Review: iJig Tango workshop

7th June 2010

Date: 6th June 2010

Location: St. Albans Old Town Hall, St. Albans.

Organisers: iJig Funky Modern Jive.

Teachers: Alex and Stefano of Tango in Action.

Introduction

This was a day-long workshop, with Alex and Stefano of Tango In Action

The format

There were four workshops during the day: 1. Essential elements of Tango De Salon - Walk, Posture and embrace- Travelling patterns 2. Elegance and flavour - dressing your steps with style and panache - Paradas and Pivots 3. Medio Giros and changing direction. 4. Adding a little flash - Sacadas and Voleos.

The write-ups

I won't be doing a full-on analysis of each workshop, just a brief overview, and a set of notes which I personally found useful from each one. If you want more information, I'd suggest attending their classes...

Stefano came out with some of his usual great lines, which are worth preserving, so I've included some of his quote. As always, you have to be there to get the full effect.

The venue

This was St. Albans town hall - reasonable venue, floor was OK. It was a bit echo-y, but Alex and Stefano were provided with head mikes, so we could generally hear them well.

The organisation

First-rate - Gina, Pat, Jon, Mick and Jo pretty much set the standard for customer service. Teas and coffees, refreshments, organisation, all were excellent.

Workshop 1: Essential elements of Tango De Salon


"Shifting weight is very easy... unless, of course, it's very difficult" ~ Stefano.

We had a few tangos as warm-up, then we spent some time separated, working on specific exercises. As a leader I can only relate the leader-specific information from Stefano. But I'm sure Alex gave a lot of good information to the girls :)

Walking for leaders

Some very useful tips here. When we walk normally, the walking leg bends at the knee first - our knees move before anything else (if you don't believe me, walk along and try it!).

(This is another thing which explain why there's a lot of knee-banging going on with beginners dancing with each other.)

Roll through the foot when moving along it - creates a smoother motion.

One-and-two

Separating out the "preparation" (knee movement) from the walk (transfer of weight). Preparation = "One", walk = "Two"

We practiced this "One and Two" movement with each step - forwards steps, side steps, and so on. Each step has both a preparation phase and a walk phase.

Where to step

As a rule-of-thumb, the leader should step into the space where the follower has been - that is, the space where the follower has just stepped out from. Obviously, you need to ensure that this space is "where she has been" not "where she is standing right now"...

Together

Getting back with our partners, we then spent some time walking in close embrace, but with a symmetrical hold - both the guy's hands behind the woman's back.

Workshop 2:: Elegance and flavour


"Where should you put your head? Well, it's your head..." ~ Stefano

(Reminds me of the quote from a Edinburgh workshop - "Which foot should you step on? Well, you have two possibilities...")

Sequence

  1. Lead a cross from the salida - but in crossed position so man transfers weight on the "2"
  2. Man sticks left foot forward (behind woman's back foot), leading a parada across the man's left leg
  3. Woman steps forward over man's left leg after due decoration (clockwise). Man transfers weight to the left leg.
  4. Woman continues and steps to the side - man sacadas the woman's back leg with right foot.
  5. Woman pivots and steps back - man pivots and steps to the side to face.
  6. Man walks (on the outside of the woman), again to a cross.

Principles

  • In the Basic 8, There's a very very very good reason for the man to switch weight on the "2" step (before the salida to cross) - this provides a natural dissociation for leading the cross on the "5" step. Otherwise, you have to dissociate unnaturally. Brilliant.
  • The direction of the supporting foot should always be the direction that you travel.
  • The "correct" embrace is more subjective than the walk - it's more open to interpretation.
  • If you lead a cross step strongly in a diagonal direction, your follower has to cross; there's no other options available to her.

Workshop 3. Medio Giros and changing direction


"How can you make your partner do a number two?" - Stefano

Sequence

Basically, we continued to work on the sequences from the previous workshop for most of the session.

A further sequence was introduced:

  1. Man steps forwards on the right (long step) and pivots clockwise (up to 90 degrees)
  2. Man steps forwards on the left (short step)
  3. Man steps forwards on the right (long step) and pivots clockwise (up to 90 degrees)
  4. Man steps forwards on the left (short step)
  5. etc.

(Note: this is quite similar to the sequence I described in my Bootcamp review.)

Principles

  • In both sequences, you should ensure you pivot the woman before she takes a step - wait for her to pivot before moving around her.

Workshop 4. Adding a little flash


"I've not discussed this with Alex, but I'm sure she agrees with me" ~ Stefano

Sequence

We carried on working with the second sequence from the previous workshop, then moved on to a new sequence:

  1. Lead the lady into a forward ocho to the man's right.
  2. Sacada the woman's back foot with the man's right foot, rotating her clockwise as you do.
  3. Step to the left to finish the rotation.
  4. And repeat.

Principles

  • The sacada-ing foot should be kept pointing straight forwards.

Conclusion

Alex and Stefano are good teachers - and they're both teachers, they both give you equal amounts of information. There aren't many "proper" teaching couples around with that level of experience and that equality of communications - Jenny and Ricardo are another example of this.

This was a very very long day - starting at noon, finishing at 7pm. Even with 3 breaks, a lot of us were flagging towards the end. Personally I sat down whenever possible. And I have absolutely no idea how Alex stayed standing throughout the day in those heels of hers...

For me, the best workshop was the first one - I can lap up Tango De Salon for hours. But I appreciate that this is not everyone's cup of tea.

Apres workshop

We then - amazingly - found the energy to go on to the "Wax House" wine bar, where some of us continued dancing. It was a lovely way to finish off the evening.

- David Bailey, 7th June 2010

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