Dear readers who are still tango virgins, this section will probably bore the beegees out of you so you may want to find another blog to read for today.
It's the first day of the Intensivo with Luciana Valle. It's located at Villa Malcolm and we start at 11am. There's a large group from Austin, a few folks from Ithaca, a gentleman from Pakistan and Chris is here too. We don't get to mingle too much because Lu starts right away and we are paired up with one of the capable assitants.
Then we proceed to practice ochos for an hour. Ladies, if you can practice ochos for an hour every day, you will be in bravo shape. At the end of the hour I was thinking Do I really know how to do ochos or have I just been faking it the whole time? We went over tons of technique. I'll just make a big long list:
- Go in a circle around the center
- This means circular steps, not linear steps
- No pigeon toed walking, there is a slight out- turn of the feet
- Push off with the standing leg
- At the pivot of the ochos, have your free leg free, not glued to your other leg.
- Do not squat down during the pivot, you should bend your leg as if you were just walking backwards normally.
- Keep your axis - you should not be falling forward or backward or gripping the person who is the center to keep balance. Use your core to do this.
- Followers: Keep everything above your braline facing your partner, your hips are doing all the pivoting here
- Leaders: Keep the energy of the embrace but let your right arm slide on her back as she pivots. If you keep your hand fixed at one position on her back, it is hard to lead good pivots. Likewise for followers, let your left arm slide from his arm to his back.
- Leaders: lead this with your chest, not your shoulders, and definitely not your arms. Think of your back pivoting around your spine. A little movement can result in a big pivot in your follower's hips.
- umm more stuff that I don't remember because my brain died a little
Then for another two hours we worked on our giros. Yes, two hours - one just normale, one with a leader's lapis. Giro to the left, giro to the right. Perfect that giro. If you get bored with giros after a few minutes then I'm afraid tango might not be for you. Sorry. Really I am. But if I have to do hours of giros just to get them sort of right, you bloody should too. I have to say that towards the end of the two hours, I was starting to get the body memory of what a giro feels like. Maybe. I think. Here's the list for giros.
- Followers: Light upper body, heavy hips. Remember to keep facing your partner above the braline. Keep you own axis (this is hard. I kept leaning forward too much which meant my leg swung out too much during the back pivot). Use all the technique you learned for ochos
- Leaders: if you are going to employ the lapis, you will pivot your hips after you pivot your follower and draw a circle on the ground with the ball of your foot that your follower will chase with her giro. Think of your foot as the rabbit at a greyhound race and the follower as the greyhound.
As we rotate, it dawns on me that there is also the issue of getting to know the 12 or so professional tango dancers that are working with me. There are 12 professional leaders and 12 professional followers, one for every person in the series. We change every two songs and have to adapt to a different style of dancing, a different personality, a different many things. It keeps you on your toes. The dancers are friendly and like to heckle Lu sometimes as she teaches. She laughs at their jokes and banter right back.
We move on to planeos. Simple right? Except there are planeos where the follower's leg is behind, side or in front. Now the leaders see if they can, during one planeo, switch the planeo from one to the other. Not so simple to lead or follow. The subtlities in the embrace are mind boggling. Sometimes it is hard just to know to stay put for the planeo instead of going ahead into the giro. Where the ochos is a spiral starting from the follower's hips, the planeo is a spiral starting from the followers bust. Got that? Good.
Because we can't get enough of tango - these are a precious two weeks after all - some of us head to the practica El Motivo at night. I like the space at Villa Malcolm and the practica is fun. We see a precise performance by Pablo Retamar and Anita Monteagedo. I'm dragging butt by now.