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.

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