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New Beginners Part 3

The cross (La cruzada) as shown by Osvaldo Zotto & Mora Godoy

3 weeks in to your tango journey!

You might be getting more familiar with our teaching style by now! Always we start with warming up exercises and a recap on posture and technique for walking.

I personally like this beginning part of a class. It helps to get me in the ‘tango zone’. Often we bring a lot of baggage with us. Maybe we’ve had a stressful day at work or a stressful time in traffic getting to the class! Or maybe there are just a lot of other things going on in our life right now. It’s an opportunity for all that to recede in to the background and give us some time out.

Building on the things that we have done in previous weeks, weight changes, walking with forward intention (even for followers walking backwards!), embrace and connection, we introduced dissociation into our walk.

This is actually how we walk normally. As the left leg goes forwards, then so does the right shoulder and as the right leg goes forward so does the left shoulder (as you would when you walk and swing your arms). The reverse happens when we go backwards. Try this out in front of the mirror!

Actually when you start to think about it somehow it becomes more difficult and we start walking in a block. In tango this is a little exaggerated and gives more flavour to our dance.

With this in mind we did some outside & inside walking with a partner (the leader now makes three tracks in the snow when walking on the outside, as opposed to two, when walking on the inside). It makes it so much easier if you rotate the upper part of your bodies towards each other, but keep the hips facing forwards, trying to keep as close to our partners legs as possible.

This led on to us working on ‘the cross’.

Taking a side step to the left, using the embrace and some dissociation, enables us to leave the follower a little bit behind to our right. The leader then takes two steps on the outside of the follower, straightening up the chest to come in line with the hips on the second step and bringing feet together on the third count.

This makes the follower cross the left foot over the right foot. The follower immediately transfers weight on to the front foot, leaving the back foot free.

Leader and follower are now back in line with each other and mirroring each other in the parallel system, enabling the leader to take a step forward, brush the feet and take a step to the side, finishing off this little sequence.

Don’t worry we are going to go over it all again this week!

The Cross is very commonly used in tango and can be done in all sorts of different ways and timings, but this is a ‘basic’.

A note for followers; At first it may seem that following is a very ‘passive’ role, which may not sit well with many of us!! Actually this is not true. It’s true that the leader initiates the movements, and that they are responsible for the improvisation and floor craft, but that doesn’t mean that the followers role is to be moved around like a shopping trolley!

A follower develops sensitivity. Once a movement is felt/initiated, it is the followers responsibility to move themselves and not wait to be pushed OR to move too soon, anticipating the movement and bolting off! Followers should also be listening to the music. Tango should be a ‘conversation’, two bodies moving as one.

For me there is no better feeling than to ‘dance with a stranger‘, to come together with someone you have never met or danced with before and to have that communication, that conversation without words, that feeling that you are dancing as one to the music.

There is an expression, ‘twelve minutes of love’. That’s roughly the time a tanda of music lasts. Sigh......

Ok, talking about the music. There are three different kinds of music, Tango, Vals and Milonga. So far we have only used tango in the lessons.

Vals is probably recognisable to you as the 3/4 time of our waltz

Milonga is faster, more earthy, with a flavour of the African roots that we touched on briefly with our potted history of tango in the first lesson.

Over the weeks we will introduce you to all of them in the lessons.

In the meantime here is a link to the music we used this week.

That’s probably enough for this week!

Looking forward to seeing you for Week 4!

Derecho Viejo Julio de Caro

Quejas de bandoneon - Anibal Troilo

For more about Osvaldo Zotto 1963 - 2010

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