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.