Jango Workshop Review: Soltadas

5th December 2008

Class Date: Sunday 30th November 2008 (afternoon)

Teacher: Amir Giles

Class Type Advanced

Location: Ealing


The class was on Soltadas - breaking the embrace. Not to be confused with sultanas, which are the things you eat. Soltadas are a Big Thing in nuevo tango now, so I'm clearly getting down with the trendies.

Anyway, Amir taught two specific soltada-moves. From the point of view of a Modern Jive dancer, the interesting bit about both of these moves is that they can be used as genuine entrance points into Modern Jive-style moves - without that jarring tempo-change stuff you typically find in switching styles. For example, one move segues perfectly into a basket hold.

The tricky bits

  1. The most challenging part of these moves is that they're largely led by the hand (leader's left, follower's right), as that's the only connection point. So for the duration of those moves only, the follower has to use some tension in the hand - and then lose that tension when back in hold. This is a tricky thing to remember and to communicate.

  2. The second most challenging part of these moves it that they're not led the same way as in dances like Modern Jive or salsa. Leaders can't just hold their hands in the air and expect followers to twirl around them - it simply doesn't work like that. Leaders do need to use their (left) hands to guide their partners, but it's got to be led properly.

  3. The third most challenging part of these moves is a styling point for the men: when breaking hold, your right hand may have a tendency to flop down like a dead fish (you'll be so used to having it around the follower, you'll have forgotten what to do with it otherwise). So, a good way of using this arm is to "guide" the lady - visually preceeding or following the lady's movements.

Move 1: Turn from an ocho

The first move we learnt was how to lead a turn from an ocho. We mainly learnt this from a forwards ocho to the leader's right - but as always there are 4 variations possible.

The move breaks down as follows:

  1. Lady forward step onto right with raised arm
    The leader leads the lady to take a forward step onto her right foot (we learnt from the context of an ocho, but it could be a normal forward step) whilst doing a sidestep to parallel. As the follower steps forward, the man raises his left arm above her head. The man also stops the lady from collecting - so her weight is transferred to her forward foot, but her feet are still separated.
    Note: The lady should not turn at this point; it's just an arm raise.

  2. Lady does a swivel turn
    Now we lead the turn - a 180-degree anti-clockwise swivel, keeping the lady's weight on her back (right) foot. Her feet do not move position, they just swivel.
    To lead this, the men let go with their right arms, and draw their left arms around the lady, gently pulling her around.
    Note 1: The lady should disassociate her body, so that the energy of the arm lead is transmitted first to the upper body, and the lower body then just comes along after a delay.
    Note 2: The ladies must not anticipate the turn or try to "help it".

  3. Lady steps forwards onto left
    The lady then simply steps forward onto her left foot - actually, in practice, this is more like a slide forwards, as her left foot is still touching the floor.

From here, there are a couple of options. You can either transfer to a basket hold and walk a few steps, or you can turn that ending forward step into the start of an ocho, and gather as normal into a tango embrace.

Move 2: Walkaround

The start point was the backwards step of a clockwise giro - but, yes, this can be done from almost any nuevo tango step I think.

The move breaks down as follows:

  1. Sacada sidestep
    From the backstep position, the man sacadas the lady's left foot (with his right foot) into a sidestep as for a normal giro. When she collects, the man keeps his foot in position, so she's sandwiching his foot between hers.

  2. Arm up and lead out
    Lift your left arm over your head, and let go of the lady with your right arm. Guide the lady to walk over your right foot, and then walk around your body in a clockwise direction: right-left-right etc.
    Note 1: Leaders, see the point about men's styling above (Point 3) for what to do with your right arm.
    Note 2: It is possible for the lady to continue doing a giro pattern within that walk. But it's hard work - so simple walks are probably best.

  3. Gather and collect
    At an appropriate point (after a right step), lead the lady into a forwards ocho and gather back into a tango hold.

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- David Bailey, 5th December 2008