Teachers: Clint Rauscher and Shelley Brooks
Song: Milonga Brava by Francisco Canaro
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Category: Milonga Classes
Milonga is one of the 3 basic rhythms that we dance to at tango dance parties, also referred to as milongas. Milonga is in 2/4 time and is one of the predecessors of Argentine Tango.
The Baldosa Box
A baldosa is a large tile. You are considered a great tango/milonga dancer if you can dance on a baldosa (i.e. in a small area). The baldosa box is a basic and very useful figure of tango, vals, and milonga which goes like this:
|1||Back open step with the right||Forward open step with the left|
|2||Side open step with the left||Side open step with the right|
|3||Forward cross step with the right to the open side of the embrace||Back cross step with the left to the open side of the embrace|
|4||Forward open step, back in front of the woman, with the left||Back open step with the right|
|5||Side open step with the right||Side open step with the left|
|6||Change weight, in place, to left / Often this step is done in double time||Change weight, in place, to right|
|Then repeat. Often steps 5 and 6 are double timed (quick quick). Also, sometimes I like to collect and change weight at 4 instead of stepping forward (.22 of video).|
To see a clear demonstration of this step, watch .15 to .19 of the video below.
We then looked at many ways to alter the figure to add musicality. We started this class, by listening to several popular milonga and finding the 1 & 2 in the music. Milonga has two beats per measure. The 1 is usually the strongest and we encouraged the leaders to find the 1 and to step on it with their right feet. We also encouraged the women to be listening to the music (as always) and to want to step or change weight on each beat, unless the men specifically do something to prevent that.
- If the floor is crowded, I often change weight in place instead of taking the forward step at number 4 above (.22 of video).
- Turning the step - You can turn any of these steps, but I especially like to turn the side step (Step 5 above) 45 to 90 degrees and then turn back to the line of dance on the next back step or side step.
- Rocking the side step - I also like to create a rocking feeling with the first side step (Step 2) (.39 of video). I begin taking the side step to my left, then rock back to my right, collect my left and change weight.
- Hesitation steps (.11 of video) - I would also refer to these as traspie. Most people refer to traspie as meaning double timed steps, but the true meaning of traspie is "to stumble". Whatever you call it, I begin taking a small step back with my right leg and stop mid-way through my step. I put a tiny amount of weight back on my left and push off to take a slightly larger step. I want to resist rocking back and forth, so I don't go completely back to my left. It is more of a feeling of going back, slight pause and going back some more. We can use these hesitation steps on all of our steps forward, side, and back. (1.21 of video). I also like to do double hesitations on my side steps (4.01 of video).
- Toe Points (.53 of video) - I love this one and women really seem to love it as well. There are a few hints for this one. I step outside partner to the open side of the embrace with my right foot, making contact with my upper right thigh to the her upper right thigh. Then I pivot slightly to the left and then back to the right (repeat as many times as I like) and then step back with my right. Another secret is that I try to stay as much on my left as I can, so that my right leg is free to move side to side, BUT I can't lean my upper body backwards. I want to stay upright and straight.
- The walk around (1.51 of video). When I begin walking backwards, I keep turning clockwise with my right shoulder going away. I also take very small curved steps to try and create a very small circle. She is on the outside of the circle so she has to take much larger steps. I have to keep curving, until I want to exit. Once I get back to the line of dance, I straighten my body and she comes back in front of me. I usually do this when I step back with my left and then have her take a straight step back into my path with my back right.
Below you will find a video of these steps being demonstrated to two different milongas, one slower and one faster.
In this class, we explore creative ideas for using the cruzada in milonga.
The Forced Cruzada
With this technique, we lead the followers to cross their right foot in front of their left feet. This can be a strange feeling for the followers until they practice. The women should resist the temptation to twist their hips and pivot. They should have a very relaxed leg and simply let the leg, not the hip, go in the direction of the move. The clearest way for the men to lead this is to mirror the women. If we are doing the same move, but in reverse, then we should be moving in the correct direction. Also, for the women, do not cross too deeply so that your weight change can be smooth.
For the leaders, don't get too caught up on the idea of forcing the cross. We do not even need to make contact with her for this step. It is more about direction and removing other possiblities such as walking straight back.
If we think about the cross as a technique rather than as a step then we should be able to get them on any step going forward or backwards. Here we are stepping forward and then changing direction to move back diagonally. Again, the followers should simply take their free leg in the direction that we are moving. As with the previous move, if the leaders mirror the followers then we will be assured of moving in the correct direction.
Milonga has two meanings to tango dancers. A milonga is a tango dance party where tango dancers gather to dance with one another, as in "Let's go to the milonga and dance." It is also one of the 3 primary rhythms that tango dancers dance to: Tango (4/4 time), Vals (3/4 time) and Milonga (2/4 time).
The milonga rhythm derived from the habanera rhythm and is in 2/4 time and is generally danced faster than tango. For more on the History of the Milonga Rhythm go here.
We use many of the same steps in milonga that we do in tango, but there are also many steps which fit especially well into the milonga rhythm. This class introduces students to these basic steps of milonga.
The box step is a very basic pattern used in Milonga and we examine several variations of this step in the milonga rhythm.
Here are two very popular steps used in Milonga. The first is the zig zag step or "the grapevine." The second is the pendulum step.
Traspie means "stumble" and this step gives the illusion of someone stumbling down the street.