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Circular Boleos

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The Circular Boleo (Contra & With boleos)

When we see or hear the word Boleo, there’s usually one specific idea that comes to mind, and only that idea. There’s a reason for that, and that’s because one might consider that specific idea to be the ‘Common’ Boleo. Which inadvertently leads one to an inescapable conclusion that there is only one type of Boleo. And that would be an error. A monster error. There are in fact multiple variations on two very specific themes in Boleos. The first is the what you might think of as the “Common Boleo” and that’s the Contra Boleo. Contra meaning that it goes against the direction of the led dancer. And the second is the less common but still very relevant idea of the “With” Boleo. There is a commonly held idea that all Boleos are Contra Boleos, and that’s not entirely true especially when it comes to the ‘With’ variety of Boleos. Each one of these variations on a theme have their types of boleos that we’re familiar with. Tango Topics has coalesced around 3 common ideas of the Boleo: The first is the Social Boleo. This has already been detailed in a previous posting. Typically these are commonly Contra Boleos, but can also be done as With Boleos as well. Then there is the Boleo that you are very familiar with and that’s what’s called a Circular Boleo. And last but not least is an idea that doesn’t get a whole lot of action but has lots and lots of variations on a theme, and that’s the Linear Boleo. In today’s Tango Topic we will discuss the common Circular Boleo first and foremost. So without further adieu, Tango Topics presents it’s variation on a theme: The Circular Boleo.

A little back story: The word Boleo (pron: Boh-Lay-O)comes the root Spanish word “Bolear” which roughly translates into English as “To Shine” or “To Throw”. Boleo is the first person singular, meaning “I throw” or”I shine”. From a Tango perspective we view this as a very specific piece of Tango vocabulary that is nothing short of gob stopping when executed properly, and in time to the music, and typically one very specific type of Boleo, which is the High Circular Boleo. That’s the one that most people think of when they hear the word Boleo. The Boleo is in it’s simplest definition, is one Tango’s four displacements: 1.) Ganchos. 2.) Wraps or Enganches. 3.) Sacadas. 4.) Boleos. The boleo barely classifies as a displacement here because typically the displacement is when the Lead generates a displacement they tend to take the place of where the Follower was in the displacement. In the Circular Boleo, that’s not entirely true and that has everything to do with a tool that we want to engage known as the Rebote Principle. We’ll get to what that means in a bit.

What is a Circular Boleo ? Firstly there are many varieties of Boleos. Tango Topics is only talking about 3 very common ones: Social, Linear, and today’s topic: The Circular Boleo. To be clear there are low circular, midrange circular, and then there are the one’s that everyone thinks of when they hear the word Boleo: The High Circular Boleo. So what is it ? This is a lifting of the leg (Lead or Follow, typically though it’s the Follower’s leg) that tends to curve (hence the circular part) up and sometimes around the Lead. This is why they’re called “Circular” Boleos. In this version of the Circular Boleo, we’re exploring a Mid-Range Circular Boleo or what Tango Topics refers to as a Mid-Height Circular Boleo.

What’s the difference between a High Boleo and a Mid-Range ? The difference is in it’s application within the Line of Dance. In a High Boleo the Follower is reaching for the stars, as it were, trying to get their leg as high as possible in response to what’s being led. Typically there’s a tiny little problem with this idea. a.) They tend to be rather painful, if you haven’t done the necessary exercises to help with extending one’s leg that high into the air. b.) They tend to disrupt the line and lane of dance because they’re misled in the wrong place (tsk, tsk, tsk). The Follower and the Lead in question quite literally forget for an instance that the Follower is in 3 in. heels for just an instant. And that instant is all it takes for there to be blood on the floor, and someone’s heel impaled into someone’s body parts! So the Circular Boleo that we’re talking about today is a mid-height boleo and doesn’t or shouldn’t really be too energetic or too high. It’s just above waist hight and a little beyond.

Difficulty Rating:   (4 / 5)

Tango Warning. The Circular Boleo while it can be one of the more elegant piece of tango vocabulary, it is also true that it’s one of the more intricate and physically demanding pieces of Tango Vocabulary for the Follower. While it can be loads of fun to do, the fact of the matter is that unless certain things are present in the Follower as default physiological behavior, then more than likely the Follower can and will injure or hurt themselves or others. So the reason this warning is here to create a little caution in you that just because you’ve read a bit about Boleos (what’s below), and watched a video that shows you the end result of a led Contra Boleo does not magically make it that you can do this stuff. No. The reality is that the Boleos take time, patience and lots of practice to get right. They don’t just magically happen all on their own. There’s a reason why they happen (3 actually), and there’s a way to prepare you to do them so that you don’t cause yourself or your partners injury…ever.

From A Following Perspective Tango Topics isn’t going to lie to you here. This is quite possibly the 2nd hardest thing that you as a Follower will be asked to do, and it’s hard. Ummm, just for comparison, why is this the second ? Because the first is the Follower’s Molinete! That’s hard! Moving on… there’s so much that has to go ‘right’ with this thing in order for it to work that it’s not funny. The reason it’s not funny its because far too often the Follower will be led to a Circular Boleo, and they’ll quite honestly throw their backs out, or pull a muscle, a tear a hamstring because they haven’t been properly prepared or trained, they haven’t stretched the necessary muscles, they haven’t taken the time to actually study what is supposed to happen to the free leg. So as a result they just willy-nilly throw their leg up behind them thinking that this is a Boleo. And as far as the L/leads they’re dancing with are telling them, that’s what they’re supposed to do. “Honey ? Just throw that leg up there!”. This is, by the way, not so. There are lots of things that have to go into the Follower’s Technique side of this to prep the Follower for what is seemingly so simple a task. But that’s the case right there…the simplest things are usually the hardest ones to do!

So, before we dive into the wonders of Circular Boleos for the Follower need to go through a simple checklist of top three pre-requisites before you can even begin to play with Any Boleo, let alone the Circular variety. This is by no means a complete list. The actual checklist is pages long…pages!

1.) Your Walk Must Be Stable and independently generated without a Lead (the person, not the action). You must be able to walk forwards or backwards on your own without the assistance of a Lead, without a balance bar, without holding onto anyone or anything. No wobbling. No wavering. Zero instability. No landing on the outside of your foot either.

2.) Master Your Disassociation (see video for details) skills without allowing your hips to slip or rotate. This is an isolation technique that must be performed with each and every Ocho. Without this skill in the equation, your Ochos become you turning as a ‘Pivot’ over one point as one unit. Basically you end up turning as a block of wood. 🙁

3.) Apply Your Disassociation (see video for details) without the use of your feet to push off of, or using your Lead to push or pull from with the embrace, in any way, shape, or form. Not even a little bit. This is like the wind up (disassociation) of a rubber band, and then the release (the applied disassociation) of the wind up. Only in this case that Applied Disassociation is a very controlled “release”. 🙂

Your Ochos. You must master them. You must be so consistent with them, not pivoting, but applying disassociation. If you’re still ‘pivoting’ then the Ocho that is required here will not happen. And the Boleo will more than likely be a hot mess. It can not be stressed enough that the Ocho itself must be clean, it must be consistent. You can not hang, pull, push, or employ/use resistance to accomplish the goal of your Traveling Ocho, or as is required for the Boleo, the Linear Ocho. Because the Ocho is the Boleo, it’s just interrupted and instead of your leg going backwards, it goes up!

If all of that sounds like rules and you’re wondering where the Boleo is at ? You’re absolutely correct it is and there’s a reason for that. The reason being is that these are foundational elements that the Follower must have mastered before they can make the attempt. Which is to say, watching some YouTube video of some famous Follower throwing a Boleo and then trying to do it yourself is not an education. You need concerted, clear, clean education tools to help you with this stuff. This is not something you’re going to learn in 5 minutes and then master 10 minutes after that. This is going to take a while. Get used to it. And by the way, anyone that tells you different, is either lying to you or blowing smoke up your ass!

Honestly. This is your last warning.

The Three Components to every Boleo are:

1.) The Ocho or Back Step. Nearly every Boleo that you will ever dance (either lead or follow), is built off of or uses a variant of the Follower’s Ocho with the exception of the Linear Boleo which is built off the Follower’s Back step. This is one reason why it is absolutely crucial for the Follower to have mastered the practice of Disassociative Ochos, and really their walk, which is what Tango Topics teaches. This type of Ocho is far more elegant, and useful than the push/pull/resistance or “Pivot” based Ochos that are typically taught and danced.

2.) The Sending Cue. This is the reason why a particular type of Boleo occurs in the first place. Every Boleo has one. In the case of the Circular Boleo, that cue is something that, quite literally, goes against (contra) or with (with) the motion of the Follower, which generates the necessary torsion for the Boleo to occur.

3.) The Rebote. The word ‘Rebote’ is a Spanish that translates (roughly) to the word “Rebound” in English. It refers to the resolution of the Boleo, and to a lessor degree the Ocho, back to facing their Lead. Every Boleo has a Rebote in some form or another.

The Follower’s ‘Gotcha’ with Circular Boleos! Probably the biggest ‘Gotcha’ with regards to almost all Boleos is understanding the cues for the Boleo to occur. This is not something you can learn in 5 minutes and it magically happens. No. There are different cues for different types of Boleos. In the case of the Circular Boleo it’s the time and energy to produce this stuff. Not to guilt trip you but if you were a subscriber, you’d see FIVE corrective pieces of information right here. But alas you’re not. So, instead, you’re getting this really annoying message to remind you that this stuff isn’t free, and if you want to make any real change in your dance with this stuff reading about it for 5 minutes and watching a 2 minute video snippet from a 2hr and 26 minute video that could literally change your dance isn’t going to help you. However seeing as how you’ve come this far, and aren’t really reading, you’re just clicking on the videos….here’s just one of the Five Common Errors of Boleos:

From a Leading Perspective, let’s get a few things out of the way before we dive into the Circular Boleo. First and foremost the Boleo is going to be big or can be big. And as such we as L/leads must, absolutely MUST learn how and where to ‘throw the Boleo‘.

To be clear, the how part, for nearly every Boleo you will ever lead is really a two step (no lie) process. This video series shows you that process of the “how” for 2 hrs and 57 minutes. The part where you’re going to get into trouble, and this is the part most L/leads get into trouble with, has everything to do with the where the Boleo is thrown. Which is to say, learning how to angle the Follower’s Boleo is absolutely crucial so that a.) No one is harmed. b.) No one is impaled. c.) You get more dances because you didn’t kill anyone, or take out a table, or impale yourself. And yes, that is possible here.

Before we go any further we have to talk about something that is absolutely crucial to the Circular Boleo construct, and really any Boleo, from the Leading perspective, ok a few things:

1.) Your posture. This is absolutely crucial to the success or failure of the Boleo. Which is to say that if you break at the waist, if you tilt forward into the Follower, more than likely one of two things is going to happen. a.) You’re going to get hit. Or b.) You’re going to be in the way, and then you’ll get hit!

2.) Compression. Meaning that if you are squeezing the Follower with your hands, and using your arms in to direct the Follower in the Ochos that lead up to the Boleo, then you’re quite literally a.) Forcing the Boleo out of the Follower. and b.) Making it damned near impossible for them to do what you’re asking of them! Which is to say, “Stop Using Your Arms!!!!“. Ahem. This statement is meant to reinforce the gravity of the situation. This is one of those times when we quite literally need to scream at you to stop pushing and pulling and using your hands. Just STOP! Why ? Doing so, quite factually stops the rotation of the Follower. That’s why! So if you want the Follower to Boleo, then you need to allow them the ability to rotate freely, to apply their disassociation, and then to resolve cleanly without you pushing and pulling and using your arms and hands! Here’s the kicker: Most of you reading this, aren’t aware that you’re even doing this! Yup. That’s right. You’re ignorant of it. So how do you know ? And what are the tell tale signs that you’re squeezing the living daylights out of your Followers ? Funny you should ask because this site has detailed this same aspect in a myriad of different ways. However in this video series it’s present in the Close Embrace for Boleos video. Go look at that for the details on what to look for and how to fix it.

3.) Insistence. Dude, this is really simple. Lead it once, and let it go. Do not stand there and try to lead this 17 times hoping that the Follower will get what you’re on about. You know what the definition of stupidity is ? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results! This is also the definition of insanity too. Same difference 😉 Which is to say, lead something once…and if it doesn’t work, let it go. Insisting that the Follower perform a Boleo repeatedly, any Boleo, is just rude. Not to mention, but we will anyway, lots and lots of physiological work for the Follower!

4.) Repetition. Put simply, do not repeat the same Boleo over and over again, no one likes repetition. No one. No one likes repetition. No one. Do not repeat the same thing over and over again. No one likes it. No one. No one likes repetition, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. It’s really annoying. Isn’t it ? So if you don’t like reading it, what makes you believe that the Follower is going to enjoy your version of a half hearted and half led Boleo over and over and over again ? Ummm answer ? They don’t. So in other words, LET IT GO!

How to Lead the Boleo. There are two basic steps to leading the Boleo and quite honestly while showing you the steps is easy, the thing that will baffle you and confound you for a wide variety of reasons is the second of those issues.

There are two basic forms that a Boleo can take: 1.) Contra. And 2.) With Boleos.

These ideas can then be executed in any number of ways. You also have the option of executing these independent of each other. Mostly when we hear the word Boleo we are more familiar with the Contra variety than the With variety. A Contra Boleo, as a reminder, goes against the direction the Follower or against their physiological inertia. Meaning that, you as the Lead, are going to move in the opposite direction of their direction. That moving opposite of them is what creates the Boleo. Secondly there is the With Boleo, meaning that instead of going against the Follower’s motion, that we instead use their motion to ‘Throw the leg’ or Boleo, this is called a “With Boleo” because you’re going with the direction of the Follower.

From these two ideas you can create a wide range of varieties of Boleos, one of those varieties is the Circular Boleo that we’re exploring today. Oddly enough the steps to reproduce the Boleo in every Contra and With Boleo are exactly the same. It’s a matter of position really. In the case of the Circular Boleo it’s knowing that the there’s a quite a bit of information that you’re not seeing because you’re not a paying subscriber. 🙁 The reality is that there’s a bunch of information that’s currently being hidden from you here. So instead of seeing this annoying message to subscribe, you’d actually be educating yourself about how to Lead the Boleo and what to watch out for you. I know you want all the free toys, and as a registered user you’re going to get one. Truth be told you’ve already gotten a few of them, you just haven’t realized it. So below is one more tiny little snippet. It’s a With Boleo.

The Follower’s Choice. This is going to come as a shock to some of you but the Circular Boleo, and really any Boleo, is not about the Lead, it’s all about the Follower! A Boleo shows off the skillset of the Follower. It’s one of the few opportunities where the Follower has an opportunity to display their skills. Not to mention, but we will anyway, they have complete and utter control over where the couple can go, and to display the inflection of interpreting the music. A Circular Boleo for the Follower is no exception to this way of thinking about the dance. So when you lead them, or want to lead them it’s important that you give the Follower space and time to execute what you’ve asked and to resolve them, and not rush through them. So many Leads rush through the Circular Boleo from one piece of vocabulary to the next that they hardly recognize that they Follower is working really hard to execute what’s been asked of them. So it is important as Leads that we a.) Create the space for a Boleo to occur, and b.) Allow the Follower to resolve back to facing their Lead (The Rebote Principle). The thing that you’ve to understand here is that the Boleo is the Follower’s Choice. Always. You may lead it, but that doesn’t mean that they have to do it. If they don’t feel safe, if they don’t feel that you are taking care with them and of them, then they rightfully should not execute a Boleo under any circumstances. Ever. Read that again. The Boleo is the Follower’s Choice. Not yours. Learn it. Know it. Live it. Nuff said. Which is not to say that they should do them independent of their Lead, they can as accent notes if there’s space and time, and this is an Unled Boleo, however…when we do Lead them, if we create space for the Follower, and our embrace is not restrictive or compressive, then the Boleo is possible but again, it is at the will of the Follower, and should never, ever be forced. Ever.

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video. This video is 2hrs:26m:20s in length in 11 sections. Both lead and follower vocabulary is combined and integrated in the video. There are two sections devoted specifically to the Technique that is required for both roles for nearly all Boleo types.

Boleo Exercise – 00:14:43
      The Free Leg Exercise
      The Controlled Leg Exercise
Common Errors – 00:18:37
       5 Common Follower Errors
       2 Common Lead Errors
Follower Technique – 00:24:46
      The Walking Steps Reminders
      Follower Linear Ochos
      The Follower’s Appreciation Step
      Basic Boleo Technique
      Striking The Match
      Social Boleo Technique
      Circular Boleo Technique
      The Follower’s Rebote
      Follower Posture
      Follower Leg Control
Lead Technique – 00:28:34
      The Lead’s ‘Lead’
      The Timing Issue
      Setting Up The Contra
      Setting Up The With
      Linear Boleo Technique
      Frozen Boleo Technique
Close Embrace for Boleos – 00:11:29
      The Floating Embrace
      Bumper Car Ochos
      Close Embrace with Circular Boleos
The Rebote Principle – 00:05:15 (shown above)
Deeper Contra/With Boleos – 00:16:28
       Contra Clarity
       With Boleo Clarity
       Deeper Rebote Principles
       Contra & With Boleos Together At Last
       Embrace & Posture Reminders
Circular Boleos – 00:15:31
      Contra Circular Boleos
      Contra Boleos
      With Circular Boleos
      With Circular from Forward Linear Ochos
      Contra & With Circular Boleos
      Boleo Examples – 00:10:57

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

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Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of voabulary there, or how to make things fit. These website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out. This is known as Tango Twister.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won’t help you, because you’re missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perpective as well as from a Following perspective!

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Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 

– The Last Word –

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