The Social Lapiz & Enrosque
The Spanish word ‘Lápiz’ (pron: lah-pees - emphasis on the 'LAH' and not the 'pees') translates to English as Pencil, and the word ‘Enrosque’ translates to English as ‘Screw’ or ‘Thread’. From a Tango perspective these are primarily ideas that relate solely to the Lead’s side of the dancing equation. Mostly. 🙂 A Follower can and does engage in a version of the Lápiz when applying a needle turn in ochos, or a planeo but as it relates to the Enrosque, it is very infrequently done by the Follower on their own. That said, let’s talk about the Social Lápiz & Enrosque.
What is a Lápiz & Enrosque ? Let's take those words one at a time. A Lápiz is a leg extension (and pointing of the foot/toe) done in circular fashion in response to what the Follower is doing. Usually this is a leg extension out away from the body (Forward to 12 O’Clock), then around to the side (at Nine O’Clock), and then the back (at Six O’Clock), and then back to collection. The Lápiz is usually done to the Follower’s Molinete or Traveling Ocho on their resulting back step.
What makes it ‘Social’ is that it is very small, very tiny. Meaning that the footprint (no pun intended) should not take up anymore space in the line of dance than say another step forward would. In other words ? No space.
And what about the Enrosque ? An Enrosque is essentially the lead crossing one foot behind the other without space between the crossed feet (better known as a 'clean' cross) and then, here’s the hard part, unwinding that cross back to collection without wobbling, wavering, or using the Follower to do it! Typically the Lápiz and the Enrosque Follow each other. First a Lápiz and then the Enrosque.
From A Following Perspective to be fair, there’s not a whole lot here for you from a technique standpoint. For you, there is quite literally no difference in what you’re doing, nor how you’re doing it. Why ? Because nothing that the Lead is doing should affect your dancing in any way, shape, or form. Quite truthfully, actually what they’re doing should enhance what you’re doing from a visual perspective. Assuming that they execute the Lápiz and enrosque with any level of deftness and cleanliness, you shouldn’t actually be able to tell that they’ve executed one! You shouldn’t necessarily feel anything at all except probably the lightest of taps on the back of your heel, as the toe of the their shoe touches the back of your heel, and that’s about it. Other than that, there’s should be no indication that said Lápiz or Enrosque has occurred in any way, shape, or form. This is a decoration for them. It’s the lead’s side of an embellishment for you. The whole reason they do this stuff is to decorate what you’re doing. Specifically on your back steps of either a Linear Ocho (infrequently used), Traveling Ocho (more likely), or the Follower’s Molinete (most likely). And really the Lápiz is there to accentuate the line of your back step. And the Enrosque ? It’s Lead flash! Meaning that it serves no earthly purpose except to say ‘look at me’. And again, assuming that the lead has done their job properly, the Enrosque shouldn’t be felt on your part. The lead shouldn’t need to hang on you, to pull, or push, or to employ/use resistance, tension, or force in their embrace in any way, shape, or form to stabilize themselves against you. So in short, this is all on the lead.
However, there are 3 things that you should be aware of with regards to the Lápiz and a possible resulting Enrosque.
1.) Continuity of Steps: For you, your Molinetes, have to be consistent. Meaning that you can not step away from your lead, and the size of your steps must be the same. The size of the Forward step must be equal to the back step which must be equal in size to the Side step and so on. So you must develop a sense of continuity to your steps. Without that continuity, a lead can not and should not attempt to play with the Lápiz. Why ? Because of the consistency problem. If the lead can’t rely on the size of your steps, that they’re all over the place or they’re small one time and large the next, then they can not trust that what you’re doing, and thereby can not and should not use the Lápiz to draw attention to your steps.
2.) Pop The Knee: On your back steps, you really do want to create a long clean line. And that means ‘popping’ the knee backwards to generate that line. Anything less than this, and you’re really doing yourself a visual disservice. 🙁
3.) Stepping Around: With regards to your Molinete (not necessarily to the Traveling Ocho), you ideally want to step ‘around’ your lead in the Molinete, not away from them on your back step. The problem with this is that most Leads, in the Molinete in Close Embrace specifically, do not make space for this to happen. So getting ‘around’ your lead becomes problematic at best. Each step of the Molinete must, must, must be around your lead, not away from them. If you step away from them, it breaks the possibility of a Lápiz occurring that can accentuate the line of your back step.
Quite truthfully the Lápiz could be employed on your Forward step and it’s really cool when that happens, but it’s usually done in response to your Back step!
From a Leading Perspective this is the epitome of Lead flashy embellishments. However, before we go any further, it is strongly advised that you review the proper Lead Technique for the Lápiz and resulting Enrosque (see Lead Technique) before you attempt this sort of thing. That said, let’s dive in.
This is a very flashy illusion for you, and a very challenging one at that. Quite possibly for most of you reading this the hardest part about it will be rotating over one foot, while extending the free leg. It’s a difficult thing for a lead to do, and then to do well. That last part (“do well”) must be practiced with all due diligence, over and over and over again. Most Leads can do these things poorly, or just barely, but not all of them can do them well. And to make it ‘Social’ ? That takes skill, time, practice, and patience. Most leads erroneously believe that this is just sticking your leg out there, and swinging it around or that the Follower is moving the Lead. Not so. The Lápiz and Enrosque are independent motions of the Follower’s motion. Completely independent.
That said, there are 5 things that you want to focus on with these things. Three things that can and will force you to think about how you execute everything else from this point forward.
1.) Pointing Your Toe. This is one of those things where you may think that you’re doing it, and it certainly feels that way, but when you watch the video you don’t see it happening at all. And that’s happens for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is failure to properly articulate your foot and the shoe appropriately.
2.) Cleaning The Leg. ‘Cleaning’ ? What does that mean, it means elongating the leg itself, without breaking at the knee or the waist, as your send the leg out away from the body (12 O’Clock), to the side (9 O’Clock), and back behind the body ( 6 O’Clock). We want a straight leg along the curved circle!
3.) Applied Disassociation. While this has been shown ad-naseum at this point from this site, and there’s virtually nothing left to talk about (follow the link above), it should be important to note that most Leads believe that they don’t need this stuff. That it’s Follower’s that have to study this stuff. And that’s just not the case. Both roles must discover and employ this stuff on a regular basis.
and 4.) The ‘Clean’ Cross. Meaning ? That there is no space between your feet as you bring one foot behind (or in front of) the other. Inside 1st metatarsal touching inside 1st metatarsal, and outside left heel touching outside right heel. And there is no ‘gap’ between the knees! And as you unwind from an Enrosque, that there is no space either.
5.) Watching The Follower’s Feet. It almost goes without saying that you can not, should not, and will not watch the Follower’s feet at all, in any way, shape, or form. Poor form, poor posture, and a bad idea all the way around. Why ? It breaks the entire visual illusion. Not to mention it also does not develop Proprioception! Which you sorely need to develop.
For you this is all about the attention to detail in the 5 things above. Failure to do that, and the Lápiz and potential resulting Enrosque aren’t worth the effort. They look ‘sloppy’. Now we add the ‘Social’ part where they have to be smaller, much smaller, and effortless, and that’s where things take on almost mythical proportions.
The Meat of the Lápiz 🙂
The reason this is Lead flash is because you are accentuating the Follower’s Back Step. Nothing more, nothing less. You’re embellishing their movement, that’s all. It’s an illusion because if done properly it can ‘appear’ as if you’re drawing their foot/leg backwards. When in fact, that’s not the case. It just so happens that it’s all about timing. Do this in the right place, and you create the illusion of this happening. Do it wrong, and well you’ve blown the illusion. While the video shows only accentuating the Follower’s Back Step, you can do this with the Follower’s Forward step of their Molinete as well, it’s just not done all that often. So start with the Follower’s Back Step of their Molinete, muuuuuuch easier.
One Caveat that you need to be aware of as indicated above, but which can not be stressed enough is that your Follower’s Molinete’s and Traveling Ochos must be clean and consistent for you attempt this stuff. If they’re not, you’re going to have a bitch of a time trying to employ this stuff. At the same time, you must be stable, and you can’t rely on them to stabilize you at all. If the Follower steps away from you, you have a problem. If the Follower steps too close to you, you have a problem. If the Follower pulls on your left arm, you have a problem. If the Follower leans on your left arm, you have a problem. If the Follower hangs on your shoulders in any way, shape, or form, you have a problem. If you employ resistance, tension, or force in any way, shape, or form, you have a problem. If all of these things are negated you still have a problem, and it’s probably the biggest problem of the Lápiz: Your rotation! Rotating your body in a Pivot that starts as Disassociation (and then applying that disassociation) OR engaging the Pivot instead (rotating all at once) is a major pain in the ass! While the video doesn’t show you how to do this, that’s what the underlining videos on the site are for, it is precisely what has to happen. This is something that you must train your body to do independent of the Follower’s motion!
One Important Thing: You must, must, must, must, and one more time with feeling, must have mastered your own stability independent of the Follower’s motion before you can even attempt this stuff. This is not a move that you can muscle your way out of to stabilize yourself against the Follower’s stability. The fact is that a good portion of Follower’s are not stable in their motions. They tend to step away from their Leads, and both of those things lead to problems with the Lead initiating and then executing a stable Lápiz and clean Enrosque.
About The Video. This video is 14:03 in length in 7 Sections
Section 1 - Introduction - 00:00:12
Section 2 - Basic Technique - 00:01:29
Section 3 - Close Embrace Exercise - 00:02:22
Section 4 - Executing The Social Lápiz - 00:03:34
Section 5 - Adding The Enrosque - 00:02:45
Section 6 - The Social Version - 00:04:17
Section 7 - Closing - 00:00:19
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From a Dancing Perspective truthfully while it takes forever for this stuff to be engrained in the body, in reality we’re talking about 2 seconds of time, that when executed nicely can be a nice embellishment to the Follower’s motion. In reality there’s a whole lot of stuff that needs to happen before it can even be attempted by a Lead. The reality is though, and it should be seen as the cold, hard reality, it’s flash. Nothing more than that. Do you need to do this stuff ? No. Is it cool ? Yes. Does it up the level of your dancing ? Yes. Does it make the Follower look even better ? Yes and no. The fact is that it is an accentuation and nothing more than that. You’re really, just for an instant, showing off the Follower. Do you need to do this ? Yes, at every possible moment. Do you need to add an embellishment to do this ? No, you do not. You can and should just walk with your partner. That is showing them off, everything else is just flash! That said, you can and should play with this stuff, until it is in you. Until you have mastered all the things above. Until it comes out of you on social dance floor with effortlessness. And then you should promptly forget all about it. Why ? For all the reasons above. But mostly because it is not the meat of the dance. Walking, Ochos, Turning, Crossing (the Follower’s Cross), is the meat of the dance in time to the music. The rest, is just accent and should be used to accent a note in the music and then we move on to the main course of the meal…walking with your partner!
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In an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better prepared to do so!
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