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Ochitos (Tiny Ochos) in Milonga

1/21/2013
"Milonga de Mis Amores" by Francisco Canaro (1937)
One great thing to notice about this milonga is the use of a musical saw.  At 2:20, it is the instrument making a wavering type of sound in the background.

This is a class demo on Ochitos (Tiny Ochos) in Milonga. We looked at how to lead her to take tiny ochos, moving both linearly and circularly.
 

Linear Volcadas from Back Crosses

This class primarily focused on linear volcadas initiated from back crosses.

12/03/2012
Melodía Porteña (1937) by Juan D’Arienzo

As always, this demo is provided as a reminder to our students about the material we covered in class. In the actual class, we discuss both women and men’s technique, musicality, and navigation.?

Linear Volcada from Back Crosses?
At 0:06, we start by entering into cross system and leading the the woman to back crosses (ochos). When I step forward with my left, I send a small impulse forward sending her free leg (right) back, past neutral. I then take a small diagonal step back with my right, she should bring her free leg in the direction we are moving in and thus we get a back cross from her. The larger step I take back the larger the volcada, so it can be very small or large. I collect my feet and continue in cross system to a forward cross. At 1:06, we do the same step to the other side.

Tip: There is no pivoting involved in this step. When we initiate these from back ochos (back crosses) they are walking back crosses and not pivoting back crosses. I am keeping my chest flat and not using any contra-body movement.

Tip: For the men, it is very important to collect your feet after each step. When I step forward with my left, I collect BEFORE stepping back with my right.. then during the volcada, I collect my left. You can also see that I am sometimes doing an embellishment once i have collected during the volcada.

Tip: the woman’s free leg needs to be super relaxed, as always, so that it can react and move in the direction my intention/impulse sends it.

Alternating Back Volcadas?
At 0:19, we do alternating small back volcadas. The main tip here is that I am going slightly down and back up to free up her leg each time.

Back Cross and Volcada from Rebote?
At 0:28, we are in cross system and I step into her back open step with my forward cross step and then rebound (rebote) back and to the right (diagonally) causing her to do a back cross and then volcada.

Tip: With this step, I have a little contra-body happening since I am stepping outside partner. I keep that contra-body position as I step back and straighten after the back cross.

Back Cross and Volcada from High Sacada?
At 0:40, we enter cross system and I step inside with my left performing a high sacada to her right leg. At 1:22, we do the same high sacada but in parallel system.

Tip: For a high sacada, we perform a sacada above the knee so that our upper thighs touch. It is not a push, we barely make contact.

Simple Back Crosses
At 2:07, we do some simple back crosses in parallel system, but here they are pretty much all on axis and not so much volcadas.

Sacada to Giro to Back Cross and Volcada
At 2:18, we did not go over this in class.. I just did it as we were dancing.

Milonguero Dip and Playful Rebotes

11/19/2012
Gato by Edgardo Donato with Horacio Lagos

This demo is provided as a reminder to our students about the material we covered in class. In the actual class, we discuss both women and men’s technique, musicality, and navigation.??

Milonguero Dip with Playful Rebotes (Rebounds)
The “Milonguero Dip” is an embellishment (adorno) to the woman’s forward cross. Whenever a woman is taking a forward cross with her left foot, the man dips down onto his left foot and leads her to a quick counter-clockwise pivot. He then steps back with his right and she steps forward into the close side of the embrace with her right. He then leads her to pivot again to take a forward cross in front of him and leads her playfully to rebotes back and forth.  This step can be seen at the very beginning of the video at 0:06


Origins of this Step?
When I first went to Buenos Aires, I saw many of the older dancers doing this step and loved it. Years later, I took a class with Murat and Michelle Erdemesal and her the term “milonguero dip” for the first time. The term was originally coined by Jennifer Bratt and Ney Melo, two great tango dancers and teachers. On that same trip, I took several lessons with Osvaldo and Coca Cartery and picked up this cute rebound (rebote) step from them (below is a picture from that class).??

Tip for Men: Wait until her left foot has her weight, before you lead the dip and pivot. To lead the pivot, send an impulse through the embrace down and around her left hip. Imagine a big circle around your embrace around your arms and backs, then imagine a smaller circle inside the embrace around her hips. Just like with any other pivot or boleo we want to send our impulse around the inner circle or “inside the embrace” instead of the outer circle.

Tip for Women: At the moment of the Dip, the man lowers his vertical axis and the woman should match him. The couple should return to a normal height with the next step.

Tip for Women: As the woman dips and pivots, she should unhook her feet so that she is ready for the next step. Don’t leave your right foot hooked behind your left. During the dip and pivot, the woman should not try to stay glued to his chest, she should relax her embrace and role on his chest letting her right shoulder come closer to him than her left shoulder.

Tips for Rebotes: In the first one, the man is leading with his upper body while keeping his legs apart in an open side step. This is very important, the rebotes are not points. They should have some weight transfer and feel like real rebounds using the whole body not just the legs. To be even more specific, we begin to switch weight, but rebound before we get 100% to our new leg. So our shifts happen in the middle of our steps.

Musicality?
We looked at executing the step with a smooth, elegant musicality (DiSarli, Fresedo) and with a sharper, more staccato musicality (Donato, D’Arienzo). For the rebotes, women should always be listening to the music, but they really really have to for the rebounds to work. She needs to be hitting the beat with her feet going back and forth. She can also do embellishments to play with the music.

Variations
Milonguero Dip with simple exit (0:20)
Simple back and Forth Rebotes (0:38)
Rebotes in Salida Americana (0:40)
Milonguero Dip from Giro (1:32)
Milonguero Dip from Ocho Cortado (2:07)

Milonguero Dip examples from Sunderland Milonga in Buenos Aires. You can see the Milonguero dip at 4:20, 10:27, 13:50 and 16:44 (couple in background, green dress):

Volcadas Part 1: Basic Circular and Linear Volcadas

12/09/2013

As always, this demo is provided as a reminder to our students about the material we covered in class. In the actual class, we discuss both women and men’s technique, musicality, and navigation.

Volcada

A volcada (tilt, to tip over) is when the leader and follower both lean forward, off-axis, into one another. This is also referred to as in carpa (tent).

Forward Circular Volcada

We started off with a volcada to a forward cruzada (cross). Volcadas can be done linearly, but I prefer to begin teaching with a more circular Volcada. We start with a small back circular boleo with her left leg, to free up her free leg. Then I step back and around her with my left leg, bringing her off-axis towards me (volcada). She lets her left leg “float” forward. I collect my feet and then step forward with my right to the open side of the embrace, thus leading her to a cruzada and back onto our axis.

TIP for Both:
The connection (weight) in the volcada should be distributed through the upper torso, not just in his right shoulder and her left shoulder. He should keep his torso flat throughout the movement, if he tilts to his right all her weight will go to his shoulder. She should send her weight to his center (spine) not to his shoulder, this will create maximum balance. She also needs to pivot her supporting leg/foot to stay pointing towards him.

TIPS for Men:
After the leader steps back with his left, initiating the volcada, he should then collect his feet before stepping forward with his right.

At the end of the volcada, he should step forward with his right and return her to her axis. But he should not step too close to her, as this will knock her off her axis in the other direction. He needs to leave a little space between their feet so that both can return to their own axis before taking another step.

TIPS for Women: At the moment of the volcada, the woman should let her free leg float forward. The foot of her free leg should be at minimum under her knee, but can extend completely straight depending on her styling. The foot should follow the direction of the movement.

Don't collapse, keep your core strong and straight. The hinge for leaning forward should happen at the ankles. Don't let your hips break forward or back.

Don’t bring your free leg back into the cruzada until he begins bringing you back onto your axis. By the time you are completely, back onto your axis your feet should be crossed.

Linear Volcada from Back Crosses

We start by entering into cross system and leading the the woman to back crosses (ochos). When I step forward with my left, I send a small impulse forward sending her free leg (right) back, past neutral. I then take a small diagonal step back with my right, she should bring her free leg in the direction we are moving in and thus we get a back cross from her. The larger step I take back the larger the volcada, so it can be very small or large. I collect my feet and continue in cross system to a forward cross.

 

Tip: There is no pivoting involved in this step. When we initiate these from back ochos (back crosses) they are walking back crosses and not pivoting back crosses. I am keeping my chest flat and not using any contra-body movement.

Tip: For the men, it is very important to collect your feet after each step. When I step forward with my left, I collect BEFORE stepping back with my right.. then during the volcada, I collect my left. You can also see that I am sometimes doing an embellishment once i have collected during the volcada.

Tip: the woman’s free leg needs to be super relaxed, as always, so that it can react and move in the direction my intention/impulse sends it.

Demo of Circular Volcadas with Music


Forward Volcada to Both Sides

At 0:45, we demonstrated a volcada to both sides of the embrace.
TIP for Men: Notice that my left only moves slightly, my right foot is leading the volcadas to both sides. Men also, attempt to collect your feet in the middle of each volcada, it makes it look neater and is a clearer lead for her.

360 Volcada from Rebote
At 1:00, we demonstrate getting a full 360 turn with a volcada from a rebote (rebound).??TIP: This is really a single-axis turn. After the rebound, I want to get my right foot very close to her right foot, so that I can get a lot of momentum for the single-axis turn.

Double Volcada with Split Weight Turn

This is one of my signature steps. At 1:25, I lead her to a volcada, but instead of returning her to a “tight” cruzada, I lead her a little more to my left so that her feet are separated by a few inches. As she puts her free leg down, I stop her so that her weight is evenly split. She is on axis at this point and I walk around her with her weight split. As I get all the way around, I move her weight back to her right and lead another volcada. You need the space between her feet, mentioned above, so that she can have room to pivot.

Forward Volcada from Back Cruzada

At 2.21, I lead a back cruzada and then initiate a forward Volcada.

Demo of Linear Volcadas to Music
12/03/2012
Melodía Porteña (1937) by Juan D’Arienzo

Alternating Back Volcadas
At 0:19, we do alternating small back volcadas. The main tip here is that I am going slightly down and back up to free up her leg each time.

Back Cross and Volcada from Rebote
At 0:28, we are in cross system and I step into her back open step with my forward cross step and then rebound (rebote) back and to the right (diagonally) causing her to do a back cross and then volcada.

Tip: With this step, I have a little contra-body happening since I am stepping outside partner. I keep that contra-body position as I step back and straighten after the back cross.

Back Cross and Volcada from High Sacada
At 0:40, we enter cross system and I step inside with my left performing a high sacada to her right leg. At 1:22, we do the same high sacada but in parallel system.

Tip: For a high sacada, we perform a sacada above the knee so that our upper thighs touch. It is not a push, we barely make contact.

Simple Back Crosses
At 2:07, we do some simple back crosses in parallel system, but here they are pretty much all on axis and not so much volcadas.

Sacada to Giro to Back Cross and Volcada
At 2:18, we did not go over this in class.. I just did it as we were dancing.

 

Giro with Rulo to Enrosque to Sacada to Calesita

Steps for the Social Dance Floor: Giro with Rulo to Enrosque to Sacada to Calesita
Clint Rauscher and Shelley Brooks
10/22/2012
"Motivo Sentimental" by Carlos di Sarli with Alberto Podestá singing.

In this class, we started with exercises focusing on 3 parts of a step: Extend, Push, Resolve. We then practiced the molinete for the women and the rulo for the men. We discussed the difference between pivoting back crosses vs non-pivoting back crosses. This move works better if we relax the embrace during the back cross, thus letting the followers pivot to begin the molinete. We also focused on basic sacada technique. We looked at the step in both open and close embrace and made sure that we started in the line of dance and resolved the step back in the line of dance.

Molinete tip 1 for women: Don't fall into your steps, use the 3 parts of each step extend, push, resolve. Often, women send their free leg and their body at the same moment. Send the free leg from the hip (don't send the hip yet) then push off the supporting leg thus transfering your hips and upper body at the same time to the new supporting leg, and then resolve the step by brining your feet together. Your weight/balance should be 100% over your new supporting leg before you resolve the step.

Molinete tip 2 for women:
Since the man is on one leg for 3 steps of your molinete, he cannot support you or help you with your balance. You exercise excellent molinete technique by not moving away from him or into him thus disrupting his balance. Step "around" him and not away from him by extending your free leg under your elbow on each step.

Tip for the men - Don't Rush: During the rulo, the women are actually taking 3 steps and then 1 step while you do execute the enrosque, so don't rush it, you have plenty of time (4 whole steps) before getting to the sacada. Also, let your leg extend from your hip, don't send your hip with your leg. Your hip is joint, so your leg should be able to move freely without moving your hip.

Sacada tip for the men: Wait until she has transfered her weight 100% to her new supporting leg, the sacada should happen at the moment right before she begins to resolve her step. One helpful hint, is to wait until her hip is out of the way and step behind her hip.

Sacada tip 1 for the women: Don't resolve your steps until your weight is 100% to your new leg. In other words, don't bring your free leg with you (collecting) as you transfer your weight. If your free leg goes with your body, you remove the opportunity for a sacada.

Sacada tip 2 for the women: When the man executes the sacada to your left leg, don't lift it up and let it fly. That will throw you off balance. Let it circle around and then collect, so that you are ready for the next step.

We resolved the step with a back cross and then a calesita where the women were encouraged to embellish with their free leg during the calesita. If the couple opened the embrace for the giro, then this is a nice time to come back to a close embrace. As the woman takes her back cross, he can step in to get close for the calesita. At the end of the calesita, the men should relax their embrace allowing the woman to come back to neutral (in front). When the men relax their embrace, the women should pivot and return to neutral easily without making the men force them back to neutral.

Calesita tip for the men: Make a perfect circle around her without knocking her off her axis. If you do this then you do not need to lift her.

Calesita tip for the women: Don't go stiff during the calesita. Stiffness compromises balance. Don't collapse, stay tone, but don't go rigid.

Musicality Notes:
We discussed that often the back cross and side step in the molinete is done with a quick-quick rhythm. We also encouraged the leaders to pause for a moment after the calesita and to take a breath before continuing the dance, as a way to end the phrase.

Boleos - Circular and Linear

Music: "Felino" by Electrocutango
Instructors: Clint Rauscher and Shelley Brooks

In this class, we look at both circular and linear boleos (In-Line).

Circular Boleos
Boleos are moves that take a lot of time to do well and require relaxation in the embrace.

The leader should lead the boleo with a circular impulse around the follower's supporting leg making sure not to disturb her balance (axis), relax his embrace to allow her to pivot and complete the boleo, and then wait on her to return to neutral.

Women should pivot as much as they can before wrapping their free leg around their supporting leg. They should also not cut their boleos short, just when you think you have reached as far as you can, push to get just a little more out of it. The followers should let their free leg come back to collect next to their supporting leg by the time their upper bodies return to neutral.

Linear Boleos (In-Line Boleos)
Linear boleos require a linear impulse in the direction that we want the free leg to go. Once that impulse is sent, the leader should lean in the opposite direction creating a counter balance and opposition force to complete the linear boleo. For back linear boleos, this actually creates a very small colgada feeling. For forward linear boleos, it creates a small volcada (compression) feeling.

Floorcraft
Of course, we discussed floor craft and techniques for doing them safely. Forward circular boleos should not be a problem on the social dance floor.

Back circular boleos should be done with a little more care. Usually, we recommend leading them either with very low energy so that the follower keeps her feet on the floor or so that her boleo happens in a corner or towards the tables. For example, I would never lead a big back boleo with the woman's back towards the center of the dance floor. We also mentioned that if the followers do not trust their leader, that they should do very tiny back boleos and keep their feet on the floor.

Back linear boleos are rarely done on the social dance floor and only when there is plenty of room, such as late in the evening when there are only a few dancers left on the floor.

Forward linear boleos can be done on the social floor depending on how they are executed, for example, we looked at one that started from forward ochos and then the woman pivots and does a forward inline boleo between the leaders legs (1:35 of video).

Misc - Traspie to Ocho Cortado, Barridas to Paradas & Single Axis Turns

Clint Rauscher & Shelley Brooks class demo to "La Vida Es Corta" by Ricardo Tanturi canta Alberto Castillo, 1941.

In this class, we took requests from our students and worked on concepts that they wanted to work on. Each couple had their own things that they wanted to work on and this demo puts them all together.

Traspie to Ocho Cortado
At .07 of the video, we start with an arrepentida (rock step) to the open side of the embrace. We then begin a side step but interrupt it and return towards the close side of the embrace (traspie). We discussed with the guys that it is more of a point and pause than a change of weight at the moment of the traspie. The great thing about this move is is circularity and flow.

Barrida in Close Embrace
At .22 of the video, we perform a barrida while staying in a close embrace. To do this I relax my embrace and turn my upper body towards the close side of the embrace while taking weight on my left foot, freeing my right for the barrida. I perform the barrida with my right and then take weight on it leading her to collect and then cross over (pasada) my right foot.

Parada with Barrida to Single Axis Turn
At .29 of the video, we perform a parada and then a barrida in close embrace.
Tip: At the beginning of the parada, I stop her with her weight still on her left foot. As I step around her for the barrida, I shift her weight to her right foot before starting the barrida.

At the end of the parada, I take a small step back and instead of leading her over my left foot, I sweep (barrida) her right foot with my left in a circle around me (single axis turn).
Tip: At the moment of the single axis turn, I tighten my embrace just slightly and breath up for the single axis turn. Also, the men should simply turn around the woman and not sling themselves around her.  Don't overdo it.
Tip: The women should control their left (free) leg during the single axis turn and not allow it to sling out, thus compromising their balance.

His Barrida to Her Barrida to Pasada
At .40 sec of the video, I sweep Shelley's leg and then lead her to sweep my leg back.
Tip: During any Barrida, the women should keep a slight amount of pressure on the man's foot, this will allow him to go in any direction with the barrida.

Sacada Exit for Parada
At .50 of the video, we perform a basic parada sequence and then I tuck my left leg behind my right, change weight, and perform a sacada with my right to her forward cross.

Basic Alteration from her Forward Cross
At 1.16 of the video, I lead Shelley to a forward cross and then change the direction (alteration).

His Barrida to Her Barrida to Leg Wrap (1.32)

His Barrida to Her Barrida to Single Axis Turn (1.43)

Single Axis Turn from Side Step (1.53)

Embellishment for the Men at Parada (2.00)



 

Compact & Elegant Variations of the Ocho Cortado

Instructors: Clint "el gato" Rauscher & Shelley Brooks

Song: "Bailemos" by Carlos di Sarli with Mario Pomar singing.

Compact Ocho Cortados (for crowded dance floors)
We started by looking at very compact variations on the ocho cortado, for small spaces. Most dancers take several preparation steps to get into the ocho cortado. We tried to trim this process as much as possible. We looked at this in parallel system (.34 of video) and in cross system (.40 of video). The most compact of all is shown at 2.27 of the video.

Elegant Ocho Cortados
Usually, ocho cortados have a built in rhythm of quick quick slow. The first concept that we explored was letting go of the quick quick slow and stretching out the time it takes to execute the ocho cortado. We still want the feet to be hitting on the beats of the music, but we can skip beats and take our time.

Stretched Ocho Cortado in 3 parts

The primary move that worked on can be seen in several places in the video but at 2.12 if can be seen the best. We start with the side step with the man's left and the woman's right. The man stays on his left and leads the woman to a back cross step, then to a side open step and then to the forward cross step (cruzada).
Tip: The man stays on his left until he leads her to the cruzada at which time he switches back to his right. He should leave his right leg behind for most of the move and lead the move in his whole body. When she takes the side step, the man should pull his right foot slightly back to make room.
Tip: The man should step a little farther than her on the first side step. Each step should have a slight feeling of rising and falling into the steps. The man should not lift her with his arms but rather his whole embrace should go up and then settle.
Tip: Also, notice how much each person pivots during this move. You can not leave your feet stuck to the floor, they must pivot.

Bonus steps:
Ocho cortado with barrida to leg wrap (2.47 of video)

Initiating Ocho Cortado from a Side Step (1.54 of video)

Ocho Cortado with Barrida to Cruzada (2.07 of video)

Rhythmic Embellishments to the Ocho Cortado

This class demo is from a class on adding rhythmic embellishments to the ocho cortado using the music of Juan d'Arienzo. We looked at embellishments for both men and women. We started by encouraging the men to use their feet a little more to the rhythmic music of d'Arienzo, but picking up their feet slightly and stepping to the rhythm of the music. We also looked at using the quick quick slow rhythm on the arrepentida leading up to the ocho cortado and on the side step.

You can see a very basic ocho cortado at .43 of the video.

Embellishments for the Women
We started by discussing the fact the the men are not doing anything different. They are simply leading an ocho cortado and the women are choosing which embellishment to do.

  1. The first embellishment can be seen at .23 of the video. You can see that Shelley places her weight on both feet during the side step and pivots her hips and feet (not her upper body) clockwise and then pivots back and crosses.
  2. At .29 of video, Shelley shifts her weight completely to her left leg, pivots on her left and flexes her right foot up. (We also encouraged the men to be more playful with the music and to repeat the ocho cortado twice in a row).
  3. At 1.27 of the video, Shelley shifts her weight to her leg and actually collects her right. She then returns to her right, pivots and crosses. This one is tricky and requires women to be very fast on their feet.

Very Compact Ocho Cortado
At .51 of the video, you can see a very compact ocho cortado which could be used for very crowded floor.  The men simply turn their chests (not hips) clockwise while extending their right foot slightly forward. His weight and balance should remain on his left foot.

Men's Embellishments
Starting at 1.00 of the video, we can see several embellishments for men. Essentially, I am balanced on my left foot and using my free, right foot to place it to the inside of her right foot and then the outside of her left (and added a barrida for fun). I could also place my foot to the inside of her right foot, etc.

Demo performed to "Qué Noche" by Juan d'Arienzo.

Un Abrazo // The Embrace

Here is a wonderful video by Sebastian Arce and Mariana Montes on the tango embrace.

Wonderful explanation of the tango embrace. Students of ours will recognize almost all of these explanations.. such as the idea that you don't take the embrace and then begin dancing, taking the embrace is part of the dance.

I just had someone ask me yesterday about when you take the embrace do you start with the open side or the close(d) side. First I respond to the woman. If she lifts her left arm and not her right, then I start with the close side (and vice versa). If she waits for me to initiate the embrace, then I will usually lift my left arm, so starting with the close side. Then, of course, I would expect her to lift her left arm so that we can take the embrace on the close side. Notice Sebastian do this at 6.33 of the video. BUT there are many nice ways to take the embrace at 6.22 he takes both sides of the embrace at the same time.

After a class with them in Baltimore a few years ago, I made significant changes to my embrace which have worked very well for me. The main one being not bringing my right shoulder forward in the embrace. I attempt to keep my chest very flat. Many leaders reach way around the follower with their right arm, bringing their right shoulder forward, and thus they end up leading with their right shoulder rather than with their center. As he says in the video, I bring my right hand around her and try to position my right hand in front of my spine. If we are leading from the center instead of from one side or the other then the lead will be very clear.