Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 5 - 11 from Buenos Aires

Jueves, 5 Agosto 2010
Day 4 - Luciana Valle Intensivo B (off axis): Back Volcadas and Leg Wraps / Ganchos.
We began, as we always do, with the first hour of reviewing all that we learned yesterday, and revisiting the finer points of Leader and Follower technique. We reviewed the forward volcada on the left and right sides, and Maestra emphasized that the Follower should have even connection with the Leader in her arms, should not bend at the tummy or break at the back, and do not touch in the torso, but keep support in her left arm when doing the volcada in open embrace. Even in close embrace volcadas, the Follower separates from the Leader in the chest area. Maestra´s dynamic quality of the volcada comes from the spiral beginning in the torso of the Follower and her leg coming around as a consequence, and in the walking around 90 degrees for the Leader. We attempted to manage both the left and right sides in the same way. Follower needs to pivot at the end so that the feet are in an /\ position (otherwise they will be pigeon toed). One Leader assistant pointed out that the Follower is back on axis at the end of the volcada when the Leader drives her left leg back into the cross. After our review of doing volcadas from any open Follower step (boleo, sacada, molinete, etc.), we went on to Back Volcada. Maestra noted that for the back volcada, it was more of a suspension than an inclination (as for the forward volcada). The difference is in how the leg is swinging. There is no lean in the Back Volcada. Instead, it is an attempt to step that never happens because of the Leader´s countermotion. One interesting way to think of the Back Volcada is that it is an underturned/no-pivot back cross step that travels forward. Sacadas and wraps/ganchos are related in that one targets the free leg and one targets the standing leg. For wraps, the Follower needs to PIVOT A LOT on the standing leg to make the free leg truly free. First we did an exercise where the Leader led back ochos with no Follower hip rotation or travel (just side ochos), the goal of which was to really relax the standing leg to the let the free leg enter in back crosses where the force of the leg crossing behind the other leg caused it to pop forward as a consequence. This was all done on axis. Next, we did a trust exercise, where the Follower takes one step toward the Leader, and the Leader pushes her back at the shoulders, to let her free leg go forward as she tries to step, but make it go back as he pushes her back. Next, we did this same exercise, only catching and pushing back hand to hand. Then we combined all these exercises and worked on doing simple back volcadas. Maestra noted that the back volcada can be led from any Follower back cross step / back swinging step, and the Leaders played with this concept by coming up with their own sequences, for example: Follower colgada with left leg planeo out back counterclockwise, to step, to a back volcada, to a Follower right leg forward sacada of Leader´s trailing right leg to front volcada of Follower left leg. Next, we went on to the other topic of the day: Ganchos - circular. Maestra´s platform is that of "dynamics" and "circularity" in tango. This, she noted that for these ganchos, we were to do circular ones with the Leader as the center and the Follower as the circle. We began with a sequence of Follower back ocho of right leg in clockwise molinete, where Leader does right leg back sacada of Follower´s back right leg step, and she ganchos his right leg with her left leg. Next we tried it on the other side (counterclockwise molinete): Leader left leg sacada of Follower´s left leg back cross step. Next, we did a back gancho to back gancho, where the Leader´s right leg ganchos Follower´s right leg on Leader´s close side and Follower´s open side. For gancho technique, the Leader can absorb the Follower´s leg, and send it back out to the other side of her supporting, standing leg. Next, we did front ganchos of Leader´s right leg using Follower´s right leg as an interruption of her back cross step, then we tried it on the other side, Leader´s left leg with Follower´s left leg.

Viernes, 6 Agosto 2010
Day 5 - Luciana Valle Intensivo B (off-axis): Leg Wraps / Ganchos. We spent a lot of time working on all the ganchos we learned yesterday.

Sabado, 7 Agosto 2010
Day 6 - Luciana Valle Intensivo B (off-axis): Review.
We reviewed all that we learned in the previous five days (freeing up the free leg of the Follower, linear boleos -- with and contra, colgadas -- moving the axis and doing it circularly, volcadas, ganchos).
My overall thoughts on Intensivo B:
As usual, it was a great session. The student assistant partners were many of the same ones as last year, and they had much improved in their dancing and their English skills in the last year. We as a class were very lucky to have them. The subject matter and structure were the same as last year, but I feel we didn´t cover as much material or move as swiftly or deeply as in the past due to the class level. I do believe that taking Intensivo A and B together are more effective at learning, understanding, and employing the concepts in our dance and that just taking B alone could be overwhelming to some who are not familiar with Luciana´s concepts. Personally, if I could only take one session, I would take Intensivo A (though A+B is the ideal). I didn´t feel as overwhelmed or exhausted as I did last year, likely because I had my notes from last year to guide me in terms of what I could expect. This year´s Intensivo B also took place at a different place, with hardwood floors, decent ventilation, and short 5 minute walk to the subte. A delicious bagel sandwich lunch (of two sandwiches) was available for purchase daily (with drink, coffee, and dessert) for 26 pesos.

NeoTango (1938 Sarmiento) doesn't close until 4.00p.m. on Saturday, so I had just enough time to shop. I attempted to try on some shoes, but wasn´t able to since they had sold out in the size I needed in many of the styles I wanted. Interestingly, I also ended up being a size 5 in their shoes (whereas in the past I was size 6). So now I am wondering if the tango shoe vendors here in BsAs have changed their lasts so that they accommodate a wider, North American foot (which was what I was told at 1951 Buenos Aires).

Domingo, 8 Agosto 2010
Salon Canning Milonga (18 pesos, Scalabrini Ortiz 1331). This was the 6 p.m. to midnight milonga. It was a very civilized, sweet Sunday at Salon Canning. The seating was informal, with men, women, and couples seated everywhere randomly. It was crowded, but floorcraft was OK with only light bumps and the dancers reasonably well behaved. This particular afternoon had the tightest milonga conditions I´ve experienced so far, which is typical for Canning.

Lunes, 9 Agosto 2010
Day 1 - Luciana Valle Intensivo Al Cuadrado: Piernazos. We began, as we always do, with the first part of the day working on technique, and then the second part of the day the possibilities of the structure (from/to where). Piernazos look like ganchos on the waist of the Leader, but Piernazos actually belong to the family of boelos, only the Leader is the Follower´s way. We began with the mechanics/technique of boleos. We were to work with the idea of the change of direction, such as the front cross of Follower´s left foot to back cross of the opposite direction of the Follower´s right foot, with a large pivot of the Follower´s left foot front cross. Follower is to keep her bra line to the Leader. The Leader needs to be behind the Follower for the change of direction, so he needs to overturn her before her first forward cross step. The Leader needs to be behind and around the Follower and go around her (and not be flat when he does this). We also did this on the other side: Follower right foot front cross, to Follower left foot back cross, to Follower big pivoted right foot front cross. Follower needs to have lots of torsion with complete weight, then arrive, pivot, and then step from the standing leg (push off from the standing leg). We went on to simple piernazos. The Leader changes the timing, and steps around her, and then leads her with a boleo, waiting for the Follower to arrive and accompany her return. For Piernazos, the Follower needs to have lots of pivot in the standing foot, be on axis, and the weight must not be on her heel, have torsion from top to bottom. She must really spiral a lot. It is an overturned front cross, and overturned back cross, and Leader is around her. When doing Piernazos, the dancers should be perpendicular (90 degrees) to each other. The leg is a continuation of the spiral in the Follower´s body. We worked this on the left and right sides, and with ¨with¨and ¨contra¨ energy. When doing it in countermotion, the difference is in the timing in the ¨go¨. The Leader moves earlier toward the Follower, and he should be softer with this motion. Next, we explored the difference in the lead and feel of Piernazos (which are in the air), and ganchos (which are on the floor). The distance is farther between the dancers in the setup for Piernazos in terms of the Leader´s offering leg and versus going around the Follower. The energy of the step before in the setup of the overturned step. Next, we added a change of direction/alteration into the Piernazos. Follower left foot front cross step, into Follower right leg piernazo of Leader´s right hip on the close side of the embrace.

2x4 Al Pie shoes (Scalabrini Ortiz 1735, Dto 3). This is the men´s answer to shoes a la Comme Il Faut in terms of how the showroom looks. The loft interior of the store could have been right out of an urban hipster bachelor pad in New York City, in all it´s wood beam and brick glory, and luxurious, minimally designed leather furnishings. The shoes here have the interchangeable soles (leather, suede, and rubber). For the men, they have several different models of shoes, but in varying colors/materials (cost: 590 pesos). For the women, there is only one model of shoe, but it comes in a lot of different colors (blue, green, red, et al) (cost: 500 pesos). I tried on a pair, but did not like how they fit on me (size 5!). El Russo de Portland reports that the shoes here run a bit narrow, as he generally wears narrow shoes and he found the shoes at 2x4 Al Pie on the narrow side.

El Motivo Practica at Club Villa Malcolm (10 pesos). This was a practica, so no cortinas were played. Dress was very casual. Olga Besio was there with several of her students, and many Al Cuadrado assistants were there as well. I danced with a bunch of international technically strong Leaders, which was fine with me. There was a good, four-song performance of a couple whose name escapes me.
Martes, 10 Agosto 2010
Day 2 - Luciana Valle Intensivo Al Cuadrado: Sacadas with Rebotes (Changes of Direction). We began with a review Piernazos from the Leader´s open step, back cross step, and front cross step, using with and contra energy. Then we worked on the technique of doing sacadas, doing different types with different changes of direction (back to front from right to left, back to front from left to right, open to open left to right, open to open right to left, front to back left to right, front to back right to left). The Follower moves on her own, and she needs to keep her torsion. For sacadas, it is a clean take of the foot (weightless), followed by the Leader´s transfer of weight. Next, we reviewed rebotes, with the Follower focus being really pushing off with the standing foot to the free foot, with elastic motion and feeling. This class was much more challenging on the Leader side of things with them having to really think hard about the setup and relative positioning of the bodies.

Miercoles, 11 Agosto 2010
Day 3 - Luciana Valle Intensivo Al Cuadrado: The 4th Sacadas.
We began with a review of the Leader and Follower back sacada technique. Follower needs to pivot a lot and keep torso toward the Leader. Her pivot originates from down up (from her feet to her hips and torso). She needs to complete her pivot and collect before back stepping. Here, she can also reposition herself a little as needed, as she uses the up to down spiral in her back step, where she should extend the leg first, and then transfer the weight. Her left arm can slide up on Leader or change the embrace so that she has more room to accommodate the move. We reviewed all the Follower back crosses with different Leader receptions (on his open step, on his front cross step, on his back cross step. The timing of the step is that the Leader and Follower are moving together at the point of the sacada. The 4th sacada is the Follower´s back step to the Leader´s open side step. It was physically very demanding working on these back sacadas all morning since they involved lots of overturned ochos. It´s a good thing this was just a half day.

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