. One issues the dancers had was that they would pop apart at the stop. To remedy this, the Leader needs to pause with feet forward, and stand very straight up and be on his axis, not forwardly intended, otherwise he will send her forward and away from him. The Leader stops with his head over his feet, and is fully vertical. For the side steps, the Leader gives preparation to the Follower so she has time to join him in the movement. The Leader goes down a little, compresses a little (bends knee) before he takes steps side. If he doesn't give her warning by compressing, she will be late. Follower can go ahead and lean/put pressure on the Leader for the exercise. Next, we tried the same three options doing it with 1/2 embrace, just on the close side, Follower's left arm and Leader's right arm. We also added a fourth option, going to the cross. Next, we did these four options on the other side of the 1/2 embrace of Follower's right arm and Leader's left arm. Finally, we went on to the Full embrace. Then we added the turn. The Leader's steps are all curved as he steps forward with his right foot, to pivot (Follower back cross right), side left foot (Follower side left), back right foot (small tuck) (Follower forward right foot), side left foot (Follower side left), front right foot (Follower back into line of dance). Next, we added the ocho cortado. There are many possibilities for Leader's footwork in the ocho cortado, but we did it with the Leader taking every step with the Follower (no pivoting or being on two feet, embellishments, etc.). We were to do two ocho cortados to turn around each other, using the QQSS, QQSS for the BSFS, BSFS steps. The second back cross step is close, small and tight to stay with the Leader. Follower embellishment: amague of left foot across the right side of right foot on the Back - Side step. Or your can really stretch your toes like cat paws to add expression to your feet. Next pattern was the Follower's zesty forward walk around the Leader counterclockwise. Here, we did the ocho cortado into the Americana position / mirror / espejo, and to the rhythm SSQQS, Follower steps left foot forward (S), right foot forward (S), left foot forward (Q), right foot forward (Q), left foot forward to pivot (S), back step right out to line of dance. This is all done in close embrace. There is a change of embrace of Follower's left arm around the Leader's back, and the Leader's right arm around Follower's waist. The milonga was fun. It wasn't super crowded, but had just the right amount of people to make it fun and diverse, but not competitive or obnoxious floorcraftwise. The food was better than usual (and it's usually pretty good to begin with).

Sunday, September 6, 2009
Tango in the Square, Union Square San Francisco.
This is a really nice event that the Bay Area Tango Association participates in to help grow the tango community and take the dance to people who aren't currently part of the local tango scene. Professional audio services are provided by Jewels in the Park from 2-4 pm, then the Bay Area Tango Association generously provides boom box audio 4-6 pm. The floor is textured granite, and it's all outdoors. So bring sunscreen and sunglasses/hat if you can/want to dance with them, bottles of water and something to nosh on if you plan to stay the whole time. The sun is obscured by the Westin to the west of the Square later on in the day, so bring a vest or wrap if you are prone to chill. Floorcraft is difficult, perhaps because of the sun getting in people's eyes, but I got the impression that some people were absolutely thrilled to be there since it gives them a venue and a captive audience to get their performance groove on. For me, it was amusing watching (but not dancing among) some of the dancers really playing it up on stage (there was more than one flying stiletto, and more than one pause-and-pose couple causing a backup of the dancers behind them). What made the afternoon fun for me was watching the lower dance floor where absolute beginners gave it a whirl, and the audience enthralled by what they were seeing on both dance floors. You could almost hear them thinking, "Hey, I want to do that...Maybe I can!" Be sure to put a dollar or ten in the donation box, since the Bay Area Tango Association has to pay for insurance to participate in this event. The next event is scheduled for October 4, and the Bay Area Tango Association needs volunteers: demo dancers, teachers, and tango helpers to get people up to dance, and take the time to help grow the tango community. Contact to volunteer, or just show up and dance with 10 new people (not just your favorite partners or seasoned dancers). Union Square is very easy to get to by BART Powell Station, and street parking on Mission/7thish or up on Bush is not bad. And of course there is the public lot directly under Union Square or the Sutter/Stockton garage. Afterwards, I highly recommend the food court at the Westfield Mall on Market, or if funds are tight, the daily slice at Blondie's on Powell.

Monday, September 7, 2009
La Cumparsita Milonga with lesson beforehand with Gary Weinberg and Carolina Rozensztroch on Leg Wraps. Unfortunately, I missed the lesson, but had a chance to be led the particulars on the milonga. I believe there were two leg wraps taught; I am just going by what I was led to do several times that night during the milonga. One involved the Follower's right leg wrap of the Leader's inside right leg, and the Follower's left leg wrap of the Leader's outside right leg (after he sweeps her right foot back with his right foot). Both of these wraps can be followed by a boleo. Pablo said there were lots of technical points taught (when to lower into the floor, how / where to break the plane, when the Leader crosses behind, etc.). I am sure it was an excellent class. The milonga was great fun. Many lovely people came out to celebrate the birthday of Maestra, a very lovely person. She had a birthday vals that was fantastic, with many local maestros taking her for a gentle spin on the dance floor.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009
CCSF Classes with Chelsea Eng. In Follower's Technique,
we began with a video of Rebecca Shulman on ochos. We began with our usual walking, floor and barre exercises to improve our walking/timing/rhythm skills, our core strength and disassociation, and our foot strength and articulation. At the barres, we focused on the forward ocho. Maestra emphasized the torso to the barre, and the spiral starting in the upper body, then the hips, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, and feet coming around sequentially and organically. When you take a step, it is a complete transfer of weight to be on top of the supporting, standing leg. Check your balance periodically by letting go of the barre. We were not to collapse the back of the knee, but keep the space generous. We also practiced some embellishments at the barre involving the cross (with our feet slightly turned out). Cross, release, forward ocho, into cross, release, forward ocho, into cross, etc. It was a good class, as always. What a treat that the lovely Miss Charlotte has decided to join us this semester. In Advanced/Production, we worked on the side Volcada. We got into this with side steps (Leader's left, Follower's right), into Americana / mirror / espejo forward steps (Leader's right foot, Follower's left foot). Then Leader does a pivot so that his left side of his body is toward the Follower, and he also sets her weight back so that her weight is on her back right foot, freeing her left leg to do a forward volcada to cross in front of her right leg. Her body must not break, so she needs to be mindful of keeping her core engaged. To this we added a Gustavo Naveira change of direction, where, from the Americana / mirror / espejo position of forward steps (Leader's right foot, Follower's left foot), the Follower does a clockwise molinete of back cross right foot, side step left, forward right foot, at which point the Leader does a left foot sacada of the Follower's trailing left leg. We did two of these in a row, and then the side volcada since they both began from the same Americana / mirror / espejo position. It was a challenging class, but fun and expanding.

What am I excited about?

Jorge Torres is doing a series of workshops on Tango illusions this weekend.
Luz and Alex are in town.
Negracha and Diego are coming back into town.
Gustavo & Maria are coming back to town.
Tomas Howlin workshops October 2-5
Graciela Gonzalez November 14 (she was my first Women's Technique teacher)

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