Many calesitas, and two volcadas


I enjoyed tonight’s Tango Space classes a lot – in large part, I realised, because half the class are now friends. So, at best, we’re going to help each other figure it out; at worst, we’re going to laugh at our failures. Tonight was a mix of the two!

The beginner lesson was on the calesita. The improver class then introduced a couple of sequences that could follow a calesita: the first was a cross-system walk into a cross with a parada and forward ocho to exit, while the second was a volcada … 

The fact that I can even describe the first variation is itself a bit of a milestone. I can’t actually lead any of these complex sequences with anything remotely bordering on competence, but I at least know what they are and sometimes even get the steps.

The beginner class of course began with the walk. I asked Federico and Julia to simply tell me ‘feet’ if my toes weren’t open – which they did. The great irony of this is that my natural gait is very much an open-toed one, and I had to work really hard at first to brush my feet in the walk. That needed a very conscious effort to keep my feet parallel, and now I’m having to work equally hard to return to a toe-out stance.

I have vague memories of doing the calesita last time, and I think my followers mostly felt wobbly. Since none did this time, that seems like good progress on my part or theirs or both. I’m going with the latter theory.

The keys to leading it seem to be:

  • Loosen the embrace so the follower knows you’re moving but she stays put
  • Right arm under her armpit and give a bit of a lifting feeling
  • Stop abruptly with a sliding embrace to provide the momentum for the follower to continue to pivot

For some reason, I’ve never tried to use a calesita in a milonga, but do feel I should be able to; we’ll find out tomorrow.

During the practica, Julia came over and opened her arms, I thought to hug hello, but it turned out to be an invitation to dance – which was a very pleasant surprise. I just walked, did some forward and back ochos and then risked a cross, which earned me a ‘very nice!’. I also successfully led some crosses with another follower in the practica, so I’m starting to feel like I’m slowly getting the hang of them.

The first improver sequence felt very hard to lead, mostly because you can’t transfer your weight onto the front foot for the parada, but do need to have your chest forward to lead the cross. That turns out to require a lot of dissociation. Like, really a lot! I shan’t be attempting that one in real life.

The second sequence, into a volcada, was just added for fun at the end. It was my first ever introduction to an off-axis movement, and we only got to try it for two songs. The first one, I wasn’t getting it at all. The second one, however, it suddenly clicked on the last two attempts.

By ‘clicked,’ I only mean that it worked. I’m sure it wasn’t pretty. But it was a rather lovely feeling. I won’t be attempting it in a milonga, but I would like to try it more in a practica.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening, and looking forward to tomorrow’s version – and the milonga even more! I now have, in theory, a reasonably large vocabulary (I’ll write a separate blog post soon about where I’m at with what). My limitation now is more that I can’t think of things quickly enough in a milonga. By the time I realise that moment in the music would have been the perfect time for an X, it’s gone. I think I need to consciously run through my available vocabulary before a milonga, and pick a couple of things I don’t normally use, and then find good times to employ those.

That’s backwards, I know, but at least it gets me experience at doing more. And the more experience I have of something in a milonga, the more likely it is I’ll be able to call on it when needed.

Finally, one of my followers gave me a very nice compliment after the class. She said she hadn’t felt comfortable in the close embrace to date, but had tonight with me. That was a good feeling.

Image: Shutterstock

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