Playful Paradas & Pasadas
One thing that makes tango tango, is stopping. "Parada" means "stop" -- a defining element of the dance -- and sometimes one continues with the follower stepping gracefully over the leader's foot. This "stepping over" moment can be called a pasada. Paradas and pasadas invite a playful dialogue between follower and leader, and a fun moment for expression the rhythm or melody with the free leg. We'll study how to create paradas and pasadas anywhere in the dance structure, dance playful embellishments and subterfuges, clever exits, and the whole feeling of suspense.
Walking with Sacadas
Often we think of sacadas (displacements) as being danced in the midst of giros or perhaps ochos, but they can also displace walking steps. There are quite a few clever little walking sacadas, which can be a little more cuddly than the turning sacadas :) They are also a lot of fun simply for breaking up the walk and giving a little surprise. Followers will learn when to under-react to a sacada and how to over-react to them in a vivacious charming way. All material is for a fairly crowded social dance floor. We will also dance a few of my favorite extremely brief walking patterns (like, 2 beats long) and gain more skill at combining them into the flow of our walk.
Barrida and Gancho Laboratory
Experimenting with a wide range of barridas and ganchos, we'll have a lot of fun with these sometimes intimidating elements. Barridas are "drags" or "sweeps", where one person's foot sweeps the other person's foot along the floor (or....into the air? perhaps) and ganchos are "hooks" where one dancer's leg hooks around the other dancer's leg. Both require good collaboration from the partners! They are not only cool and fun but also can be very musically expressive. After experimenting with all the different possible ways to drag someone's foot, from where and to where being fascinating subjects, we'll choose a few favorites to polish. Similarly with ganchos.
Back Sacadas & Boleos
The back sacada is a signature cool move, dangerous and bold, surprising and clever, and best done only when you're quite skilled at them. This class is the place to acquire those skills. We will dance mostly leader's back sacadas, but may throw in a follower's back sacada if conditions seem favorable.
Front and back boleos add spice, drama, sex and violence – wait, is that true? it's debatable....but they certainly add a beautiful twirling spiral movement and a momentary flick of the leg high off the floor. Confident, expressive boleos that truly rebound are eye-catching and superfun to dance. We will dance mostly follower's boleos, but may throw in a leader's boleo if we've got some fancy leaders.
Musicality & Quality
Music gives soul to your dance. I give precise exercises to help you notice more details of the music and express them in your dancing. Whether it's sharp breaks, soft pauses, syncopations, phrases of music, long sustained notes, high notes of melody, or embellishments in the music, each of these suggest corresponding gestures and choices in our body.
Quality means quality-of-movement: for example, flowing or sharp, syrupy or decisive, feline, majestic, compact, ethereal, earthy... tango inspires lots of possible ways to dance the same step or same pivot. The quality of movement might match the music, or might be part of a story between the partners, each dancer expressing herself or himself. Again, very precise exercises will bring out these different options.
Teasing: Tiny Reversals
Playful material that is on a small scale and suitable for social dancing on crowded dance floors. I wanted to offer cute stuff that can be done with just about anyone. Often the pleasure of a tango-surprise happens when a pattern starts out seeming very familiar, then suddenly changes into something else. This can happen with an embellishment, too. Join me for a series of short classes (45 minutes) in which playful little jokes are offered by followers to their leaders, and by leaders to their followers. Teasing can be pleasing, and these classes may wake up a playful side to your dance that lets you invent your own little subversions.
Basics & Drills
Beginners who know a little something need to review and repeat the basics to really own them. We'll refresh the walk to the cross, nail down the ocho cortado, practice entrances and exits to back ochos, and master some rock turns. We'll play with simple elements that are useful for navigating the crowded dance floor, musically expressive, and fun. Reminders on posture and embrace will come up each week.
Sometimes coolness does come from dancing a cool move, like a back cross, a tiny zippy boleo, a barrida (sweep of the foot across the floor), or just the right sacada. But dancing those moves in a cool way also implies grace, knowing how much energy to put into the move, not putting too much. We'll definitely explore some fun moves and we'll work to relax them. Another thing that's very cool in tango is simply doing what's done less often. If you're the leader, starting to walk forward with your right foot instead of your left: that's cool. We'll look at other very simple things that are unusual. Whether you're following or leading, another aspect of being cool in tango, is dealing coolly with surprises. We'll practice flowing right through them. We'll also take a look at the coolness of the crossed system. Shades are optional.
Combining Little Turns
Turns give joy to any dance. We will make phrases of brief turns, which will change direction before anyone can get dizzy. Many of them will be grapevine turns, also called "giros." Small giros will be combined with rock turns, calesitas, and other curvy moves. Some turns will work best danced close, others will work best danced in open embrace. Entrances and exits will be taught. The sequences will have modest special effects, such as an extra pivot for the follower, or a surprising change of direction.
We will practice dancing our turns smoothly to the rhythm of the music. All material will be suitable for charming each other on the social dance floor.
Milonga, Tango, Tango, Vals
At most tango parties, called milongas, the music is played in sets of 3 or 4 songs of the same rhythm. The DJ will play a set of milongas (different use of the same word!), then a set of tangos by one orchestra, then a contrasting set of tangos by a different orchestra, then a set of valses (waltzes). After that come two more sets of tangos, and then back to milongas.
The order of the DJ's pattern inspired this course. It isn't a progressive series: each class stands alone and will be unique. The first week of the series will deal with milonga, the next two with tango, the last with vals. Students must be able to dance in close embrace, or learn to very quickly. This class is immediately followed by Racing Club Practica.
This 30-minute class is meant to challenge and inspire you to notice more details of the music and to express them in your dancing. Whether it's sharp breaks, syncopations, soft pauses, phrases of music, long sustained notes, high notes of melody, or embellishments in the music, each of these suggest corresponding gestures and choices in our body. We'll also see how the overall feeling or mood of a song evokes particular tango vocabulary and style. This class is immediately followed by Rawson Practica – to give you plenty of time to develop what you took in in 30 minutes!