Jose Garofalo is back in PDX 12-20 March 2019!

I am very pleased to announce that Jose will be back in Portland NEXT MONTH! He is one of my favorite teachers because he has a huge vocabulary from the Old Masters with whom he studied; and as one of the people exploring tango in the 1990s, he was part of the creation of tango nuevo as well. 30+ years of tango in one person—let’s take advantage of his presence in our community!

The other thing about Jose is that he is FUN! Performing with him is a joy: I never know what is coming next, but he always takes care of me as his follower, and makes me feel secure. After 30 years, he is still exploring, looking for new information and open to new ideas.

Workshop Topics

Investigation of Roles for Tango Dancers (Friday & Saturday)

We will work on the idea of tango role (leader/follower) as a dialogue of movements between people. These classes are not about learning the “other” role, but rather to generate a more playful communication. Register for classes!

3 Sequences, 3 styles (Thursday & Sunday)

We will explore several different styles of Argentine Tango, using sequences from the Old Masters, as well as elements from non-traditional and stage tango, that have been incorporated into current-day tango. We experiment with different types of: embrace; axes; music, etc. Register for classes!

The details

Jose Garofalo Mar2019.jpg

Private lessons

Jose is available for private lessons from the evening of March 12th, to March 20th (I don’t have his plane times for his departure, but I will know soon). The cost is $120/hr or $550/5 lessons. If you take the weekend workshops, there will be a discount on the lesson price and the 5-lesson block price. Private lessons will be at 4315 NE Garfield Ave. in Portland. Contact me to schedule!


Learning through contrast: interleaving of practice

The more I read of Make It Stick, the more I am changing how I teach. What I find most interesting, is that I will plan a class and then read a chapter of the book, which tells me to do what I just planned to do. After almost 30 years of teaching, I'm starting to do it right!

Peter C. Brown el al. write,

"In interleaving, you don't move from a complete practice set of one topic to go to another. You switch before each practice is complete. . . . It's more effective to distribute practice across these different skills than polish each one in turn. The athlete gets frustrated because the learning's not proceeding quickly, but the next week he will be better at all aspects [of the different parts of the movement] than if he'd dedicated each session to polishing one skill." (p. 81).

How are we working on this in tango this week? We always do this in Body Dynamics class, as we build on skills week after week, doing 5-10 minutes on several different themes each time the class meets.

In advanced class this week, we are looking at several very similar ideas in the dance, that all have slight differences in spacing, the marca (lead), and how the follower moves to complete the pattern.

For example, we've been working on the sentada and a leg drag that comes out of a parada. The sentada and parada are similar moves, but in the parada, the follower's weight is mostly on the back foot, but s/he is stopped with the feet apart. In the sentada, the follower's weight is 100% on the back leg, but in a flexed, springlike way, with the leg crossed in front. This again is only a tiny bit different than getting the follower to do a reverse cross and actually change weight at that moment. When you add the idea of the sacada led through the follower's back step; or a single-axis turn from the same place, then you begin to see that TEENY differences in setting up a step create different responses from the follower.

So why should be work on these at the same time? Isn't this just too confusing?

Here is my question to you: how many times have you led a move, only to have it not go quite perfectly? Perhaps you misjudged the space. Perhaps the follower jumped to conclusions and did a different move. For whatever reason, you are now forced to pull other information out of your memory and immediately apply it.

What if that piece of information was already grouped with the movement that you had tried to do? Wouldn't it be more likely that you could adjust to the reality of the moment successfully? I know this works for me, and that's why I'm teaching this to the advanced dancers.

As a follower, why would this be useful? For me, the more important aspect of working like this is to encourage the follower to be a better follower. Instead of picking a move out of what I call "the index box" from memory, and executing it, the follower MUST wait for the leader to lead the move, precisely because it is not 100% clear which move is being done, until the lead has happened (and if it has not been led, then....that's not the follower's issue). Many followers stay on the intermediate level for years and years, because they are not willing to through the index box of moves away and simply follow. To me, that is the difference between an intermediate and advanced follower, no matter how many years s/he has followed.

So, tomorrow, be prepared for crazy mayhem--for really learning these cool moves!

Buenos Aires basics (Popular tango moves 2)

Ocho cortado turn

Because ocho cortado has two distinguishable parts (rebound bk/fd and step; rebound sd/sd and step), it  lends itself to endless variations of the type that I call fillings: imagine the ocho cortado as really yummy bread with various things in the middle. A favorite is inserting a right turn into the ocho cortado:

  1. Execute the first rebound (bk/fd for follower, fd/bk for leader) and the step (fd for follower, bk for leader), so that the follower steps to the leader's right/inside track.
  2. Turn is follower's open, back, open, front steps. The traditional timing, which I advocate, is slow, quick, quick, slow.
  3. End with terminal rebound and close of ocho cortado (sd/sd rebound, with circular component): follower rebounds left/right and closes in front with left, like going to the cross; leader rebounds right/left with a VERY SMALL step, focusing more on making the rebound circular for the follower in order to aid in closing into the cross. If you want to exit in parallel, the leader shifts weight onto the right while leading the cross.

Ocho cortado with sacada

The step above can have a leader's sacada (displacement/replacement) through the first open, or side step, of the turn in step #2 above. This makes the turn have a more dynamic feeling. It may be sacrilege to suggest this, but I think that a lot of milongueros with whom I danced this move in Buenos Aires, did this move by accident! Some of the older dancers did not have very much flexibility, and instead of twisting to the right to initiate my turn, they stepped through my first step to build momentum :-)

  • The leader can do this with either foot, but it is easier to use right foot because it's already free.
  • Remember that you are leading a turn, and your torso needs to continue to tell the follower to travel around the perimeter of the circle; do NOT abandon the follower to move yourself.
  • The leader's step needs to go towards where the follower had been: towards the follower's right foot placement of the open step. 
  • Once you land in the new location, remember to remain upright! If your axis tilts, this makes the turn very hard for the follower to complete elegantly.
  • Followers: this version of the turn is a bit harder than a completely stationary turn because the center of the turn moves while you turn around it. Keep your own axis upright, and everything will go better.
  • End with the standard second half of the ocho cortado.
  • If sacadas are new to you, look at my posts about sacadas.

My favorite variation to end ocho cortado turns

If you are bored with the turn above, try removing the second half of the ocho cortado (rebound sd/sd and step) from the pattern, and exit the turn a different way. This is the step we've been working on perfecting in the Portland intermediate class recently. This truncates the follower's turn to the first two steps, open and back, and exits linearly

Exit on follower's back cross step

  1. As the follower lands on the back cross step of the turn, LIGHTLY (remember la marca?) lift so that the follower stays on that foot (her/his right).
  2. Allow the follower's hips to unwind. Followers: this is a fun place to play with an adorno!
  3. Release the lift.
  4. Exit.  I prefer walking to the cross in crossed system because as a follower, twisting back the other way is not very comfortable.

Trouble-shooting this move

As I watched the class learn this move, I realized that many people try to follow the steps exactly, even if the weight distribution and balance are not working. It is much more important to be on balance here than to remain perfectly in place. May I suggest:

  • Followers: Make sure your turn has strong, balanced hip movement. If you swing your leg to make turns, don't! Your hips are the motor of the turn, allowing you to keep a tight, elegant, on-balance giro around the leader. This will  keep you the same distance away from the leader, helping both of you balance.
  • Leaders: If you don't twist easily or you tend to fall over when you twist your torso, consider taking an extra step--or two, or three! When the follower lands on the back step and you lift lightly, move over in front of them (a baby calesita), rotating around the fixed point of the follower's axis, until both people are on balance and facing down the line of dance to exit.

Good luck and have fun!

Leader back sacada technique and combining sacadas with boleos

Last night, we combined leader back sacadas with follower front cross steps and follower side steps (both line-of-dance, LOD) and looked at ways to exit the moves, depending on navigation needs.

There are three parts to a back sacada, of which only two are visible to the onlooker:

  1. The leader pivots the hips and feet as far around as possible, so that the body is still on axis, but extreme rotation has been achieved, with the torso and hips/feet facing different directions. Both feet need to face away from the location of the sacada, so that the leader's heels and rear end are facing the follower, if possible. Note: if you are not a very flexible person, use the rotation that you do have, and focus on using the next step to adjust the sacada as needed.
  2. Next comes the invisible part of this move. WHILE in full rotation (some people call this disassociation), the leader rotates in space several degrees, with heels gathered together. Don't reach for the back step yet! This is the most important part of a back sacada because it helps avoid kicking the follower's trailing ankle.
  3. As the follower is led to take a step, the leader steps back into the follower's step, landing where the follower originally stood (replacing the follower in space). That completes the sacada.

Note: We did leader back sacadas counter-clockwise (CCW) because they are easier to do in terms of the embrace. I'll address clockwise back sacadas in an advanced class, as the need to "break" the embrace to do these adds another level of difficulty to these steps.

Tips for making the sacadas work better

1. Use a strong embrace on the open side to control the speed and size of the follower's step

The leader gets to choose the speed of the move, so instead of trying to hurry the sacada, I control the follower's step by maintaining the shape of my embrace. If I need more time to prepare for my back step, I slow the follower down compared to the music: better a slo-mo move than bruised ankles!

I don't push on the follower's right hand with my left hand as much as connect with the follower's energy. Some people prefer to keep a limp connection here, but I disagree: by creating a strong connection, I can slow down the follower's movement more easily AND I get to choose the EXACT position of the follower's step. Both partners move at the same time, maintaining the spatial relationship of the steps.

 Leaders: if you pull/push the follower to step, you are losing control over the steps that happen after the sacadas. You will now need to spend several steps regaining control, rather than dancing.When I follow, I often feel leaders pull me through this step by opening their left arm away from their body and their solar plexus. I feel they are saying, "Step somewhere over here, please." Instead of actually leading me, they are indicating that they want me to move and hoping I land correctly. Stay in control and in connection with the follower at all times!

Followers: It's difficult to find the right amount of pressure to use with your right arm. Too much, and the leader can't feel where your feet are. Too little, and the leader can't use the embrace to help the dance. I focus on using my torso muscles to anchor my shoulder girdle. I use very little tension in my upper arm and forearm and wrist. Instead, I think about sending energy out from my body, along the bottom edge of my arm, through the center of my wrist, into my partner.

2. Use the closed side of the embrace to adjust for rotation

The leader's right arm and the follower's left arm need to be able to slide for this move to work. If you've ever seen Francois Truffaut's films, he was fond of the camera iris spiraling closed to end scenes, with the visible scene closing to a pinpoint and disappearing. That is the same thing that happens with the space on the closed side of the embrace. As the leader rotates, the leader's right arms slides around the follower. The follower's arm needs to slide around the leader too, which can be complicated if they are a different height :-)

After the sacada, the embrace returns to normal, with the closed side opening up again. If you are having trouble detaching the follower's hand and arm so that they slide, examine your sacada to see if you are pushing the follower off-balance: both people need to stay on-axis for this to work.

3. Adjust the distance between partners BEFORE the move

Some people teach that the leader should create more space between the dancers before leading a back sacada. I don't agree that this is always the best alternative, especially on the social dance floor. If you find that you simply cannot rotate far enough the complete a back sacada, even with using step #2, you could explore placing the follower further away on the step before the sacada.

4. Use the follower's side step for the leader back sacadas

We worked on leading leader back sacadas through the follower's front step first, in order to feel and understand the need for rotation, but these are a lot easier! The leader has more space because the follower's leg is out of the way.  However, this means that the follower's next step does not continue LOD as elegantly. Next week, I'll show you possibilities for this that we didn't cover this week.

Navigational options after sacadas

As we have been focusing on using sacadas to move around the dance floor, we've tried to do linear sacadas, followed by linear moves LOD. However, there is not always space to continue LOD in real life. One option is to turn the follower in a giro (turn) around the leader after the sacada. Another option is to change direction using a boleo, and then either continue LOD or in place with a turn, having had a few more seconds to gauge space while performing the boleo.

Example 1:

Last week, we had the leader do a leader front sacada through the follower's front cross step, followed by the leader and follower taking mirrored front cross steps LOD. After the sacada, you can lead a small front boleo, and then reverse direction so that the follower is going LOD with a BACK cross step and the leader is stepping forward OR side (depending whether the leader changed feet during the boleo or not). Hint: the follower is already rotating a lot during this combination, so the boleo is more of helping the follower to unwind from a front boleo, rather than adding more force to start the front boleo. Leaders tend to over-lead this, so careful of the follower's body!

Example 2:

On this weeks' combination, with the leader stepping in a back sacada, there are two possibilities:

  1. If the leader does a back sacada through the follower's front cross step, then the front boleo works after this move (see above).
  2. If the leader does a back sacada through the follower's side step, then a back boleo works best, followed by a front cross step for the follower. Again, make sure that the leader is helping the rebound of the boleo, rather than adding a lot of force at the beginning of the move; the follower's hip motion provides the impetus, and the rest is timing, not force.

Parallel grapevines as framework for linear sacadas, line-of-dance

In class last week, we worked on parallel-system grapevines and used them as a framework for inserting linear front sacadas into the dance. The main idea is to continue traveling around the room, but switching places with the follower as you go.

This is a simplified version of an exercise/tango framework that I learned from Chicho in his advanced workshops in Buenos Aires. It uses the idea of a traveling grapevine as a way to constantly move line-of direction, rather than getting stuck in one location on the dance floor. It can be done in close or open embrace; using a lot of room, or in small spaces; it is a flexible framework, which is why I like it. We'll get to Chicho's cross-system version when we are ready for it!

There are two kinds of parallel-system grapevines: mirror and parallel (I know it's confusing, but I didn't name them).  In mirror, when the leader leads the follower to take a front cross step, the leader accompanies that with a front cross step; and both take open steps and back cross steps simultaneously; the leader is the mirror for the follower. In the parallel, parallel-system grapevine, the leader takes open/side steps at the same time as the follower. However, when the follower takes a front cross step, the leader steps back cross, and when the follower crosses behind, the leader crosses in front.

The grapevine goes around the room, line-of-dance. The leader facesthe follower and BOTH travel line-of-dance. There are two possible configurations: the leader faces out of the room, or the leader faces into the room; and the follower faces the leader in both cases. I think of the movement as a two-lane, or track, path around the room.

The purpose of the sacada is to trade lanes with your partner. The most obvious place to trade positions is when the follower is taking a front cross step, line-of-dance. On that step, the leader leads the follower to take a front cross step onto the leader's track, while doing a sacada (with his/her front cross step) to land on the follower's original track. Then, both continue down the line-of-dance, but on the new track. For example, if the leader started facing OUT of the space, after the sacada, the leader will face IN and the follower will face out.

After the front sacada, the follower gets a half front ocho to pivot around to take another front cross step. The leader can receive the step with a front cross (no pivot needed). To me, the leader's sacada feels like a side step through the follower's step, followed by a front cross step.

If this sounds confusing, it's a lot more obvious when trying it with another person because the embrace requires each person to move correctly in order not to let go of each other :-)

We'll go over this in class and add other sacadas to it before tackling the cross-system version. There are also ample opportunities for boleos, turns, etc., to be built of of this system.

Even more about sacadas

As both my Salem and Portland intermediate classes are tackling sacadas right now (due to requests from class members), I want to offer more tips about executing specific sacadas, as well as general comments about sacadas.

Kinds of sacadas

A sacada is a step where one dancer "replaces" or "displaces" the other in space. Often, it looks as if one partner has stepped through the other dancer's step and pushed the first dancer's foot/leg away. This is an illusion, as the step is led by the torso.

There are many types of sacadas.

One way a sacada is named by the person executing the step:

  • Leader sacadas: the leader makes the follower move, and steps where the follower had been standing.
  • Follower sacadas: the leader moves to a new spot on the floor WHILE leading the follower to move to the leader's original location.

Another element of the naming process is determined by what step the person doing the sacada, was performing during the sacada:

  • For example, if the leader walked the follower to the cross and then initiated a clockwise (or right) turn (so the follower was doing a front cross step with the right), and did a sacada with the leader's right foot, that would be a leader front sacada.
  • However, if the leader used the left foot for the same setup, this would be a leader side sacada, as the step is really an open step executed as a forward step.
  • Hint for the highly structured: To determine whether a step is "front" or "side/open" you can stop the motion and see what system is in place. If the follower is doing a cross step and we are in crossed system (both using right foot), then the leader is doing a front (or back) sacada. If the couple are in parallel system (follower's right, leader's left), this is a side sacada.
  • Hint for less structured folks: Don't worry if it's a front or side sacada, since using either foot is kosher. Use a foot and then figure out what to do next :-)

A third element of naming a sacada is the step upon which the sacada operates. For example, the leader can do a leader front sacada through the follower's front cross; or a follower can do a side sacada through a leader's back cross.

A fourth element of naming a sacada is the shape of the step. There are circular and linear sacadas. If the step is done as part of a turn, or staying in the same general vicinity in the room, it is probably a circular sacada. If it is used to travel in the room, it is probably a linear sacada.

Figuring out how many this is would take someone more structured (and mathematical) than myself.  It's probably been done before; go look on the web and tell me who has figured this out!

Easy vs. problematic circular sacadas for leaders

Easy (OK, less difficult!) sacadas are those which can be performed without breaking any tango codes or causing interesting dilemmas about what to do with dangling/moving legs and feet that now appear to be in the way. We'll deal with those later.

When doing leader circular sacadas, the "easy" versions are those which are done using the follower's front cross step and the open/side step after that. In both of these cases, the follower can continue doing a turn without breaking code (i.e., s/he can continue with the next expected step: front, open, back, open, etc.).

Interesting problems crop up when doing leader circular sacadas through the follower's back cross step or the open step following that step. When doing a sacada through the follower's back cross step, the follower's other leg is blocking from stepping into the next side step (for sanity's sake, let's pretend that this is always true). In this case, a front-boleo-like moment occurs, followed by the natural rebound inherent to boleos. This means that the follower will usually continue with another back step, either linear, or back the other way in a turn (change of direction).

When the leader does a sacada through the follower's open step after the back cross, this also blocks the natural turn progression because the follower cannot step forward with the leader in the way. Doing a sacada through this step produces a back cross step (rather than the expected front cross).

To summarize: if you are just learning these sacadas, ONLY do the sacadas through the follower's front cross and open steps of the turn. Try the others when you are bored/more advanced/feeling crazy.

The leader can do any of these sacadas with either foot to either side, using the leader's front cross, open and back cross steps (ack!). Most sacadas are easier if attempted with a front or open step, as the leader back sacada requires the leader to pivot A LOT and then step through the follower's step moving backwards. Again, only try these more difficult sacadas after you understand how to lead the easier ones.

Follower sacadas

First, you need a follower (I just type foolower--perhaps you need a tango fool?) who is not afraid to step towards you.

Leaders: remember the first day (month, year) you spent getting used to walking towards someone whose feet were RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOURS? The follower gets very little practice stepping towards your feet, and the typical intermediate follower gets nervous when you ask her/him to do that. Be sympathetic and patient!

Followers: here is a major test of your tango powers. You have been carefully trained to do ochos and turns AROUND your partner. Now they are going to lead moves that are very similar, but require a different angle of preparation from you. Take a deep breath. Take a very deep breath. Then, exhale and trust that the leader is indeed sending you where the leader has asked. Try not to "help": follow the leader's torso and angle of rotation. I promise you that this will become easier as you get comfortable. And, if they ask you to step on their toes, please do so :-)

For a follower sacada, the most important part of the lead is to let the torso point where you want the follower to move: the location from whence you came. This is harder than it sounds, but it gets easier as the follower becomes more willing to step into your space.

Next, the follower can step through any step of the leader's: front, back, open. However, in some cases, you will encounter the "leg/foot in the way" issue that I discussed above. As the person in charge, however (we hope!), the leader can either respond to a leg block with a boleo-like motion, or can simply untangle the legs and move on.

The easiest way to do follower sacadas is to move across the line of the follower's momentum, rather than redirecting the follower (these are usually linear sacadas). Because we have only tackled circular sacadas so far, we redirected the follower, either at the cross, or in the turn.

My favorite sacada (and organicity of movement) game

Perhaps this is only because I am somewhat insane from almost fourteen years of tango, but I enjoy taking all the possible moves, writing them down on scraps of paper, pulling them out of a hat, and trying to create new patterns from the steps that I know. If I want to work on a specific step, I'll put that on a scrap: "leader back sacada through follower back sacada, clockwise." If not, I might just put "some leader sacada" or "leader sacada through follower open step" or "back leader sacada" or "counterclockwise leader sacada" or something like that. Then, I'll put some other ideas in the hat: follower gancho, follower front boleo, follower back linear boleo, overturned ocho, etc. I pull three scraps of paper out of the hat, and then I have to do them in that order, with as few steps in between as possible. 

Make sure that you have either a patient dance partner, or someone who also likes to play with tango puzzles and can help you figure out what works best. Sometimes, a combination only works clockwise, or counterclockwise. Sometimes, if you change systems in the middle, it simplifies the pattern. Be creative!

I'm sure I have a lot more to say (as you all keep asking questions in class!), but that's enough brain food for one day.  Have fun!

Combining leader and follower front sacadas with other tango moves

Sunday Special participants: good work yesterday! Below, I'll outline the drills we did to prepare for sacadas, sacada technique for leader and follower front sacadas, and the combinations we played with in class, as well as some other ideas to work on yourselves. Remember, next Sunday Special will include a review class on this material, so if you have any questions, comment here and I'll get back to you, as well as making a list of what to cover

Types of sacadas

  • circular or linear (we worked on circular and linear forms in our combinations, but we emphasized circular this time)
  • leader or follower (who is replacing the other person?)
  • forward, side or back (what kind of step is the person doing who is doing the sacada?)

Preparing for sacadas

The most important element of a good sacada is a good turn. Even if you are doing linear sacadas, the technique inherent in turns and ochos is needed by BOTH partners to do spectacular sacadas: pivoting well against the floor, having your axis perpendicular to the floor, grounding in each step, and using the floor to push off for each step. For that reason, I always have leaders and followers do "follower" turn technique to warm up the body for sacadas.

Follower technique (for good turns and sacadas):

  1. Grapevine step (molinete) across the floor in a straight line: get your balance, breath & grounding in place
  2. Grapevine step in a circle: add your focus on keeping the energy of the body towards the center of the circle
  3. Square/Chair drill: "the dreaded chair drill" came to me from Luciana Valle. The chair drill alters a turn into a square, so that four steps completes a full revolution. The torso faces towards the center of the chair at all times. The hips flip 180 degrees before the back cross step, as well as before the "slow" open step of the turn. The front cross and the "quick" open step of the turn do not result in much hip motion at all (think zero for the purpose of this exercise). Remember to change directions so as to practice to the right and left, and to avoid dizziness.
  4. "Watch your hand" drill: This was taught to me by Oscar Mandagaran in Buenos Aires in 2000, and I have used it more and more in my dance and my teaching. To turn CCW (to the leader's left), make a normal embrace. The follower watches her/his hand, and "drives" the turn. This helps focus on having an embrace that is parallel to the ground in energy (even if the dancers are not the same height and the embrace does not physically follow a parallel path!). Also, the follower is responsible for helping to create energy and give that to the leader for the dance: make sure no muscles are locked in the embrace that will hurt the turn.
  5. Naughty Toddler: in this version of Naughty Toddler, the follower is still in control of the dance and the leader is still trying to carve a tango out of all that wild, untamed energy the follower lets out. However, what we focused on was having Naughty Toddlers who wanted to TURN! so that the followers could still practice turn technique, while searching for just the right amount of energy to give to the leader. Leaders: see how much easier it is to turn when the other person does most of the work? :-)

Leader technique to prepare for sacadas:

Do all the follower exercises. #1, 2 & 3 are especially important. A good sacada lead includes preparing to step through and then (often) pivoting to continue to another step, just as the follower does in all turns.

Spiral exercises/Disassociation exercises:

  • I just discussed these in the lapiz blog entry below, so I'll be quick here. Find your axis through your foot into the floor, and up through your head to the ceiling. Rotate your solar plexus, keeping your hips stable in space (solar plexus and hips are pointing different directions; disassociated). When you have reached your maximum twist, release the hips to realign under the torso.
  • Part #2: As the hips release, continue to spiral them while keeping your torso stable. When your hips get ahead of your torso, release your torso to realign with your hips. This level of control helps your body learn to move only one part at a time, while not breaking your axis line. Also, it will aid in all sorts of fancy stuff later on.

Sacada practice:

  • Make a path: One partner walks slowly around the room. The other partner steps exactly where the first person stepped. Notice that, if you step exactly where they were, you remain the same distance apart. Although in some combinations, the sacada is used to get closer or further from the partner, in most sacadas, you are trying to remain the same distance apart.
  • Slo-mo: Without touching, the leader's torso leads the follower to a new place on the floor. For leader sacadas, the leader then steps where the follower was. For follower sacadas, the leader is moving the follower to the place where the leader had been. Slo-mo makes sure that the leader is completing the lead, rather than indicating a location in space and abandoning the follower to finish on their own. If you can lead sacadas without arms, in slo-mo, you can do it with NO problems in an embrace, up to speed :-)

Leader front sacadas:

  • Practice doing leader sacadas through the follower's turn. You can step through the follower's front or open steps. If you step through their back cross step, this creates a different result (boleo-like with unwind) that we will tackle another time. High school math version of tango: don't step through the follower's back step for the moment!
  • For leader sacadas, the leader can step through with either foot, to either side. Sometimes, this results in the leader doing a "front cross" step (for example, doing a clockwise, circular lead sacada through the follower's front cross step with the leader's right foot; whew!). Other times, it feels like a straight-ahead step: you are actually doing the sacada with an open/side step. Let's not worry at this point whether this is a front or side: just get comfortable with using either foot, and we'll get technical about terms next time. Also, the leader can use back cross steps to perform a sacada, but we'll do that next time.

Follower front sacadas:

  • Practice doing follower sacadas through the leader's open step. The leader stands in a wide stance, with the follower centered in front (making a triangle). The follower holds onto the leader's torso, at the level of the solar plexus, and closes his/her eyes to focus on following. Using torso rotation, the leader moves the follower towards one of the leader's feet, and gets out of the way. Rachel advocated leaning to one side as well.
  • Be careful not to change your level! The knees are flexible, but you don't want to bob up and down. Once you can get the follower to step into your space to replace you (do a sacada through the leader), try it in an embrace.
  • It is HARD to convince a follower who is new to sacadas, to walk into the space where you were. Make sure you don't overturn the follower, or they will happily do an ocho around your center instead of stepping where you asked. Be clear, and the follower will eventually become comfortable with stepping into a sacada. Try not to pull!

Sacada combinations

We only had time for a few combinations this time. Remember: play around! Try new stuff! You may find a combination that you really like. Use it! Here's what we did in class on Sunday:

  • Leader front sacada + follower front sacada: Walk the follower to the cross. Start a right (clockwise) turn around the leader. Leader front sacada with left foot (actually a side sacada) through follower's front cross step (1st step of turn). Then, lead the follower to do a front sacada (actually a side sacada) through the leader's front cross step. Repeat a few times (each person alternates front cross step, sacada through other person's front cross step) and exit. If you want a specific exit: let the follower take a side step around the leader, collect feet and walk out in a regular tango walk.
  • Leader sacada + drag: Walk the follower to the cross. Sacada through the first step of the right turn. Turn the follower one step more of the turn (open step). Drag the follower's foot (follower's back step) around with either foot of leader (try both and see what you like). Lead a stepover and exit.
  • Leader front sacadas: Lead overturned front ochos down the room (these are linear sacadas, BTW). Sacada every step, using either foot: you can mix it up and step with the same foot each time, switching between steps; or just "walk" alternating feet. Find an exit you like and keep dancing.
  • Follower front sacada: Walk the follower to the cross. Lead a follower front sacada straight forward, with the leader moving clockwise in an open step with the left foot. If you want a circular sacada, move around the follower's position. If you want linear, move left BUT remember to finish the follower's step with your chest rotation!

Next time, we'll review these. Then, we'll learn follower and leader BACK sacadas, and combine those with front sacadas and other stuff. The next Sunday Special is slated for Sunday, April 26th.

Let me know if anything is not clear here, or if you'd like more detail.  Thanks for coming to class!