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3 Couples Exercises

3 Couples Exercises

Exercise. The very word makes most people go “Uuuuugh!”, which is right up there with ‘homework’, ‘practice’, ‘taxes’, ‘rent’, and ‘dental visit’, and about as much fun. Sadly. 🙁 And this applies even more so with regards to Argentine Tango. It’s no wonder that when you say the words ‘Tango Exercise’ that most people want to hide under the nearest rock. And there’s a few reasons for this association. The first is that most people’s experience of Tango Exercises is continuous repetition of the same movement. The same movement at faster and faster speeds to seemingly impossible levels of detail. Eeeek! The second is that for the greater number of people, the very idea of Tango Exercise conjures an ideal of perfectionism that you can seemingly never achieve. The third is a load of self-judgement and the judgement of others that prevents us from doing better. All of this stuff, and a lot more that is not said here, is what keeps us from Exercise with regards to Tango.

The fact is that you absolutely need to exercise your Tango skills. Constantly. This isn’t about going out social dancing and just hoping that all will work itself out. That line of reasoning is one reason why we have the row of women that sit, and the row men that stand at milongas. And before we go any further to dispense with the blame game that happens repeatedly when reading this sort of post, let’s be clear about the fact that these same people haven’t done the necessary underlying work that would smooth out the physiological errors that they’re constantly (and completely unaware of) generating within the construct of the embrace, within the structure of a song, and a tanda, with multiple partners. Then of course, to be fair, there may be a fair amount of Tango Baggage going on for those people as well. 

Throughout all of that though, most of Tango’s Exercises focus on Solo Exercises for the Individual.  Like for instance the foot crossing exercise, or the ballet rise exercise, or the applied disassociation/ocho exercise, the twisty exercise, or the twirly exercise, or the linear ocho exercise itself, or the stability exercise, just to name a few. However there are a small number of exercises for a couple to work on. Typically when we exercise, or ‘practice’ tango, it’s dancing a song or a tanda to music. While dancing with multiple partners is always helpful, as it gives us really good insight into how and what we think we’re doing vs. reality, it doesn’t hurt to exercise the underlaying common elements of tango. That said, let’s talk about Tango Exercises for Couples.

Check Please! The video above is small snippet of a full HD video (total run time: 26:39). You can purchase 3 Couples Exercises for just 17.99.

 

The Embrace Work. Before we begin talking about exercises, we have to talk a little bit about what areas we’re going to exercise or practice. One area that gets overlooked quite frequently is the embrace itself. This is one of the more common areas where most errors are generated, that and our walk. So we do actually want to practice using several forms of the embrace. While there are multiple forms of a Tango Embrace, there are 3 forms that we want to start to use when Exercising for Couples:

1.) The Symmetrical Embrace. We use a Symmetrical Embrace for many reasons, one of which is that it alleviates most of the embrace peculiarities that crop up for people. The thinking is that if you can employ vocabulary with a Symmetrical Embrace, then everything else will be a piece of cake, and there is some validity to this statement. The ‘Practice’ or ‘Symmetrical’ Embrace is all about the equal and bilateral relationship between the partnership - whatever you can do on one side, you should, technically, be able to do on the other. 🙂

2.) The Close Embrace. While we don’t necessarily need to talk about a ‘Close Embrace’, we do however have to remind you a ‘Close Embrace’ is not compressive, that we ideally want skin to fabric contact without tension, compression, pressure, or force in our arms in any way, shape, or form…ever. There is a reason for this, most notable is that we want our partner to be able to move freely within the embrace construct, regardless of role. Secondarily we do not want to use our arms or hands for stabilization in any way, shape, or form within the embrace. We want to be fully engaged and independent of needing to hold on to someone to execute what we want to do or are being asked to do.

3.) The No Embrace. And lastly the No Embrace is a really just a Close Embrace without the arms! It’s a torso-to-torso contact, the trick is to stay in front of your partner at all times while at the same time engaging vocabulary! Easier said than done!

Next we have to decide on what we’re going to Exercise. In this case for the Couple there are 3 main areas we want to focus on. 1.) Walking! 2.) Turns & Crosses. and last but not least 3.) The Molinete. To be clear, item 2 is all about the Milonguero Turn and not a Molinete which rightfully gets its own area of focus in item 3. That said…

Exercise 1: Partner Walking. This is actually 3 exercises combined into one. The first part is walking in Symmetrical Embrace. The second part is walking in Close Embrace, and the 3rd is walking with the No Embrace in torso to torso contact. If all of that sounds easy to do, it is, except for the last one. And now we add a metronome to the equation starting at 60 Beats Per Minute (BPM) for a full minute, then 40 BPM for 2 minutes, and finally 20 for 3 minutes! 60 BPM is a normal walking pace, 40 is a comfortable slow walk but still challenging as you’ll see, and 20 BPM will throw you right off the deep end. It really does require a certain amount of skill to do this especially the slower that you go, and then we remove the embrace entirely! The desire as you’ll see is to use your arms more and more and more, and in reality, you want to use them less and less and less! Hence the No Embrace work!

Exercise 2: Milonguero Turns & Crossing. You’re going to spend most of your time doing 3 things in tango. 1.) Walking. 2.) Turning. and 3.) Crossing. This exercise for the couple reinforces this idea, again using the above 1.) Symmetrical Embrace. 2.) Close Embrace. 3.) No Embrace at 60, 40, and 20 BPM. However, where things go over the edge for the couple is practicing the Milonguero turn with a No Embrace and the trick is to stay in front of each other while leading and following it. :-))))) And then we add one more, exercising the Argentine Cross again, with all 3 embrace formats, and all 3 speeds!

Exercise 3: The Partner Turn. This is probably the hardest of the 3 Exercises and it’s the one that will confound you the most! It is in its simplest form a Follower’s Molinete for both roles done in a Symmetrical, Close, and lastly a ‘Wrapped’ Embrace (subscribe to see example). However, now we add one more, and that’s the Partner Turn in both directions (lead left to right, and lead right to left) and a Milonguero Turn with a ‘Wrapped’ Embrace.

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From a Dancing Perspective. How is this stuff relevant to your dance ? Well, quite factually, EVERYWHERE! Honestly, you’re going to use this stuff so much that will almost seem like you should have taken a class on this stuff. And that’s precisely what this video is all about. It’s a class on how to make this stuff better. Truthfully, you are going to use every single one of these things on a social dance floor in a myriad of different forms. The Partner Turn Stuff alone will benefit not just Followers but the Lead as well. Here’s a good example of just how this stuff can benefit a Lead.

About The Video. This video comes is 26m:39s in length in 4 sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.

Section 1 - Introduction - 00:00:48
Section 2 - Walking Exercises - 00:14:34
–Sub-Section A - Slow Walking for Both Roles - 00:03:27
–Sub-Section B - Beat Walking @ 40BPM - 00:03:48
–Sub-Section C - Beat Walking @ 20BPM - 00:03:41
–Sub-Section D - No Arms Exercise - 00:03:27
Section 3 - Milonguero Turns & Argentine Crosses - 00:04:30
Section 4 - The Turn Game & Closure - 00:06:33

It can be purchased for $17.99 or downloaded as part of your subscription with a discount.

A Good Question. The primary goal of this kind of couples work is to clean up your issues within the construct of the embrace doing the 3 things that you’re going to spend most of your time doing. It is all 3 of these areas where most if not all of our issues come up anyway, so why not work on them specifically, with the focus being on releasing the embrace entirely! As a result you’re going to end up discovering (more than likely) that you have major stability issues which you’ll discover when you hit walking at 20 PBM! You might ask, why not add in ochos to the equation ? Good question. Here’s a ‘good’ answer. It’s included in the Partner Turn Section! The Partner Turn Section focuses on the Follower’s Molinete contains 2 Ochos - Forward and Back! So the Partner Turn Section serves four (4) purposes. 1.) Working Traveling Ochos (Forward or Back). 2.) Working on Circular Ochos (Forward or Back). 3.) The Molinete for BOTH roles! And one more, 4.) With regards to modern tango, everything, nearly everything is done ‘around’ your partner. And we constantly need to work on this fact and it’s application. So the 4th thing you’re working on is working on the circularness of being in relationship to your partner.

Why You Need A Video ? Pitfalls really. It’s all about seeing how this is done, and learning to avoid the pitfalls of what not to study, and finally to give you ideas of where to go next. That’s why!

The Missing Information.  There's a free tip (for registered free users) that's not here because you're not logged in. If you were logged in, you'd see a free tip, but because you're not, you're not seeing it. So ? If you want the free tip, then go register as a free user and login. 🙂 However, if you want the toys, and to see the 22:14 HD quality video on how to properly practice 3 Couples Exercises and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can buy it. or 2.) You can subscribe!

 Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you pay for this video, or subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you'll find on Youtube doesn't explain and walk you through the 3 Couples Exercises! That’s why! 

So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that's what they are 'Presentation' videos. The couple's that you're used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they're not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about 'Social Dancing'. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that 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.  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! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these videos is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and be done with it. 😉

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.

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!

The Last Word. Tango Topics is little reminders and snippets of information that your teachers would have told you about but didn’t have time to or didn’t care to remind you for the umpteenth millionth time. Do you need videos like these ? Yes. Why ? Simple…you need as many reminders as possible in as many forms as you can get. In today’s Tango world it does take a village to raise a dancer. And that means having as many voices, reminders, ideas, concepts, perspectives as possible. This video and the rest of the ones that are sitting behind the Tango Topics paywall are that. While what you’re seeing above is only the smallest hint of what’s contained in the actual video. It should be enough for you to make a reasoned and intelligent choice that perhaps there’s something of value in this site and the videos that are here. Considering becoming a Gold, Gold Plus, or Diamond level subscriber today!

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Body Contortion

Contortion

Contortion.  You see so many different ideas of dancing tango that it sometimes very hard to differentiate desirable from the undesirable. That unless you teach you’re not going to see these issues and need to be reminded of them, frequently so that you stop co-creating these less than desirable issues.

What is Contortion ? In it’s simplest form, ‘Contortion’ is twisting your body, then placing your body, and further still compressing (squeezing) your partner’s body into you, into a physiologically untenable position, and staying there for the length of a song. Then starting the next song in the tanda from a clean position, and then starting to slide into the contorted position. This is ‘Contortion’.

And ‘yes’, it is an issue. Everyone exhibits some form of contortion. Everyone.

Before we go any further, 2 things are going to happen while you read and/or watch the video above: You’re going to immediately run to the judgement that 1.) The author/teacher is being a perfectionist. 2.) That the author/teacher is being arrogant. Neither are true. These are stark observations offered without judgement. If you see yourself in these things, then so much the better. However, the thing that you should rightfully pay attention to is not the resolution example, which gives you the idea of perfectionism, but the latter part of the video that starts at (07:36). 

That said, let’s talk about Contortion.

From A Following Perspective you have 3 primary areas of Contortion that come up for you. 1.) Arm Over The Shoulder. 2.) Side of Body Following. and 3.) Follower ‘Chicken Arm’ Distortion.

Arm Over The Shoulder - This is an outgrowth of wanting more, or deeper physiological contact with the Lead. And while the physiological contact does serve it’s intended purpose, more contact, the problem with it is that it compromises the body to do so. As a result of going over the Lead’s shoulder with yours (as shown) above, you end up raising one shoulder above the other, and thereby curving your spinal column. And as an added bonus you’ll tilt your head into your lead.

Side of Body Following - This missive is factually placing your body in the Lead’s armpit, but only having the physiological contact of about an inch or so of their body. As a result of this kind of Following, all of your vocabulary will become ‘linear’ or ‘oblong’. Example: Turns will no longer be circular, they’ll be ovals! The back step of the molinete (not a milonguero turn) will become almost impossible to do, and you’ll end up in the Lead’s armpit, thereby being behind the L/lead, seemingly never able to catch up to them. 🙁

FollowerChicken Arm - The Follower will create a loop with their left arm, placing their left hand on the ribcage of the Lead’s right side about 6 inches down from their armpit, and then bend their elbow out at a 90 degree angle, and here’s the wacky part - then they’ll raise their left shoulder above their right, thereby curving their spine, all in ‘close embrace’.

From a Leading Perspective you also have 3 areas of concern that generate Contortion. 1.) Head Tilt (Away/Towards). 2.) Side of Body Leading. 3.) Lead Chicken Arm.

Head Tilt - While the topic of Dancer Head Tilt has been detailed before, the Head Tilt that is most common here is the Tilt of the head TOWARDS the Follower. As a result the Lead will place physiological pressure on the Follower’s head. This is done without the Lead necessarily being aware that they’re doing this. Sometimes, infrequently this is Head Tilt AWAY as shown at (00:00) so as to ‘accommodate’ the Follower’s Bodily Contortion or because they don’t want to get too close to the Follower’s face or mouth area. It’s too intimate for some Leads.

Side of Body Leading - This lead missive is factually placing the Follower’s body along the side of your body. The physiological contact point is about an inch or two wide, and is a strip of contact on your body from the crease of your right armpit to your hip. As a result of this kind of Leading, all of the Follower’s vocabulary will become ‘linear’ or ‘oblong’. Example: Turns will no longer be circular, they’ll be ovals! The back step of the molinete (not a milonguero turn) will become almost impossible to do, and the Follower will end up behind YOU, seemingly never able to catch up. 🙁

LeadChicken Arm - The Lead holds their left arm out straight, level with their shoulder line, and then bends at the elbow in a 90 degree arc, towards the Follower, then grasps the Follower’s hand.

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From a Dancing Perspective these are 3 most common forms of Body Contortion that happen for both roles. You see this stuff everywhere and think to yourself “Well….if so and so is doing it, it must be ok, right ?”, and at that point you normalize the behaviors and postures of the people around you. At the same time you also have something else working against you, your memory of your last session with your ‘teacher’. At some point during that session (assuming said teacher has their collective act together) said teacher should have noticed (frequently a good portion of them don’t) and then remarked upon (again, they don’t want to hurt your feelings…mind you, it’s your money, ‘feelings’ shouldn’t enter into it!) the fact that you’re embrace, your posture, your body is contorting this way or that. And unless you are reminded about it constantly, you’ll think about it for about 2 steps and then you’ll completely forget about it. And if you’re thinking that you’ll remember this stuff on a Social Dance floor at a Milonga…think again. Stress gets in the way that happening. If you are stressed out how much space you have between yourself and the couple ahead or behind you. Or if you’ve missed something and you’re focused on that…posture, embrace, presence are the last things on your mind. You’re too damned busy freaking right the frak out. Dancing ? HA! Again this isn’t about perfectionism, nor is it about arrogance, this is demonstrable fact, proven time and time and time again.

The Free Lunch! Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with an instructor. TANSTAAFL! Or in this case, today, it is a Free Lunch! Today it's free for a variety of reasons, most notably to get information out there because it needs to get out there, rather than sit behind a paywall where only a very small number of people will see it. 🙂 So enjoy this free lunch today. But eventually, even with this video freely available to you, you're going to need reminders, you're going to need someone to constantly point this stuff out to you, and that's where having access to this website is absolutely crucial. Because seeing it once, is not learning it 100 times. It only scratches the surface.

Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because this concept is not talked about anywhere on Youtube. No where. No teacher is going to show you this stuff, and yet this is precisely what they'll correct, assuming they're not doing this stuff themselves, and they have the fortitude to correct this in you to begin with. That's why you're not going to see this on youtube!

So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that's what they are 'Presentation' videos. The couple's that you're used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they're not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about 'Social Dancing'. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that 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.  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! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these videos is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and be done with it. 😉

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!

The Last Word. Tango Topics is little reminders and snippets of information that your teachers would have told you about but didn’t have time to or didn’t care to remind you for the umpteenth millionth time. Do you need videos like these ? Yes. Why ? Simple…you need as many reminders as possible in as many forms as you can get. In today’s Tango world it does take a village to raise a dancer. And that means having as many voices, reminders, ideas, concepts, perspectives as possible. This video and the rest of the ones that are sitting behind the Tango Topics paywall are that. While what you’re seeing above is only the smallest hint of what’s contained in the actual video. It should be enough for you to make a reasoned and intelligent choice that perhaps there’s something of value in this site and the videos that are here. Considering becoming a Gold, Gold Plus, or Diamond level subscriber today.

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Preparing for Buenos Aires


Prepare for Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires for a lot of people, is their trip to Mecca. It is mythological. It is magical. It is the next logical step in their evolution. In their mind they have seen the videos of dancing at Salon Canning, or Villa Malcolm (pron: Vee-Jah Mal-cum), or the crowded floor at La Viruta with 300 other people, or seen the sunday nights at Villa Malcolm, or the ‘practica’ at De Queresa, or Cachirulo, or La Glorieta, or La Catedral, or any of the hundred plus milongas and practicas per week there, and dreamt of what that must be like. And then to actually be there and then they’re hit with the reality of ‘Oh shit!’ I’m dancing in Buenos Aires! It’s right about at that point when they see the quality of dance, and the speed of the rotunda, that several things happen for them. Fear comes to mind, then excitation, and then more fear (for a different reason), and then hoping that you can manage the floor (as a Lead or a Follow). It’s right then that they wished they had studied harder or paid for privates with the visiting argentine instructor, and they try to remember everything they’ve ever been taught. They conveniently realize that they’ve not spent anytime Preparing For Dancing in Buenos Aires.

Dancing In A Crowded or Small Space. It should be noted that while this 5 point guide is on the technical aspects of dancing in Buenos Aires, it should and can also be applied for Dancing in a Crowded or Small Space. The techniques are exactly the same that are described here in this video. The skillsets laid out herein are not only the same but even more applicable because while you'll only dance in BsAs once per year (if you're lucky) and only for a few short weeks (sadly), you'll definitely visit a crowded milonga anywhere in the world far more often! Learning how to manage the floor, manage your space, introduce simple but clear and small vocabulary from a leading perspective as well as from a following perspective is absolutely crucial to your continued success as a dancer! 

Check Please! The video above is only a small snippet of the HD video (run time: 19:11). It only shows 2 very small pieces of the overall video. If you want more, you can purchase access to the page itself for the sale price of $14.99. You will not be able to download the video, only a gold, gold+, or diamond level subscriber can download this video at this point. After your purchase, you will have access to this video and the url itself.

purchase access

From a Following Perspective, you’ll walk in the door, pay your pesos, try to find a chair, maybe share a chair with another girl, and then on the edge of the seat put your shoes on, and then get all situated and try to find someone, that maybe looking to dance with you. You watch the room, you’ll start scanning the room for leads. Potential partners. You’ll watch the leads that are dancing. And it’s at this point you’ll start to pay attention. And you freak right out. “Oh my God!! He’s so good.”, you’ll say as one passes by.  You’ll watch the Followers feet thinking your feet don’t look like that. Your insecurities will come up in ways you haven’t even thought of yet. It’s right about this point that you’ll wonder if there was some way you could have prepared to be here because this is so unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. So many people, not even the festivals that you may have attended are like this. Yes it’s all tango but not like this. Never like this. So many people and so tightly packed together. You wonder if they have any space at all to move and how you’re supposed to dance in that without stepping on someone ? If only you had a resource that could have showed you what dancing in Buenos Aires is like, what you needed to focus on, how your turns want to be and what to study. If only you had had a few more privates with X, or a few more lessons with Y, watched a few more youtube videos.

From a Leading Perspective, let’s get something out of the way immediately - your ego is going to be crushed. From the very first second, from the very first song, from the very first moment you get a Follower on the floor, every insecurity you’ve ever had is going to come up for you. One question will burn in your mind “What do I do now ?”. Naturally, you dance at this point. And you tense up trying to do your best Buenos Aires elegant dance that you can think of times 10! However, you’re freaking out right now. The distance between the partners, the speed at which the rotunda is moving, the follower in your arms and the way they’re moving, it’s sooooo very different than what you’re used to. Holy geeze! This isn’t dancing. It’s survival! You fall back on one thing, rock steps…everywhere. Walking a little, and turning…thank god for turning otherwise you’re going to hit someone. Wait! Everyone stopped moving. She’s talking at you, asking your name, it’s all a buzz, and then you sort of calm down and tell her where you’re from and conversation ensues. Then people start moving again, why are they moving ? The couple behind you is quite literally bumping into you. You better start dancing….oh there’s MUSIC playing. You didn’t hear it before. There was music playing. Christ! About the only thing you heard was the throbbing in your head and you trying to remember everything your teacher has ever said, that and the voice in heard head screaming “WATCH OUT!!!! DID YOU SEE THAT!?!?!?!? WATCH IT, WATCH IT….YOU”RE GOING TO GET HER KILLED!!!!”. If only you had had a resource, a video or two, that could have helped you with Preparing For Dancing in Buenos Aires....

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From a Dancing Perspective, the reality is that all of those things are going to happen to you and more. The reality is that you’re going to move 2 feet in a tanda, and that’s a lot. The reality is that you’re going to spend 30% to 40% of the tanda talking (http://bit.ly/912-talktime) and not dancing. The reality is that you’re going to rock back and forth (bad idea), a lot, even if you think you know what you’re supposed to be doing. The reality is that you’re going to squeeze the living daylights out of your partners because that’s what you’ve experienced, when of course there is another way to dance. The bottom line is that dancing in Buenos Aires IS different than dancing anywhere else. Some of it is some of the stuff above, and some of it is not. But mostly it is not a walking dance in Buenos Aires, but in fact a turning dance. The reality is that almost no one teaches this, your head will get filled with all sorts of 'stuff' that has nothing to do with this important factoid. Very few people talk about this because it means losing money. Dancing in BsAs is constantly changing, the milongas, the experience, the people, the constant turn over. People coming and going constantly. It’s like stepping into the middle of a conversation and not knowing what the topic of conversation is and then trying to participate except that you know the language, sort of, and can sort of follow the discussion. That is dancing in Buenos Aires at the 50,000 foot level. Dancing in BsAs isn’t about passion, or emotion, or the hundreds of classes that you have or will take that you’ll forget after you’ve taken then (useless waste of time that will screw you up more than fix you or educate you), it’s about the neurology of learning to dance in tight small spaces, learning to dance economically, without force, without compression, without pressure, without tension, with ease, and incrementally. It’s about learning to hear the small. Learning to hear the incremental. Learning to respond to the smaller and much more incremental. This isn’t about big steps, but small ones, tiny ones, learning to hear the music, probably for the first time and to dance to it within this environment of hyper speed, and the incrementally small, and the seemingly infinitesimal spaces that you will ‘dance’ in. This isn’t about vocabulary, it’s about less is more in time to the music. And in order to do that, you either need to spend several month theres, OR you need a primer to Prepare For Dancing in Buenos Aires.

Check Please! The video above is only a small snippet of the HD video (run time: 19:11). It only shows 2 very small pieces of the overall video. If you want more, you can purchase access to the page itself for the sale price of $14.99. You will not be able to download the video, only a gold, gold+, or diamond level subscriber can download this video at this point. After your purchase, you will have access to this video and the url itself.

purchase access

If you haven't seen the reviews of places to dance in BsAs, then you really should look at them, they'll help you to prepare. While there are a just a few now, more are coming, a lot more!

La Viruta - Tuesdays through Sundays, 12 to 5 am!
Salon Canning - Mondays & Thursdays, from 10 to 4 am!
DNI Practica - Saturdays from 4 to 8pm. 
Next -> Villa Malcolm - Sunday Nights - 10 to 2am

Paying For The Soup - There’s no doubt about it Dancing Buenos Aires is going to blow your mind on multiple levels. It will challenge you. Scare you. Excite you. Confound you. And make you wonder why on earth you just spent 1500 on a plane ticket, another 900 to 1200 on an apartment for 2 weeks (2 weeks mind you), all so that you could go to a milonga and sit with 400 other women hoping to get a dance with X, or Y, or Z. Or as a Lead, you’ll get dances but almost none of them will be that magical thing you’ve heard some much about. You’ll still be you, and nothing about what you’re doing will change. No class can change you. You have to want to change what you’re doing in order to make it better. But you also have to know what to focus on so that you can change. Today’s video is exactly that and more. It shows you what you need to focus on, and the 5 areas where you need to create clarity in your dance and what you should expect on a social dance floor from the moment go and most of all how to Prepare For Dancing in Buenos Aires.

Put this another way, you can read the articles here and sort of glean some important information with a tip now and again, but the fact is that you need cold, hard, facts of what you need to do and what you need to focus on as a Lead and as a Follower. And the only way that’s going to happen is if you subscribe to Tango Topics today. It costs just .66 cents a day to subscribe. .66 cents! That’s it. That’s all. Think of what you spend on coffee ? Or what does a single class a month cost you ? 15 dollars ? 4 of them in a month ? 80+ and that’s not including private lessons or Milongas or Practicas. Now add in the fact that you can’t video the entire class for replay, just the end piece if that from which you’re supposed to derive the meaning of class ? Good luck with that. The moment you walk out the door you’ll immediately forget 90% of what you ‘learned’. What’s the point in that ? It’s a waste of money and time. When there is a far more efficient method - Tango Topics. Hit the green button and register, and then upgrade to either gold, gold plus, diamond, or milongeuro level today! Think of if this way, free is nice, but all the toys are behind the paywall kiddies. That said….I look forward to seeing you in class!

 

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Giving (and Receiving) Feedback.


Giving (and Receiving) Feedback

We would like to believe that we are perfect that everything that we do functions to what we believe is ‘right’ or ‘good’ or to our ideals of these things. They don’t have to be perfect, but things have to work. The problem with this line of reasoning is that a good portion of the time, this is essentially operating in a vacuum without external input, or external query, or oversight. This way of operating (anything really) can be desirable and it can also be less than desirable. A good portion of the time it’s less than desirable, but you don’t know that because you live in a bubble of information that is self deluding and self created. Think election 2016 and you’ll sort of get the idea of where this is going. 

Related to Tango ? Yes. This is entirely related to Tango. Without clear, clean, and honest feedback from the people that we dance with we can never change what we’re doing, or even know that change is required. And that’s the kicker right there, for a lot of you reading this and watching the video above, change is required, the problem is that you don’t know it. And furthermore, rightfully so, you’re afraid to ask for feedback because it means change, which means work You’re fearful of the work involved, that it will be hard, difficult, work. Further still that work will, or so you believe, uncover your ignorance around X, Y, and Z. And no one, absolutely no one wants to look like they’re ignorant of the facts. And when you really get down to it, you just don’t want to do that kind of work for something that is supposed to be ‘fun’. Right ? But here’s the kicker, you absolutely need to do that work. And you absolutely need to start from a place of ignorance. Why ? Think of it as if you were going to do your taxes for the year. And you forget a few things that are the difference between paying no taxes (cool) and paying hundreds of dollars/euros/rubles/etc in taxes. And all because you left out a few very important details. It’s the details that matter. Get those details right, and you pay no taxes. Get them wrong, or don’t supply them, and there goes your tango budget for the year! How is this related to Tango ? The details matter in Tango, everywhere, everywhere.

Qualified Feedback. The fact is that good portion of people are 1.) not comfortable giving feedback. 2.) don’t feel qualified (because they’re not a teacher) to give feedback. and/or 3.) that they could be of any help to you because they don’t want to feel responsible or give you false information. At the same time we want to give qualified feedback, and receive qualified feedback, from a qualified source or a source of information that has a track record of teaching. The fact is that most people do have qualified feedback, they just don’t know how to put into a form that is useful to anyone. At the same time, we also have to give feedback that is useful and helpful to someone else. The fact is most people can’t do this, they feel overwhelmed as to what to say to someone without hurting their feelings, while at the same time providing useful information that could help someone.

So here’s how to give constructive feedback. Use “I” statements. Example ? “I feel pressure from your right arm and shoulder” or “I see that you’re watching my feet” or “I know that we’re not on the beat”. And so on. However those statements don’t go far enough, you must be specific in exactly what isn’t working in your opinion. Note the very last words there -“in your opinion”. Understand that you are not the sole of all wisdom and as such you have an opinion about how things operate, so you must state things as such. Saying anything more than that, unless you teach professionally, makes you seem arrogant and out of touch with reality. Further you must keep whatever feedback you do offer limited to you and what you are experiencing and not extend that to what your teachers have said, or what others have said. Example: “I am feeling pressure from your right arm and shoulder, and it’s causing me pain to have to resist you like that”. And not,“My teacher said that you have to resist me” or “Chicho said...” Got it? What this boils down to is that we want the feedback to be authentic and real. 

Where to give Feedback ? There is really only one appropriate place to give someone feedback, and that is at a practica (as defined in the video above). Never while dancing with someone, even if they ask for it and make it ‘ok’ for you to do so. Never while on a social dance floor at a Milonga. Ever. Again, not even if they ask for it.

When to give Feedback ? When someone has specifically asked for it, and/or when you have cleared with them first if they would like to hear some feedback about their dance. But only under those conditions. Any other time, it is not appropriate to do so.

Asking For Feedback ? There’s a desirable way to ask for feedback and dare I say it, an effective one. And there is an ineffective method of doing so. Lots of them actually. By example a very desirable method would be to say directly to someone at a practica, “I would love some feedback about my embrace from you, if you feel comfortable giving it ?”. Notice that it was specific and not nebulous. The questioner asked specifically what they wanted feedback on and didn’t just leave it at “Feedback”. Also notice that the questioner gave them the opportunity to not participate at all, “if you feel comfortable giving it”. This part is absolutely critical to getting direct feedback and making someone feel ok with giving you feedback.

Asking To Give Feedback ? It’s important to recognize even though you may have tons of information to hand someone about their dance, that they quite honestly don’t want to know about it, especially from the likes of you! So how do figure out if someone wants feedback ? Ask them. “Would you like some feedback about your embrace ?” or their walk, or their ochos. And so on. If they don't want any, and no coaxing either, then you must, absolutely must let it go. 

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What To Feedback ? This one is difficult but there are generally four areas that we want to talk about when giving feedback, and really 5 if we’re being detailed. And of course we’re being detailed.

1.) The Embrace (yours and theirs)

2.) Posture (yours and theirs)

3.) Compression, Pressure, Force, Rigidity, and Resistance.

4.) Walking - The stability and equilibrium of the walk.

and 5.) Applied Disassociation. (Pivots! Oy!)

Most times your feedback will be limited to item #1, the Embrace. Relating that something isn’t working. But really the rest of it comes into play when you start to think about it. And again, we’re using “I” statements to reference this stuff. “I am feeling a lot of _____________ (pressure, tension, force, lightness, softness) from your right arm along my back. It feels _________ (nice, not nice, painful, hurtful, etc).” The more detailed you are with this stuff the more helpful it is.

Too Much Feedback ? Yes. You can in fact overwhelm people with too much feedback and this happens a lot especially with beginner teachers, they suffer from this problem as well. So here’s a good rule of thumb. No more than 3 things to feedback in one dance. And really just the one. So you can mention the 3 things that are going on. But focus on just the most prominent one and stay with it until they get what you’re on about.

The Last Word. The fact is that just because you gave someone feedback, does not mean that they’re going to change magically. Recognize and understand that people like what they’re doing. They don’t see anything wrong with it, or right with it for that matter. A good portion of the time what they’re doing is unconscious behavior and because it is that, you may have to remind them every few steps that they’re doing X, Y, and Z. Which is to say that most people will revert to what’s comfortable for them and instead of doing what’s right for the dance, they’ll revert to what’s comfortable for them to do. And more frequently than you would imagine. Like as in, every 2 or 3 steps! So reminders are kinda helpful here, and lots of them. At the same time, you have to remember something, that too many reminders and you'll drive someone crazy. So it's important to let a few go by and then remind someone, let 10 more screw ups go by and then gently remind them and so on. Oh and by the way, if you like this website, and the resulting videos, and want to actually, oh I don't know...become a better dancer ? you might want to hit that annoying button in between the paragraphs...just saying. 😉

Engaging The Embrace


Engaging The Embrace

A Lead’s Job. The fact is that in modern Argentine Tango, while the Follower most certainly has a role and a job (several), setting the tone and style of the embrace is the squarely the job of the Lead. The Follower, as sexist as this sounds, fills that space with their complimentary embrace. And so that we don’t slight the Follower’s role in this regard, we will discuss the Follower’s side of this equation in a later article and requisite video. Right now we’re talking about a Lead thing. Further still, a Follower should not stop reading at this point. Think of this article, from your perspective, as pulling back the curtain of the seemingly black art of leading. Or think of it as ideally what your lead wants to do but more than likely is not doing.

Leads you have a role and a job, several, and one of them is creating an embrace structure that is comfortable for the Follower while at the same time creates the iconic visual that is a Tango embrace, that allows for maximum effect with minimal input. Put another way, you have 3 primary goals: 1.) Navigation. 2.) Architecture. and 3.) Music. Under the category of Architecture we have 2 sub-categories. 2a.) Form. and 2b.) Vocabulary. Think of 2a as what we look like (the visual), and think of 2b as what you do with 2a in time to 3, while employing 1. And all of that starts with - Engaging The Embrace.

Typically what happens: You step onto the floor without engaging proper floorcraft (which we will discuss in a later video series), then you grab your follower’s right hand, lift it, then step in with your right, leaning in with your right shoulder, and then place them in your armpit (the Follower willy-nilly goes there as well), and then wrap your right arm around them, and then almost immediately there after you begin throwing vocabulary at your Followers in the hopes that they won’t see that you have no idea what you’re doing to a tango, milonga, or vals!

The Problem ? For a good portion of Followers they want a gentle, guiding, clear, clean, non-compressive, non-restrictive, non-pushing, non-pulling, non-resistive experience that does not include being told what to do as their doing it. But what they get is something akin to what typically happens. And that’s not covering what happens inside the dance itself. Typically the Lead is forceful and doesn’t listen for the Follower’s response, which is kind of important. Instead they rush from vocabulary choice to vocabulary choice (ochos, turns, more ochos, lots of turns…etc). The issue is that throughout all of that the Lead’s embrace is restrictive, resistive, and compressive (resistance based dancing), trying to control the Follower instead of inviting them to do X, Y, and Z. Guiding them, suggesting, inviting, proposing. What they get is control, contain, push, pull, and a host of manhandling with the lead’s arms. This is not something that anyone wants to have happen to them, and yet this is precisely what passes for ‘dancing’ a good portion of the time and it’s not desirable on multiple levels.

The Right Conditions. The whole issue above stems from the Lead’s inability to create a platform to work from - an embrace that is calming at at the same time clear without the use of force. That starts with creating the right conditions. The Right Conditions ? We ideally want to calm the Follower’s mind. Quite honestly, they’re freaking out. Why ? Because they have no idea what craziness (especially if it’s a Milonga tanda) that the Lead is going to come up with. They have to be ready for anything. Understand that it is a jarring experience for most Followers. The Right Conditions here are first creating calmness in your body, in your posture, in your arms, everywhere. Just calm, quiet. That quietness is incredibly important. We want kinesthetic silence. What we generate is what they hear. And if they’re hearing kinesthetic ‘noise’ then we’ll get that in response! So ideally, we want a calmness in our attitude and kinesthetic quietness in our bodies. We don’t want anything that will create a ripple in them. Think of the right conditions as though it were a placid lake at dawn or sunset. We want that mirror reflection of motionless to reflect the sky. The Follower, in this analogy, is the sky.

Where To Begin. Most of this ‘calming’ starts with your own body posture. Learning how to engage good posture that is at once not ramrod straight but rather upright using the body’s natural inclinations (corrected of course because a good portion of you have terrible ‘natural’ posture). A posture that does not rely on force, or tension in any way, shape, or form. No more than is necessary to hold the body upright. And even that’s sometimes too much, and the language used to describe this stuff is sometimes very vague and not very helpful. However, there is a language that describes this stuff perfectly - Alexander Technique! Put simply Alexander Technique was developed by Frederick Matthias Alexander, and is an kinesthetic process that retrains your ability to realign your body’s natural posture and secondarily to avoid unnecessary muscular tension. Alexander had the belief that your self-awareness could be inaccurate which is created as a result of bodily stresses and situations that we learn over time that we must unlearn, which as a result in created unnecessary muscular tension when standing or sitting with body weight unevenly distributed, holding the head incorrectly, walking or running inefficiently, etc. In other words, Alexander Technique is the language that you have been looking for to describe how to correct what you’re doing with your posture and so much more.

To be a bit clearer, there is a perception in Tango that your posture must be ramrod straight, this is a holdover from two very distinct areas. 1.) Ballroom (yes Ballroom has infected tango). 2.) Performance Based Tango. Both of these things have contributed to the less than helpful idea that we must hold ourselves in these almost impossible positions for hours on end to ‘look nice’ to dance with. Followers will know this the moment it’s written here, but you see they’ve danced with those ramrod straight dancers, the ones that look nice to dance with but the moment they get into the embrace they realize they’ve made a mistake. Good posture does not need to be ramrod straight in order to be good. It does however, need to be comfortable, and at the same time upright without contortions in any way, shape, or form.

That Thing We Do. The fact is that a good portion of you reading this have a body problem. You want and then again you don’t want. In one respect you want to be touched and in another respect you don’t. You want to be hugged and embraced, and then again you don’t. You want to be next to someone, close, very close, touching close, but at the same time….not. Society says one thing, Tango says another. It’s a diametric opposite that you just can’t get away from. There are perfectly good reasons why you want, because it feels good. It’s pretty simple. And there are a few double dozen reasons why you don’t want….someone hasn’t showered recently, is really sweaty, has bad breath, someone is soaked through with sweaty clothing, and then there’s the ‘sexual energy’ thing that most men are completely unaware of, but women are very aware of. And while we’re talking about sex. From a Male Leading position, there’s the whole female breast/body thing. Society says you can look (not directly) while publicly you can not touch directly. Which flies in the face of Tango, which says ‘touch’ and quite literally place your body wrapped around your partners, while at the same time don’t touch too much. It can be a little confusing, but you generally follow the rules of good, respectful conduct, which states - don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want your mother to know about! At the same time, as a Lead, you want to create a platform from the plane of your body that is almost like a comfortable couch or bed to sleep on. Why ? Because the Follower is going to spend the next 9 to 12 minutes there! That’s why. From a Female Following position, you have a body with a brain, chest, hips, and curves everywhere. I know, right ? Mansplaining….oy. Society sexualizes your body constantly, in every detail, it’s not like you can forget it because it’s everywhere you look. Your body, is as happenstance of Argentine Tango, going to be touched, in sometimes inappropriate places and ways by men you wouldn’t normally have anything to do with except as it happens to be required in Tango. That requirement ? The plane of your body must meet the plane of your lead’s body in every way possible. It’s like form meeting function. Or peanut butter meeting jelly. Or … you get the point. Why ? Because you want to be able to hear (kinesthetically speaking) your Lead in exacting details, and that requires the plane of your body to be in complete contact with your Lead. Backing away from that, makes your job, your role, much….much more difficult than it needs to be. From a dancing perspective, what we're really talking about is close embrace dancing. Ideally we want to be sternum to sternum, sometimes referred to as a ‘core’ embrace format, or ‘square’ embrace format. Sometimes referred to as Body-On-Body contact. That’s not to say that a ‘v’ or ‘closed-v’ or ‘open-v’, or ‘open’, ‘slightly off-gigline’ body-on-body isn’t valid. It just means that these versions of close embrace create situations or kinesthetic dynamics that are more or less preferable for the Lead and not necessarily the Follower. Like for instance Turns (see the Armpit Dancer). Ideally you want your partner to be right in front of you, gigline to gigline for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is ease of dancing on multiple levels. So the whole body-on-body is very important as it relates to what has to happen in the dance, it’s the thing we do. Without that physiological, deep (psychological), physical, kinesthetic contact in the dance, let’s just say it makes things a bit more challenging.

Your Arms. Frequently a good portion of you use your arms and hands to direct the Follower. This is called ‘Paddling the Follower’. We do not want to do this. Instead we want to allow the Follower to ‘float’ or move within your embrace structure. However, that’s not what happens. We apply tension, force, compression, to either control or to indicate which way we’d like the Follower to go. In specific we use our right hand, right forearm, and left arm as a whole. This is not desirable. By the way, this is that bullshit paragraph that appears in every single one of these articles that is just specific enough but not entirely specific to actually help you. If you were to register and then upgrade that to a paid subscription, you would see an entirely different paragraph here that tells you specifically what you want to do. And you'd see the missing 4 minutes of the video above in the proper order. Oh yeah, the video above is slightly out of order than how I shot it. You want to see it in it's proper context.

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The Last Word - Difference. There can be a difference in you, but isn’t going to happen by itself. It requires a few things. First, a willingness to want to make a difference. And frequently that doesn't happen because you think or believe you've already arrived. Secondly, a good, reliable source for this kind of information – hint ... this website! And thirdly repeatable, clear, clean information that you can play with, over and over again. That's where this website comes in and the videos that are sitting behind the paywall. Register for free. But if you really want to take things to the next level, upgrade that registration to a GOLD level user, and start redeveloping your Tango technique today.

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Leading Technique – Tango Topics


Leading Technique

Leading. Often the first thing we see when looking at Argentine Tango is the Tango Lead. It’s that sharp, clear, clean visual that strikes us almost immediately. We see the the visual of someone leading, and it’s this confusion, appreciation, amusement, bewilderment and just down right awe (in some cases) of a ‘wow’. Next the thing that we pay attention to is what they’re doing, not how they’re doing it, but what specifically they’re doing. You’re waiting, with anticipation, for that next cool, flashy move that screams - ‘Good Lead’. And the last thing that you start to become aware of is the musical expression, meaning how they’re placing the what they’re doing in time to the music, not necessarily how specifically it relates (that’s called interpreting the music by the way) to the music but really the execution in time to the music.

Truthfully depending on where we are in/at in the spectrum of leading (the activity), then this explanation of the dynamic of leading can be an eye opening experience on multiple levels for a variety of reasons (again, depending on where you are on the spectrum). At the same time, that experience is what usually shapes us, defines us, and ultimately it will inspire us to want to study toward being like that which we see…to emulate it. 🙂 Or it may turn us off entirely for a variety of reasons, perhaps because it looks too complex, too difficult, or it's too much, or not 'us' at all. Again, this all depends on where you are on the spectrum of leading. If you're just starting out then literally everything you see everyone else is doing is nothing short of magical. The further you go towards the 'advanced' dancer and closer towards the teacher class dancer (those who could teach but don’t) realm the less magical things are and the more technical things become, and the more you want to figure out why X, Y, and Z happens. That's exactly where this topic comes into play. 

This topic assumes that you've gotten beyond the "Wow!!! That's Amazing!!" phase and have just started to get down to the actual business of leading. And to be clear, this topic also assumes that you've gotten beyond the rudimentary foundation of walking, embrace, turning, crossing, and leading ochos, and are looking for a change towards something that looks a bit more elegant than the random, haphazard thing you have witnessed at your local milongas that's loosely called 'dancing'.

Perhaps you've started to pay attention to how someone is doing X, Y, and Z, and found it to be lacking or amazing and wondered….’how do they do that ?’. Or more than likely you have caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror as you turn a corner and are either impressed with what you see and want more, or generally you try to avert your eyes as you pass by a mirror or someone's facebook picture of you. You generally try to avoid it because you know it's just going to be awful to look at. The mere thought of you leading, or watching yourself lead, is an exercise in excruciating visual pain. You know where all the problems are at, you know what you have forgotten in the multiple private lessons that you've taken, you know that you should be practicing this stuff on a daily if not weekly basis but you don't. You know all of this stuff...you've just forgotten it, and there it is in the mirror, staring back at you, unapologetic, and very truthful that you could do better than you are right now.  

If all of that is true, then this topic of Leading Technique is all for you. 

Check Please! The video above is small snippet of a full HD video (9 videos in all). You can purchase Lead Technique for just 79.95 not including your level discount.

 

The Reason Why. There is a very simple reason why we study the topic of Leading Technique. It's because we want to look better in the role of the lead. It doesn't get any more simple than that. The fact is that anyone, regardless of gender, can lead. However, to look elegant, and to do it effortlessly and with ease ? That's technique!

The open secret is that leading technique is somewhat of an open book black art. Meaning ? That it does not take a Rocket Scientist to figure this stuff out and say, "I think I know what that is". Quite honestly there's no special magic to it, there's no secret sauce, no hidden agenda, nothing like that. In it's simplest form good leading technique is best defined in the execution of 3 simple things – forward, side, and back. In much the same way that Follower technique comprises these same things, lead technique does as well at it's core. At the same time it also comprises the embrace components, posture, walking continuously – not just a single step, turning, crossing, ochos, and so on. Viewed from this perspective, leading technique takes on a whole different layer of madness that will drive you over the edge of sanity into the realm of minutiae and maddening subtlety. And that's where having access to a good, clean, clear materials and resources is absolutely crucial towards you looking elegant and feeling elegant. The reality is that any idiot can 'look' elegant, however feeling elegant to dance with ? That is a whole other layer of OMG! And that's essentially what you're after when you think of why you would want and need to study Leading Technique.

So the reason of ‘why’ boils down to – you are looking for a way to generate not just the visual representation of being a good lead that you associate with the "OMG" Leads (the person not the activity) in the room with but more important, the elegance of their lead, and the effortless by which they do those things that uniquely qualify them as a ‘Good Lead’.

First things First. When building a good Lead, you have to deconstruct a few basic things in that lead in order to change them from ‘yawn’ to ‘omg’. So what’s the first thing towards the transformation ? You would think that the thing to start with is the Lead’s walk. And you’d be wrong. No. The very first thing is their foundation of how they’re standing, their posture! Change their posture, and you change 70% of how they’ll move. Mind you, they’ll instantly revert back towards less than desirable ways of moving because they don’t know any better or different but that’s a horse of a different color. No, the very first thing you must deconstruct and then reconstruct in a Lead, is their posture and their relationship to the floor. How they hold themselves, and how they place their feet on the floor is absolutely crucial to changing them.

What’s next ? Again, you would think that this is about their walk. No. Again, it’s about the component elements of that walk, not the walk itself. And those component elements break down into two areas: The Extension and then Foot Placement! Meaning ? How they extend their legs, walking forwards (usually) and how they place their foot on the floor after that extension. Is this walking yet ? No. It’s redefining how to move while dancing. Re-writing the base code of movement and replacing it with something that, at the beginning, is going to seem insanely difficult, and later on will (with time and practice) become second nature. The walking part ? That comes later. Right now this is changing their posture, and their extensions.

Next is the foot placement and weight transfers. Probably the single most important thing you can do for a Lead is change how they place their foot on the floor and then resulting weight transfers that go with it. Truthfully this stuff is not sexy at all but boy does it ever define sexy when executed nicely. By itself, there’s not much to this, and you’d think that there’s really no point in how you place your foot on the floor but that foot placement is pretty much everything. Execute it right and the elegance that you seek is accessible. Execute it poorly and your ass is going to end up staring at a the ceiling and wondering WTF happened! Foot placement is everything! It’s not sexy but boy is it ever the core of the whole ball of wax!

What’s Next ? It’s at this point where we have to talk about Intention and Intention Based Dancing. The fact is that at this juncture a lead can easily go right off the rails, as it were, by thinking one thing and then doing another (read that as becoming a Resistance Based Dancer). All too easily. And it’s important to reinforce the ideals of Intention. Which are to suggest, invite, propose, engage, cajole, tease, intimate, and yes, intend to do something and then create space for the Follower execute what was intended. Failure to reinforce this stuff early on, and you’ll easily devolve into resistance, force, compression, rigidity and all sorts of undesirable ways of dancing. Which is basically what you’re doing right now, and no one is telling you that for fear of hurting your feelings, including your teachers!

The reality is that the effortlessness that one seeks can only be achieved through two means that are seemingly counter intuitive with each other. The first is through controlled, conscious, and contained kinesthetic and physiological movements. Precision based movement. And the second ? Honesty with oneself. All the technique in the world, no matter how much you execute it will not change you. You have to recognize that you need to improve and want to improve. And that starts with a frank, honest conversation with yourself. It’s the realization, and you’ll pardon the vulgarity of this statement – that you suck today, you’re going to suck tomorrow, and you will continue to to suck for a very long time going forward. And that as time goes forward, assuming the first is moving along at a nice pace, you’ll suck a little less than you did the day before, but not by much. At the same time you’ll need constant reminders to do X, Y, and Z. Because like it or not you are going to drift from what you saw once in a workshop, you’re going to veer from the path towards what is comfortable for you and what you can do versus what you need to do. You’ll misremember something, you’ll invent whole new ways or methodologies to excuse yourself from doing the work that needs to be done. And on top of that, you’ll abdicate your responsibility of doing X, Y, and Z, placing that in the Follower instead of yourself.

So effortlessness ? This is only one piece of the work on the road towards good, clean Leading Technique. Still another is being honest with oneself!

Achieving effortlessness ? Foundational exercises. Ballet rises (yes, even for a Lead) are a good place to start. Next are back cross twists, forward cross twists, enrosque twists, opposition and disassociation exercises, and finally arm/torso/head controlled movement exercises. Rewire that, replace it with contained, controlled movements and you’re onto something!

The Embrace. Once you have all of that checked off your list. You have to put things in their rightful context.  And that means working with the embrace. Because all of the above is absolutely pointless if your embrace is compressive and restrictive. So it’s at this juncture that we now employ the execution of intention based dancing within the confines of a skin-to-skin or fabric-to-skin or fabric-to-fabric haptic dancing. Better known as Tango Haptics, Meaning tactile compression information as it relates to Argentine Tango. Duh! 🙂

The reality is that a good portion of you reading this stuff have embrace issues that are quite literally standing in your way of being a desirable lead. Compression, Restriction, Force, Tension, Rigidity, Pressure, good lord, it’s a wonder that half of the Followers that you dance with don’t stop after the first 2 seconds and a.) slap you for squeezing the living daylights out of them. and/or b.) walk off the floor because you’re pushing and pulling and paddling them with your right hand and forearm. Seriously dude, if you had this happen to you, you’d probably drop the embrace with whatever idiot lead you’re dancing with and look him squarely in the eye and say “SERIOUSLY WITH THE SQUEEZING ?”. Not so much with that! That’s the reality. So if you wouldn’t want it done to you, why on earth are you doing it to your Followers ?

Now comes the hard part, a good portion of the Followers that you’re dancing with are not going to tell you any of this stuff because they have a.) A hard time speaking truth to power. b.) Don’t want to hurt your feelings because you’ll never dance with them again. and c.) They don’t have the language to describe to you X, Y, and Z and they don’t lead (a good portion of them don’t, but more and more are thankfully!).

Truthfully your embrace is absolutely key to containing all the work that you did above with your posture, extensions, foot placement, and intention. And an embrace that doesn’t need to restrict the movement of the Follower is an absolutely crucial step towards being a desirable Lead to dance with.

Talking About The Walk! Finally, we talk about walking, or more importantly how one executes all of the above within the construct of a walk and within the construct of the embrace and within the confines of simple movements like leading a traveling or milonguero ocho, or leading a molinete, or leading an argentine cross. Because each one of these movements require you to walk well, to walk cleanly, to walk with stability and equilibrium!

If we’ve done our job above, then the walk should become an extension of those ideals. It quite literally happens all by its lonesome. The walk is built above good posture, clean extensions, precise foot placement, and entry points to walking and everything else. Make those contiguous and constant and you’re on to something. The elegance that you seek is not in the walk itself but rather the stuff contained within that walk. The things already mentioned. 🙂

The Bridge To Better Dancing ? As leads, a good portion of what we’re going to be leading are Ochos (Traveling & Milonguero), Turns (Open Embrace, Close Embrace, or Milonguero), and Crosses (Argentine & Back), and the foundations of those leads are going to come from the things listed above - e.g. how the Lead moves in relation to what is intended or led. If that base  movement is clean, clear, controlled, and consistent, then the resulting leads for Ochos, Turns, and Crosses will be so crystal clear, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t done this work to begin with. And there’s a good reason why this work isn’t done at the start, because it’s minutiae, it’s much harder than the steps, patterns, and figures. This is precision kinesthetic control of your body to reflect a very specific visual representation of how you want to be seen doing something. Now we add the next component – how it feels! Each component by themselves is maddening, together if you don’t have the foundation for this stuff, if you don’t have a clear idea of what the end result is going to be will drive you right off the deep end!

The Leap of Faith. A good portion of the time when it comes to this stuff, you really do have to take a leap of faith that the person you’re getting this stuff from knows what they’re talking about (assuming that there’s any talking going on about leading technique to begin with), and can describe it in a way that works for you, while at the same time you can see the end results and are pleased with them. The caveat here is that a good portion of the time ‘technique’ is often masked inside the vocabulary and infrequently is it separated from the vocabulary. They go hand in hand, or so you would think. That’s not entirely true. You can take someone’s technique of how X, Y, and Z is done and marry it to the execution of different vocabulary with surprising results. But that’s a horse of a different color for another time. It’s only mentioned here as a factor in the separation of technique from vocabulary that it is possible to do.

About The Video. This video is 9 separate videos.

Video 1 - Overview & Exercise - 00:23:21
Video 2 - Opposition - 00:17:37
Video 3 - Lead Extensions - 00:04:08
Video 4 - Lead Foot Placement - 00:05:50
Video 5 - Lead Entry Paths - Part A - 00:03:00
Video 6 - Lead Entry Paths - Part B - 00:02:02
Video 7 - Lead Embraces Foundation - 00:14:54
Video 8 - Lead Embraces - Repositioning - 00:17:43
Video 9 - Enrosque Foundation - 00:12:20

It can be purchased for $79.95 or downloaded as part of your subscription with a discount.

The Ultimate Arbiter. The last word on this subject is not your teacher, it’s not this website, nor is it you. There’s really only one arbiter of good taste in this case, and it’s the Follower. If the class of follower that you’re used to dancing with approves of what you’re doing, you’re on to something. Truthfully they are the final word on whether or not you’re doing good things or less than desirable things. That assumes that a.) You have the fortitude to ask (at a practica) about how you look and feel to them. b.) That their response is honest. (Frequently they’re not for the reasons already stated above) and c.) There’s some kind of meaningful feedback that you can pull from the most basic of frequent replies “That was nice”. Which is the extent of what you’ll get most of the time, unless you ask a series of leading questions of what in specific was ‘nice’ about it.

You know you’re on to something when other people that you don’t dance with acknowledge the change in you and start to compliment you on the difference in you.

The Last Word - Change. Change isn’t going to happen by itself. It requires a few thing. First, a willingness to make these kinds of changes. Secondly, a good, reliable source for this kind of information. And thirdly demonstratable, repeatable information that you can play with, over and over again.

Fortunately you have one, and that’s this website and resulting videos contained with in. This site exists for this sole purpose. And in specific this topic of Leading Technique has a video series that you can either download (purchase), or subscribe to see it and the 150+ videos on the topics of Foundation, Walking, Ochos, Turns, Crosses, Sacadas, Colgadas, Volcadas, Barridas, Paradas, and a host of other things. All here for you to watch, over and over again. And that all starts with hitting that little green button that says “SUBSCRIBE”.

 

Social Collection


Social Collection

Collection”, this is an odd word in the Tango world. It has come to mean that we, as dancers, want to bring our feet ‘together’ in some fashion. Some people refer to this idea or concept as “closing” your feet. Meaning to close the gap that naturally exists between them from a standing position where our legs are slightly apart to create more stability in our stance. ‘Collection’ is a refined version of this idea that exists 2 primary reasons. The first is very practical. And the second is purely visual. We’ll get to those in just a moment. There is another form of Collection that we want to start to be crystal clear about in today’s Tango world.

There’s a very clear reason why we need a clearer distinction of this word we use to define “Collection”. The reason has everything to do with the competition based Tango that is occurring with greater and greater frequency - The Mundials come to mind. As such there is greater attention to detail on precision based Tango that is more focused on what things look like than their social function counterparts. Hence a bit of distinction that is required when talking about ‘Collection’ or more importantly ‘Social Collection’.

The Visual Idea. From a Leading or Following perspective, when we’re talking about Collection what is generally taught is usually the visual idea of collection. Not just bringing your feet together but generating a visual inverted triangular tapered form of the body to the legs to the feet. And as such we want to make that taper as clean, and sharp as possible. So for this reason you’ll see a good portion of dancers who have been taught to will pull one leg slightly behind the other, and one foot off at an angle. In either Lead or Follow it’s right behind left for a variety of reasons. The reason this is done is to remove the gap between the shins and ankles that naturally occurs in some people’s legs and feet. Further it creates that ‘nice’ taper that we desire. Why not left behind right ? Because from a salida step we tend to go (lead) left into (follower) right. Meaning that the Lead will step forward with their left leg/foot first, and the Follower will step backwards with their right. The visual idea is really all about the visual lines that are generated in either partner when coming together and creating a nice architecture. That’s it, that’s all and Collection, in the way that it’s taught and presented above, in both partners contributes to that.

The Practical Idea. From either roles perspective the idea of Collection makes things very clear that we’re in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time. From the Lead’s perspective it helps to clarify that the follower is in the right place when they collect so that they can proceed. It’s really easy to see or in this case ‘feel’ that the Follower is off and then to adjust for that ‘off’. Frequently however, that off is never adjusted for and the Follower ends up in the Lead’s armpit. 🙁 From a Follower’s perspective it’s the same idea only that when your lead collects it creates certainty in you. Think of the ‘cowboy walk’ when leading any of the 8 types of ochos.

From a Dancing Reality Social Collection is really about the practical idea of bringing your feet together not for the visual idea but rather out of function more than anything else. It makes things rather simple and easy, that you’re not performing for the 15th row! Social Collection doesn’t mind that there is a tiny gap between your legs at the ankles to the knees, but rather it’s more important that you’re in the right place at the right time. Now if you want you can go the extra step (no pun intended) by creating a cleaner visual, however most people don’t and won’t go that extra step because it’s too much work for them. It’s another thing they have to remember and that’s already too much for them. So again, we’re at Social Collection. So if we define Social Collection as being too lazy but being practical. What’s it’s opposite ? Performance Collection! And that’s a whole different animal.

The reality is that a good portion of you are going to look at this video above, disagree with it because your teacher told you ages ago that collection is supposed to be the visual reason. But in reality do you actually understand any of what’s been said above ? Or did you just watch the video ? There’s a reason why we want Social Collection above all else that has not been mentioned, and it has everything to do with the role of the Follower as they’re being led to an Argentine Cross. Mind you this is just 1 of 3 reasons, but this is the most prominent. Think Armpit Dancer, and you’ll begin to get an idea of what’s going on, as a matter of fact, go look at that video, it talks about this aspect of Performance Collection. That’s the reality. Put simply if you as a Lead, want your Follower in your armpit, please keep doing what you’re doing, and pay this topic no mind.  Or if you as a Follower like being in your Lead’s armpit and quite literally behind your lead, then again….don’t pay any attention to this topic. It’s a complete waste of your time.

 

Changing It. The reality is that you don’t necessarily need a class to change this stuff. The video above is enough to give you ideas on your own. However, what you do need to the rest of the reason why we do this stuff. This topic only gives the 1st of those 3 reasons. It’s not enough. But for the rest of those reasons, you either have to do one of 2 things. 1.) Buy the foundation series of videos that talks about this stuff. Or 2.) Subscribe so that you can see the other paragraph that’s here for Gold, Diamond, and Intensive Level users. 😉 You see if you were any one of those users, then you would see about 100+ videos that talk about this stuff, show you why X, Y and Z works the way that it does. But alas you’re not one of those users. 🙁 Sadly. But you can change that by hitting the green button below.

The Reverse Embrace


Reversing The Embrace

There are certain defaults that we possess after years of dancing. We don't realize that they're defaults but they are. And for the Non-native speaker, 'default' in this case means unconscious ways or methods of doing something that is performed frequently. 'Defaults' from a Tango perspective could mean but is not limited to how one crosses one's feet, how one engages the embrace, how one asks for and follows a series of ochos, how one would follow a molinete, etc. These are default behaviors. We learn them as a result of several things, not the least of which is how we (at the time that we acquired the information) bodies weren't able to accomplish an end goal so we do what we can and as a result we end up imprinting the 'less-than-desirable' way of moving, or engaging the embrace (read that as squeezing, pulling, pushing, hanging, etc), or crossing, or molinete, or .... or.... those ways of moving into vocabulary to accomplish the goal, even though it's not desirable. We don't realize that we have formed this way of moving, and it’s now ‘comfortable’ even though it’s contorted (mostly) and at the same time we sort of forget how to do X, Y, and Z properly (mostly because we don’t have someone poking and prodding us to remind us about X, Y, and Z and how it should be done) and therefore we stop paying attention to it. This becomes our ‘default’ behavior in Tango.

The Concern: This isn’t so much of a problem but rather a ‘concern’, something to be mindful of that if left unchecked, can create problems for us later on down the line. A good portion of you reading this will only look at the video and see this cool toy, and not look at the deeper issue that’s really going on here. A fair number of you will see the issue but not pay it any mind, thinking that this doesn’t happen for you. You’re perfect. Right ? Furthermore a smaller number of you will only see that this isn’t just a Lead issue, but a Follower one as well! 😉 So what’s the concern ? That we as dancers become very accustomed to sending AND receiving kinesthetic pressure/compression/force/resistance information via the embrace which 9 times out of 10 creates more issues for us than we would like. This becomes our default behavior in the dance. The key component here is ‘sending’ and ‘receiving’. You’re going to think that sending refers to ‘leading’ and that receiving refers to ‘following’, when both messaging happen for both roles at the same time. A lead or follow both send AND receives information. Mind you a good portion of both roles, don’t actually listen to the other but that’s a story for a later topic. However as a result of this way of dancing, we tend to get stuck or bogged down in our default behavioral responses and can’t see another way of moving.

From a Leading Perspective a good portion of Lead/ers (not necessarily a Lead - we’ll get to that in a moment) rely heavily on the asymmetry of the embrace to communicate our intentions, specifically our left arm and hand (for a lot of leads) in turns and ochos (think ‘resistance’), and for a smaller number of leads their right forearm and a much smaller number of leads that use their right hand to paddle their followers into turning or stopping. This is using the embrace to communicate our intentions, or more to the point forcing the follower to do X, Y, and Z through compression, tension, resistance, and physiological pressures. These pressures are ‘messages’ to the Follower and what a good portion Lead/ers that use this way of dancing don’t realize is that this is not a desirable way of dancing. A Lead does NOT use these things, much like a Jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense - never for attack, they use body-on-body contact to communicate their intent without pushing, pulling, or physiological arm/hand pressures to indicate their intent. And even a Lead that does all of that properly still has a default set of movements, a default set of expected responses, that they’re unaware of. It is to that group that this topic is really speaking to. Why ? Because the Lead/er crowd of resistance based dancers have absolutely zero desire to change what they’re doing. For there to be change in that dancer, several things have to take place. Most notably they have to have reached the end of the road with Resistance Based Dancing, to be shown that it is less-than-desirable by experiencing it for themselves - what it’s really like to pushed and pulled around the floor for 12 minutes (assuming a 4 set tanda). That, and a lot of Followers saying “No” to them, and a lot of sitting. Speaking directly to the Lead reading this, you have a concern that your lead is not what you think it is, it’s not as clear as you think it is. So by reversing the embrace you will see the areas where you are weak, and where you are clear. 

From a Following Perspective you may not realize that you to have a default way of moving, a default expectation and responses. You may, erroneously, believe that The Reverse Embrace structure outlined above in the video applies ONLY to the Lead/er (and Lead). Not true. It applies to you as well. How’s that ? Simple, you have the same embrace biases that the Lead does only to a smaller degree, however your concern is that you have a set way of doing things, specifically your turns, ochos, and crosses. By reversing the embrace, you realize just how awkward things feel. The awkwardness is a key component to making things feel effortless. Truthfully we want the awkwardness to occur, it creates a scramble in us and we want it to occur. Why ? Because it shows us just where we’re our expectations are at, and more importantly where our defaults are at and how they present themselves. By reversing the embrace you will recognize those things as well as where you are compensating for a poor or unclear lead to do X, Y, and Z. Or more importantly having to infer what a Lead (the person not the action) is or more than likely is NOT doing. It’s the inference that we’re really after. Why ? 2 reasons. Firstly, we can clean up what we’re doing, and secondly it also creates a place for us to interject an idea or two (think ‘active’ follower).

We have to address the larger resistance based follower crowd that may be reading this: You have issues. Resistance is not desirable. It’s work. Hanging, Pulling, Pushing, not so much with that. You will never progress to dancing with the desirable leads in the room as a Follower if you continue to utilize this way of moving, and reversing the embrace will only make things 10,000 times more challenging for you. “Challenging” is an understatement. More like downright impossible. You are hardwired to use your embrace and the lead/ers embrace to stabilize yourself in turns, ochos, and crosses. So ‘hearing’ (really ‘feeling’) the nuances of the dance are outside your abilities at this point because you are unstable, and this nuance topic of reversing the embrace is more of a ‘WTF’ than anything else. 

The Dancing Perspective is that this is a nuance topic that a good portion of you will dismiss entirely as folly and not really helpful to one’s dancing at all. It couldn’t possibly change what you’re doing. It couldn’t possibly rewire you to do something else. That’s the dancing reality. When in fact reversing the embrace is probably one of the greatest tools you have to refining your skills as a dancer. Why ? Because ideally you want your dancing skills to be seamless and effortless regardless of what style or type of embrace you use or whom you are dancing with. Short of actual solo practice working on your technique of execution, this is one of the more useful diagnostic tools you can possibly get without a teacher in the equation! So when would you use this tool ? Simple, EVERYWHERE! Why ? Classes, Workshops, and/or Seminars ? Yup. Practicas ? Absolutely. Milongas ? Yup. Why ? Just for fun because you can.

Fixing It or in this case, changing it. The really cool part about this is that you can do this going forward today. You don’t need a class, you don’t need a workshop or seminar or a private lesson to teach you to do this. Nope. Not one little bit. There’s no special class on this one, it is it’s own class. The feedback that you’ll get from employing this tool is nothing short of immeasurable data that you wouldn’t get otherwise. If you’re thinking that you could just ask for feedback from your partners. That’s not going to help. a.) They don’t possess the language skills to identify what’s going on. Ok, a good portion of them don’t. b.) Honesty, that’s the problem right there. A good portion (like 90 to 95%) of the people you are currently dancing with will NOT tell you the truth of how you feel to dance with, or comment on your dancing for fear that it will offend you or hurt your feelings. And quite honestly you don’t want to hear their feedback either mostly because you think that your dance is spot on to begin with. So unless you want to have your head handed to you (and most of you, unfortunately, don’t) then this is the probably the safest route to getting the necessary feedback that you require in order to change what you’re doing!

However, you do actually require help. And that means actual technique, actual feedback, and actual clear, clean, consistent, concise information that you can play over and over again. That’s this page, and the videos that are sitting behind it. Registration is free, and you get about 40 older videos that will open the door to those ideas. However, that’s not the real power of this site. It’s the foundation, technique, exercise, and whic videos that are sitting behind a paywall. It’s the full videos that these snippets that you see are from. You want the full videos. All of them. 🙂 Hit the green button and subscribe and consider a gold membership. It’s really the best of all possible worlds. You get access to all the video content that you can watch anytime - anywhere, and a 40% discount on all video purchases in case you want to download something for offline use when you don’t have an active internet connection.

The Expectant Cross


The Expectant Cross

For most Lead/ers (and Leads) we lead the Argentine Cross so often that we stop thinking about actually leading it and it just sort of 'happens'. The reason it just happens is because of it's ubiquitousness, its frequency. You do this enough times and even the most battle hardened Follower will cross their feet just to shut you up so that you'll stop asking for the damned thing! 

The Problem: This is clearly a Lead/er (and Lead) issue. Contrary to what you may have been told the Argentine Cross is not two steps outside partner and the Follower automagically crosses their feet. If that were true then walking on 3 tracks would never happen. No the problem is the fact that we, as Leads, are expectant that we go to the cross, and then the cross just magically happens. We walk, they cross. Viola! Moving on to other things. Not! No. Not 'moving on to other things'. The problem here is that you, as a a lead, are entirely expectant of the Follower crossing their feet every 20 steps.

From a Following Perspective, 10% of this problem is your issue, the other 90% is your Lead. The fact is that you should adhere to one singular rule at all times (as a Passive Follow, not as an Active Follow -- not yet at least). The rule (again as a Passive Follow - this rule doesn't apply to the Active Follow) ? If you don't feel it, you don't go there. It's a pretty simple rule really. If it's not led, then you don't go there. More clearly – if you're not aware of what your Lead is proposing, suggesting, inviting, engaging, while they're attempting to being insanely clear about what they're leading – minus the arm pulling, tension, resistance, forcing, pushing, and pulling that generally passes for leading at most milongas....assuming there is none of that business going on, then there's only one thing left: If you didn't feel it, then there's absolutely no reason for you to do anything. Period. No lead ? Then listen (note the language there....'listen' not wait....'listen' for what's going on). Do not give the Lead a Cross, simply because they stepped outside partner and took two steps. Unless, and there is always an unless, one of two conditions has been met. Condition 1.) They've actually generated the proper conditions for an argentine cross to exist. or 2.) It's at a Milonga. If it's at a Class, a Practica, a Guided Practica, a Workshop, or a Seminar, then don't cross your feet unless led to do so. Assuming what's already been discussed. Every time that you do give a Lead a Cross, it reinforces the belief that they've led things in a desirable manner that is conducive to dancing. And every time that you don't, you force the lead to ... well ... actually guide, invite, suggest, cajole, propose, intend,... ummm lead a cross! Mind you a discussion might ensue of why you're not crossing your feet. Which may involve a teacher or two getting a teacher to discuss the matter. But that's what they are there for anyway. 😉 

At the same time, because we've broached the subject of the Role of the Active Follower, you do have a golden opportunity here because your lead isn't clear, they're not necessarily paying attention to what they're leading at this point, this is an opportunity for you to interject an idea or two. More important to our point: To take a modicum of control and quite literally, if not factually, redirect the next step! I know...HERESY! Absolute Heresy! How dare I advocate a Follower interjecting an idea of their own....eeeek!

Believe it or not, you can slow the Lead down at this point to accentuate what's happening in the music, you can speed it up, you can even control what step will happen next, and more importantly where you want to go! That's a part of being an Active Following, we want to start to engage with what's going on! That's why the language above is LISTEN and not WAIT! 

However, as an Active (not Passive) Follow, there are 2 rules that we have to adhere to as Followers in this instance: 1.) If it's not in the music, then it's not on the floor! 2.) If you're going to redirect the lead, then you have to have an exit strategy for where you're going next and more importantly how to get out of things! In other words – a plan! To be fair it is important to recognize that a good portion of Leads freak right out when you 'screw up' (which is really their fault to begin with because they weren't clear) and then you take responsibility for by saying "sorry".  One can only imagine if you interject an idea or two and watch what happens then. Talk about losing your proverbial mind! Good lord. So a.) Pick your Leads very carefully with this 'active' Following business, and b.) whatever you do, it's got to be musically driven!

While this post is not on the Role of the Active Follower per se, it does touch on it considerably because the cross is all about the role of the active Follower for a variety of reasons most notably because the Cross is the Follower's vocabulary, not the Lead's. That said it should be noted that as a Follower, this whole Active Follower business is a little scary at first but once you open the door way to that happening....really cool things can occur! Cool and wonderful things actually. 

From a Leading Perspective, 90% of the reason why the Follower does not cross their feet is really your issue. Let's call a spade, a spade: You expect a cross to just 'magically' happen. The fact is that a good 99% of your crosses aren't led in any way, shape, or form. You step into a parallel system cross (not exactly the most elegant crossing structure in the world, it screams 'beginner lead' ) and then take 2 steps, and the Follower just 'crosses' because they're supposed to. Right ? There's no question in your mind, or theirs. Right ? The problem is that is the problem! You're not actually leading. You're abdicating control of options and opportunities for both roles at this point. Every time that you expect a cross to magically happen, you create the situation for the Follower to actually take control and choose what's going to happen next, whether or not you or they are aware of it. Mind you a good portion of Followers don't do this, and they should because it opens options and opportunities for us to make other choices. At the beginning those choices are haphazard and untried and you're going to stumble a bit. But in the end your versatility goes right through the proverbial roof! And we want our versatility to do precisely that! 

We want to encourage an active participation behavior from our Followers because it makes them feel as though they have a voice in the dance. Why ? Answer - Imagine someone dictating to you what you should do all day long. Every hour of every day. You have a mind of your own, and you do like to solve problems your own way. You don't like to be told what to do or what to think. But that's exactly what you're telling your Follower to do each and every time you dance with them. "Don't think. Don't move, unless I say so. Don't have an idea! That's my job!". How boring is that ? Ideally you want them to be a co-creating partner in the dance. Not just a vocabulary plaything. Which is precisely what they are now. By going at things in a slightly different way,  you open the doorway to a far more satisfying and co-creating dancing experience than anything else! Don't mishear this as 'Passive' dancing is bad (which is what happens a good portion of the time), it isn't fun and Miles said....not! Some people like that. They like turning off their ability to chose and would rather let someone else do the driving. But then ... (there's always a 'then') a piece of music comes on that they really like and well...they get involved and would like to make a few choices on their own. But unfortunately they're with a Lead who just doesn't allow for this stuff. And it feels kind of limiting. And once they've gotten used to making a few choices, they'll want to do more of it and make it a regular part of their dance to interpret those musical ideas they're having in their head.

Put another way, ideally we want to create 'space' for the Follower to have a choice in what they're being asked to do. Doing so generates a sensation of comfort that you're allowing the freedom to choose, which in turn generates an investment in what they're doing and more importantly how they're doing it. All this from an Argentine Cross

The Dancing Reality is that no matter what's written here, no matter what I say as a teacher, you're not going to change what you're doing. You're going to keep doing what you do because you a.) don't know any better. and b.) It's comfortable. c.) Change is hard. d.) All this business of the Active Follower is absolute crap (unless you're the Follower in which case, they completely get it). 

Thought is hard. Better...yes...better is hard. So who wants to do all that work to be better when it's so much easier to just to continue doing the same things over and over again! The reality is that you would rather continue down the pathway that you're on than to change what you're doing. The reality is that you like the automagical cross. It just makes things soooo much easier for both partners and really the whole floor if the Follower just crosses their damned feet. It means that as a Lead, you don't have to think so much.  And as a Follower we can have about 10 seconds of what is essentially 2 and a half minutes of pushing and pulling, of peace.  That's the reality. 

Fixing it ? Well, there's a really simple solution, it's something that both lead and follower must do. Hmmmm, however as a FREE user, you're not able to see the full solution, you have to upgrade to either a Silver, Gold, or Diamond level user! Once you do that you'll be able to see this solution to this problem as well as over 100+ videos on tango technique, codigos, and more. Just click that little button below that says "SUBSCRIBE".

 

The Second Step Problem

The Second Step Problem

There is a constant malady for Leads that they may not realize that they're doing. If they're engaging Forward Intention, on the first step, which in turn asks the Follower to extend their free leg, what happens on the next step is where the real problem rears it's ugly head: The 2nd Step Lead Issue!

The Problem: As the Lead gets to the end of their first forward step, they'll tend towards standing upright, vertical, and then thinking that the Follower is following, will continue forwards without forward intention.  As a result they'll slide their foot (really their leg) 'under' their follower's into the Follower's free space.

From a Following Perspective, you are so indoctrinated to 'following' that you don't even realize that you're co-creating part of the problem. You know that you're supposed to go backwards, and so from the moment the Lead steps into your space you instinctively step backwards, without really listening if there was in fact a 'lead' present. Further still, your leg extension is a mixed bag response, typically with a bent knee going backwards as you pick your foot up off the floor all the while moving backwards and trying to transfer your weight going backwards. So by the time the 2nd step comes around you 'give' you Lead (the person, not the action) the desired response by default and keep doing it from that point forward. To be fair this is partly your issue for not being an honest Follower, and partly your dance partner's fault, for not being clear with you. Now some of you will hear this as 'wait for your Lead', which is an erroneous phrase that we hear so much of as Followers from our teachers that it becomes 2nd nature to us. As a result of this message being communicated to us repeatedly we end up becoming slow, lethargic, and non-responsive. This is not about 'waiting', but is in fact about 'listening', and there is a radical difference between the two. At the same time if you're thinking that this is simple word replacement you would be wrong. It's not. It's a mind shift from a passive form of dancing (waiting) to a very active form of dancing (listening). Listening is an active choice, because it requires mental engagement on your part. Every time that you give the Lead exactly they want, you are in fact encouraging them to continue to do X, Y, and Z which you know (from dancing with better Leads) is less-than-desirable, you're sending the message that what that is doing is spot and should actually continue to do it. This is an error. If you want to send the right message, follow exactly what was led (for now) and nothing more. If you don't feel it, you don't go there. Don't assume, listen.  At the same time, don't believe that because I'm picking on the Follower right here, that this is a Follower problem, it's not. It's a co-contributed issue!

From a Leading Perspective, you have issues my friend. First and foremost, your issue is a lack of kinesthetic awareness. Secondly, you are trusting or believing that the Follower is going to give you what you want by moving backwards on their own. Thirdly, your level of proprioception is way off from where it should be. That said, your primary issue, aside from the above, is that are unaware that you want to keep the forward intention going...well...forward. There is always, always, always that tiny amount of it. Every time that you back off on the forward intention it sends a message to the Follower that we're stopping. As a result, we should stop as a couple, but we don't. the Follower is confused a bit, and you just blindly move forward expecting that the Follower will go with you. And there's your problem right there! The expectation that the Follower will just go with you. That's problem number 1. Problem number 2 comes in the form, of the today's topic - The Second Step Problem. Let's assume that you're leading from intention and not resistance, and that you employ a little lean forward. That lean forward is your forward intention, it's just enough to ask the Follower to extend their leg, hence the intention part. This is not apilado though. Apilado would be the balancing of full on lean against each partner, a shared weight between the partnership. Something akin to what Carlos Gavito would have done. Similar but not the same. As we complete the first step, we become vertical again, taking out the 'lean' forward (or forward intention), and now on the 2nd step we rear back a bit, and then slide our leg under the Followers trying to continue forward. This is less than desirable for a variety of reasons, most notably that we have not actually sent a message to the Follower that they should continue backwards. We just assume that it's going to happen. Secondly, is that we become vertical and thereby pulling back on the reigns as it were (thereby stopping the Follower, if they were being honest, which they're not). And Thirdly we attempt to cheat the second step by sliding it into the Follower's free space, and then bob-and-weave the next few steps trying to work things together. The embrace becomes unwieldy, the partnership of the couple becomes unstable, we have 'bumper cars' basically. Not a pleasant experience. 

The Dancing Reality is that this issue happens so often and so frequently that no one bothers to understand why it's happening or more importantly how the hell to fix it. Or even to recognize that it's an issue. However, the better Lead in the room knows what the problem is, and the better Follower may not be able to describe the issue but they do know that there's an issue and it's having them work harder than they want to, which is reason number 9843 (on a list of reasons) why a particular better Follower will say "NO" to a particular Lead's cabeceo

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