Our new drill, Superheroes!, really helped to identify areas where we have trouble with energy: usually IN BETWEEN moves. For those of you who missed class, Superheroes! is a verbal+kinetic drill, where each move has a noise, like the sound balloons in comics (BAM! SSSSSS! etc.), creating a dynamic set of movements that make a movement and energy phrase.
Transitions are at least as important as specific steps. Most people think about what step they are dancing, and what could come next, but don't use energy through the transition, requiring a "restart" of energy to do anything. The dead space between steps can become a charged, energized space that SUGGESTS what to do next. This is where I am when I'm in the "zone" for dancing. I don't think ahead, but let the flow of the movement create new ideas, organically.
Using Oscar and Georgina's idea of the "bandoneon" of energy (elasticity and density, stretching/squeezing), we worked on finding WHERE the energy needs to be focused in order to do a step well, and how it can be finessed into various other moves.
Here's what we did, using steps we learned earlier this summer:
- gancho (to "inside" thigh) + front parada (using same free foot for leader) + leader back sacada (through follower's open step) + ? (different couples came up with: follower back sacada; follower front boleo; back parada & stepover; and gancho). For this combo, the leader needs to maintain balance on the SAME foot for the first three moves, which requires finding the breath and energy to do so. The gancho needs to collect and send energy into the parada, and the follower's stepover needs to propel the leader's rotation before the back sacada, in order to have this combo work.
- walk to the cross + front boleo (con or contra) + gancho + ? (different couples came up with a fourth step). First, we looked at where the elastic and dense moments of the combination occurred. Then, we looked at how the embrace needs to change for the gancho so that it hooks around the leader, rather than moving away. Next, we played Superheroes! and figured where the POW! and SSSSS! moments hit. We worked on making those happen using elasticity/density concepts, and then tried out various fourth move possibilities, based on how well the first three went.
When does the dance begin?
For many couples I watch, the dance begins when they find the embrace and start moving to the music. For me, the dance begins with the cabeceo. From that moment, the focus of energy is on the partner, finding connection, preparing to move together, but already connected. The solar plexus opens and sends/receives energy not only when touching, but also while moving across the floor to meet the partner, even before touching. The embrace only cements that connection.
You don't have to agree with me on this point, but I'd like you to try something in the next few weeks: approach each tanda this way. Instead of using the first dance to adjust to your partner, use the time between agreeing to dance and starting to dance, for that same purpose. I think you will find your first dances are much better. Because the first dance is a real dance, instead of a "practice" dance, the rest of the tanda will also improve. Using energy this way, and staying connected/focused between dances, I expect to see some of you tottering off the dance floor with the dazed expression I know I had after my first close embrace workshop at Stanford Tango Week, back in 1996. This is not just tango . . . it's magic!