Tuesday, April 1, 2008

4 Secrets To George Garcia's "Lush Connection"

We've been blessed the last few weeks having George Garcia visiting from Hawaii and giving one great class after another--it's obvious why he's a Bay Area favorite. I was able to take 2 of his classes and it's hard to boil everything I learned into one tango blog post. But perhaps the biggest learning our group had was last night when George taught us how to create a "lush connection." I'm sure I won't be able to do justice to all the points George talked about or say it as poetically as he did, but here are the 4 things I took away:

1. A lush connection is about the couple expressing itself

2. The connection comes from the torso

3. Don't be afraid of touching thighs during the song as part of the connection

4. Leaders should lead with their right arm down somewhat lower on the woman's back than is normally taught. The part of the lead that comes from the right arm is not just the hand, but also the inner part of the forearm. The lead should be gentle, but clear. This is particularly true when dancing a milonga, but also applies for tango (you can see this in the video above of George dancing with the excellent SF teacher, Chelsea Eng). Our class tried this last night and it was the biggest "ah-Ha!" moment we all had. When George asked the follows afterwards how this lead felt one woman said she felt "loved". I'd never led with my right arm like this before (normally I keep it mostly stationary around her shoulder blade), but I must say I felt a much closer connection and ability to lead--especially when we danced a fast milonga.


Sappho Kuzan said...

Also, it is the source of your 3rd dimension of tango - the up and down of tango. For a fully involved tango, leads can raise their shoulder in such an embrace to embellish their tango for an "up" movement. It can be done with both shoulders for a full up or just the right shoulder for a half up. This causes the follow to raise her shoulder along with yours (done to the music of course), or in a gancho you raise your shoulder as her leg wraps around yours and she (hopefully) raises her leg up and over yours for a different kind of gancho, instead of swinging her leg out of the gancho.

I can't begin to tell you how important the embrace is. It can make or break a dance.

Alex said...

Not to veer of topic, but you talk about George...what about his "dusky jewel" of a wife, Kai? Does she stay back in Hawai'i?

Anonymous said...

I've only been dancing for 6 months, so I'm a beginner really. Someone danced with me in an embrace that didn't quite recognised, but it was truly wonderful and I've loved dancing with him every since. I do believe it sounds something like what you've been describing..

Mark Andersen said...

That's a great point, Sappho. Actually, when I took privates with Oscar & Georgina they focused a lot on the importance of the "up & down of tango", too.

If you're not already, you really should be teaching.

Mark Andersen said...

Yes, Alex--George was here by himself on this trip, so I'm guessing Kai was home holding down the classes/milonga fort back in Hawaii. Everyone knows George is such a bright tango light, but having seen Kai on YouTube dancing with him, she looks like a fantastic tanguera, too.

Mark Andersen said...

I'm happy to hear that, Anonymous. There should be more classes that just focus on creating a "lush connection". The more I tango the more I realize that if there's not an excellent connection, the rest doesn't matter.

Red shoes said...

George is such a treat to learn from...I took a workshop from him a while back on "dirty tricks"--it was a wonderful reminder of the playfulness available in tango, and the power of the follower.

Your 5 year old nephew said...

Uncle Mark, are these people in love? They dance like they are in love. The man has a black dress and the girl has a pink dress, that's how you know they are in love. I love you, you can come over to play.

Mark Andersen said...

Yes, Red Shoes, I danced with a woman last week who had just gone through George Garcia's "Naughty Tricks" workshop for women, which she loved. She used a number of them on me and they definitely got my attention. Thank you George Garcia--may you continue to spread this wonderful teaching.

Let the naughtiness continue!

Mark Andersen said...

My Dear 5 Year Old Nephew,
As always, you make very smart comments. You're right--they do dance like they're in love--all great dancers do. These dancers are just friends, though. But when two great dancers share a tango they connect in a way that it looks like they're in love for those 3 minutes. And then they go back to being friends.

Thank you for your wonderful comment!