Putting steps together: transitions (Salem class)

Last week, we reviewed almost all of the steps we've learned, and practiced putting them together more smoothly.  We have covered A LOT of material in five weeks, due to all of you working so hard, and also to the extra help the beginners have received from those of you who have already studied tango for a while!

So far, this is what we've covered:

  • walking in parallel system
  • walking to the cross in parallel system
  • corridas (the "little runs" line of dance)
  • Oscar and Georgina's "porteno walk" #1: leader's left forward step has LOTS of energy/compression; the second step, leader's right, is in place/small lateral step has a slight lift--remember Oscar's bandoneon concept. 
  • Oscar and Georgina's "porteno walk" #2: after the first walk, leader steps BACKWARD on the left, with a light lift to facilitate the follower's small forward step; and another slight lateral step with leader's right foot, keeping the slight lift going.  This gives the entire four-step pattern a feeling of launching a wave of movement, followed by an elastic, stretchy wave of softer motion. This can be done with all slow steps, or with a strong 1-2-3-4 (quick steps) punch of rhythm.
  • front ochos (unaccompanied) at the cross: the leader unwinds the follower's right foot by rotating SLIGHTLY to the left, and then leads the ochos by rotating to the right, allowing the follower to arrive on axis, and then rotating back to the left (to neutral). We practiced walking out of this position, but many other combinations will happen as you learn more.
  • turns to the right and left (R & L turns) at the cross: depending which direction the leader pivots, the follower turns that direction around the post, or center, of the circle (designated by the leader's axis). Remember, to turn the follower to the leader's right, the follower's cross must  unwind first.
  • turns to the right and left from side steps: after the leader leads a side/open/lateral step (you decide what  you want to call it!), the leader collects both feet under to establish the post/axis of the turn. The follower begins the turn with a cross step--front or back can be led--because the step before the turn was a side/open step. Turn as far as desired (usually until facing line-of-dance for the leader), and continue in the dance.
  • turns to the right and left from rock steps, starting line-of-dance: the leader steps towards line-of-dance in parallel system, then steps backwards reverse-line-of-dance. This rock step puts the follower in motion towards the leader. The leader rotates so that the free foot of the follower CROSSES OVER to begin the turn with a front cross step. In other words, if the leader rocks backwards on the right foot, the follower's left step is forward. The follower's next step is with the right, so the leader rotates to the right to get the turn started. Vice versa for the other direction. This is a symmetrical move, right or left.

This week, we will work on timing to use these different moves in two other forms of tango dancing: the milonga and the vals. I'll grab my tango history part of my thesis and put part of it up here, probably next week, with more information about all three dances.