Resuming privates, and seeking out complexity!

It’s been quite some time since my last blog post. Lessons obviously had to stop during the stricter lockdown, and it feels great to be able to resume them. Even with regular practice, long gaps in teaching do make me nervous!

But it seems I didn’t have too much to fear. I do have work to do to restore my tango posture, but my fluency seems to be mostly intact …

I can’t even remember how David opened the lesson – it packed in so much. But the second thing we worked on was varying the speed and feel of the cross.

When I first started lessons with David, I told him my goal was small variations of things I could already do. He took to this task with great enthusiasm! As with other great teachers, he said it’s all about the how, not the what.

Varying speeds

One way to increase the variety in my dance is to vary the pace of a movement. In the classic cross, for example, the initial steps could be at a constant pace, but with a change of speed in the cross itself. I could accelerate, to lead a snappy cross – or slow it right down to lead a very gradual cross over four beats.

In theory, I could even lead a staccato version, breaking it into multiple sharp partial pivots. That’s something David had previously suggested with ochos, and I’m still not 100% convinced most followers of my level would know what i was doing there! Asia, who’s a very sensitive follower, said she could feel the two-part one but not the four-part. But the accelerated and decelerated versions both felt great.

Working on the colgada

We worked on the colgada, and I said my issue with it was that I wasn’t sure how to lead the follower off-axis when it she was very much in her axis to start, and I wanted to have her lean out. I obviously didn’t want to be pushing her.

David said the lead could be made very clear if I pivoted the follower fully first, slid my hand around to hold her side and then very clearly extended my arm out. This was in fact the case. Asia said it was 100% clear so long as I fully completed the pivot first, and ensured my hand was around her to give her the confidence to lean into it.

You know those times when an error works out for the best? There had been an amusing moment when I couldn’t remember the name of the colgada, and initially said calestita. But that lead to a fantastic discovery …

The versions of the colgada I’d experienced so far had all had a specific end-point. But the advantage of the calesita-style colgada is I have full control of how long it lasts.

Seeking out complexity

After doing both versions of the colgada, the thought struck me that it ought to be possible to exit via a volcada.

I tried this. Because Asia’s weight was on her left foot rather than right, I had to do the volcada in the opposite direction. That clearly took Asia by surprise, but it did essentially work.

I asked David how I would connect that to a volcada to the opposite side.

You have to remember here that I am terrible at learning sequences. Many times in group classes, the sequence was too much for me, so I’d pick one element and work with that, rather than attempting the whole thing. The last thing in the world I would ever seek to do is to add complexity to a movement!

But I’m all about making connections, figuring out possibilities, and now both colgada and volcada were sufficiently ingrained that it was just a logical next step to figure out how one could lead into the other. That really is huge for me.

So a fantastic lesson, and I can’t wait to be able to try it in the dance.

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