Clicking giros; continuing variations; and leading with my breath

Practicing giros and contra-giros yesterday, something clicked. I was able to enter the giro directly from the side-step, forward ocho and back ocho – without my customary ‘side-step then outside walk’ entry – and I could no longer recall why I ever felt the contra-giro was any harder than the giro!

That’s a pretty huge step forward, and David declared my giros relaxed and fluid …

It might seem counter-intuitive to work on the medio-giro after the giro, but it felt to me like one thing David had proposed for the giro might work here.

My normal approach to the giro is step back and left to start, then collect on the next step – then repeat for the follower’s next two steps. What David wanted me to do was just pivot. No steps.

We tried that. The pivot worked, but the other thing David was looking for was for my torso to lead the follower while my hips stayed put and then snapped around in the final step.

I won’t say that was either relaxed or fluid, but the basic idea was there and a rough-and-ready version was happening. Now it just needs a lot of practice. The good news is that I can practice the basic movement on my own, so we’ll see if I’ve made any progress by Sunday.

We then continued to play with the giro variations. First up was side-step into back planeo, and David declared that one good right away. I was less clear on the forward planeo from the follower’s forward step, so we worked on that one.

The timing is easier for the back planeo as I can wait until the follower has completed the back ocho before lowering her in my own time; for the forward planeo, I need to lower her during the step. But it is coming together.

Then a leg sacada on the follower’s side-step into either a boleo or back planeo. Wai Fong declared that I was too gentle with the sacada, so need to be more willing to just go for it. But I feel with some practice, that will fall easily into place.

The good news about all this is that I didn’t have to think about how to exit any of the movements – they just flowed into an ocho or giro or contra-giro.

Things got a little trickier with the next suggestion, which was a follower sacada! Namely:

  • Lead a forward ocho to my left
  • In the right ocho, only pivot the follower to 45 degrees so she comes toward me as I do my side-step to the right
  • Keep my feet apart so her right-foot contacts my right foot
  • With my left foot, step behind myself but keep my weight forward
  • Then pivot the follower either into either a forward or (harder!) back ocho
  • From there, collect or lead into a giro

Hmm. That one would require a lot of work!

Undeterred, David decided that this would be the perfect time to introduce me to the gancho. Narrator: It was not. My brain was full, and I didn’t understand any of that.

But there was one other thing, which I absolutely loved: leading a cross with my breath. This was:

  • Lead a side-step to my left
  • Breathe in, imparting a lifting sensation to the follower
  • Pivot slightly to my left before breathing out to remove the sense of lift

Voila, the follower is in a cross.

I mean, I’ll believe it works outside of a lesson when I try it unannounced with Steph, but the idea is fantastic. In particular, because this would be a practical way to lead a very slow cross, over four or even eight beats.

So a very worthwhile lesson. My main takeouts were reassurance that my giros and contra-giros were as fluid as I felt they were, including the rear planeo exit; enough of an idea about how to lead the forward planeo exit to practice it; the leg sacada into either boleo or planeo; and that breath-led cross! It was all good, but the latter was by far the most exciting. That kind of subtlety is wonderful. I can’t wait to try it with Steph.

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