Tango course: Week 5 of 8

1st November 2008

Class Date: Thursday 30th October 2008, 8pm - 10pm

Teacher: Amir Giles & Jenny Sayer

Class Type Beginners / Intermediates (8-week course)

Location: The Philbeach Hall, 51 Philbeach Gardens, Earls' Courts, London SW5 9EB (map)

(Other write-ups: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8)

Class review

"If you're looking for misery and frustration, you've got the right dance" - Amir

The start: revision

About 20 minutes: walking, reviewing previous exercises and going over them - connection, stepping, that sort of thing. It's noticeable now that the overall standard is getting better, and I think this shows the benefits of a longer course; you get the time to improve.

Two leaders over tonight - how'd that happen? I was tempted to take a stint as a follower, but it's a bit harsh inflicting that on people.

Tip: lower (soften your knees) before pushing forwards when stepping.

Tip: start leading a pivot at the start of the step before you actually lead it - preparation is everything.


Amir informed us that the startup music was by Carlos Di Sarli, and briefly talked about how Di Sarli is very good music for practicing to. He also mentioned that he kept the music going as background during the class, because it should slowly get us used to thinking about dancing to the music.


Wiz zese new moves, monsieur, you are spoiling us...

We worked on Giros - a lot - this week. Lots of forward-side-back evercises, then lots of back-side-forwards ones, then switching between the two patterns.

(Actually, technically, I guess we did "Media lunas" rather than actual full giros, but what's in a name?)

Amir spent some time talking about the follower's foot positioning during pivots - the feet pivot as the hips pivot. So the feet are always facing the same direction as the hips.

Tip: Conceptually, in nuevo tango, the follower always moves relative to the "center" of the partnership. In a Giro, this center is the leader's weight-bearing foot. And the follower's aim is to keep the same distance away from this centre.

Useful fact: A "Giro" is sometimes also referred to as a "molinete" in some parts of the world ("Windmill")

Segregation exercises

During the break, we split into leader and follower exercises.

Follower exercises

After an amusing moment when Amir suggested the classic "Chair" exercise, and Jenny then informed us that she "didn't teach that anymore", followers worked the chair.

Standard exercise - 4 steps of the giro pattern, around the chair.

Jenny then explained her "moving on" comment, in that there's no need to actually do a 360-degree Giro in 4 steps in reality, so she taught moving around in smaller steps, with the aim of increasing step size as follower's got more confident.

Leader exercises

We had three exercises to work on this week

  • Pivot on one foot - literally, move chest around then pivot, in both directions and on both feet. It's a good balancing exercise.
  • Do a "lapiz" (or Pencil) movement with the non-weight-bearing foot.
  • A pattern of:
    1. forward step on right
    2. forward step on left and hooking right foot behind.
    3. Pivoting clockwise 360-degrees, changing weight, then repeating on the other side

The last one was ... challenging...

Giros and sacadas

We used the Sacadas we went over last week, in the context of a Giro - which makes my prediction from last week look pretty silly, as I assumed we'd be doing overturned forwards ochos continuously with sacadas as an exercise. So, that explains who's the teacher and who's the student I guess...

Anyway, we used that sacada with the first step of a forward-side-back pattern.

If I were bold enough to predict again, I'd say that we'd be expanding on that to do sacadas on each step of that pattern next week...

- David Bailey, 1st November 2008