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Creative Weight Change Part 1 with Cruzada and Parada

Teachers: Clint Rauscher and Shelley Brooks
Song: Solamente Ella by Carlos di Sarli with Jorge Durán 1945
More at: Tangology101.com

The main focus of this class is the idea of having the follower change weight in order to enter into cross system rather than the leader and dancing slowly and elegantly with women taking an active role. Then we added a short figure including a cruzada (cross), with a parada (stop) mordida (bite).  

Rhythmic Alterations with Cross Over Step and Cadencia

Date: 2.11.2013
Class Title: Rhythmic Alterations with Cross Over Step and Cadencia
Teachers: Clint Rauscher and Shelley Brooks
Song: Son Cosas del Bandoneón by Enrique Rodriguez with Roberto Flores singing

The primary step that we worked on is at the very beginning of the video. We start by entering cross system and then executing a change of direction with me crossing my right over my left turning 180 degrees. Then I step forward with my left and do two rock steps (Cadencia) turning 90 degrees each to return to the line of dance. This step is very musical and works well with rhythmic orchestras such as Rodriguez, Canaro, Biagi, D'Arienzo, etc.

Another focus here is playing with the rhythm of quick, quick, quick, quick, slow. This happens with the two sets of rock steps.

One tip is to not try too hard with this step. It is small and compact. Stay close to each other. For the rock steps, it is important to stay in the middle of the step and a touch down into the ground as we rock, so that we don't feel the need to collect our feet. Also, we are both pivoting a great deal during this step.

Exploring the Cruzada Part 3: Milonga

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.

Back Cruzadas
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.

Exploring the Cruzada Part 2: Vals

In this class, we explore creative ideas for using the cruzada in the rhythm of vals.

The Double Cruzada
Here we look at combining the one step cross in parallel systme with the one step cross in cross system. So we get two crosses in a row. The leader is walking in regular time, stepping on the 1 with each step, while leading the follower to step in double time. The leader steps forward with his left while leading her to cross and change weight. Then he steps forward with his right while leading her to cross and change weight. This creates a nice rhythm which fits very well into vals.

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.

Back Cruzadas
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.

Exploring the Cruzada Part 1: Tango

In this class, we looked at different ways of using the cruzada (cross) to make our dance more interesting.

Slowing Down the Cruzada
Normally when we go to the cruzada we cross on a beat and change weight on a beat, or double time the cruzada. Here we were looking at slowing it down and taking several beats to complete the cruzada, especially in slower or dramatic music such as Pugliese or di Sarli. The important thing here is that the moment of the cruzada is being led. She is not putting her weight down until the leader is settling his weight down.

Unwrapping the Cruzada
This is a fun move, but requires a very high level of communication between the couple. Here we are leading her to cross her left foot in front of her right (normal cruzada) and then leading her, while still crossed, to change weight back to her right foot. Then we unwrap the left foot and exit. We can also play with the weight changes while she is crossed.

The One Step Cruzada
Here we are leading the cruzada in just one step in parallel and cross systems. This clearly shows that the cruzada is a technique rather than part of a more complex pattern. The secret here is the followers should take their free leg in the direction that she is being led.

Overarching Concepts

  • Timing - For the leaders, we must always begin leading cruzadas at the exact moment that her free leg begins moving. We want to move in the direction that we want her free leg to move in. If we wait until she is half-collected then getting the cross will be very difficult.
  • Balance - For the followers, take your free leg in the direction that you are moving in. If you do that then you should stay balanced. If he moves diagonally, but you send your leg straight back then you will find yourself tilted and off-balance.
  • Let every step have a beginning, middle, and end. Don't rush your steps and don't take super small steps.

The Milonguero Dip

In this Tango lesson, we teach a figure called The Milonguero Dip, and is part of our Popular Steps for the Social Dance Floor series. This step is a popular step that I saw used in the milongas of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have recently been informed that the step was named "milonguero dip" by Ney Melo and Jennifer Bratt.. and that they first saw it done by Javier Rodriguez and Geraldine Rojas and that Javier called it "ocho seco."

The joy of this move is in the musicality and the swoosh feeling it gives the followers during the dips (changes of our vertical plane). Every time I teach this move, it always receives lots of positive feedback from the followers. They love it.

Breakdown of the steps:

  • In this class, we started the move off from back ochos. When I lead a back ocho to the man's right, I begin by pivoting on my right foot counter-clockwise and crossing my left foot in front of my right, while leading her to take a back cross with her left around me. KEY MOMENT: My left foot should hit the floor at the same moment her left foot hits the floor. At this moment I also go down slightly in my left leg(dip).
  • At this point, there should be lots of compression in the embrace, as I lead her to take a side step around me with her right foot as I pivot around on my left and switch weight to my right.
  • I continue leading her around to a forward cross step with her left, as I step around her with my left. KEY MOMENT: As I step around her with my right, I need to make sure that I do not go too close to her (I might push her off her axis and that I don't go to far away (pulling her off of her axis).
  • I sink down (dip) into my left leg as I lead her around to another forward cross with her right. As she takes that forward cross I step back diagonally with her.
  • To finish I lead her to yet another back cross in front of me and I switch weight to return to parallel system and walk out.

Important Notes: This move requires a relaxed embrace, so that she can pivot inside my embrace (especially my right arm). If I hold her too tightly she will find it difficult to do the large pivots necessary for this move and it will be very uncomfortable.

Musicality Notes: In the first part of the demo, we danced to Carlos di Sarli's "Junto A Tu Corazon." This this we keep things rather calm and stretch the dips out as long as we can. Starting at 0.43 we dance this same way to Juan d'Arienzo's "Compadrón" to show how it works, but does not quite fit with the music. Then bumped the energy up just a little bit to fit with d'Arienzo. We shortened the steps and made them a little more staccato as opposed to the more legato of di Sarli. In both cases, we use a quick-quick-slow timing for her first back cross and side step.

 

Video Demonstration:

 

 And a second video of us teaching this step:
 

Walking While Switching Sides and Systems

This move is part of our Popular Steps for the Social Dance Floor series.

The interesting thing about this step is that while walking (caminata) the followers keep switching sides and switching systems (parallel vs cross) during the step. They start out on the leader's right side, switches to the left and then back to the right. So, this requires a flexibility or elasticity in the embrace to allow her to travel within my embrace.

The second thing is that we have the followers take two steps to our one step twice in the move. We like to call this “dancing the woman” or “the invisible lead,” when I ask her to take steps that I am not doing myself.

Step Breakdown (the numbers below correlate to the numbers in the slow-motion part of the video):

  1. We start by leading her to a Salida Americana. The leaders take weight on their right leg and as she takes weight on her left leg she comes back to neutral in front of us. At this point we are in parallel system. Now the leader stays on his right leg, while leaving his left behind, and leads her to take a side step with her right leg. Now we are in cross system and she is on our left side. We must relax our embrace during this move to allow her to travel to our left side, if we hold her too tightly then she will either not go or will pull us off balance.
  2. Now we step forward with our left and she steps back with her left. We stay on our left, leaving our right behind, as we lead her to take a back cross step across our path to our right side. We are back in parallel system.
  3. We collect and step forward (outside partner) with our right. She steps back with her left.
  4. We step back in front of her with our left as she steps back with her right and we are done.

At parts 1 and 2 above we take one step while leading her to take two steps. This takes us from parallel sytem, into cross system and then back into parallel system. We can maintain a close embrace during this whole step, but must relax the embrace enough to allow her to move slightly in the embrace.

Additons to the move:

  • At 1.26 in the video, we look at an alternative entrance to the step. Instead of starting with a Salida Americana we simply started by walking outside partner and then leading her to a side step.
  • At the beginning of step 2, when the leader steps forward with his left, he could perform a forward sacada to her left as she steps back with her right.
  • Also, at step 2, we could lead her back cross with or without pivoting her first and then changes the feeling of the move.

 

Sacadas I: Forward Sacadas

A Sacada (displacement) is when one dancer steps into the space that their partner just vacated. In this class, we will look at Internal and External Forward Sacadas for both men and women. We will also look at the difference between Low and High Sacadas.

4 Parts of a Step
Each step that we take in tango consists of 4 seperate parts. Imagine that your supporting leg is your right leg, meaning that your weight is completely on your right leg:

  1. We send our free leg (left) to find the floor where we are about to step
  2. We begin to transfer our weight to our new supporting leg (left)
  3. We finish transfering our weight to our new supporting leg (left)
  4. We collect our new free leg (right) next to our supporting leg (left).

Practice finding and feeling all 4 parts of a step by taking slow, deliberate side steps. Feel every moment of the step.

8 Parts of a Step
Now let's imagine that for leaders there are actually 8 parts to every step. Why? Because leaders must also lead the follower in all 4 parts of her step, while he is executing his step. This concept comes into play with many moves such as sacadas.

Practice with your partner, leading her to take a side step around you without you taking a step. Then lead her to take a side step while you take a side step with her, but stop in the middle of your step and then practice leading her in one direction while you go in another direction.

3 Basic Forward Sacadas
In the video, you will see that we show three basic forward sacadas. We can perform a forward sacada with either the right or left feet to the follower's side open step, forward cross step or back cross step.

Basic Sacada Technique
A sacada is a displacement, meaning that we are taking the place of our partner. We are entering the space that our partner has just vacated. To accomplish this, the leader leads the follower to take a step and as she is taking weight onto her new supporting leg, he steps in to the space she is leaving. He should step just inside of her free leg just after the moment that it becomes 100% free of weight. To resolve the step, he should take weight on the leg he executed the sacada with and both partners should return to face one another.

Tips for Good Sacadas:

  • Respect her axis - Do not step in the middle of her step or towards her new supporting leg, as this will disrupt her vertical axis and cause her to loose balance.
  • Don't kick her - Step inside of her step but not on her toes and do not worry about making contact with her leg. There should be little to no contact between the leader's and follower's legs. You are not pushing her leg out of the way, you are taking the space as it is leaves.
  • Hips - The hips should go straight in the direction that you are stepping. The upper body should turn towards her but the hips should go straight and then pivot after the step is complete. Also, when executing a forward sacada to her forward cross or back cross, get your hips positioned behind her hips to give yourself room to step around her. See picture below.
  • Protect the toes - For the women, take a look at the picture below and see how Shelley has the toe of her right foot pointed. She does not leave it on the floor flat to be possibly stepped on. When watching the video, watch how she lifts her toe the moment her leg becomes free.
  • Complete the step - Leaders, finish your step by taking weight on the foot that you performed the sacada with. Don't just stick the foot out and then pull it back. Finish the step by taking the space that she just left.

Figure 1:
Simple Sacada

  1. We start out with the weight on the leader's right and follower's left. We take a side open step for him and a side open step for her. The leader double times this step and switches weight to his right as she completes her side step. Now we are in cross system.
  2. He steps forward with his left as she steps back with her left.
  3. He steps forward with his right inside partner as she takes a back open step with her right. He then leads an arrepentida by bouncing her off her right foot as he rocks back to his left and leads her to take a side open step to the open side of the embrace (leader’s left).
  4. He returns to his right creating the sacada to her open side step. He pivots on his right foot approximately 180 degrees to come back in front of her. He is on his right and she is on her right.
  5. Steps 5 - 8 use our basic turn (giro) to the left to get back to line of dance.

 

Part II:

Exercises:

We start with an exercise by leading the woman in forward crosses (ochos). We want to take our time and lead them very slowly and deliberately.

Exercise 1: As she steps forward with her left foot and takes weight on her left, we extend our left foot as we lead her to pivot on her left. We pause momentarily creating a parada (stop) and then repeat on the other side.

Exercise 2: This is the same as the first exercise, except as she commits to her left foot we extend our left foot into her stride towards her right foot and repeat on the other side. So, when she steps onto her left, we are extending our left towards her left (the foot she is leaving). We are not committing to this step, we are only extending our leg/foot to find the correct placement and timing for our sacadas. We must practice so that we can comfortably lead her to take forward crosses while we extend our legs and remain balanced. All the tips below are things to look out for in this exercise.

Tips for Good Sacadas:

  • Respect her axis - Do not step in the middle of her step or towards her new supporting leg, as this will disrupt her vertical axis and cause her to loose balance.
  • Don't kick her - Step inside of her step but not on her toes and do not worry about making contact with her leg. There should be little to no contact between the leader's and follower's legs. You are not pushing her leg out of the way, you are taking the space as it is leaves.
  • Hips - The hips should go straight in the direction that you are stepping. The upper body should turn towards her but the hips should go straight and then pivot after the step is complete. Also, when executing a forward sacada to her forward cross or back cross, get your hips positioned behind her hips to give yourself room to step around her. See picture below.
  • Protect the toes - For the women, take a look at the picture below and see how Shelley has the toe of her right foot pointed. She does not leave it on the floor flat to be possibly stepped on. When watching the video, watch how she lifts her toe the moment her leg becomes free.
  • Complete the step - Leaders, finish your step by taking weight on the foot that you performed the sacada with. Don't just stick the foot out and then pull it back. Finish the step by taking the space that she just left.

Figure 1:
Simple Turn to the Leader's Left with Sacadas

  1. We start this turn on the leader's right and the follower's left. We lead the follower to change weight to her right and pivot 90 degrees forward. The leader stays on his right putting us into cross system.
  2. As we lead her to take a forward cross with her left, we step forward with our left creating a sacada and pivot to face her. The leader must pivot very quickly here to be ready for the next step.
  3. We then lead her to a side open step while stepping in with our right creating another sacada and pivoting to face her again.
  4. We are still in cross system at this point so we can exit to the cross system basic or back crosses.

Figure 2:
Simple Turn to the Leader's Right with Two Sacadas

  1. We start this by going to the basic cross in parallel system and the leader crosses his right foot behind his left as the woman crosses her left in front of her right. We then lead her to pivot counter-clockwise on her left and to step forward with her right, as the leader steps forward with his left creating a sacada.
  2. We then lead her to a side open step with her left and we step forward with our right creating another sacada. We pivot on our right to return to line of dance.
  3. The leader then switches weight to his left without leading her to switch weight and leads a back cross.

Figure 3:
Simple Turn to the Leader's Right with Three Sacadas

  1. We start this by going to the basic cross in parallel system and the leader crosses his right foot behind his left as the woman crosses her left in front of her right. We then lead her to pivot counter-clockwise on her left and to step forward with her right, as the leader steps forward with his left creating a sacada.
  2. We then lead her to a side open step with her left and we step forward with our right creating another sacada. We pivot on our right to return to line of dance.
  3. The leader then switches weight to his left and leads the follower to a back cross while he steps forward with his right creating a sacada to her free leg (left).

High and Low Sacadas
We also discussed the differences between high and low sacadas. A high sacada is when we displace her free leg above the knee and a low sacada is when the displacement happen below the knee. We always want to make contact either above or below the knee to avoid injury. Also, the contact that is made is very very light and should not be thought of as a push or kick. In fact, often there is no contact at all in low sacadas and a little more contact in high sacadas.

 

Part III:

Figure 1:
Forward Sacadas for Leader and Follower

Tips

  • At the 16 sec mark, leaders tuck their left leg behind their right leg. Don't worry about tucking too deeply. Your left knee should be sitting gently behind your right knee. You should be able to bend your knees slightly while in this position and easily switch weight between your feet without having to displace either of your legs.
  • At the 20 sec mark, I switch weight to my left and do a lápiz (pencil) with my right foot. A lápiz is an embellishment which is done with the leader's free foot and is usually a circular movement which looks like he is drawing a circle on the floor with the inside part of his foot. Lápiz can vary in size from being very tiny to very large. Lápiz are also sometimes called Rulos or Dibujo (drawing).
  • At the 25 sec mark, women should notice how quickly Shelley gets her back toe up off the ground as soon as she completes her forward step. This creates a nice line for her legs and protects her toes from being stepped on.
  • At the 42 sec mark, women should not be afraid to step forward. Often women hesitate when asked to step forward, but they should trust that the man knows what he is asking for and to step straight.
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The Rhythm of Vals I

Vals is one of the rhythms that we dance to at Milongas (Tango Dance Parties). This class will focus on understanding the rhythm of Vals, how to incorporate your existing steps into Vals and new steps that fit nicely into Vals.

Synopsis: This class focuses on using Cross Steps in the rhythm of Vals.

Teachers: Clint Rauscher & Shelley Brooks

Video Demonstration:

Figures:

Dual Molinete or Giro
20 Second Mark of Video Demo
Description: All in Cross System, MBC & WBC + MOS & WOS + MFC & WFC + MOS & WOS
Tip 1: This move is usually repeated twice and works best with a quick quick (Double Time) on the MBC & WBC + MOS & MOS then slow slow on MFC & WFC + MOS & MOS.
Tip 2: After the Back Crosses and Forward Crosses both the Man and Woman collect their feet and Change Weight instead of taking real Side steps.
Tip 3: This is a very circular move, so the Man and Woman should very much step AROUND the other never stepping away from one another.
Tip 4: Do Not skimp on the Forward Crosses, take real forward steps around each other.. not tiny ones. The Man’s Forward Cross can also go deep to get a Sacada.

33 Second Mark of Video Demo
Description: MFC & WBC in Parallel System + MOS & WBC in Cross System: Man performs a MFC and the Woman a WBC and the Man collects and changes weight to his Left and pivots the Woman clockwise and perform a MOS & WBC in Cross System, The Man then collects and changes weight to his Left and REPEATS from beginning.
TIP 1: The Man always collects and changes weight to his Left on every step. He is always stepping with his Right.
TIP 2: The Man always steps with his Right on the downbeat and is double timing every step. The Woman is not changing weight with him, she is just stepping on every downbeat.

Drunken Ochos
12 Second Mark of Video Demo
Description: In all Cross System, MOS & WBC + MOS & WBC + MOS & WBC: From Back Ochos in Cross System, as the Man leads the Woman in a WBC to the Open Side of the Embrace, he takes a tiny step forward with his left turning counter clockwise 90 degrees. Then he takes a large Open Side Step (MOS) with his Right as he leads her to a WBC to the Close Side of the Embrace. REPEAT
Tip 1: This is all in Cross System and the Man and Woman are both stepping on the downbeat of the music.
Tip 2: The turn happens with the Man’s Left foot, his Right foot only goes side ways.
Tip 3: The Leader must lead ochos which require the Woman to pivot, not walking or non-pivoting ochos.

Arrepentida with a Cross Over Step. This is a very musical move and is very helpful for changing directions if you need to in order to avoid a collision with another couple.

Figures:

Figure 1: Arrepentida with a Cross Over Step
In Demo at :28 of Video Demo
In Slow motion at 2:36 of Video Demo

Step 1: The man takes a Side Step with his left and does a quick weight change to his right (double time). The woman takes a Side Step with her right. They are now in cross system.

Step 2: The man then takes a Forward Open Step with his left to the open side of the embrace and leads the woman to take a Back Cross Step with her left. His upper body is turned slightly clockwise to her.

Step 3: The man then takes a Forward Cross Step with his right to the open side of the embrace but does not complete that step, rather he rebounds off of his right as he steps back and counter-clockwise with his left. This results in a change of direction of about 180 degrees. Then he crosses his Right foot in front of his left. The woman takes a Back Open Step and then rebounds off of her right foot and takes an Open Side Step around the man with her right foot.

Step 4: The man changes weight to his right foot which is now crossed in front of his left. Both the man and woman collect.

Step 5: Repeat Step 2

Step 6: Repeat Step 3

Step 7: Repeat Step 4

Step 8: Repeat Step 2

Step 9: The man takes a Forward Cross Step with his Right and leads the woman to take a Back Open Step with her right and to perform a Forward Cruzada and to change weight to her left. The couple is back in Parallel System.

Tip: There are double times (quick-quick-slow) for the man on steps 1, 3 and 5. There is a double time for the woman at step 9.

Tip: On step 3, the man needs to contain the woman and give a lot of energy to the rebound and to bring her around in the change of direction. He does going slightly down in his right leg to get more energy from the floor for the rebound. He also makes sure not to collapse his embrace. he needs to keep his embrace solid so that she does not get behind him.

Tip: On step 3, the woman should feel the man lower in the rebound and that should be an indication of a large step coming. She will need to take a large side step around the man in order to stay in front of him.