Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Two Feelings, Two Walks

We began Solares as we did last week: playing the audible tones of the tumbao moderno: "gung-gung" and "pak" on the shaker; while performing the Caribbean sway basic. Having made such delicious progress last week, I was keen to maintain the practice so that participants could reliably and quickly enter the state of flow.

Throughout the session, entrainment was achieved more quickly at under two minutes and in songs at higher tempi ~160bpm. Encouraging though this is, there is still a distance to be made up, with my 'holy grail' objectives being entrainment: in less than thirty seconds, and at a tempo of +190bpm.

Additional challenge was incorporated by the use of two shakers, one in each hand, of differing tone and/or loudness.

Two Feelings
Participants began to "drive into the floor" i.e. derive more leverage (stack joint toque curves) from the floor. Because they had not yet been shown how to damp the resultant force, it evidenced as a more staccato 'punchy' movement. They were not aware that they were moving more percussively.

I drew their attention to this, and asked them to accentuate the sway in the cradle of their hips, to deflect (not dampen) the resultant sideways. This restored the smooth action, but with an intrinsic gain of power.

The shorthand for the two qualities was "punchy" and "smooth".

Two Walks
We also investigated the relevance of the two shaker tones: the single, and the double, with respect to the salsa walk. At this point, I introduced them to the concept of the two walks:

The 'rhythmic walk' where the vocalisation and step-sizes are matched as "short-short-long" to create the "quick-quick-slow" rhythm. This walk opens a clear space for the double tone of the shaker.

The 'pinch-a-bit walk' where: the first step is taken early on beat one; the second step is 'in the pocket' on beat two; and, the third step is taken late on beat three. It's called the 'pinch-a-bit' because the dancer pinches time from both sides of beat four to give it to the first and third steps. This results in a smoother, slower, flat-triplet feel to the walk. As the second step was taken in the pocket, this was synchronised with the single tone of the shaker.

We took the time to have a qualitative discussion on the merits of both, and the circumstances under which they might be preferentially employed.

Additional supporting information was provided by referring to my web tutorial on:

'Figure 2.2. Fault tolerance' illustrates the two variations of walks.

The row labelled 'Tones' corresponds to the back-beat timeline played on the shaker(s).

The row labelled 'Accurate' represents the 'short-short-long' rhythmic walk.

The row labelled '2, slow' represents the smooth 'pinch a bit' walk (for torneo and setenta). '2' means it's calibrated to beat 2 (single shake of shaker); 'slow' means a pinch more time is added between steps 1&2, and 2&3.

That we are now examining the qualitative rhythmic nature of dance in solares is encouraging. It shows that participants are developing an increased sensitivity to the aural and kinesthetic dimensions of dance. And the possibility of greater fulfilment. I wonder what that might look like.


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