Argentine Volcadas

Volcada. The verb ‘volcar’ translates into English from Spanish as ‘To Fall’ or ‘To Tip Over’ or ‘To Overturn’. A VolcADA (the ‘ada’ ending) means in English, ‘ed’, or in this case FallEN, FellED, TippED Over, OverturnED. While the translation gives you a tiny idea of what a Volcada is from a Tango perspective, very small, it doesn’t even come close to what it actually is: A glorified Argentine Cross with a 20 to 30 degree forward tilt or bodily slant (for both roles) along the longitudinal axial line for both roles that does not break at the waist. The volcada itself can be supported or unsupported (not desirable) and is usually performed from Cross System or from a standing Mordida. Hmmmm….you know what ? That textual descriptive is about as useful as a small kitchen appliance unplugged. The Volcada, put simply, bears little resemblance to what you visual you have in your mind. You’ve seen them at Milongas and for most Leads that see them think they’re really cool and then want to do them (this is a mistake). Most Followers when they see them for the first time are rightfully afraid of them because 9 times out of 10 they’re done improperly, there’s a lot of leg swinging (needless) and what not that looks (and is) wholly uncomfortable. Usually about 10 minutes later that same Follower who’s about a half-hour old as a Follower is being ‘led’ (ha-ha-ha if you want to call it that) to one (more like pulled - see ? the ‘ed’ ending) and now they know what they saw…and then forever after don’t want to do them ever again! Uuuuugh! This is not a Volcada. It’s someone (a Lead) forcing the beginner and intermediate Follower into a move that they rightfully have no business doing in the first place.

What is a Volcada ? When done properly….and ‘proper’ is a very loose word here because there a whole series of volcadas that can be done (safely) that loosely qualify as a Volcada. These are what are considered shared-axis pieces of tango vocabulary that result in a series of crossed feet for the Follower to either Follower left or Follower right.

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From A Following Perspective, the Volcada is a one of the more scary pieces of vocabulary that you’ll ever run across, and it runs a close second behind every Colgada you’ll ever do in your life as the absolute scariest piece of vocabulary. The reason ? Because you’re FALLING! That’s why it’s scary! In reality (when done properly), you’re not falling, you’re being led to a controlled and very supported tilt. However, for a good number of leads that invoke one, they don’t support you and they don’t control the volcada, and as a result there’s more than a few injuries that can occur. Most notably having your back wrenched, in specific your spinal column and neck! Not a pleasant experience at all.

That said, there are 3 aspects to the Volcada for you that you must be aware of. 1.) ‘Planking’. 2.) The ‘Free’ Leg. and 3.) The ‘Dirty’ Cross.

1.) Planking refers to your bodily posture, as in it being piled up or making your body into a plank, as if it were a board or a piece of cut wood for flooring. In the case of the Colgada where we do not want to plank (one of the 2 major differences between a volcada and a colgada) in this case, we do. We actually want our bodies be straight, and not to break at the waist either by sending our hips away or letting them ‘collapse’ forward into the lead (the action, not the person).

2.) The ‘Free’ Leg. There has been so much talked about, written about, and shown to you as a viewer on this subject that I feel it’s almost like a broken record. However…the quick and dirty version of the ‘free’ leg idea is that it’s the one that is not weighted. It’s the one that is in motion, until it’s not. Like I said, the quick and dirty version. 🙂 In the case of the Volcada that ‘free’ leg performs 2 very important functions. a.) It can act as a safety mechanism. b.) it can and does act as a counter balance while in motion.

3.) The ‘Dirty’ Cross. This refers to what it sounds like, a position of the feet where they’re crossed, but not cleanly crossed. Where there is space between the feet. This is a ‘Dirty’ cross. From the perspective of the Volcada, you’re going to be led to do exactly this, to cross your feet in a ‘Dirty’ collection or where your feet do not come together.  While this is not necessarily desirable, it’s what happens. Ideally we do not want a ‘dirty’ cross, but rather a clean cross of our feet.

From a Leading Perspective, let’s get a few things out of the way immediately: 1.) The Volcada is a wholly supported move, and that support is NOT, I repeat, not done with your arms! Ever. Read that again. Several times. And repeat it out loud. And when you’re done doing that, repeat it again. The Volcada is NOT DONE with your arms, ever!  2.) The Volcada can be done big, and it can be done in a small way (social volcadas - see below). Ideally we want them done in a very, very small way so that not only do they fit within the line of dance, but rather the lane of dance (meaning the width of the line of dance that you’re in). And if we’re being precise (and we’re always working towards being precise), within half of the lane of dance. Taking up less space is better. Last but not least…3.) You are leading the Follower to cross their feet, nothing more than that. So really if you wanted them to cross their feet, lead them to an Argentine Cross and be done with it. In other words ? This is an overly dramatic move with no real purpose that should only be used once in a  blue moon (and sometimes not even that!), as in once every 6 months to a year and leave it at that. More volcadas are not cool, they’re fun one time, as spice. You can not and should not make an entire dance out of them. Just because you’ve seen certain tango instructors demonstrate a series of volcadas to a piece of music does not mean that this is indicative of what you should be doing as well. No! Far from it. The volcada should be used as if it were pure Capsaicin sauce (the hottest hot sauce in the world). Which is almost never.

That said. There are a few things that you want to be aware of going forward - 1.) Your Embrace. 2.) The Swinging Free Leg. 3.) Supporting The Follower.

1.) Your Embrace serves as a guide post. A non-directive guide. Meaning that it's there as like a fence, but not to be used to direct the follower to do anything. Nothing more than that. It’s what keeps the Follower in place but not rigidly so. Truth be told they need to move their upper torso, and if you’re squeezing the living daylights out of them (even if you think that you’re not, trust me you are) they can not move at all thereby making the volcada almost impossible to perform!

2.) The Swinging Free Leg is the “Impossible” part to perform. If you’re squeezing the daylights out of them, which is really pulling the Follower towards you, their leg isn’t going to swing as far you need it to swing away from you, but actually towards you, thereby killing the natural desirable motion that we may want for some of the more extreme versions of the Volcada. Not desirable under any circumstances.

3.) Supporting The Follower. This move is all about support. Specifically the Follower’s ‘Planking’ body. This is not done with your arms, but rather with your entire body. Think ‘Apilado’, and that’s what you’re shooting for. Without that support then the Volcada is doomed to being done with muscled force, and someone’s going to be visiting the Chiropractor the next day and you know what ? It’s not going to be the Lead, it’s going to be the Follower! In short, support your follower.



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From a Dancing Perspective, the Volcada looks intricate, difficult, and sophisticated. And that’s because it is all of that and more. And most people attempt to do them even with ‘proper’ instruction and end up hurting themselves and their partners. Mostly wrenching their backs and hurting their knees. It’s an undesirable experience for both parties all in an attempt to ‘look’ cool. That’s the dancing reality. Is this desirable ? No. Is it what happens ? Yes. Will it continue to happen even after this article has been wiped away ? Yes. Do you care ? No. Why ? Because again, you want to look cool and the Volcada is the definition of the cool move. Period. So my thinking is that if you’re going to go there, the least you can do is be well armed with lots of information so that at the very least you don’t hurt anyone, least of all yourself, and that goes for Leads as well as for Followers.

Check Please! The video above is only a small snippet of the HD video (run time: 18:23). It only shows 1 section of the overall video. If you'd like you can download argentine volcadas for just 24.99 or buy an online view only for 14.99. If you purchase online an online view, you'll be provided with a link, or just come right back here, and you'll see the correct link.

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The 'Social' Volcada

This video is all about a variation on a theme of Volcadas called ‘Social’ Volcadas.

What is a 'Social' Volcada ?

It’s a Volcada that fits within the line of dance, and quite literally takes up no more space than the size of a normal waking step and at the same time the size of a side step. This boxed in area of space is the social space that you occupy. Now we make it 'Social' because rightfully the space is about half that, about the distance of your forearm to your finger tips away from your partner, that's how big this thing really is. The 'Social' Volcada is small. Tiny. In many ways, when executed, it resembles an Argentine Cross (and that’s because its basis is one) with a very, very, slight tilt, very slight.

Today's video (above - for online viewing, or download) shows the basic structure of the Volcada from a Leading perspective. It also talks about supporting with the body, not the arms. Supporting the Follower using the very important skill of “Carpa” (or ‘Tent’ in Spanish). It delves into the role of the Follower and how to ‘plank’ their bodies and then how to ‘swing’ the free leg. However, the biggest thing is not about how big the Volcada is but rather how ‘small’ it is. And that’s the important part, making the Volcada very tiny to fit within the lane of dance, thereby making it part of ‘Social’ vocabulary! This is the Volcada that you want to employ, that you want in your arsenal from a leading as well as from a following perspective. This video talks about all of that and more.

Why do you want to use these Volcadas and not the larger variety ? The simplest answer is that the larger variety of Volcadas, not only take up huge amounts of space (which does not work on a crowded social dance floor ... especially in Buenos Aires), but also because they don't need to be so big. Smaller is better, it's less work, and less stressful for the Follower. From a Following perspective, it's just easier, muuuuch simpler for you to deal with. Trust me when I say this to you leads, your Follower's will absolutely love a smaller, tighter, less stressful volcada! Below is another example of the issue of the volcada that typically happens and why most followers are fearful of them, and then instead what you ideally what you want to do.

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