A successful variation on the volcada

Practice.jpg

The resumption of milongas still feels a way off yet, but there are definite signs that the tango world is beginning to ready itself. Some group classes are resuming, albeit for solo technique or with fixed partners, and privates are resuming on the same basis.

But lessons are of limited value without practice, so Wai Fong and I did a practice session, trying out the things we’d been learning in our privates with David – managing to choose one of the hottest days of the year to do it …

I practiced planeos, and I do now feel that back ones are something I can again comfortably lead in dance. Forward ones need more work.

Mostly, I was playing with back-and-forth moments in the music, and other variations.

Variations

For example, in an ocho cortado, doing back-and-forth on the rebound step (during which you can also slowly turn), and the same on the follower’s side-step: holding her short of the cross. As well as mixing longer and shorter versions of the ocho cortado.

Short:

  • Side-step to left with dissociation
  • Forward rebound on right (back-and-forth opportunity)
  • Pivot and end step to the right (back-and-forth opportunity)
  • Pivot back into the cross

Long:

  • Side-step to left with dissociation
  • Outside step with right foot
  • Rebound on left foot into back-step (back-and-forth opportunity)
  • Pivot and end step to the right (back-and-forth opportunity)
  • Pivot back into the cross

Interrupting either version with back-and-forth movements does require very clear blocking in the lead – ensuring the follower can’t continue when she thinks she knows what you’re doing – but feels wonderful. It’s such a simple way to play with the music, and include variety within a small vocabulary.

I was also playing more with varying tempo and pace in ochos. I’ve long mixed faster and slower ones, but including more variety in this. And more switching between forward and back ochos.

Off-axis practice

The volcada sequence David showed me is a really nice one, but there’s quite a lot to think about for a bear of little tango brain. So I worked out the simplest possible version:

  • Side-step to left with dissociation
  • Give follower a lifting sensation to signal for her to stay put
  • Do back-step rebound on right foot while counterbalancing her weight
  • Re-associate while taking the forward step to lead her cross

In the forward step, I have a tendency to lose balance to the left, so needed to remember to counterbalance the follower’s move to my left by giving a rightward component as well as a forward one.

Wai Fong kept encouraging me to take a bigger back-step to give her more room to swing her free leg into the cross, which feels a little scary at first, but worked well when I did.

I have no clue whether I could lead this with a follower who wasn’t expecting it, but it feels like definite progress. I do feel this is within my grasp.

We also did a little practice with the various colgada variations David showed us. None of these got anywhere close to feeling smooth, but baby steps … One learning is that this type of movement is – for now, at least – better led to the melody than to the beat, as it otherwise feels too abrupt.

A great session

It was super-hot, but it felt so good to have an opportunity to try out some of the things we’d learned. I also refreshed my memory on a few other things I’d learned ages ago and rarely use, and they did start to feel less rusty.

Tomorrow will be our next private, and I think small variations will be the theme …

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