Milonga is perhaps my favorite dance in the entire world (tango, cover your ears!). I love the groove of the dance and the simplicity/challenge of playing with syncopation instead of the more varying syncopation, pauses and slo-mo possibilities in tango. Many dancers who come from other rhythmic dances, find milonga easier to approach than tango.
However, because of its speed and the need for smaller steps, milonga can be more challenging than tango to reach a level of excellence. It is SO easy to abandon technique and just clomp through the dance, panicking at the needed speed of each step.
I have just taught six weeks of milonga technique in my beginning, intermediate and advanced classes. The Body Dynamics class has been focused on small steps, elegance and speed for the session as well.
Corridas and toquecitos
Corridas, or "runs" are a series of fast, small steps that can be moving forward, backwards, or laterally. Corridas are also done in tango and vals, and have the same considerations there.
For forward or backwards steps, the main issue is making the fast (syncopated) steps feel comfortable. Remember:
- Take quick steps that are half as big as the regular steps.
- Get your heel down on each step to balance yourself for the next step.
- As you shift feet, keep your knee and hip alignment so you have cushioning.
- Core, core, core! Engage your deep core to make a dynamic step your partner can feel.
For lateral steps, a lot of people find the errors in their normal side steps are magnified by going quickly! Focus on:
- Rolling through your foot on both the step traveling to the side, AND on the step in place!
- Letting the natural shift in the hips happen when you change feet. Don't keep your hips flat to the ground!
- Keeping the knees soft.
Toquecitos (little touches)
Toquecitos are adornos that work really well in milonga. BE CAREFUL to avoid overdoing them. I distinctly remember one woman who was dancing when I started in 1995: she sounded like she was tap dancing! Don't be that person ;-)
That said, toquecitos that are soft and get your feet under you can be used as what I call a "functional" adorno: something that improves your technique, rather than just an ornament.
- As one of my teachers used to say, "Don't kill the cockroach!" Just tap lightly.
- Use the ankle muscles so that the movement is the whole foot.
- Think of using it just before you move, rather than step and tap. I think of it like a downbeat: "And, go!" instead of "Step, TAP!" which is too loud/harsh.