Wobbly leader crosses, but a less wobbly understanding

Leader crosses

I’m not looking for more figures, especially not complex ones, but sometimes a whole new type of figure can be a really effective way to open my eyes to new possibilities in terms of types of movement.

I would have sworn there couldn’t be a version of the forward ocho I didn’t know, but I was wrong …

David showed me two-and-a-half new sequences.

A new type of front ocho

The first was this:

  • Leader side-step to left, but leave right foot in place
  • Dissociate to right to pivot follower into a forward ocho
  • Dissociate to left and twist my body so my legs swivel into the position shown below*
  • This leads the follower to step into the space to my left
  • Pivot my shoulders to the left again to lead the follower’s pivot
  • Back-step with my right leg, leader cross and change weight to left foot
  • Which should bring me back in front of the follower**
  • Back-step with right leg again

Wobbly leader crosses.jpg

*This is the position David can achieve. The position I can achieve does not look … exactly like that.

**But may not. In which case the following back-step can be a diagonal one to correct.

Although there are two leader back-steps, you can do this in a ronda when there’s space ahead of you for two forward steps because it begins by a pivot to face against the line of dance. The leader back-steps are then in the line of dance.

Variations include pivoting the follower back-and-forth in the initial pivot, and leading more forward ochos before the back-step into the leader cross.

By the end of it, I could do it in a clunky fashion. Maybe with a lot of practice, I could de-clunk it. But the more exciting thing to me was understanding another possibility. I haven’t yet tried it, but I can’t see any reason why I couldn’t, from the above position, simply unwind and lead a circular forward ocho for the follower to bring her back in front of me. I also have an idea about how I could follow the follower around and then turn it into a circular movement.

This is what excites me! Getting another piece of the tango lego, and thinking of new (to me) ways to use it.

Back ocho with leader-cross parada

This was a great one because it’s a relatively small variation on something I use frequently: a back ocho into a parada with sandwich. Only instead of the parada on the inside of the follower’s foot, I come around her foot to parada the outside of her foot. Then do a leader cross to sandwich her in a crossed position. Finally, step over with my right foot and exist as usual by stepping back and around and inviting her to step over. (More on that phrase at the end.)

I’m somewhat wobbly at this, but I think it wouldn’t take that much practice to be able to do it well, which gives me a very nice, simple variation – exactly what I’m after.

Reversed cross

Finally, the ‘half’ sequence. One I already knew, but with a twist!

David asked me to lead a classic cross, but in reverse: where I was still leading, but I was doing the follower steps and the follower was doing the leader steps. He suggested this not as something for a milonga, but as an exercise to broaden my understanding of possibilities.

It was amazing how much thought it required to figure out how to do something rather simple in reverse!

That was definitely an interesting exercise, and made me immediately wonder what it would be like to do the same thing with other familiar figures. It really made me wish we had a practice session the day after the lesson, instead of the reverse, but there are experiments to be done for sure on Sunday!

‘Inviting the follower to …’

I’ve always loved that phrase, feeling it acts as a very gentle reminder that the leader’s job is to indicate intent and create space, but not to move the follower.

A large part of what I got from the tiny amount of following I’ve done is to really understand the importance of this, and I like to think that this is something I’m pretty good at generally.

There is, however, one exception: when I’m learning a new sequence. There, I’m so focused on the ‘what’ that I’m conscious I can sometimes kind of drag the follower along with me! Sorry, Wai Fong!

Oh, and speaking of comfort, David drew my attention to a basic error in my paradas from the back ocho. Somehow I’d lost a step from it, which is swapping feet to create more room for the follower. I’ll need to work at undoing that shortcut habit.

So, another excellent lesson with a huge amount to think about. I’ll be aiming to figure some stuff out in solo practice this week, and then try things out when practicing with Wai Fong on Sunday.

Image: Shutterstock

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