Review: lesson with Pablo Alonso

4th September 2009

Date: Friday 14th August 2009

Location: Wild Court, Holborn

Organisers: Ivan of of Negrachas.


We did three main sequences - there was some other work on embellishments and patterns, but my notes are indecipherable so I've left those out...

Sequence 1: Contrabody turn from a cross

  • Basic -> Quick cross (woman's right foot in front of her left), but the woman does not change weight; weight it still on the back foot.
  • Rotate the woman clockwise, whilst rotating around the woman yourself (contrabody movement), and lead her to take a forward step. This forward step should be in the same direction as you were travelling previously, so her rotation is 180 degrees.
  • Lead a linear giro / grapevine to finish.

This one's quite tricky. You need to both lead an "unnatural" cross - that is, in the other direction to the way a normal basic-8 cross goes - and then lead an "unnatural" contrabody turn.

As a leader, I found the hardest part was rotating myself whilst leading the contrabody turn, I tended to shuffle around far too much.

Sequence 2: Soltada

  • Basic 8 into a normal cross.
  • Man opens out to lead the lady into a chasse step-turn: she rotates 180 degrees to her right (anti-clockwise), steps sideways on her right foot, rotates another 180 degrees anti-clockwise, and steps sideways on her left. Movement is continuous in a line - it's not a spin. The man has to let go of the lady to allow her to do this, of course...
  • Collect and finish - usually with an ocho or something similar.

The tricky part of this sequence is to get the lady to do it the first time - as it's not easily-leadable past the letting-go bit, it has to be learnt at least as a concept first.

Sequence 3: Soltada 2

  • Linear giro lead
  • Lead a chasse step-turn, from the lady's forward steps.

This is quite similar to the first soltada sequence, but extends it. It allows four variations - on the front step, on the back step, turning clockwise and turning anti-clockwise.

The easiest variations are those where the lady doesn't have to yank her left arm out of the embrace, but can let it slide away naturally. These are anti-clockwise turning from the back step, and clockwise turning from the front step.

General impressions

Lots of interesting movement ideas, but I felt that there was too much in the way of patterns to be able to concentrate on getting them right. On the other hand, I guess that's why God made practicas.

I guess it depends on whether you think a class should be giving you ideas you can take away and work on, or should be getting you to work on getting something right in the class itself. My gut feeling is that I'd have liked more time on the contrabody movement, and I'd have been happy with only a single soltada sequence.

Pablo's a good teacher - for some reason he reminds me a little of Stefano from Tango in Action.

He had a "last-minute" demo partner for the class, which sometimes didn't help with the more detailed sequences - and of course the demo couldn't be expected to contribute much in terms of the follower's side of things. Although, on the plus side, it meant that each move had to be fully led.

I believe Pablo may still be around London - I saw him dancing at the Crypt in Farringdon at the end of August. So you may still be able to catch him...

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