Tuesday, August 16, 2011

LV Intensivo C Notes May-June 2011

I finally had a few spare hours to transcribe my Luciana Valle Intensivo C notes from May/June 2011. Sorry for the lateness. It was a crazy trip, where I flew in just for the Intensivo, then tacked on an interview on the East Coast, then got the job and had to put my affairs in order in SF, say goodbye to everyone, etc. The move to the East Coast, start my new (old) job, which I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE, get settled in, etc. Whew. I am tired just thinking about it. So that's why my notes are two months late. Here they are, and yes, whoever you are, you should definitely go to any of the Luciana Valle intensivos, and take them multiple times if you can.

Luciana Valle Intensivo C

Our focus of Intensivo C was on the quality of the movement and to clean up the
details of our dance.
Our exercises focused on power, presence, and dynamics, with the goal
of being clear in our feedback.
Be more powerful.
Be more elegant.
Have more presence.
Intention means to be clear, and to understand the difference between moving the leg versus moving the axis.

Our first topic was intention, with respect to trying to be clear with our understanding of moving our leg and moving our axis.

Our axis is neutral to start. The motion of our axis is the direction you want to go, using a down and forward motion. We were to give heaviness to our legs and move our weight to our metatarsals (NOT our tip toes), stop it, and then come back up to neutral.

Inside of the embrace, the Follower goes opposite to the Leader, so as she goes towards to Leader, she has a standing leg and a free leg, anchoring and then going. The Follower feedback is from anchoring the legs.

Next, we did a Feedback exercise with Leader and Follower dancing with just walking chest-to-chest with no arms, with the Follower giving the Leader feedback. The Follower was to try to prevent the Leader from moving by using power in her legs. So we began dancing in neutral and playing with the resistance, sometimes being heavy and nearly stopping him by the Follower anchoring in to the ground, being very light and almost non-existent in the touch, and regular/normal.

Next, we worked on an intention exercise, with Leader and Follower dancing with just walking, but the Leader playing with the size of step using big steps, or small steps, or side steps, and the Follower following appropriately. The Leader was also supposed to alternate/mix things up so the Follower could not anticipate or predict what the next step was, so he was to try to lead big steps, small steps, and tiny steps in the same song. If the Leader takes a big step, the Follower needs to anchor more.

Next, we worked on changing the energy, large versus small and fast versus slow. We drilled this to many songs with lots of rhythmic variations. We were to step on the edge of the beat, so that it's almost like you won't make it timingwise.

Finally, we added the QQS to the walk, again drilling to lots of songs with rhythmic variations.

After the lunch break we continued to drill, taking big and small steps, and then went on to focus on the turn (molinete, hiro).

Working from the Follower's back ocho, we worked on doing overturned back ochos, as for the back cross step of the turn, the back cross step is really an overturned back ocho step. The Follower should take the same size steps as she moves around the Leader and her axis should not be forward.

The Follower needs to pivot in two places: (1) on the forward (front cross) step to the open step. (2) Immediately after the open step into the back cross (overturned back ocho) step. The energy of both these steps should be of going and pushing off. It is very important that the Follower keep her axis back.

We worked a lot on playing with the rhythm and timing of the turn.

The Follower needs to pivot on her metatarsal, but lift the heel and stay grounded, When the Follower is in the right sensation, it is when she is back, even though visually it doesn't look like it. Basically, she needs to think and be back to be visually straight.

The Leader determines the speed of the turn, and he can lead a slow turn or fast one or anything in between.

The Follower needs to push off, propel, and pivot in the turn, and be on axis while she is doing it.

Next, we worked on rhythmic variations, first working on the double time in the turn dancing to regular tango, and then to vals, working on the 1-2 rhythm. Here the QQ needs to be faster and shorter.

The Leader keeps the Follower in front of him with his right hand on the back of her sternum.

Next, we went back to the regular tango musicality, but added the Leader optional footwork of the pencil (lapice). The Leader does a front cross of his left foot before his right foot weighted leg, and then mirrors the footwork with the Follower, going in front as the Follower does her back step, to open, and then back out, all the while pivoting on his right foot.

The Follower has to wait for the Leader to do his front cross and not step until he unwinds with his front step.

Then we added the optional ending of the Leader parada on either side, depending on the direction of the turn.



We began our day with a review of what we learned yesterday.

In the turn, the Follower does a really big pivot on the back cross step (overturned back ocho), with her legs together at all points of the pivot before stepping back. She should keep her belly back in the turn.

We also drilled the Leader's parada some more. We also focused on the Follower pivoting a lot at the point before the back cross step. In the Follower's clockwise molinete, she becomes the motor and the Leader can do whatever he wants with respect to footwork. Thus, we drilled the Leader's parada, doing multiples of them on the left side and right side. We also practiced the Leader doing weight changes to do sacadas, on the left and right sides. The Follower should continue to do her full turn, forward, side, back, side, forward, etc., while the Leader does sacadas to her various trailing feet.

Maestra said regarding body tilt in the open embrace versus close embrace is BS. The difference between open and close embrace just depends on how close or far the axis are to each other. But the axis of the upper bodies themselves is upright and is the same. The goal is to have a comfortable, natural, and organic feel to the embrace


Next, we drilled a simple sequence with a focus on pivoting a lot, and keeping our axis (our bellies back during the turn, not tilting in or heads and shoulders tilting away). The sequence included a parada, and also a Follower planeo of her left leg as the weight is on her right and the Leader walks around her. He can conclude with a parada.

Next, we worked on changes of direction. Maestra noted that every ocho is a change of a direction.

So we worked on changes of direction in the turn and in the walk and the ocho, and the molinete: back cross to front cross, front cross to back cross, with the Leader changing the front where he does it. The Follower needs to have lots of torsion and she needs to pivot more (much more than she thinks she should).


We began the day of a review.
Parada with Leader's lapice, into sacada, into turns, with different options for the Leader and Follower. In all that we do, we should remain connected in the bra line. We also worked on changes of direction from the ocho, back cross to front cross. In changes of direction, the Follower needs to take big steps with push-off because the change of direction has a lot of momentum.

For the Leader, the footwork is open step to open step, while the Follower does back cross to front cross (big steps). The Follower needs to focus on the pivot and complete it all the way before stepping back. For the Follower, in vals and milonga, she should be more grounded as if you want to slow the Leader down.

Working some more on changes of direction, we worked on combining the Follower's cross footwork:
Back cross to front cross
Front cross to back cross
and moving her center through space.
Next, we added the open to open on the slow step.
Here, both Leader and Follower need to step circularly. The Follower has to really go on the side step, with a full weight transfer. The Follower needs to invest more in the standing leg, and the free leg will be free to do ________ (anything, fill in the blank).


The Follower should work hard to go, to move.

For the afternoon, which was much harder on the Leaders, we worked on combination of changes of direction with different Leader footwork options:

Follower does open to open step while Leader does:
back cross to front cross
front cross to back cross
front cross to pivot to front cross
back cross to pivot to back cross
as the dancers are perpendicular to each other

end of day 3 (which was good as I think the Leader's brains were going
to explode if we didn't stop).


We began with a review of the changes of direction.

Follower's back cross to front cross, in double time.
Leader's back cross to front cross, with Follower's open to open, which was interesting, but not the most beautiful thing you can do in tango.

Next we worked on close embrace, with the Follower collecting as each leg passes to adjust her standing foot to be with the Leader. The Follower should not be split weight, otherwise she doesn't commit. The Follower should always aim to collect, always have the intention to collect. This is what will enable her to push off at each step.

For the changes in direction, our first level of difficulty is for the
Follower do to:
Front to back
Back to front
Open to open
all in each direction, and the step is based on what the Follower is doing.

The next level of difficulty is where the the Leader changes his
footwork in any of the above, with his footwork being
Back to front
front to back
(in the first level of difficulty his footwork was open to open)

The Follower needs to stay with the Leader, as the change of direction is a suspended motion. She should not fall in between the steps and she should not be flat.

Again, we drilled this material for a long time, as repetitive tasks are a good way to drill the material.

We also reviewed the Leader's lapice, parada, and change of direction.


We began the afternoon with Circular Ganchos (ed note: NOT those icky and sophomoric stop-and-park ganchos)
Ganchos are something we usually learn too early, so it usually looks horrible (ed note: so tru dat)
For the Follower, the gancho is a step that never happens. You rebound and come back. It's like a change of direction, back cross to front cross.
We need to break lots of bad gancho habits from before (ed note: tru dat!)

The circular gancho we drilled was:
On the Follower's right foot back cross step, the Leader does a right foot sacada in front of the Follower's right foot, as she steps back, and her left foot does a back gancho of the Leader's right leg.
To this we added the Leader stepping around the Follower afterwards, to send her free leg to the other side.
The Follower was to gancho hard, not cut or truncate the movement because she is anticipating a gancho. It is supposed to be organic, and a she should step as if she will step (but the step never happens).
Again, she should pivot/rotate a lot, and keep her legs collected at the point of pivot, and step big after the pivot.

We tried this both on the left side and the right side.
The Leader receives the gancho on the back part of his leg:
Left turn with Leader's right leg
Right turn with Leader's left leg.


Review of Ganchos
We reviewed several types of ganchos:
On the Follower's back cross:
Leader's left leg to Followers' left leg
Leader's right leg to Follower's right leg
to receive the gancho at the front of the Leader's leg
to receive the gancho at the back of the Leader's leg

Our drilling was to give us tools to give our ganchos more dynamics (circularity).
The Follower should not anticipate the gancho, and she should not lose the quality of her front cross step.
For the Follower's leg to be free to gancho, she needs to bend her standing leg. With respect to quality of the step, she needs to bend from the standing leg to push off.

We left ganchos for now, and worked on musicality and timing in vals versus tango.
So we worked on dancing on the 1-3-1 and the 1-2-1, doing the various things we learned all week to those rhythms.
We also added the contra boleo for the 1-3-1 timing.
We also worked a little on milonga musicality.


It was a very good, productive week.

Personally, I felt very happy and relaxed throughout, as none of this information was new to me as I had heard it all in Intensivo A, B, and Al Cuadrado, but it was really great to be able to drill it as much as we did, and with maestra's fantastic assistants, many with whom I have worked on this material for years.

I cannot say enough good things about the Luciana Valle Intensivo experience. Though I have never really considered LV to be one of my teachers of Follower's technique, in fact, she really has been. Though she does not teach pretty adornos, her emphasis on the free leg versus the standing leg and her instructions on posture, bra line, and pivoting a lot have really been significant keys for me to become a better dancer. And in transcribing my notes, I get a kick out of seeing that she is one of those teachers who teach Followers to be "more heavy" (which I read to be more stable and present).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Me too, me too! I also cannot say enough good things about Luciana Valle's teaching, especially the Intensivo experience. Intensivo has been instrumental in making me a solid dancer. Do whatever you need to do (beg, borrow, steal the money) to get there. You will not regret it. No excuses. Just do it.

I will also venture to say that dancing with Luciana's assistants will probably one of the most enjoyable experiences you have in your life. Almost all of them want you to give "more feedback" (presence) because they really want to "connect" with you. They cannot connect as well if they cannot "feel" you. Gabriel Misse said the same thing when I had my private classes with him.

BTW Anne, you have a fantastic memory. I was there too, and I do not remember half the things you remember. I guess I'll just have to go do it again. :)