Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?
I had a private scheduled with Fede and Julia before the apocalypse, and we decided to try a video lesson as an experiment. This did lead to a bit of an argument between us …
They wanted it to be free, and I wanted to pay for it. Fede thinks he’s going to win; he’s not …
It felt good to put my tango trousers and shoes on, even if I wasn’t going any further than the living-room. Plus, with the lack of exercise and more time than usual to eat, I needed to make sure I could still fit into them …
The original plan for the lesson had been that Steph and I would dance together. That was foiled when Steph got ill (with a presumptive diagnosis of COVID-19), at which point the lesson became a solo one.
I was sure it could still work, and that did indeed turn out to be the case. We did a mix of two things.
First, demonstrations of variations on, and extensions to, things I already know. For example, I know how to do a parada and a barrida, so they demonstrated a way to combine the two:
- From a forward-ocho, lead a parada
- As the follower steps, do a fast leader-only change of weight and contact her forward foot
- Change her weight to her back foot
- Barrida the forward foot
There are then various options from there, including another parada, with optional back-and-forth barrida.
I mentioned that I’d tried a reverse barrida, where the follower sweeps the leader’s foot, but wasn’t sure how to lead this. Julia said that this only worked if the follower was 100% on the ball, which means keeping her free foot in contact with the leader’s foot at all times in a barrida. So then if the leader moves their foot away, the follower’s foot should follow. That then made sense.
Another variation was on the ocho cortado. One option is again to reverse the cross, so the follower uncrosses and crosses again. That again raised a technique issue, as I’ve been able to do that with some followers but not with others.
Fede said that was about ensuring I didn’t change the follower’s weight during the cross – similar to the way that you do with the side-step setup for a classic cross, where the leader changes weight but not the follower. Julia said it can help to give the follower a slight feeling of lift into the cross, as a hint that they shouldn’t change weight on their own.
They then showed how you can take a forward step without uncrossing the follower. I’d need to try that one for real, with a follower, but the theory made sense.
We also did some solo technique exercises – Fede and Julia demonstrating them, and then watching me try them to make sure I had the idea, so I can do those on my own. These were:
- Pivots of 90-, 180- and 270-degrees (360 is beyond me for now!)
- Focusing on chest first, then release hips
- Ensuring the weight is on the inside of my standing foot
- Concentrating on precision (exact 90-degree increments)
- Fully forward, fully to side, fully back, then collect
- And into a leader cross
- And then walking crosses
I was initially convinced that Fede had rubber legs, the way he was able to get the rear foot fully alongside the standing one, but some experimentation showed that this is simply about bending the standing leg and finding the right position when crossing the legs. For me, it was around calf level.
To my amazement, I was able to get the rear foot fully alongside the front one. It’s very, very clunky, and feels incredibly awkward, but Fede said that’s normal – it takes time and practice.
So, that’s me sorted for technique exercises for a while!
It was definitely a worthwhile lesson, even on my own. Once Steph is properly on her feet, we’ll schedule the next one for the two of us. Between this and solo practice, there is at least a chance that I’ll still remember how to dance when this is finally all over!