Tango Tiger Tuesday: a review of Jennifer Olson and Martin Bel in Berlin

Guest blogger Damian Thompson provides an in depth look at this performance by Jennifer Olson and Martin Bel in Berlin:

Newly formed dance team causing a sensation throughout Europe, this couple have timing, technique, musicality, connection and with all that, and their practice, great tango!

This is a beautiful vals with these guys. Really watch for the end of the phrasing in the music and the use of the 1,2,3,1. This usually finishes a phrase in vals, either 8 counts or 16 for the musical phrasing. This vals is mostly using the 1,2 accent within, watch them use this so effectively.
Starting out at the end of their first walk with a soft sacada (0:20) to enganchada (0:21) gives them the opportunity for the small lock step travelling (fwd and back cross after 0:21) in the other direction. Notice now, the great use of the 1,2 accent at 0:33 (note, this is not a syncopate, it's the base beat of the 1,2,3 of vals where they only use the 1,2 as the music infers).
Great sacada combination starting with Martin's forward cross sacada (0:43) into Jennifer's forward cross, then stepping slight back open and leading Jennifer into a forward open sacada (0:43) and then Martin's back cross sacada through Jennifer's back cross. Something to note here – the pattern of both in forward cross, both in open, and then both in back cross. A sacada every change of weight!
Then, as all women love, Martin slows as the music slows (0:49) dancing to the song. A series of 2 for 1 leads gives Martin alternating forward sacada's as they travel across the floor using the floor well. Using the giro and sacadas to 'turn' the corner is also a great floorcraft skill and social performance skill!
If you have been reading the posts at tangoreviews.com, you will now have noticed a pattern of the singer entering and the performers always slowing to respect the entry of the singer. Again, we see this at 1:08 – Martin slowing and really connecting again with Jennifer.
In the back sacada sequence (1:16 – 1:21) , watch 2 things – their frame technique and the angle of his foot entering the sacada. Frame – when Martin's left is going into back cross under Jennifer's right leg, it's easier, his hand will move more towards the centre of his chest! However, when his right leg is going in back cross under Jennifer's left leg, her hand moves more towards the centre of her chest, not staying in front of the shoulder unless she rotates more. Here, they are not rotating more, so her hand moves – this ensures that Martin is not twisted with a locked lead arm and can move more freely through this sacada. The foot angle matches the angle of Jennifer's leg so that her leg is not smashed by his foot. This is something all dancers really need to work on to get correct, or this technique will become very very painful! (note, the 2 for 1's in this sequence is Martin moving 2, Jennifer 1)
At 1:29, the enganchada is cleanly reversed for a forward cross giving them a connected americana exit. This is leading up to the build up in the music for the 3 for 1 steps from Martin for the drive the music is leading them to do! Using a very tight left giro, they incorporate well executed sacada's within this movement exiting through a milonguero dip (1:46). Ladies, check Jennifer's technique just prior (1:45) as she adorns with the high leg, her knees are very much together! It's not that her foot is moving circular, it's moving up and down – but because of the pivot, the appearance is circular! :-)
Watch for the entry to the colgada at 1:56 – forward cross behind the side open from Jennifer, then stepping around this shared axis foot leading Jennifer to forward as Martin steps back open! Great colgada technique!
Martin has great patadas (2:01 is the first) and enrosques (2:03), smoothly pivoting but maintaining connection with Jennifer. At 2:27, look for Jennifer's enrosque – very very clean! Only made better on the next one by doing the enrosque (2:34), but being lead into a back gancho!
Great dancing Martin and Jennifer!!