Whips and chains (Boleos and crossed system grapevine combos)

We worked on circular boleos (whips) for Week II of Tango III, and then combined them with sacadas.

Con boleos are led by the leader rotating in the same direction as the follower's hips are turning. This is true for both front and back boleos. For me, these boleos have a kind of SSSwoosh feeling, very smooth.

Contra boleos are led by the leader moving around the follower in the opposite direction that the follower's hips are rotating, to create a more ssWOOSH! feeling, with a harder snap to the boleo at the end, but with a tiny bit longer buildup before the snap.

Boleo tips for followers:

  • Be on your axis: with few exceptions, boleos work best on axis.
  • 80% of the work is for your support leg and body: find a way to stabilize without tensing.
  • The free leg MUST be relaxed in order to get a real boleo. You can fake them following a boleo lead, but the feeling for the leader--and for you--is not the same.  The leg is release in the hip socket, not in the lower back.
  • Don't clench knees, hips, toes, in order to maintain your balance: use the floor/grounding.
  • Stand tall and think of your rib cage lifting ALL AROUND so that your legs can fit under you easily.
  • There is no one shape of boleo that is correct. The leader can shape your move, after you have learned to release your leg and stay connected/solid in your center.  The path of the leader's rotation determines the path of your leg.
  • Your embrace needs to be strong at the moment of the boleo to help stabilize your body (except the loose leg), but don't clutch your partner! Think of two waves hitting and subsiding, rather than a death grip.

Boleo tips for leaders:

  • This is a subtle lead. I know, it doesn't look like a subtle move, but the lead energy gets magnified as it travels down the follower's body to the free leg.  If you haul your partner into boleos, they can't release their leg without falling over.
  • Find the rotation in your center, and keep it parallel to the ground unless you want to make strange, weird boleo shapes.
  • Don't use your arms to twist the follower: use them to stabilize, not to pull!
  • Plant your feet strongly. Many times, I find that both of my feet need to be solidly on the ground BEFORE I initiate the boleo lead. Yes, there are some boleos where you can't do that, but work on them after more simple ones work.
  • For contra boleos, remember that you can travel with a side step (usually the easiest), a front cross, or a back cross.  Experiment!
  • Lead the boleo as one move, not a twist and then an untwist: allow the follower's momentum to contribute to the unwinding.

Using boleo combinations on the dance floor

What's the point of knowing all these cool moves if you can't use them? We focused on leading con and contra boleos with a preparation set up along the LOD direction, and exiting LOD. The leader can face out of the circle or into the circle to do these.

Building on what we did last week, we played with adding steps to the boleos as they unwound, resolved into steps LOD.  You can use circular or linear sacadas after the boleos, but some moves remain in one place and cannot be done in a crowded space.

One last note: Don't lead high boleos (or backlead high boleos) in a crowded space! Although many boleo shapes curve around the follower's axis, thus making them compact enough for most dance spaces, if you are dancing with someone whose style you cannot predict, don't boleo.

I think that's it, unless you remember something I forgot to write down!  Good work, everyone!