7 PM Eugene tango class review, 12Jul08

For my 7 PM class, most of the dancers have danced for 1-3 years, and are ready to take their dancing to a new level.  Here are the goals of the class members:
improved balance

  • "Oscar's solar plexus thing"
  • waiting and breathing
  • energy
  • more solid, fundamentals
  • connecting, breath
  • energy, musicality
  • flowing
  • turns and smoothness
  • "Oscar's density and elasticity thing"
  • refining the basics

My goals are the same as for the 6 PM class, but using more advanced steps and a deeper understanding of the dance:

  • energy
  • posture/grounding
  • musicality
  • polishing/learning steps

Week I
Drills: axis, "force field" and dancing with eyes closed (both people) for connection/energy
Adding energy: using the solar plexus more efficiently to build the energy between the partners
Adding musicality: listen to a song: where does it suggest you pause? Where does it suggest you do a corrida (quick, quick, slow (QQS)).

After that, we separated for the followers to practice posture and technique for forward ochos and adornos for a parada and pasada (stepover). The leaders listened to several Lomuto songs and worked on using the music effectively (dance with feeeeeeling!). Putting the couples back together really showed the effects of that practice time, with more elegant feet for followers and more energized/musical dancing in general.

For our final focus, we expanded the musicality and energy of the dance to encompass the entire group dancing, rather than just the couple. By using the awareness we worked on all class, everyone is energized and tuned in, creating a group musicality. This helps avoid collisions on a practical basis, but the energy boost is amazing when everyone on the floor feeds your dance like that!

Week II
Drills: Oscar's warmup exercises for traspie: to the side, rebound and change weight in center; repeat. En croix, rebounding forward, side, back and side; repeat to other side.

Traspie step patterns
Walking with traspie: the traspie is a rebound, so it is fundamental to USE THE FLOOR. The body must remain flexible, so knees stay unlocked and muscles stay energized but not tight. The toes push the floor away on the rebound, keeping the steps cat-like, not tight. If it becomes tight, traspie won't work.

Oscar and Georgina use the idea of the bandoneon for density and elasticity. That is, each moment of the dance has suspension or projection, creating a very intense, energized dance. We worked on visualizing this idea and using it.

For this step, the leader does a traspie to the left (as if beginning a salida), with the side step and the rebound each taking a Q (quick) count. Then, the leader leads a step LOD (line of dance) and another LOD step to the "inside" as if going to the cross. This can be repeated if desired, finishing with a resolution (Leader steps forward with L, side with R and together with L).

Add side traspie to the other side: This adds a traspie to the leader's R, to the above pattern. The leader does a left traspie and steps forward on the left; then a right traspie and steps forward on the right foot, but stepping to the "inside" track. After that, the leader repeats the first traspie, etc. until reaching a pausing point. The important part of this variation is the step through to the "inside" because the contra body movement required to complete it, gives more energy to the move. Also, it creates a zig-zag (although shallow) that makes the move flow.

Add forward and back traspie (preparation for ocho cortado): Here, after doing the first two traspies and steps of the above variation, the leader does a forward traspie and a back traspie while in the "inside" position (or several of this combo) and then exits into a walk or a resolution. This movement allows the leader to keep moving and keep the energy going, even if someone is blocking space ahead on the dance floor. It does not need to be a large movement, but the relaxed nature of the traspie step gives it a flowy, wavy energy, instead of a feeling of stopping or pausing.

This coming week, we'll add ocho cortado into the mix, as well as some more variations (created by YOU!), and we'll apply the idea of traspie to milonga (speeding it up) and to vals (playing with the rhythm). See you in class!