Monday, August 10, 2009

Tango Element Sunday

Class 1 Chicho/Juana
moving in different directions
- leading follower to go one way while leader goes another
- basic elements: follower straight back South while leader goes diagonal to SE, bring follower SE and leader back sacada, both going back step with elasticity, into a turn, into a leg wrap gancho, into leading her behind and stopping her on the front step of molinete, then bringing her back behind and meeting her.

Class 3 Chicho/Juana
- from side step sandwich, back colgada to a side colgada then back step for leader (front for follower)
- front step for follower on right foot, leader steps past her foot behind her leg, into a forward colgada to a side turned pivot colgada
- sending the follower behind (making sure she grabs the shoulder) to a back colgada behind the leader
- forward ocho to a half turn, leader hold on to follower's arms and leads a front colgada. Follower should stay with leader when she is facing forward.

Tango Element Saturday

Class 1 Arce/Montes
- Ex. 1 walking in a circular motion, thinking enveloping partners both cross system and parallel
- Ex. 2 leading a follower's half molinete circularly on both sides both cross and parallel
The main idea is to keep the turning feeling, not "turn, walk, turn, walk"

Class 2 Sidrid/Yanick

Class 3 Chicho/Juana

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tango Element Friday

Spent a good chunk of the day hanging out by the pool, sunbathing, taking quick dips, working on the paper, taking a trip to the sauna, working, taking a dip, repeat... It was great! I think I get way more work done this way.

Class 1 Chicho/Juana
1 We worked on leaders gancho. Leading the follower to a forward open step and the leader stepping back at the same time in a line with the follower's feet. Leader keeps upper body turned to follower but rotates hips away to make the gancho easier.
2 Now a follower's gancho. From a forward cross, send the follower away and release her right hand. Use a rebound to keep the follower from collecting. Follower should be holding on to leader's elbow with her left hand. Then leader changes weight to right leg and brings follower back for a rotational gancho.
3. Leader gancho. From back crosses, lead follower to a side step that is almost behind the leader. Position hips away from the follower for the gancho.

Then the sequence was 1, 3, 2. But the main take away from this class is that the couple is dancing as a UNIT so the leader needs to know and be acutely aware of where all the legs, bodies, arms, etc of the UNIT are in space. If the leader feels that two of the legs of the unit are not in a comofortable place for a gancho then a gancho should not be attempted.

The thing that really impresses me about Chicho is his Zen-like approach to dancing. When he comes around to help people he really just takes his time to feel what it's like dancing with them and moving with them, trying tiny baby step by baby step, playing with the follower, seeing how any small body movement is interpreted by the follower's body. He doesn't just come over and wham bam the sequence and to show that of course it can be done. He takes all the time in the world. He suggested in one class that people who are practicing or trying to learn something new in tango to ask themselves 10 questions and try to answer those 10 questions before coming to him for help. It's not that he doesn't want to help, but that it takes time to understand how two bodies work together, especially if they are not already familiar with each other, and that you should take time to understand how this particular dancing unit works together.

The classes I've taken with Chicho are perhaps my favorite so far. He builds each class in such a simple easy way that makes hard material easy to understand. He also impresses me with how deeply he thinks about tango. I feel like he's taken apart the dance, focused on various pieces, put them back together in a completely different way, taken it apart again, and so forth. He's like an engineer or a scientist! The main thing is that he is constantly creating, not just recreating. He's writing the word, not just following the word.

Class 2 Arce/Montes
Changing dynamics - playing with time, distance, length
1. Slowing down a step way down with a feeling of lift and then a rebound back in "normal" time.
2. Leader's little steps while keeping follower stepping normal sized steps. In this exercise, it was leaders stepping double time and surrounding the follower to lead her to an ocho cortado. Leader takes steps A-G, follower A-C.
3. Playing with height in boleos, either spiraling up or down. We did a spiral down boleo to a pasada.

Class 3
1. Leading follower to a cross behind (not a back volcada). Then leading the followers weight shift then into a volcada, using elastic compression in the embrace to rebound the follower out. Stopping the follower on two feet using right arm (left hand has been released), then bringing her back in for a follower 180 pivot, keeping the hand low and giving her the pivot with the hand. The hand also stops her pivot. Follower is facing away from leader, in the crook of the arm Then one step together and the leader takes an extra step to lead a side volcada into a forward step for the follower away from the leader. Then rebound back in to face leader and immediately to another forward volcada.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tango Element Thursday

In sunny Baltimore! I'm not kidding. It was a dreary drizzly day when I left Delaware and the sun was just peeking out when I got into the hotel. The Tremont is amazing! It's a tiny narrow hotel but with 37 floors. The hallway looks like it was made for dwarves (of the Snow White variety). Surprisingly, the rooms are large, there's a hang out nook, a kitchenette, a walkin closet that leads to the bathroom and the little toiletries are soooo cute! There are two huge windows looking over Baltimore and let the sun in. Hung out by the tiny outdoor pool for a bit and went for a quick dip gazing up at the towering hotel windows and the whitewashed wall hung with geraniums of the apartment next door. Met a beautiful girl from Norway on the elevator ride back to my room. Then off to the first classes with Sebastien Arce & Mariana Montes and Chicho & Juana.

Class 1 with Arce/Montes
- worked on taking advantage of torsion instead of initiating torsion. We walked in close embrace in circles both ways around the clock. Then learned how important it is how we place our foot on the ground because it determines the length of our steps. We moved on to movements where the leader and follower take turns orbiting each other, focusing on the surrounding each other and paying attention to rythm and timing.
- the first step is going clockwise. First leader surrounds, then follower surrounds in a half molinete, during this time the leader has changed feet and as the follower takes the forward step, he goes for her back foot and surrounds again which leads to a whooshy feeling of a turn before the leader takes a back step and follower takes a forward step together.
- then we did it on the other side but ended in a opened embrace that somehow turned into a circle around the follower that ended in a leader's back sacada.

Class 2 with Chicho/Juana
- we did an exercise where the followers did forward and back ochos/crosses with the leader changing her dircection once in a while. The change should happen when her hips have pivoted as far as they can
- then we worked exclusively with forward boleos. The leaders trying to make the mark clear and slighly more apparent. The followers keeping their supporting leg flexed and letting the free leg come up and down again at the end of the pivot and not while you're turning. I kept tightening up my thighs which made the boleo hard to do so Juana came over and told me to relax the legs and gave me an enlightening demo of how it's done. Think elephant trunk swinging and wrapping around a tree.
- we switched directions and worked on back boleos. the main thing here is to let the free leg fully go instead of keeping the boleo below the knee. So instead of keeping the legs together and just bending the knee, let the thighs relax and really open up the legs.
- what we were building up to is a colgada boleo where the circular nature is formed parallel to the floor in the follower's body rather than perpendicular to the floor around the follower's body and the idea of rebound is important. Basically the follower has to have a good grip on the leader to be able to receive the boleo.

Btw, whole world, I'm in love with Juana. She is so gracious and just had an amused smile during the whole class and had really great insights into the material. She seemed to have fun and was comfortable coming around to help everyone. She didn't get frustrated with leaders who were having trouble. She just kept laughing and encouranging them and helping them get the feeling in their body. All the teachers have been excellent so far. They are working their butt off! They come around and help everyone and are eager to explain the material clearly so that we can understand. Mariana is an outstanding dancer. She has such control of her body with a superb balance of tension/control with relaxed ability to follow improvisation and changes in dynamics. Sebastian is so precise and you don't realize how complex his dancing is until you're analyzing the details of those "simple" five steps he just did and you can't for the life of you figure it out. Chicho is just, um, legendary. I really don't need to say any of this since they already have their following for good reason but I just am super impressed so far.