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Cross Body Incrementals – Tango Topics

Cross Body Incrementals

Let’s get something out of the way immediately, ok…a few things: This particular Tango Topic is a Tango Topics phrase. Meaning that you’re not going to find it in any tango class with any other teacher. Secondly this topic refers to a class of vocabulary that isn’t particularly sexy to talk about, “talk” being the operative word. Thirdly after watching the video above, you’re going to ask yourself, “what’s the point ?”. And you’d be right to ask that question. It’s actually, almost quite boring to watch. Watching it is one thing, doing it on the other hand, is radically different, and it sooooo vicseral in it’s application that you’ll want to spend all of your time doing nothing but just because of the way it feels when it’s done properly.  And that right there is the key component. Doing it properly.

To be clear a Cross Body Incremental is not necessarily the topic that makes you go, “WOW!!! OMG!! I want THAT!!!”. It’s just not. And yet, this particular topic is quite literally every. single. thing. about tango that you find to be fun, intimate, and absolutely delicious at the same time. It’s that good. So yeah, on the outside looking in, not so much. On the inside,  doing it….OH MY F*CKING GOD!!!! So without further adieu, today’s Tango Topic - Cross Body Incrementals.

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What is a Cross Body Incremental ? In its simplest form a Cross Body Incremental is motion that is generated from Opposition, which results in the Follower’s leg extension across the meridian line of the couple, usually to the opposite side. The distinction between Cross Body Incrementals and a ‘step’, is that there’s typically no weight transfer at all in Cross Body Incrementals. Where it gets its name from is the fact this is all about, say it with me, ‘incremental’ motion. Meaning you don’t have to do this all at once but rather in tiny little bits, which typically match the beat, or an 8th or 16th note in the music (this is NOT shown in the video). So what’s the Cross Body part if it’s just incremental motion ? Isn’t that kinda like Traspie ? No, for two reasons. In Traspie, which is typically employed in Milonga…typically, there is a slight weight transfer. In this instance, there is no weight transfer. Secondly, in Traspie, the motion is usually (very often) linear. Meaning ? That the Lead will invoke the Follower to extend their leg backwards or forward, or side in linear fashion. In this instance, the Follower is being asked to extend and oppose across the Lead’s body, and across the couples meridian line in close embrace. So in essence while it may appear to be a Traspie. It is anything but!

Difficulty Rating:  (2.5 / 5)

Following Perspective. Cross Body Incrementals rely heavily on you, and your ability to listen and to respond appropriately, and if we drill down a bit more, it’s all about your technique and the execution of that technique. You’re going to believe, erroneously so, that there’s really nothing to the Cross Body Incremental, and wonder why on earth you need a video on this stuff, right ? So let’s address this, there is a very specific aspect to the Cross Body Incremental that not only makes it work, but makes it so frakkin’ delish that your Leads will absolutely love you for it. Once they learn to lead this stuff properly, they’ll want to engage the Cross Body Incremental constantly SIMPLY because of how it feels to lead YOU to do so! The key there is ‘once they learn to lead …’. That’s it right there. That’s the beginning, the middle, and the end of it. However, you as a Follower can still make this stuff feel absolutely frakkin’ amazing in spite of the fact that Mr. Lead isn’t actually leading this stuff but rather ‘indicating’ that they’re leading it. Which happens more often than not. They think or believe that they’re doing one thing when in fact they’re not. Which creates LOTS and LOTS of confusion for you and for them.

The Two Things You Have to be Aware of ?

The reality is that there are actually 3, and a 4th if we’re being persnickety, which if you were a paying subscriber you’d actually get to read about below. But because you’re not one, that information is quite decidedly hidden from you.

The two most important things you have to be aware of are:

a.) Responding to the Opposition … PROPERLY.

b.) Lifting or bending the knee to extend the leg.

Bent knees aside for the moment, let’s deal with the first issue: The Responding to the Opposition part. The fact is that a good portion of the time you, and your lead (this isn’t just a Follower thing, it’s both roles) both respond poorly to Opposition, either in the case of the Lead not leading it, or in this case as it relates to you not ‘following’ it, and as a result you end up perpendicular to each other, almost in a Follower’s Calecita, as shown here >

Back to the bent knee thing, the fact is that a lot of teachers (this one included) seem to propose that you can not and should not bend your knee at any point along the step process. And that’s just not the case. The reality is that the knee must bend. Absolutely, we just want to minimize that bend as much as possible and to clean it up so that it’s not so …. ummm … ‘bendy’, but rather we want to accentuate the line of the couple. But that’s a topic for another day.

The Oppositional Key. This stuff only works with the use of Opposition. Learning to lead it, and in your case, understanding that you as a Follower must match that Opposition and then go a little further. Quite decidedly wrapping your body around your lead, without transferring your weight to do it. However, if Opposition is not present, you as a Follower, have 2 choices. 1.) You can continue on as if nothing happened, because … well, nothing happened. If it’s not led, then why would you do anything, right ? Or 2.) You can superimpose the implied idea of Opposition onto your lead, which is akin to being an  ‘Active’ Follower, and really edging towards being a  ‘Delicious’ Follower. Ideally we want the second one for a variety of reasons not the least of which is it makes you a very desirable Follower. However, you can rightfully manufacture something that isn’t there so you have to work with what you’re given, or in this case, not a whole lot.

The Fine Print. For the Follower this is all about Legs and feet. And in specific how closely you place your foot next to your Lead’s without actually engaging a weight transfer. If you extend too far away from the Lead’s foot, you’re going to create a bit of a problem for yourself. Which is, however far away you go, you’ll have to retract that extension. Further still, the further away (on the linear) from your body’s natural meridian (the longitudinal axial line) that you go, the more difficult or unstable you will become. So, in short, closer to the Lead is better. Muuuuuch closer. To be clearer, today’s Tango Topic does go over in intricate detail the requisite Follower Technique in 3 different sections of the video: Opposition, Legs, and Feet, separately, detailing each area.

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Leading Perspective. The key component here is really Opposition. It’s the engine of this tool and technique. If you want mastery over this piece of vocabulary, you must master your Opposition first and foremost. Every Lead that sees this stuff leaps to the wrong conclusion that this is all about using their arms to pull, push, and then twist the Follower this way or that. And that’s not the case at all. As a matter of fact, you don’t need your arms in any way, shape, or form as shown in the video above. Which begs the question, how do you keep the Follower ‘with’ you if you don’t use your arms ? What about the La Marca Lead ?

Keeping the Follower with You ? This is not accomplished by pulling the Follower into you as a Lead. This is accomplished by foot placement, yours, not theirs. This is also accomplished by constant maintenance of this idea. Meaning that you’re always, always, always managing the space between yourself and the Follower’s position to keep them in front of you. That means lots and lots of micro adjustments with every step, and very precise, and absolute control over listening to where the Follower goes, and not watching where the Follower goes. That means ‘feeling’ their body in proximity to yours and through yours. For those of you that are Intensive Level Students this should sound vaguely familiar. This is proprioception! (follow the link if you don’t know what that is) Feeling where the Follower is in space and time and making the necessary micro adjustments that allow you to Lead X, Y, and Z without making it seem like you’re pushing and pulling, because you’ve already adjusted to their physiological position.

The ‘La Marca’ Lead. In this instance, your skills employing La Marca as a way of indicating X, Y, and Z do not work here without pulling and pushing. You may think or believe that that little but of pulling the Follower into you to ‘mark’ X, or ‘Y’ helps you here. It doesn’t. It actually creates more problems than it is worth for the simple fact that this isn’t about marking a step, it’s about employing Opposition. So La Marca ? Not so much with that.

The Opposition Part. While this is the engine of the motion, controlling this stuff is absolutely crucial to your success. Too much Opposition and you end up with the Follower thinking or believing that you’re engaging turn and you lose the incremental parts. Not enough and the Follower is wondering what on god’s green earth you’re asking for! There is a fine line here, and you must learn to exploit that fine line at all costs. This is no mean feat. It something that takes time, patience, and lots of understanding to do and to do well. Not to drill the point home, but this is one more reason why you need a video on this stuff. 

The Pink Elephant In The Room. The fact is that for a lot of leads regardless of the vocabulary that the believe they are leading, they don’t actually lead it. The ‘indicate’ said vocabulary. And their indication is more like a head nod in a specific direction and their arms employ lots of tension and force to reinforce that ‘indication’. This is not desirable. At this point, if you’ve been paying attention to what Tango Topics is on about, you’d rightfully stop and ask the question, “Wait, isn’t that just ‘Intention Based Dancing’ ? No. It’s not. Typically what happens in Intention based dancing is that the whole body is engage in the execution of that Intention. In Indication, it is as described above. They’re light years apart from one another. At the same time, indication also has a slippery slope attached to it. And that’s the fact that there’s a lot of starting and stopping going on. Meaning ? That a Lead will start an idea and then immediately stop that idea forcing the Follower to figure out the confusion of the ideas, meanwhile the Lead has moved on to the next idea and so on and so on….This is NOT desirable.

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

A few paragraphs ago, if your eyes haven't glazed over yet, mentioned something about playing with the Follower's Extensions, further still very early on it mentioned something about a class of vocabulary that is unique solely to Tango Topics: Enter the Golden Nugget Extensions. Where this topic leaves off, that video picks up and really plays with all the rest of the ideas that are not touched on here. Playing with Forward steps, back steps, side steps, applied disassociations, all done within the construct of the Golden Nugget of Tango! You should go look at the article on the Golden Nugget, and consider purchasing the Golden Nugget Extensions! It really is the bomb! 😉 There's also a bundled product that gives you access to both the Golden Nugget, and The Golden Nugget Extensions.

The Fundamental Stepping Stone! The only way this stuff works is really Opposition. So it really does work to your benefit to work on controlling your Oppositional skills from a leading perspective as well as from a Following perspective. This particular piece of Tango Topics vocabulary is a further extension of the walking exercise that is presented to every student that comes through the Intensive Training Process. While you’re going through it, you rightfully ask, and point out that no one walks like this! Correct. No one does. But this isn’t about walking, it’s a multipurpose exercise who’s goals are multifaceted. One of which happens to be this piece of vocabulary! So it not only behooves (10 cent word) you to study Opposition but to work on your walk using the Tango Topics Methodology! Ummm in case you’re not clear, that’s a hint to SUBSCRIBE!

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video. This video comes in at 36m:38s in length in 9 Sections. Separate Lead Technique and detailed Follower Technique is explained here in the video.

Section 1 - Introduction - 00:04:26
Section 2 - Lead Technique - 00:04:36
Section 3 - The Weight Change - 00:02:41
Section 4 - Embrace Clarity - 00:00:53
Section 5 - Cross Body Close Up - 00:02:34
Section 6 - Follower Technique - Opposition - 00:05:09
Section 7 - Follower Technique - Legs - 00:03:05
Section 8 - Follower Technique - Feet - 00:04:15
Section 9 - Dancing Ideas/ End - 00:08:20

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

Hello Dear Viewer. If you were logged into Tango Topics right now you'd see a completely different message here. If you had registered as a free user, you'd see a FREE TIP that goes with this article. Something for you to think about it going forward. If you were a paying subscriber, you'd see some notes about the video that go a bit deeper than the 'free tip'. Items that were either not included in the video, or areas that you need to concern yourself that are outside the scope of the article. But alas you're seeing this bullshit message instead of doing the right thing and registering as a free user! Is it that hard ? No. It'll take you all of 30 seconds. And if you're interested further you can always sign up for a subscription.

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 how a Cross Body Incremental works! 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 couples that you're used to seeing are performing 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. Or you can use this website in addition to your local classes and workshops. 

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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Musical Interpretation – Parts 3 & 4

Please go look at Parts 1 and 2 of Tango Topics Musical Interpretation series. 

Musical Interpretation - Parts 3 & 4

One aspect of Musical Interpretation that almost never gets talked about is the how you actually Interpret the Music. How do you develop the skills necessary to allow you to interpret the music in such a way as to make it structured, clear, clean and most of all appear ‘fluid’ ? How do you do that ? That’s what workshops and classes are for, right ? Yes and no. The 'Yes' part should be self-explanatory by isn't. And the 'no' part requires a bit of history (see Parts 1 & 2 for that).  The long story shortened is that as you'll see below, most Tango 'Musicality' classes or workshops are all on 'Aspects' of tango music not what you do wiht the rest of the song. This series is on the what you do with the rest of the song! 

Today’s Tango Topic takes shows you the meat and potatoes (as it were) of one way on how to Interpret the Music, with the end goal to create a structured process that allows us to make free choices instead of haphazard choices that don’t necessarily fit what's going on in the music. In one respect this is about training you, and in another, this is about conditioning you or in this case re-conditioning you to respond in a very structured manner. For most people when they begin this process of Musical Interpretation they are rightfully overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the problem. How do you interpret the music when the topic of Tango Music is so vast ? How do you even begin to tackle the problem because not only is Tango Music vast (over 90,000 pieces and counting, and only a fraction of that we actually dance to on a regular basis) but it’s also insanely multi-layered, and multifaceted? If you thought the vocabulary and the execution of technique was the unending onion, the music itself will drive you right over the wall of madness! How do you solve a problem this vast ?

There is no one way to interpret the music. There is no all-encompassing methodology to interpreting the music, no ‘one-size-fits-all’. There is no ‘right’ and there is no ‘wrong’. There is only desirable and less-than-desirable, so get that thought right out of your head! There are many ways to interpret the music. Some of them are desirable, and a good portion of the processes that you’ve likely come into contact with are less-than-desirable. And there’s a really good reason why they’re less-than-desirable. It’s because they only address a piece of a particular aspect of the music. For example: What do you do when you hear a Sincopa in the music ? (Hint, there are several things you can do)

Answer: One thing you can do and should do is once you hear it, once you are able to recognize the Sincopa (there are 4 types by the way), you can’t walk through it, and yet…that’s exactly what most people do. They walk right through it. Most are confused by the idea of Sincopa. However, Sincopa, is an aspect of the music. It’s not the entire song! What do you do with the rest of that piece of music ? Wander around for 2 minutes waiting for the Sincopa to happen ? No. That’s where Today’s Tango Topic comes in. It, or in this case, they deal with how to handle the rest of the song! Today’s Tango Topic is about two co-interdependent topics that create the necessary stepping stones towards Interpreting the music fluidly, Alternation & Symmetry.

Before We Go Down The Rabbit Hole. Let’s be clear about the end goal here, the thing that we’re really after: To be able to freely, and fluidly, interpret the music so that our dancing matches what we hear in the music, and then (here’s the hard part) are able to execute that idea musically. HA! Easier written/said than actually done. The methodology on how to do that was covered in Musical Interpretation Part 1 and Part 2. If you’re not familiar with it, please go read it thoroughly before you proceed here. It is a pre-requisite.

However, before we can get to the ‘freely and fluidly’ parts, we have to jump through some hoops for the ‘interpretation’ stuff to actually work on a social dance floor, otherwise, you’re quite literally going to waste your time. First and foremost you absolutely must be able to properly identify the 5 Pause Types, religiously, without fail! You can not and will not be able to interpret the music without them. Everything, everything that Tango Topics talks about musically is built off of this construct. Failure to be able to identify without fail every single Musical Pause in a particular piece of music (Tango, Vals, Milonga, Tango-Milonga, Tango-Vals, Milonga Criolla, Milonga Porteña, etc) and you’re just pissing into the wind, and what Follows will be a complete waste of your time in reading this stuff. Put another way, so that you get the gravity of the situation. Can you correctly identify the 7 pauses in the following piece ?

If so, then you can move on to the next stage of your tango development, interpreting the music. If you can’t, then you’re going to have a problem with today’s tango topics. Why ? Because the topics are based on the idea that the pause must be respected, it’s what breaks up the music into logical, bite-sized chunks that make it accessible to us. Instead of arbitrary 8 count that may or may not actually be present in the music which may or may not have an actual relationship to what you’re hearing in the music. The 5 Pause Types are really markers, and while the piece above only shows you 2 of the 5 (the 1st and the 4th), they’re common enough markers that you should be able to distinguish them. However, doing so religiously ? That’s an entirely different prospect.

Secondly, you must be well versed in the 6 Ways of Walking (from a Leading and Following perspective). This is about walking, not Turning, not Sacadas, not Volcadas, not Ganchos, not Paradas, none of that stuff, but Walking with your partner. Elegantly. Cleanly. Clearly. Tango is by its very nature a ‘walking’ dance at its core. While modern Tango has become a dance all about the turn due to the fact that the ronda doesn’t actually move anymore, and due to the fact that Gustavo Naviera made the Follower’s Molinete ‘sexy’, but instead it does not move so we have to find other things to do while we’re not actually going anywhere, the foundation of that movement is still ‘walking’. So it serves our ultimate purpose to understand, and more importantly, be able to execute the 6 Ways of Walking from either perspective of Leading or Following. Religiously! Failure to do so and you’re not only pissing into the wind but having said piss splatter back at you! Not a pleasant thought. You must, must, must be able to execute a clean, clean, stable walk without hanging, without pulling, without pushing, without compression in any way, shape, or form. Failure to do so, and again, more piss in places you don’t want anything to do with!

These two points cannot be stressed enough. 1.) The 5 Musical Pause Types. and 2.) The 6 Ways of Walking are PREREQUISITES to further going down the rabbit hole here. That said, proceed at your own risk of further confusion. Hence the reason why this part of the topic today is called BEFORE We Go Down The Rabbit Hole. You have been warned.

The Topics of Alternation & Symmetry: In their simplest forms, these ideas by themselves aren’t all that exciting, and if we’re being really honest, once you see them you’re going to say to yourself, "I don’t get it. Why is this stuff important ?". Remember that Alternation & Symmetry are only a stepping stone to our ultimate goal of dancing 'fluidly', and seemingly freely, but with STRUCTURE! This stuff (Alternation & Symmetry) is that Structure that you’re looking for! It’s the very heart of Structuring Tango Music. Well, truth be told, far more Symmetry than Alternation. These concepts and practices are the answer to the question, “What do I do with the rest of the dance ?”! That said, let's define these ideas:

Alternation: At its core, Alternation, is exactly what it sounds like - Alternating between two ideas or in this case, pieces of vocabulary. You pick two pieces of vocabulary and then ‘Alternate’ between them. That’s it. It couldn’t be any simpler than that.

Symmetry: Symmetry, on the other hand, is where we start to invoke a little bit of actual structure, and some rules! 5 of them in actuality. But before we get to that part, Symmetry is best defined as ‘executing’ Alternation in mated pairs.

That’s it, that’s all there is to it. You can stop reading now. Back to dancing. What a complete waste of your time, right ? Yup. Sure was. All that build up so that you could basically get to Alternating between two ideas, and then making it Symmetrical. Ok. Duh. So why on earth do you need a video on this stuff ?

Stop and think about it for a moment, do you actually know what it is that you’re Alternating ? or making Symmetrical ? or for that matter why you want to do it in the first place ? Well, of course, the 6 Ways of Walking right ? Not so fast. Yes, and no. Yes, because this is all about walking. And ‘no’ because there are some rules at work here. So you go right ahead and alternate this stuff until you’re blue in the face and see how far that gets you! You may come up with some interesting ideas but until you have mastered the 6 Ways of Walking (told you that you were going to get beat over the head with this stuff), and until you have mastered the 5 Musical Pause Types, Alternation and Symmetry are a complete waste of your time. Remember this is not about dancing to an ASPECT (remember ‘sincopa’ ?) in the music, but what you do with the REST of the DANCE! To be fair, Alternation and Symmetry does not deal with the end of the Musical Paragraph (see section 5), nor does it deal with the very important structural components of the song (see section 7), nor does it deal with how one goes about mapping a song (see section 8), nor does it deal with Accent notes (Section 7), nor Sincopa (Section 7), nor the specifics of a Turn (section 6), nor where (not how) you place an Argentine Cross! (see section 6). So you can alternate until you’re blue in the face, but knowing where this stuff exists and why creates the structure that we’re looking for.

The Musical Pause Component. The Musical Pause exists for a variety of reasons and rightfully deserves it’s own topic however, in this instance we talk about because it’s importance here is the backbone of everything we would like to do. Without it, musical structure can not be danced using this method. The pause is important just for this reason alone. However, there are 3 reasons why we as Dancers (from a Leading Perspective and a Following Perspective) want to respect the Musical Pause:

1.) The ‘Reset’ Button. Frequently, unless properly trained to do so, we fall out of alignment with our partners while dancing with them either through design (see ‘The Armpit Dancer’), or by happenstance (Turns, and Traveling Ochos).  In either case, we ideally want to be buttons-to-buttons with our partners. Unfortunately this does not happen all that often, and as a result we have to ‘Reset’ the partnership. At the same time while a misalignment is going on, usually we’re using our arms to force our partner to stay close to us. There’s tension in the embrace, pressure, compression, and the longer it goes on, the more painful it becomes. It’s work basically unless several things occur. One of them is a ‘Reset’. Using the musical pause is a logical place to not only reset the couple’s physiological alignment, but also reset the embrace!

2.) The Vocabulary Change. The Musical Pause is also a logical place to engage our vocabulary changes from one idea to the next. For a Lead that means changing to our next possible step/pattern/figure. From a Following perspective this means engaging an Adornment (not an embellishment, they’re not the same things).

3.) Structure. Employing the Musical Pause sets us on the path of creating Musical Structure with our dance, and what we’re hearing. And that’s what Tango Topic is doing, hopefully. It’s A tool for doing this. It’s not the only tool but it’s one of them to help in this process. Structure in this case means to create some kind of visual representation of order that shows us what’s actually happening in the music visually. There are several ways to dance to emphasize the music, one of them is pattern matching. Still another is counter matching, where you’re literally going against the music to show it’s poignancy. Still another is ‘impressionistic’, where you show a hint of the idea and let the viewer’s mind fill in the rest. However, this isn’t about performing for the 15th row or a room full of people. It’s showing your partner, you remember them, right ? It’s showing your partner how YOU are hearing the music and what’s possible! Contrary to what you have been shown or taught, Tango is first and foremost (today at least) a social dance, not a performance form. Although given the state of things, in 5 years this may or may not be true any longer for a variety of reasons.

Ideally once we go through this process of learning the pauses, and learning Alternation and Symmetry we will promptly forget them and start to freely associate ideas and concepts in the dance, but there are a few steps before that fluid choice can happen…freely. But understanding the importance of the pause and it’s place here should not be undersold or misunderstood.

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

Please go look at Parts 1 and 2 of Tango Topics Musical Interpretation series. 

The Details of Alternation: There are some details to this stuff. The devil is in the details. And brother this is some detail! The fact is that while the concepts are simple enough executing them is a whole different kettle of fish. You’re going to ask yourself why on earth do this ? And it’s a really valid question. The simplest answer is that it is one way to create structure in what we’re doing. It’s not the only way, but it is a starting point. And sometimes that’s all you really need, a starting point. This (Alternation & Symmetry) is that starting point! Mind you this is not the only way to create structure but it is a starting point, a beginning.

Before going any deeper, Alternation should not be confused with another Topic that we talk about around here ‘Alternates’, which is the 6th way of Walking. Alternation starts out with one choice, for example, a walk in parallel system, however at the musical pause, we instigate another of the 6 Ways of Walking that goes with the music. The kicker here is that there is no counting, no beat counting of any kind. You execute and respond until the next pause. Every time there is a musical pause, we change back to the 1st choice. This is Alternation in it’s simplest form.

There is no hard and fast rule about this idea. You could do this for the entire song, and to be fair…it’s been done, as an exercise. However, you do NOT want to do this for an entire song, except in practice. This is only a stepping stone. Only a means to an end. The goal here is not necessarily to be Mr. or Ms. proficient with the vocabulary changes, but more importantly to be facile with them! To be able to identify at the pause and execute at the pause said change, and then (here’s the hard part) remember to go back to what you were doing in the first place! Sounds simple, right ? Ok. Do it. Here’s an example:

Do that for an entire song. Every time. Without exception. No errors. No hiccups. No, if’s, and’s, or but’s. Do it. If you can do that, then you can move on to the next stage….Symmetry. And that’s where things go right off the rails!

The Details of Symmetry: In a Musical Paragraph there are anywhere between 4 to 6, sometimes 8 Musical Pauses. And as that is the case, there are usually ‘pairs’ of pauses, we can use that pairing of pauses (which is where this process gets its name from) to create ‘Symmetrical’ Patterns of ideas that represent those pauses in our dance! To be fair, while you could do this with almost any piece of step/pattern/figure, we ideally want to keep this ‘simple’ - hahaha, as if! The problem with a step, pattern, or figure is that isn’t malleable. It doesn’t allow for modification. Usually, one step is built upon the one that came before it. So modification doesn’t necessarily work in this instance. This is the primary reason why steps, patterns, and figures don’t work. And then there’s the tiny little problem that they don’t generally work on a social dance floor due to space requirements. This stuff ? DOES WORK ON A SOCIAL DANCE FLOOR BECAUSE IT FITS EVERYWHERE!!!!

However, as you’ll see, this is anything but ‘simple’. Symmetry as a whole can become quite complex and quite lurid as a way to dance with nearly infinite possibilities to play within a 3-minute song! The options are seemingly endless. Seemingly. There is an upper limit that for each possibility represented there are 17 available options with the 6 Ways of Walking. Honestly, though, a pattern or figure would be infinitely easier to do in many ways, because it removes all doubt as to what to do next. However, there is another skill that we’re actually building here, and that’s Facility. The ‘Facility’ to do all of this stuff off the top of our heads! Symmetry reinforces this skill and then doubles down on it, meaning that we build into our skillset not just facility but also it starts to build structure in what we’re doing.

Also, engaging Symmetry adds layer upon layer upon layer of options and opportunities for lots of accents and ‘playfulness’ in the music with lots and lots of places where BOTH partners can play not just the lead! If Alternation is the meat of the meal, Symmetry once you see it, is quite literally everything else about that meal that is appealing!

It should be noted that the ideas being presented here are more than enough without adding steps, patterns, and figures to keep you busy for months going through all the possible permutation and years to come. You could dance this way all night long without adding any pattern, or ‘spice’ or accent vocabulary (volcadas, sacadas, colgadas, ganchos, etc), and it’s not only a fun dance, it’s also visually appealing to watch and play with.

There are 6 types of Paired Symmetry where we use the words “Same” and “Opposite” each to represent 1 of the 6 ways of Walking, and where the ‘|’ represents a Musical Pause, and the “.” represents the END of the Musical Paragraph.

Type ‘A’: Same|Same | Opposite|Opposite | Same|Opposite.
Type ‘B’: Same|Opposite | Opposite|Same | Opposite|Same.
Type ‘C’: Opposite|Same | Same|Opposite | Opposite|Same.
Type ‘D’: Opposite|Opposite | Same|Same | Opposite|Same.
Type ‘E’: Same|Opposite | Same|Opposite | Same|Opposite.
Type ‘F’: Opposite|Same | Opposite|Same | Same|Opposite.

This is all gobbly-gook until you put some real values in there that make sense. So let’s do that using 2 of the 6 Ways of Walking.

For the ‘Same’ value we would use a Type 1a Walk (Parallel System on 2 Tracks) for ‘Opposite’ we would use a Type 3a Walk (Follower ‘Lazy’ Ochos).

Example Ideas:

Type ‘A’: 1a (Pause) 1a (Pause) 3a (Pause) 3a  (Pause) 1a (Pause) 3a (End Musical Paragraph).
Type ‘B’: 1a (Pause) 3a (Pause) 3a (Pause) 1a (Pause) 3a (Pause) 1a (End Musical Paragraph).
Type ‘C’: 3a (Pause) 1a (Pause) 1a (Pause) 3a (Pause) 3a (Pause) 1a (End Musical Paragraph).

You can fill in the rest for yourself. You can easily see how this plays out, and this is without turns, without crosses, without any spice vocabulary. It creates an ordered structure which provides near-infinite possibilities and variations. This is why Symmetry and the video series is an insanely powerful tool, and this is just 3 possibilities of the 6!

It should be noted that this is only what happens when there are only 4 pauses in a section of a Musical Paragraph, we remove the last set of pairs! What happens when there are 8 ? We double the pair sets! Again, structure and order!   

fun ? spice ? variety ? watch these videos!

The ‘Odd Pause’ Rule. Occasionally, not always but there are times when there are an odd number of Pauses or the ending of a Musical Paragraph where you want to do something a little different. While we will talk about that ending in Section 6 of the series in depth, we want to invoke The Odd Pause Rule. Which states that when you have an odd number of pauses or it’s the last pause before the end of the Musical Paragraph, we want to compress and reprise what we’ve done within the space of one pause! So, for example, we have a Type ‘A’ Structure of a Type 1a Walk (Pause) Type 1a (Pause) Type 3a Walk (Pause) Type 3a Walk ? Take out the pauses and compress everything so that it fits within the space of ONE pause!

So the effect would be this Example Ending or Odd Pause > 1a-1a-3a-3a
As a whole the entire paragraph would look like this, musically speaking >
1a (Pause) 1a (Pause) 3a (Pause) 3a (Pause) 1a-1a-3a-3a (End Musical Paragraph).

The Follower’s Role. In all of the above the Follower would be very tempted to completely disregard all of this stuff, and rightfully so, because seemingly so there’s almost nothing there for the Follower.

NOT TRUE!

Nothing could be further from the truth there. You quite possibly have the biggest role of all here! While the Lead is mapping this stuff out, you have to execute this stuff! Furthermore you have the possibility to decorate nearly everything that’s being asked of you here! Look at those structures above, again, and then think about Los Golpecitos (a touch/tap with the free foot before the step happens) just as an example! Now add in an adornment at the pauses, now add in Doble Golpecitos at the pauses or a patter, or a Caricia ….and you’ve got near infinite possibilities here. You’ve got places to add decorations nearly EVERYWHERE!

While the Adornment is the musical addition, the embellishment tends to happen at double time to the note or happens outside of the note or beat structure. Tends to. Not always but ‘tends to happen’. Tango Topics sees the Embellishment as exterior to the beat, whereas the Adornment would like to happen directly on the beat and at the pause. However, in either case, the Adornment or Embellishment is within the musical structure never outside of it. In other words, we, as Followers, never go outside of the music. If it’s not in the music, it’s not on the floor. This rule should also apply to the Lead as well. 😉

One More Thing. Remember that Alternation & Symmetry are only a stepping stone, they’re only a passageway towards created structure, or a latticework with our dance. Also, remember that this stuff does not replace what you’ve learned in other classes about ‘musicality’ or rightfully “Interpreting The Music”, it can and does work hand in hand with it. Remember that stuff that you’ve experienced in other classes on this topic is about the accent idea, mostly. This is what you do with the rest of the song!

Where can you study the Musical Stuff ? Tango Topics has a number of musical courses that you can take:

1.) (Beat Course) Clarify what the beat is, and is not, and then develop a regime to teach how to hear a beat within its proper tempo (speed) consistently. What are the markers for a beat, and what to listen for. 
2.) (Beat Course with Exercises
) Recalibrate someone’s innate (and quite natural) ordering and sorting skills, as it relates to hearing the ‘pattern’ of the music out of the chaos of the music, with the goal to hearing and retraining someone to hear ‘Musical Time’.
3.) (Pauses Course) Introduce the Dancer to the 5 Common Types of Musical Pauses that occur everywhere in Tango Music, and then practice hearing those pauses every day for 44 days with examples of Tango, Vals, and finally Milonga music of where a pause is, and then type those pauses, consistently through daily Tango del Dia quizzes. 😉 Starting with the 14 Days of Tango Music.
4.) (Accents Course) Introduce the dancer to Musical Accents, Off Notes, La Variacion, and The Singer, and employ Tango Del Dia Level 2.
5.) (Structure Course) Introduce the dancer to the overall structure of the music and the 6 (sometimes 8) parts of a song.

And of course, as a subscriber, you can see the entire 54m:22s video that you currently can't see unless you're a subscriber. 🙂 

This video is NOT for sale. You can only view it with a Tango Topics Subscription.

About The Video. This video package comes in at 54m:22s in length in 5 Sections.

Section 3a - Alternation - The Basic Idea - 00:14:35
Section 3b - Alternation - Walking Ideas - 00:06:10
Section 3c - Alternation - With the Music - 00:08:21
Section 4a - Symmetry - The Whole Ball of Wax - 00:17:17
Section 4b - Symmetry - With the Music - 00:07:59

This video can not be purchased, only viewed online via Tango Topics Subscription. 

Watch It On Youtube? Why should you subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because this stuff doesn’t exist anywhere on Youtube. That’s why! This content has been sitting in the back of my mind for the better portion of 8+ years. I have spent most of that time refining it through teaching intensives, clarifying the ideas, cleaning up the inconsistencies that existed with the theories, and practices, and ended up developing this course as a result. It has been tested, and tried through hundreds of dancers that have gone through the intensive process.

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.

Please go look at Parts 1 and 2 of Tango Topics Musical Interpretation series. 

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Lead Exercises

Lead Exercises

Most Leads come to the dance floor with the idea in their head of what they're going to do from the moment they come into the Embrace. This is not always true, but a good portion of the Salon, Marathon, and Encuentro Leads will already have the first few bars of music mapped out. While their dance is not entirely mapped out (tsk, tsk, tsk), the first few measures are, and this is based on the Neurology of Leading that they’ve trained themselves to do over time with experience. And from there they choreograph a dance on the fly that fits the music within the available space (again the Neurology of Leading). To the casual observer, they're dancing fluidly. Seemingly effortlessly putting one idea behind another.  However, in order to get to this stage of dancing seemingly takes a long time to do.

There is the traditional method of trial and error to achieve this way of dancing: Which is lots of endless classes/workshops on vocabulary that they’ll almost never use, to pieces of music that they’ll never hear again (thankfully), and then spending lots and lots and lots of time social dancing, and ‘practicing’ (ahem), and throwing in a few private lessons here and there for good measure, and hopefully coming out the other side a slightly improved competent social dancer, which speaks nothing to their embrace, interpretation the music, their ability to execute vocabulary, or attention to detail, or leaving their ego at the door. This is the norm of how things are done. This is 'trial and error' because the Lead tries things out and the results are pretty hit or miss most of the time for a variety of reasons that are nuanced to detail here (that's another topic for another day). Also during this time period, the experience can be long, usually painful, ego-bruising process (if they're lucky), that can take upwards of two to three years at minimum assuming travel, number of partners, distance to larger and multiple cities, level of diligence and attention to detail in multiple disciplines: Technique, Vocabulary, Musical Interpretation, Codigos, Marathon vs. Encuentro vs. Salon styles of dancing, and a host of other things with the end goal being not just a competent social dancer, but rather a competent social dancer that can freely and fluidly interpret the music with their partners, e.g. dancing fluidly. 

What if we could shave off (to reduce by) a few months, maybe a year, this process, possibly cut it back to about 6 months entirely ? What if there were a series of stepping stones that could quite rightfully change how a Lead responds to the music, changes how they interpret the music, that reduces their inhibitions, their hesitations, and removes all repetition from their vocabulary choices, and removes any and all excessive usages vocabulary ? That's where Today's Tango Topic comes in. 

There is another method that creates this series of stepping stones (no pun intended) to getting the Lead to a place where they can freely interpret the music, and freely choreograph their ideas that map their vocabulary onto the music so that it fits perfectly. These are Lead Exercises.

The full video is not for sale. It can only be seen in its entirety with a Gold level subscription or better. 

What is a Lead Exercise ? This is a series of linked vocabulary choices that are practiced with some frequency on a weekly basis within the construct of 2 different embrace ideas, as well as with a metronome and NOT a piece of music. The reason ? A piece of music has lots and lots of nuances that can and do throw most people off, it confuses the hell out of them. So rather than work with a specific piece of music, we work with a time signature independent of the musical nuances, or in this case…the beat and ONLY the beat with pauses every 4 or 8 notes. So put simply a Lead Exercise is not about technique in this case, but rather a series of exercises designed specifically to retrain your Leading mind to respond to the changing conditions of the floor, the changing or challenges of Leading someone, what to do next, and most importantly to fix that tiny little problem of the hesitation described below. At the same time, this series of exercise also solves two latter problems of repetition and too much vocabulary by pairing things back to simple constructs to start with, instead of complex vocabulary sequences. Which is all designed to force you to work on the transitional elements rather than remembering steps, patterns, and figures that often fail and don’t necessarily help you all that much.

Difficulty Rating:  (3 / 5)

Following Perspective. Let’s get this out of the way immediately. When dealing with Lead Exercises, there’s quite literally nothing new here for you, no new technique, no vocabulary, nothing musically (because we’re dealing with a metronome), nada. However you’d be really remise to miss this opportunity in your own practice regime! Which is to say, that you should take the opportunity to practice your own technique and it’s execution within the construct of a metronome, AND within the construct of a Lead’s vocabulary ideas, while at the same time, working on your extensions, your stability, how your landing your foot on the floor, where it’s landing and practicing the repetition of these ideas, as well as staying in the embrace and staying ‘buttons to buttons’ with your lead, while at the same time not hanging, pulling, or pushing, not compressing, nothing but the lightest touch. While this video showcases 3 important beginning vocabulary choices, this same methodology of practicing what you already know and drilling down deeper into your own technique execution can and should be applied elsewhere in every practice situation. That said, there’s nothing new here for you except a golden opportunity to practice what you already know and making it second nature to you! 😉 At the same time while all of that is going on, this is also a really good time for you take apart what you’re doing and to not just do the same thing over and over again, but to analyze it and deconstruct how you’re executing X, Y, and Z. To slowly and mindfully practice what you’re doing, and to make minute changes to try things out, and to ask for feedback (in the appropriate places - AT A PRACTICA).

Leading Perspective. Assuming that you’ve gone through your first trial by fire, the “Oh my god, I am an idiot” experience, and your ego has survived intact only to come to the 2nd Trial by Fire of “What do I do next ?”. Assuming that you’ve landed here, understand something - Every Lead that you’ve ever seen, or will see in the world has gone through, or will go through this same stage. It is a very common experience for most leads.

Let’s create a scenario which happens quite frequently: You cabeceo a Follower, and they accept, you walk around the floor (not across … tsk, tsk, tsk) to get to them. As you try to enter the line of dance, you perform a male Cabeceo in the line of dance BEFORE you step onto the floor, because you heard that that’s the right thing to do (It is by the way). The oncoming lead accepts and creates space for you to enter the floor. You step onto the floor with your partner. You embrace. They embrace. You do your standard opening, which you don’t realize is your standard opening, and then it hits you….what do you do next ? You don’t have time to sit there and dither about it, you have to keep the Follower moving, right ? 

In that moment, one of 3 things can and do occur based on where you are at along the spectrum of your dance, well actually 4, but the 4th is the one we want and are trying to get to. So really there are 3 in this instance:

1.) The Hesitation State. At the beginning, for most Leads, you will quite literally hesitate between one vocabulary choice and the next. It’s a freeze really, you’re stuck as to what choice to make next. If learning to Lead Tango is like learning a new Language then you’ll know that learning to put two sentences together so that they flow from one idea to the next takes time and patience and practice. And for a while you’re going to sound like a blathering idiot. The same is true of Tango. So putting simple Tango sentences together to form complex ideas is challenging, there will be gaps. Those gaps ? That is the Hesitation State. Focusing on the hesitations, creates stress in you, and you don’t know what to do next or how to resolve it. It continues to happen, as the dance progresses. Add to that the stress to make the dance interesting, and to keep the Follower interested. It’s enough to make you blow a gasket! Mind you this is all your head. It’s not real. The Follower has enough going on to keep them busy, but in your mind it’s a complete disaster!

2.) The Repetition State. In this state you default to the same piece of vocabulary over and over and over again for one of two reasons:
       a.) Because you’re too nervous to do anything else due 2 reasons which will freak you right out, and create a state of mental anxiety based on:
              i.) The available space you have to 'do' anything. and/or
             ii.) The quality of the Follower you're dancing with.
      You can not even conceive of doing anything else in that moment, so as a result you end up doing the same things over and over again. Think the ‘Rock Step’ Lead! and/or...
       b.) Because it’s familiar to you. It’s your go to move. Most of the time you don’t even realize that you’re doing it, unless someone points it out to you. And even then you’ll default to it because it’s easy, simple, and comfortable. Whether or not you execute is a different story all together.

3.) The Vocabulary State. In this state the Lead has attended one too many workshops, watched one too many youtube videos, and spent just a little too much time in every vocabulary class within a hundred kilometer radius. When you step on the floor, you generate vocabulary choice after vocabulary choice after vocabulary choice. Every 3 steps it’s a completely different idea. This is usually done without an eye towards creating structure to map what’s happening in the music, or a care that the Follower is actually Following them but usually being rushed (see Rushing the Follower) through their vocabulary executions. Generally, you dance like this because you don’t want to bore the Follower with all that ‘walking business’. Sacada, Volcada, Colgada, Gancho, Gancho, Gancho, Gancho, Rock Step, Rock Step, Rock Step, Volcada is more exciting and fun or so you believe.

To be fair, all 3 of these states are quite common among a certain class of Lead, and while you may not self identify with this stuff, trust that you're doing these things on a regular basis, you just don't know it. 

The Fundamental Stepping Stone! In all three of these states, while they are seemingly natural outgrowths of each other in succession, there is a something that is missing in your dancing abilities that can and does prevent all 3 states from occurring > A Fundamental Stepping Stone. Which is that no one, not a single teacher, has drilled into you a necessary series of vocabulary exercises while at the same time removing all the nuances, all the ‘stuff’ that can confuse you, which in the end actually helps you to plan out how you can and should respond as a Lead.

To be fair, this video series of exercises starts out with something insanely simple -> Parallel Walking > Milonguero (‘Lazy’) Ochos and Parallel Walking > Traveling Ochos. And while this is seemingy insanely simple vocabulary, doing it is a whole other kettle of fish! This is the foundation of what you will spend most of your time doing anyway, so why not practice it religiously ? What tends to end up happening for most Leads is  wandering all over the floor, aimlessly executing whatever strikes their fancy, and can fit. However the result is that the dance, from the outside looking in is haphazard at best, and a hot-mess at its worst! So why not replace those three experiences above with a practiced exercise that you can quite literally execute everywhere in all 3 dances (tango, vals, and milonga) ? This idea works because the execution is not arbitrary, but specifically built off the musical pauses, there is an actual structure there that quite literally fits EVERYWHERE in the dance! 

The primary goal is to drill into your body and mind two transition points Walking INTO Something. Where the ‘Something’ can be but is not limited to Ochos, Turns, Crosses, etc, and then back to Walking. The transition points ? Walking INTO Something, and Something INTO Walking or Turning, Or Crossing, Or.... It's the transitions that you're practicing, not the vocabulary itself! 

While we ideally want to be facile with our walk, which is another reason why we study the 6 Ways of Walking, we can just as easily employ just Parallel System walking as our starting point. It should be noted that the reason why we study the 6 Ways of Walking, and even though the link to the 6 Ways is a product link, you still need to study them, religiously. Why ? Because doing so will create even more options and opportunities for you so that you do not continually default to the same solution set over and over again. Put simply, repetition has its place, but not every 3 steps. 🙂

This particular series of exercises is a necessary stepping stone towards Choreographing a dance on the fly. It builds the necessary tools and The Neurology of Leading that we ideally want, further, it alleviates all the stress of what to do next because now you have a series of tools to do just that. While you could loosely call it a pattern, it is anything but that. It’s an exercise that quite factually translates to the dance floor immediately.

The reality is that choreographing on the fly doesn’t happen overnight. But the way it’s presented sometimes, not always, but sometimes, you would think erroneously that you should just be able to dance effortless and employ whatever vocabulary choices you want as you see fit. And that’s not the case. No one can effortlessly do this without extensive practice, extensive study, and extensive musical knowledge. Unless you have an ace in the hole: Lead Exercises! Which is helping you to step into dancing fluidly or dancing where you can choose your vocabulary choices on the fly and make them fit to the music takes time and patience just like any language, and that’s what this series of exercises helps you to do.

 

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

About The Video. This video comes in at 21m:40s in length in 9 Sections. Lead Technique is explained here in the video. No Follower technique is explored. 

Section 1 - Introduction - 00:03:04
Section 2 - Walking Into Lazy Ochos - 00:01:35
Section 3 - Walking Into Lazy Ocho - The Other Side - 00:02:05
Section 4 - Walking Into Traveling Ochos - 00:00:48
Section 5 - The ‘Dropped’ Traveling Ocho - 00:01:03
Section 6 - The Close Embrace Variations - 00:02:59
Section 7 - The ‘Practiced’ Weight Change - 00:00:38
Section 8 - The 3rd Cross System Entry - Lead Cross Behind - 00:04:05
Section 9 - The Frequencies/Closure - 00:04:42

Video pre-requisites: 1.) 6 Ways of Walking. 2.) Milonguero Ochos. 3.) Traveling Ochos. 4.) The 5 Pause Types! 

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 this topic doesn’t exist on YouTube, that’s why. Not to this level of detail with examples of each idea, plus the subsequent and underlying technique videos that you’ll need to make this stuff work. This video is unique because it comprises most of the technique stuff and then divorces it from it. It shows the musical, it shows the vocabulary, and it shows a few exercises. You’d be foolish to look elsewhere for this stuff but go ahead. Look for it on YouTube.

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 a class or a workshop, you'll spend weeks on this stuff and you'll miss a ton of information that you actually need to work in a small space! 

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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Dancing In A Small Space

Dancing In A Small Space

Dancing In A Small Space. You’re at a Milonga, early, and you have lots and lots of space to dance. There are a few couples dancing, and it feels so spacious to dance ‘freely’. As the night progresses, more and more people show up to the Milonga, and before you know it, there are more and more people on the floor, and about an hour or so later, there is hardly any room to move on the floor. And right about this point, the DJ is hitting their 'stride'. This is the moment that you get annoyed, pissed really, that you can’t do what you want to do. You begin to cut your ideas short, you inadvertently bump into people, your partner has stepped on someone or so you think, elbows are seemingly everywhere, your choices musically become stilted, and on top of all of that, you feel claustrophobic. As a result, you change lanes out of the outer track of dance, hoping that that will be a little better. Everyone always wants to be in the outer track of dancing. A little while later, the same thing happens, you’re crowded again. You change lanes to the inner mob scene where it’s just chaos and no lane or line of dance, it’s just bodies moving in their own space and god help you if you survive. You step off the floor, and looking at the outer track of dancing and wonder, “How do they dance like that? All bunched up!” or “How is that pleasurable?”. What’s the ‘that’ ? Dancing In A Small Space!

The full video is not for sale. It can only be seen in its entirety with a Gold level subscription or better. 

What is a ‘Dancing In A Small Space’ ? There are two parts to the answer to this question:

Before we answer that question, there is a misperception that 'Dancing In A Small Space' is strictly "Milonguero" Style of dancing. This is not the case at all. Whether you believe it or not, this is not necessarily a 'style' of dance. It's a marketing term to address a series of ideas that fit under the umbrella of "Salon" dancing. Salon Dancing is vast umbrella that includes most of the styles of Argentine Tango that we're most familiar with. Dancing In A Small Space is a practical concept that borrows heavily from all of those forms, not just one style. Whatever embrace you use or are comfortable with the ideas contained in this video series can be exceptionally helpful to you.

First, in it’s simplest form, it’s all about the vocabulary and engaging Five pieces of Tango vocabulary. The Five Pieces? 1.) 5 of the 6 Ways of Walking. 2.) Milonguero Ochos (sometimes referred to as ‘Lazy’ Ochos). 3.) Milonguero Turns (not the Follower’s Molinete). 4.) Back and Forward Crosses (not the Argentine Cross, there’s no space!). And 5.) Linear (and Circular) Ocho Cortados. This is all done in Close Embrace. Note that there are no Sacadas, Colgadas, Volcadas, Ganchos, Boloeos, or Death Drops and/or Drags. None. Not in typical sense. However it should be noted that the Social Vocabulary ideas can be interjected here: The Social Turns, The Single-Axis Turn, The Close Embrace Sacadas, etc. However, there are a whole bunch more pieces of Tango vocabulary that almost never get talked about, or thought of here, that can also be applied, such as Calesitas, Paradas (Step Over), Pasadas (Drags & Sweeps), ’Patter’ (sometimes referred to as ‘Pitter-Patter’), The Incrementals (see Golden Nugget Extensions), just to name a few.

Secondly, there’s the actual ‘Dancing’ part of the statement which is more about movement more than anything else. Said movement is done in a very confined space, no bigger than one-meter square, if that. The people that practice this way of dancing, are consciously aware of not taking any more space than is absolutely needed. This is dancing in very crowded milonga environment really, where the distance between couples, on all sides, is no more than about the length of one hand (about 17 centimeters, if that). So from the perspective of the Small Space Dancer, there is seemingly (operative word) precious little space to ‘do’ anything due to the conditions of the ronda, so as a result of this seeming confinement, the dancing part is really about the minimal. Everything is done either around the lead, or the space that the couple currently occupies and does not extend beyond that space. Quite factually, one would take up no more space than the space that one’s feet occupy at that moment in time, and no more than that, but without moving from that spot!

Difficulty Rating:  (4 / 5)

The Biggest Problem! Is perception. How's that ? A frequent problem that crops up for a lot of people is that they think or believe that the only way to make this stuff work is by pulling their partner into them with their arms, and to go one step further by holding their partner very still, trying to steady their partner, and compressing even more. There's lots of tension, pressure, and compression.

This is not true. You do not need to hold on tight to your partner in order to make this stuff work. Truth be told the solution to making Dancing In A Small Space function is actually all about body placement and in specific foot placement and weight distribution. Place these things in the right position and you’re good to go. Put them in less than optimal positions and you’re quite literally screwed and end up squeezing the living daylights out of your partners!

Let’s Talk About Fear. The other side of the perception problem is the reality that Dancing In A Small Space is going to freak you out! You’re going to be afraid of X, whatever X may be. Mostly because it’s unfamiliar to you. Most leads lose their collective minds when they have to navigate at a crowded Milonga. They’d rather sit than have to step all over someone’s feet or stumbling and bumbling here and there and apologizing everywhere. So rather than dance to their favorite Di Sarli or De Caro, they’ll sit out and wait for the floor to clear a bit. Followers have a slightly different bend on fear, it’s the fear of stepping on someone’s feet, and not necessarily their partners. It’s OTHER people’s feet. Why ? Because they know they’re in 3 in heels and those things are like lethal weapons on their own. One good ‘stomp’ and that’s someone’s night right there at a hospital emergency room!

Confusion & Consternation. In one respect YouTube has been the biggest boon to Argentine Tango in the last 50 years since Petroleo came along. And that's because of the proliferation of everyone's sharing of their ideas of the form, there are way too many notable examples of Tango on youtube to name here. However, the less than desirable is that when you see dancing on YouTube, it is very infrequently actual social dancing. It's a performance. So the belief or idea in your head when you watch X, Y, and Z performance is that what you're seeing should be doable on a social dance floor. The reality is that most of that stuff is a.) under certain conditions. and b.) if and only if you drop the egregiousness of the movements themselves. Further still is that fact that what you're seeing IS A PERFORMANCE, not actual social dancing. Whether you realize it or not, you're being fooled into seeing that things work on a social dance floor. Yes they work when there's lots of space, however...when there's loads of people on the floor and you have no more than a few centimeters between yourself and the next couple ? Not so much with that! Which is to say that, more than likely the performance-y side of what you're seeing does not work on a crowded dance floor because there's no space for that stuff. Not now, not ever. 

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

How Do You Dance In A Small Space ? Carefully. Which is easier written/said, than actually done.

To be clear this is not an easy practice to learn. There are precious few teachers or dancers that talk about this stuff. Occasionally you’ll find a random class on the subject, at a workshop weekend, or a tango festival but for the most part the people that dance the principles of Dancing In A Small Space, divided up into it’s component elemental vocabulary. It is only during those vocabulary sessions that the thought of how to make things smaller, tighter, much more confined is left up to the instructor to ‘mention’, and that’s assuming that they mention this stuff at all. Usually, they don’t. And so that we’re clear here, this statement or descriptive is not to disparage anyone’s teaching or a specific teacher in any way, shape, or form. Some teachers have a full load and a lot on their minds and this stuff is way down on their list of things to remind you about. Hence this video series. Further down the rabbit hole of ‘Carefully’, while there are very few teachers that talk about this stuff, there are even fewer resources that can be used to practice this stuff. You would think that practicing this stuff in the line of dance would be a good place. And it is to a degree, however, a Milonga is not practice, that’s what a ‘Practica’ is for. A Milonga can be a good experience, but it’s no substitute for actual practicing of the guiding principles of Dancing In A Small Space.

The How Part:

1.) Smaller. You would think that just making things smaller would help. It does to a degree. Yes, learning to confine and control one’s body in the execution of X, Y, and/or Z is absolutely crucial. Truthfully the thing that makes this stuff work, is not necessarily about the vocabulary used, but rather about the length of the steps taken, and just how judicious one can be with not only one’s feet, but rather one’s legs!

2.) Economy. Honestly this is about an economy of motion. Typically on a social dance floor you have the freedom to move and do whatever you want, and take up oodles of space to do it. However, when under the conditions of Dancing In A Small Space, you must look for other ways to do exactly the same thing, but without taking up space to do it. Enter - The Economy of Motion. Why take 5 steps when 1 will do ? Why move forward when there’s no reason to do so, especially when there’s no space to move forward ? Under these conditions one must learn to utilize the space that one has, and work in the minimal. Exceptionally minimal.

3.) Solo Practice. The reality of Dancing In A Small Space is that it doesn’t just ‘happen’. Not by a long shot. This stuff takes time and patience to get, and so that we’re clear about this one, not at a Milonga! Practice in this case is actually spent in private practice working by one’s self, on one’s execution of one’s technique. This is really about conditioning one’s body to respond in a very specific way, on command. And like it or not there’s only one way to do that: Solo Practice. 

4.) Private Practice with Tools. You’re going to ask yourself, once you feel like you’ve done the Solo practice execution thing to death, what and how do you actually practice with another person in the embrace ? There are a few exercises that one can train one’s self to do be able to respond to Dancing In A Small Space. There are several ideas laid out in the video above, so you’ll have to see the video to get an idea of what’s there in terms of ideas. But one simple idea is working on making things economical and small, without sacrificing the quality of motion, or form, or speed of what you would normally do. However, this is about conditioning so there are limits that must be place on the dancer so that they learn to mitigate these things, without sacrificing anything. That’s the trick right there.

The full video is not for sale. It can only be seen in its entirety with a Gold level subscription or better. 

About The Video. This video comes in at two parts: Section 1 on the Vocabulary of Small Space Dancing is 22m:46s in length in 11 Sub-Sections. Section 2 is on the How Part of Small Space Dancing and is 13m:49s in 2 Sections. Lead and Follower is combined and commingled, in both videos. This is NOT a technique video. For the technique on each of these topics, please see their respective areas linked in the text below.

Section 1 - The Vocabulary

Sub-Section 1 - Introduction - 00:02:14
Sub-Section 2 - The Walking Turn - 6 Ways of Walking - 00:02:00
Sub-Section 3 - The Milonguero Turn - 00:01:40
Sub-Section 4 - The Linear Ocho Cortado - 00:02:38
Sub-Section 5 - Ideas In Context (Example) - 00:00:38
Sub-Section 6 - Calesita - 00:00:30
Sub-Section 7 - Circular Patter (with Example) - 00:02:25 [seen above]
Sub-Section 8 - Linear Patter (with Example) - 00:02:29
Sub-Section 9 - Ideas In Context Part 2 - 00:00:58
Sub-Section 10 - Back Crosses - 00:00:31
Sub-Section 11 - A Few Exercises - 00:05:44

Section 2 - The How Part

Sub-Section 1 - The Example Idea - 00:05:41
Sub-Section 2 - Resetting The Couple - 00:07:56

One More Thing. Leading or Following Dancing In A Small Space, there are certain things that both roles must adhere in order for the 'dancing' part to actually work on a social dance floor. Both roles must have mastered their balance and stability issues, both roles must be on the way to mastering the technique side of the vocabulary displayed in the video, and both roles absolutely must not hang, must not pull, must not push. There's no time or space for that stuff. This is a game of precision, not being sloppy. Being sloppy with one's execution of technique creates unintended issues that actually create more problems. 

This topic is difficult to represent for a variety of reasons mostly because it covers so many areas and so many disciplines that teaching it is one thing, dancing it another matter altogether. While this video series shows you some very nice ideas, it honestly doesn’t replace actual social dancing, as well as understanding the activityof The Neurology of Leading (and Following).

Learning this stuff in a studio or at home is ok, but you need real-world experience. That real-world practice must be concurrently used with all of the above. Without it, there’s quite literally no point in doing any of this stuff. You will falter in your goal to be able to dance in a ‘musical’ way. The reason is that while dancing in a studio space with just one partner, or practicing with just one partner, in an antiseptic environment without other couples in the line of dance, while being good ‘practice’, does not prepare you for actual social dancing. The line of dance, at an actual milonga or practica, is the only place where you can get that experience.

So while sitting here and tapping out a beat, and/or watching a video on what you need to do, to give you ideas of what has to happen is all fine and good…this point can’t be stressed enough, you actually have to go out social dancing as often as is humanly possible. Read that as EVERY WAKING MOMENT! No excuses. None. Family, job, relationships, bills, money, etc…all of that stuff must take a back seat, temporarily, until you start this process. Make it part of your weekly regime, set yourself an easily attainable goal: 2 to 3 Milongas a week where you can play with the stuff below, or 2 Practicas and a Milonga every week, and once a month head off to a larger tango environment in a larger city, like Boston, Portland (OR), New York, Berlin, Dallas, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Frankfurt, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tampa, Miami, Tokyo, Taipei, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Perth, Brisbane, Houston, Melbourne, London, Paris just to name a few.

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 this topic doesn’t exist on YouTube, that’s why. Not to this level of detail with examples of each idea, plus the subsequent and underlying technique videos that you’ll need to make this stuff work. This video is unique because it comprises most of the technique stuff and then divorces it from it. It shows the musical, it shows the vocabulary, and it shows a few exercises. You’d be foolish to look elsewhere for this stuff but go ahead. Look for it on YouTube.

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 a class or a workshop, you'll spend weeks on this stuff and you'll miss a ton of information that you actually need to work in a small space! 

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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Musical Interpretation – Parts 1 & 2

Musical Interpretation (parts 1 & 2)

Musical Interpretation. When most people hear the phrase ‘Musical Interpretation’ they usually end up looking at you with a blank stare, blinking their eyes at you now and again, until you use the word that makes sense to them: “Musicality”. And then they’re like, “Weeeeellll! Why didn’t you say so in the first place.....”, and then it’s like you’re best buddies again! 

First and foremost, let’s get something out of the way. “Musicality” doesn’t mean what you think it does, as you’ll soon see. Secondly and most importantly the word itself means ‘to BE music’! Hmm, you can write the music, you can listen to the music, you can dance to the music, but you can not…if I am not mistaken, BE music. It is impossible. However, you can INTERPRET the Music! 

The Workshop Problem. A class or workshop tutorial on ‘Musicality” doesn’t actually teach you about music, nor does it teach to dance to the music as a whole. A 1hr (or 1.5 hr) workshop or even a 6 week series is not going to teach you to dance to the music. The topic is wide and vast, and seemingly overwhelming. Further still, the very idea that you can 'interpret' the music is so far beyond most people's understanding (or so they believe) that it overwhelms them when they begin to see the complexity of the topic at hand. 

Usually most people's experience with ‘musicality’ workshops that they’ve had in the past is as follows: 1.) you are first shown/taught a step, a pattern, or a figure. 2.) You go through several rotations of partners learning the step/pattern/figure. 3.) The last 15 minutes to half hour of class is showing you the same example of the figure you’ve spent 45 minutes learning only now somehow, magically, it goes with a piece of music or a style of music or an aspect that is specific to that piece of music that may sometimes occur here and there. 4.) You’re shown a few variations on a theme of the figure, and somewhere about the 3rd or 4th your eyes start to glaze over. 5.) The idea of Counting Beats is reinforced: On the 2nd beat you step here, on the 3rd beat the Follower is supposed to step there, on the 4th….and so on.

Is this dancing ? No.
It’s a game of Twister, only to music. 🙁

Ask yourself the following questions: Are you any wiser as to where the beat is at, or were you stomping behind someone else, copying them ? Has the class or workshop taught you about the orchestral style ? Probably not. Has it informed you about why this orchestra was important or any history about that orchestra or in fact the primary singers of that orchestra ? It may, but the topic is so wide and vast that it quite literally hurts your head to consider all the permutations that it's impossible to put it all into one 1.5 hr session or into a weekend workshop. (note: This is what Tango Topics has broken out into the Tango Del Dia section of the process so that you can learn this stuff independently, and learn why it's important to the process. You can see the 'lite' version of it here).  Has it taught you what you’re supposed to be listening for, and more importantly why ? And beyond that has it taught you how to do that ? More than likely it's taught you a figure, but that figure only applies to that specific piece of music, and types like it. And further, the figure only applies in bits and pieces, or sections of the music. So what are you supposed to do with the rest of the time ? Walk ? Ha! At the same time said workshop has most certainly thrown this word around “Phrase”, but do you have any idea, more so now, than you did 45 minutes ago what a ‘phrase’ is and how it applies everywhere else ? Are you any clearer on the idea of 'Musicality' than you were 45 minutes ago ? Probably not. But what you have done is spent the better portion of an hour or so, learning a figure that you'll probably never use, and very little time on the ‘musical’ part that you absolutely need to learn. 

This comprises most people’s experience of a ‘musicality’ class. It's not all of them, nor is this to disparage anyone's work on this topic. This section is here to point out the disparity of the problem, and why teaching and learning this stuff takes time, patience, and lots of practice! And more importantly why you do actually have to study with someone for a long while to get this stuff. It's not going to happen in 5 minutes, or 5 weeks, or 5 sessions, or 5 months. Get that thought right out of your head. That's a fallacy! 

What is ‘Musical Interpretation’ ? Musical Interpretation is a term that brings together two very different skillsets that should not be confused or co-mingled together. And they usually are, sadly. Both have to be accessed at the same time in order for Musical Interpretation to work properly, however these are two very different skills that must be pursued with all due diligence.  

The first part is ’Musical’. Which can be, but is not limited to - Either role hears the music in a very specific way, whereby they're collectively, and/or separately, able to hear the beat, pause, and phrase (not phrasing - that's entirely different idea) within the overall structure of a piece of music. This is about hearing the music, and its individual components. Not acting on them, but instead hearing them, keeping track of them, and understanding what's going on. That last part is insanely difficult to do, and takes some time to get. Sometimes, ok - a lot of the time, most people get too wrapped up in their own excitement of the next part of this stuff and never focus on the one thing that they absolutely must... AND/OR they focus on one aspect (the beat, usually) alone and believe that this will be 'enough'. It's not by the way. This idea is, and this is not to disparage your ideas, can be almost pedestrian in nature. We do want to aspire to something more that accentuates the nuance and spirit of the music, not just it's beat alone. 

The second part is ‘Interpretation’, which is what you do with that beat, pause, and phrase (the 'phrasing', that's the doing part of phrases) of the overall piece of music so that you see the movement or dancing part in the music. Ideally this is the desired result. However, and this where Interpretation takes on its real meaning. While you can vary that idea to express a point, a counterpoint of the music, but in the end, one is always working towards creating a larger vision of the music. Not to just visually represent the song note for note or phrase to phrase, but to show its nuances as well as its overall presence in the physical world. This is the beginning of 'Interpretation'. 

 

A Few ‘Musical’ Problems. There are some problems with the Musical part above that must be addressed first and foremost. One problem that comes up a lot of people is that they’re beat challenged and don’t know it. 1.) They run too fast (ahead of the beat and actually think it’s one thing when it’s another). 2.) They run too slow (same problem as too fast, only in reverse). And/or 3.) They are slightly ahead, or slightly behind the beat, and/or running across the beat all at the same time.

Compounding the beat problem is that most of you reading this from a Leading perspective have been taught to Count Beats which is about as useful as a small kitchen appliance that’s been unplugged. From a Following perspective you’ve been taught to “do your thing as long as it doesn’t interrupt the lead (small ‘l’, the action, and not the person ‘L’) without actually ‘hearing’ what it is that you’re ‘not interrupting’.

Next we have the Musical Pause or ‘Rest’ issue that is frequently misread, misunderstood, or ignored completely by design or as is more likely the case, ignorant that a Musical Pause actually exists and is not arbitrary, but in fact built into the music and must be respected. But a question comes up in this, which is one reason why it’s highly misunderstood, “How do you hear something that isn’t there ?”.

Still another issue that compounds the Musical problem is purely psychological. Some people have been told from a very early age that they can’t find a beat to save their lives. This message is so ingrained that they buy into this fallacy without question over time. Still another is that some are so wrapped up in the fear of not getting the beat, or not understanding it, that their anxiety over their inadequacy that they anticipate the beat in the wrong places, and at a the wrong times. The common solution for a lot of Leads to these problems is to learn lots of steps, patterns, and figures to mask the overall problem.

The Performance Problem! Let’s remove a component from the table that needs to be addressed. This is not about a performance. Social Musical Interpretation is not about replicating someone’s performance that you saw on youtube. No. That is an artistic expression from that couple, and their idea of what can happen under certain ideal conditions. However there are a few problems with this expression. 1.) First and foremost, 9 times out of 10, what you see in a performance can not, and will not work in the line of dance! Mostly because there is no space for 90% of that stuff. If you take out all the volcadas, sacadas, boleos, ganchos, what’s left are turns, ochos, walking, crosses, and variations of them in open and close embrace, which forms the basis of Social Tango! 2.) What you’re looking at is generally selling that couple’s idea of tango to you. It is, again, a performance to sell you on them. However, this isn’t about selling you anything, this is about dancing with your partner, to accentuate the music and to create a pleasant dancing experience that you’ll have lovely memories about! 3.) No one gives a rat’s damn if you know 356 Sacadas, or can Boleo over your head! The only thing that most people care about is whether or not the dance was pleasant, enjoyable, and most of all ‘musical’. That’s all that people care about. And that’s the basis of SOCIAL TANGO or in this case, Social Musical Interpretation.

How to Clean Up The Musical Problem ? In order to clean up the problems above, five things must happen in sequence:

1.) (Beat Course) Clarify what the beat is, and is not, and then develop a regime to teach how to hear a beat within its proper tempo (speed) consistently. What are the markers for a beat, and what to listen for. 
2.) (Beat Course with Exercises) Recalibrate someone’s innate (and quite natural) ordering and sorting skills, as it relates to hearing the ‘pattern’ of the music out of the chaos of the music, with the goal to hearing and retraining someone to hear ‘Musical Time’.
3.) (Pauses Course) Introduce the Dancer to the 5 Common Types of Musical Pauses that occur everywhere in Tango Music, and then practice hearing those pauses every day for 44 days with examples of Tango, Vals, and finally Milonga music of where a pause is, and then type those pauses, consistently through daily Tango del Dia quizzes. 😉 Starting with the 14 Days of Tango Music.
4.) (Accents Course) Introduce the dancer to Musical Accents, Off Notes, La Variacion, and The Singer, and employ Tango Del Dia Level 2.
5.) (Structure Course) Introduce the dancer to the overall structure of the music and the 6 (sometimes 8) parts of a song.

How to Start to Interpret The Music ? It is important to recognize that the process of Interpretation is not an easy pathway. It is going to take some time. Note the language that’s used here in the opening question, “how to START…?”, “Start” being the operative word. Interpretation doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just magically start to interpret the music. No. You must first be trained in what to listen for. However, that training above this is only one half of the equation. The other half of the equation is the vocabulary component, it is an important stepping stone (no pun intended). In short, you have to know what to do with that music. And that’s the vocabulary portion of the process.

The belief is that Musical Interpretation can only happen with lots of intricate and complex patterns, and figures. Not true. And quite honestly those patterns and figures are based on very, very simple, easy to digest, concepts and ideas -  Ochos, Turns, and Crosses.

A really good way to start the process of Musical Interpretation is with very simple ideas that can be built upon and then expanded, and that’s where we introduce an important, but foundational structure that must be clear in the dancer’s mind regardless of role: The 6 Ways of Walking! Without this key component present in the dancer’s bag of skills, there’s quite literally no point in doing anything else until this skill has been introduced, practiced religiously, and then thoroughly and completely mastered from a Leading AND Following perspective. As this idea is the cornerstone of everything else that comes after it.

What’s Next ? It’s not a ‘next’ but a ‘while’. All the while that the above is going on, 3 things must absolutely occur at the same time:

1.) The dancer must have mastered the 6 Ways of Walking from a Leading perspective as well as from a Following perspective.  These are literally the ‘keys’ to the city of Tango. Without them, there’s no point in cleaning up the ‘Musical’ problem, or trying to Interpret the Music. Because the tools for what you will do with that interpretation do not exist. The 6 Ways of Walking is the First tool. And if this sounds like a sales pitch. It’s not. It’s what has to be present in order for everything else to take place. Everything that is in this course contains this most basic element. Sections 1 and 2 of this course begins this process by walking you through and marrying beat and pauses with the 6 ways of walking.

2.) The dancer must begin their mastery in 3 types of Tango vocabulary. In specific: Ochos, Turns, and Crosses.

a.) 2 of the 8 types of Ochos. - Milonguero (“Lazy”) Ochos and Traveling Ochos.
b.) The 8 types of Turns, and in specific the Follower’s Molinete, the Milonguero Turn, and the Argentine Calecita.
c.) 2 of the 256 types of Argentine Cross, and Back and Forward Floating and Rotating Crosses.

3.) The dancer must be introduced to 2 foundational concepts that take us to the next level of Musical Interpretation: Alternation, and Symmetry.

Next month, sections 3 and 4 of Musical Interpretation will display Alternation, and Symmetry!

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title


About The Video. This video package comes in at 52m:32s in length in 6 Sections, and 8 Subsections.

Section 1 - Opening - 00:02:48 (this video is above)
Section 2 - The ‘What’ Part - 00:10:59
Section 3 - The ‘What’ Example - 00:05:40
Section 4 - The ‘How’ Part - 00:03:02
Section 5 - Level 1 - 00:12:32
   - part 1 - walking on every beat - parallel system. (metronome)
   - part 2 - walking on every other beat - parallel system. (metronome)
   - part 3 - walking on every beat to the pauses - parallel system. (metronome/music)
   - part 4 - walking on every other beat to the pauses - parallel system. (metronome/music)
Section 6 - Level 2 - 00:17:37
   - part 5 - walking on every beat to the pauses - 6 ways of walking. (metronome)
      a.) parallel. b.) 3 track cross. c.) milonguero ochos. d.) inside ‘snake’ walk. e.) outside ‘snake’ walk. f.) alternate walk ‘a’.
   - part 6 - example dance - walking on every beat to the pauses - 6 ways of walking. (music)
   - part 7 - walking on every other beat to the pauses - 6 ways of walking. (metronome)
      a.) parallel. b.) 3 track cross. c.) milonguero ochos. d.) inside ‘snake’ walk. e.) outside ‘snake’ walk. f.) alternate walk ‘a’.
   - part 8 - example dance - walking on every beat to the pauses - 6 ways of walking. (music)

One More Thing.

It’s important to recognize that while you’re going through this process above, and it is a long process that will take you about 6 to 9 months to ferment in your mind and body, that you must also be practicing every single day (solo practice), you must be going out social dancing as much as possible. You must be dancing with as many people as possible, in every kind of condition, and in every space. The reason is that the dancer must be trained to be able to exist under all possible conditions with every type of dancer, every style, in every opportunity. This is conditioning in it’s simplest form. It forms the basis of The Neurology of Leading (and Following).

Learning this stuff in a studio or at home is ok, but you need real world experience and practice. That real world practice must be concurrently used with all of the above. Without it, there’s quite literally no point in doing any of this stuff. You will falter in your goal to be able to dance in a ‘musical’ way. The reason is that while dancing in a studio space with just one partner, or practicing with just one partner, in an antiseptic environment without other couples in the line of dance, while being good ‘practice’, does not prepare you for actual social dancing. The line of dance, at an actual milonga or practica, is the only place where you can get that experience.

So while sitting here and tapping out a beat, and/or watching a video on what you need to do, to give you ideas of what has to happen is all fine and good…this point can’t be stressed enough, you actually have to go out social dancing as often as is humanly possible. Read that as EVERY WAKING MOMENT! No excuses. None. Family, job, relationships, bills, money, etc…all of that stuff must take a back seat, temporarily, until you start this process. Make it part of your weekly regime, set yourself an easily attainable goal: 2 to 3 Milongas a week where you can play with the stuff below, or 2 Practicas and a Milonga every week, and once a month head off to a larger tango environment in a larger city, like Boston, Portland (OR), New York, Berlin, Dallas, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Frankfurt, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tampa, Miami, Tokyo, Taipei, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Perth, Brisbane, Houston, Melbourne, London, Paris just to name a few.

Can You Download This Video Series ? Sadly, no. 🙁 Due to legal and financial music issues, this video series is only available to paid subscribers.

Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because this stuff doesn’t exist anywhere on Youtube. That’s why! This content has been sitting in the back of my mind for the better portion of 8+ years. I have spent most of that time refining it through teaching intensives, clarifying the ideas, cleaning up the inconsistencies that existed with the theories, and practices, and ended up developing this course as a result. It has been tested, and tried through hundreds of dancers that have gone through the intensive process.

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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Lazy Follower Foot

Lazy Follower Foot

Lazy Follower Foot. Most people don’t think about this stuff except for when they’re in a class or a Follower Technique Seminar, or in a private lesson. Mostly they hear it and completely forget about it about 10 seconds after it’s been said. That is unless some diligent teacher continually reminds you of this stuff, constantly. To be fair, while this particular topic happens a lot for Followers, this happens everywhere across the entire spectrum of the dance and into real life. If someone says something to you that needs to be corrected, it will take you a few tries to remember to do it, and even then that’s a stretch. The fact is that you’re dealing with muscle memory or in this case ‘muscle comfort’. It’s comfortable for you to do this stuff. So why change it. The reality is that the change comes hard to some people, and comfort is easy. If you’re comfortable why bother changing ? Right ? What you may not realize is that that comfort may or may not be desirable to look at, as in this case of Lazy Follower Foot.

What is ‘Lazy Follower Foot’ ? It is a state where the Follower’s back foot as it comes into collection from a Forward step, is either dragged without care or unconsciously. The foot itself, seemingly hangs off the ankle, and is summarily dragged into collection from the Forward step. This doesn’t happen from the Back or Side step, that’s the ‘Dangling’ Foot error. Whole different ball of wax, but the solution is exactly the same as shown in today’s video! 

Difficulty Rating:  (0.5 / 5)

From a Following Perspective, if you think for a moment that you’re not doing this stuff, then either you’re blind, or consciously sticking your head in the sand, or you’re a teacher who has mastered their technique and have moved onto the solution to this problem and how to make the solution better than is shown above.

Let’s get something out of the way. The fact is that even we teachers have to constantly work on our own technique. Constantly. Just because we teach does not mean that we do not strive to make clean, make better, to improve our understanding of what we do and why. Nothing is accepted, everything is questioned, overturned, turned inside out, upside down, and right side up. Everything is examined. It must be examined. And if we’re doing that for ourselves, the question is, why aren’t you ? This isn’t about teaching really, it’s about striving to clean up these detail areas that for one reason or another, while you may not be able to fully identify it, something (or in most cases a lot of somethings) look ‘off’. And the attention to detail is absolutely necessary to addressing these issues.

To be fair some people have a hard time talking about this stuff, or even viewing it. They don’t want to, or in most cases, can’t engage in the idea of this discussion at all. They only view this stuff through the lens of performance or perfectionism, or “that’s for a teacher, that’s not real life”. Ahem. Not. It is real life, and you DO want to pay attention to the details here. This isn’t about perfection. Get that thought right out of your head. This stuff has very real world consequences, and the sooner that you realize this fact, the easier your Tango life will be. Because, as has been said in many other parts of your life, the details matter! Why wouldn’t they matter in Tango as well!

The reality is that when you’re talking about this stuff, and then you start to pull stuff apart that ‘seemingly’ worked (operative word in the sentence), you quickly realize just how many things do not actually function as you thought they did. And it’s right about that point where you are instantly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what’s not working, and why, and most people throw up their hands and say “to hell with it all, why bother !?!?!?”.

Why Bother With This Stuff ? Here’s why.

There will come a night, a milonga, where the usual crowd of your usual dancers is increased by a +1. A Lead that is completely unknown to you. Said Lead has popped into your town, just passing through from somewhere on their way to somewhere else. They know no one. They find a seat, put on their shoes, and they scan the room for a few moments, and begin their process of Cabeceo.  You see them dance, and to you, they look amazing. Fabulous. They’re not like every other Lead in the room, and you find yourself wanting. Waiting for their Cabeceo when they step off the floor. They’re scanning and scanning and they pick their next partner, and the next, and the next….an hour or so goes by, and you find yourself brimming with anticipation. They scan in your direction, and they lock eyes with you. Your chance has arrived. They walk around the room to engage their Salida. And off you go. From the moment their embrace starts, you know you are in the presence of ‘better’. The embrace is light but engaged. The posture is spot on but not stiff. The stance….. and then you move. Slowly at first. And then from muscle memory. Their embrace remains … light. No matter what. They’re not rushing you. However, something is … ummm … not … quite … the glee is waring off. The newness of this dancer is replaced by questioning. They looked so perfect dancing with everyone else…but you seem to be missing things. Little things at first, and then here and there, things you can’t quite get your … “what the frak was THAT ?”….and you find your feet, and recover nicely….or so you think, and … then it happens again, and again, and again….somewhere in the back of your mind you’re wondering if anyone is watching this mess ? It’s fun to be certain but you’re certain that it’s a mess. In between the songs, this Lead is pleasant and nice, good small talk, and discussing where they’re going next. The next song starts, and the odd part is that this Lead’s embrace isn’t constrictive, or restrictive, or ‘pushy’ in any way, there’s no resistance at all. In fact, it’s what you imagine that Tango Topics talks about all the time and here it is embodied. And yet, you find that dancing with this Lead isn’t…ummm ‘nice’. It’s downright challenging. You’re missing things. Your feet are getting all tangled up, and you feel like you’re dragging your feet. They’re not saying anything, but you feel a sense of ‘Jesus H. Christ! I missed that…and that…and that….and f*ck!…”.  The tanda ends, and they walk you back to your table. They smile. You smile. And away they go. On the one hand, the dance was ‘fun’. It was certainly musical. No one that you’ve ever danced with has been that musical, and playful, and just fun to dance with. There were actual tango jokes, giggles really. But on the other hand it was way beyond you. So many things missed. So many things.

The Error In Your Thinking. The reason why this dance was challenging for you, and this is the error, is that’s just their ‘style’ of dance, and it’s not your style. Yes there is an estillo to some people’s dance, but sometimes with the more advanced dancers this isn’t about style…it’s about technique and the execution of that technique! So, put simply you’re missing the other side of the equation: You’re not ready for them! And the reason is, because your understanding of your own technique, your underlying foundation, how you move, how you land your feet, how you extend your legs, how you embrace your partners, where you place your body in relationship to your L/lead, where and how you engage X piece of vocabulary…all of that stuff is not trained in you. It’s just not. Further, because you’re dancing with a certain class of L/lead mostly you only get to experience a very small sliver of what a fully trained and operational Lead can actually do. Further still the Neurology of Following (as opposed to the Neurology of Leading) is lacking in you. So as a result you ‘miss’ things. So a Lead like that above, is mostly lost on you. Yes it’s insanely fun, and challenging, but you ‘missed’ so much and what’s worse is you know it. It wasn’t embarrassing, thank god, but you know in your heart you missed so much of what was ‘said’. You missed the nuances. The subtlety.

Diving Deep.

There is a reason this stuff happens, actually four possibilities: 1.) Poor execution of technique. 2.) Poorly understood technique.  3.) No Practice. or 4.) All of the above!

While it’s not rocket science what those things mean, they do require a bit of detail.

1.) Poor Execution. This means that your attention to detail of your technique is sloppy. Meaning that you allow your foot to unconsciously move as it sees fit to move in relation to your ankle and leg. Even though you have been shown X, it’s not showing up in your dance. Either consciously or unconsciously.

2.) Poorly Understood. This happens quite frequently. We hear ‘X’ when a teacher says something to us, and in reality they meant ‘Y’.  But because we hear it through the filter of our understanding we end up misunderstanding more often than not. Poorly understood means that you hear or see something and presume that ‘A’ is ‘A’ instead of diving deeply to dig down to the roots of what ‘A’ actually is. To see it’s inner workings. Not just to accept it, but figure out for yourself how and why something functions.

3.) No Practice. This should be a no-brainer. But you’d be surprised just how many people will go to a teacher or a class and magically expect them to fix everything, and that now that they’ve visited with teacher ‘C’ that things are all better and they can go back to what they were doing in the first place. Because teacher ‘C’ said they’re “you’re doing fine but…” and “that’s fabulous, and…”, or … did you see it ? Probably not. You missed the ‘but’/‘and’ at the ends of those sentences. You only heard the praise and not the rest! Which was… “You should go home and practice the frak out of this stuff that I just spent the better portion of the last hour showing you! Not to mention you just handed me a boatload of cash to tell you this stuff, so you had damned well better go home and practice this stuff!!”.

4.) All of the Above! This needs no explanation. It’s not one or the other, but actually All of them together.

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

From a Leading Perspective. You didn’t think you were going to be immune to this did you ? Wrong thinking. Got news for you. All of that stuff above where the Follower’s experience is questioning what just happened, can and will happen to you as well. So if you think this is solely a Follower issue, THINK AGAIN!

The Wrap Up. The fact is that this is just one little, tiny, aspect of examining what’s going on in your dance. It happens quite frequently, and you do need to pay attention to it to fix it, to change it, to make it better!

Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you 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 how a Circular Ocho Cortado can function, but not all the toys that are described above. So this is one reason why you want this video series, and more importantly to have this stuff broken down for you from a leading and following perspective. 

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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Circular Ocho Cortado

The Circular Ocho Cortado

The Circular Ocho Cortado. First let’s get the language out of the way. The phrase “Ocho Cortado” translates from the Spanish to English like so: ‘Ocho’ translates as the number 8. ‘Cortado’ comes from the root Spanish -AR verb ‘CortAR’ which translates as the infinitive ‘to Cut’ (or to Slice). However, you’ll notice that there’s an ‘ADO’ ending on the verb, which is akin to an ‘ed’ ending of a verb in English as in ‘HelpED’ or ‘LikED’, or ‘WalkED’. It’s the past participle version of the word. 🙂 However, when you put them together the translated phrase almost makes no sense. So we have to move things around a bit for it make sense to an English speaker. So ‘8 Cut-ed’ makes absolutely no sense, however if we invert the words so that it becomes ‘Cut-ed 8’, it starts to make a bit more sense. Typically when dealing with other languages we end up having to infer the meaning. ‘Cut-ed’ in English makes no sense, however…it’s secondary meaning does, ‘SlicED’! A ’SlicED 8’ or Half of an 8! So quite rightfully an Ocho Cortado is a HalvED 8! Language lesson over….

There are two varieties of the Ocho Cortado, the Linear variety and Today’s Tango Topic: The Circular Ocho Cortado. In the case of the Linear Ocho Cortado, it really is a linear step. Meaning ? That it’s stretched out along a walking line. The vocabulary itself is really great for rounding corners, when you need to ‘cut’ a 90º corner. They’re great for musical interpretation elements. They’re great for cross play. And they’re even better when inverted! 🙂 However, the Linear Ocho Cortado is only taught in certain places. Tango Topics talks about the Linear Ocho Cortado as if it were the default Ocho Cortado. That is not the case. In other parts of the world, The Circular Ocho Cortado is the default and the Linear variety is weird one. In certain places the Linear variety is almost never taught, so you’ll never see it on a social dance floor at all. In certain places, the Circular variety is the odd man out and you’ll never see it either. So today without further adieu Tango Topics presents - The Circular Ocho Cortado. The OTHER Ocho Cortado. [Editorial Note: This site will be cleaning up the language for the Ocho Cortado in the other posts that deal with this to make the clear distinction of Linear vs. Circular.]

This video is NOT for sale.
It is only included with a subscription package.

What is a ‘Circular’ Ocho Cortado ? Put simply it is leading the Follower to a Forward Ocho. However this is a very specific kind of Ocho that we only use for teaching purposes. In this particular case, that teaching Ocho is what’s sometimes called (and this site referred to as such) a ‘Linear Forward Ocho’. They’re called that because these ochos don’t go anywhere at all, and in fact they’re done directly in front of the Lead on a line. Hence the ‘Linear’ part of it’s name. 😉 The Lead invites the Follower to a Linear Forward Ocho across their body (to the open or closed side of the embrace, usually the closed side), and then interrupts that motion to invite a change of direction, and that change of direction is the Ocho part. The ‘Cortado’ part comes from the fact that only ONE HALF or one side of the Ocho is danced. Typically an complete Ocho is both sides of the 8 or the Applied Disassociation. However in this case, only one half is done, and as a result we have a Cortado or Halved 8. What makes it Circular is the fact that the Ocho itself is the circular part. The curvature of the opening step into and out of the Ocho (the applied disassociation part) Cortado where the Follower is at first stepping next to their Lead and then back to the same position again.

Difficulty Rating:  (2.5 / 5)

Following Perspective. Usually when talking about Follower vocabulary this site mentions the reality that as a Follower you don’t really have a whole lot control over what is initiated and but that the Follower does have an inordinate amount of control over what is executed and HOW something is executed. This topic is a little different, and the reason is that it has to do with several factors, most notably that the Follower can mishear or misread (ahem…<sound of someone clearing their throat>….read that as ‘the Lead isn’t being clear with their invitation’) the Lead’s intention as one of four possible ideas. 1.) The incremental cross body step (video topic coming soon). 2.) The Linear Ocho Cortado. 3.) The Circular Ocho Cortado. and 4.) A Closed Side Molinete which starts with a Forward step across the Lead. Let’s talk about #4 for a moment. Typically the Closed Side Molinete starts with engaging the Follower’s back step. However in this instance we start with a Forward Step across the Lead. And as such, there is a moment of confusion as to what you as the Follower are being led to do. However, that moment of confusion stops right after the Follower’s Forward step across the lead ends. Why ? Because at that point, 3 very different decisions can happen. In the case of #1 - The Incremental, the Follower doesn’t transfer their weight forward, it’s an extension step without a weight transfer. So we can immediately discard that as an option. In the case of #2 - The Linear Cortado, the Lead will/should take a step to the side after the Forward step. We’ll get to this in a moment. and #4 the Lead continues to rotate into a side and there is a sensation of momentum. These three indicators are all very different from each other.

The Nitty-Gritty/The Real Deal. The fact is that if you have not mastered your disassociation and/or your applied disassociation then you can use a whole body ‘pivot’ but you are a.) sacrificing a very beautiful and elegant change of direction for you. and b.) you are more than likely using your Lead for stabilization everywhere and don’t realize that you’re doing it. You’re using your arms, and your hands for stabilization, and even micro-stabilization with your fingers! These stabilizations are NOT desirable at all in any way, shape, or form.

That said…

There are 3 things you want to be aware of when being led to an Circular Ocho Cortado.

One: Collection. Collection. Collection. Your collection into the Circular version is insanely important. While you can engage an elegant Lapíz or Planeo (not shown in the video), it’s sometimes not desirable to engage them, why ? Because you quite honestly don’t have the time, and as a result you may end up executing them poorly and then they look ‘sloppy’. And the last thing you want is sloppy execution especially when you’re dealing with ‘advanced’ ideas like that. So a good rule of them is to use the Lapíz and/or Planeo for the what this site refers to as “The Long ‘Stringy’ Note”. You can find this idea, in it’s simplest form here.

Two: Disassociation. It’s important that on your forward step, that you engage Disassociation, this will help you with ‘staying with your lead’s’ torso. It’s also a precursor to your Applied Disassociation, so it will also help with the execution of your ending Ocho!

Three: The Difference Between One & The Other. There is a clear and distinct difference between the Linear and the Circular varieties. The question you’re going to have is how do you know the difference between them ? The simplest answer to this question has everything to do with the Forward step across your lead. If the step continues, it’s a Linear. If it doesn’t then it’s a Circular Ocho Cortado.

The Caveat of Following. While this particular item that is about to be mentioned does get discussed with some frequency here, it’s very important that you, in the role of the Follower (passive, active, or ‘delicious’/delightful) that you not get stuck in the Lead’s Armpit! (See the Armpit Dancer) If you do, you’ll get left behind. A good portion of the Leads that you’re currently dancing with are on pseudo cruise control. Meaning they lead something and then expect you to interpret what’s been led. The lead is vague at best and you’re left to figure out what they meant and you have a half a nanosecond to figure out what THAT motion was. As a result when applied to the two varieties of the Ocho Cortado it’s even more vague. Because the lead isn’t so clear. 9 times out of 10 the Follower is supposed to ‘infer’ what was intended. And if you get it wrong (from a lack of mind reading skills…ahem) then the Follower is to blame for their clear (ahem) failure. When in fact, it’s not your fault. It’s the Lead’s fault for not being crystal clear with this stuff. And they need to be crystal clear. Unfortunately their idea of ‘crystal clear’ is to use their arms and hands to push, pull, squeeze, and compress the living daylights out of you to INSIST that you do X, Y, and Z. How does this relate to the Armpit Following that you don’t want to do ? Because of the fact that the lead isn’t clear, it’s vague, you’ll more than likely end up in the armpit of the Lead, which will make your job even harder regardless of what variety of Ocho Cortado was intended and/or executed! So here’s a helpful free tip: STAY OUT OF THE ARMPIT! Where do you want to be ? Buttons to Buttons, Sternum to Sternum. Right in front of your lead! At all times.

Leading Perspective. This is one of those times that your job as a lead is at once, insanely simple and at the same time, requires a bit more of you than your usual run of the mill idea of ‘dancing’.

The Key to the Circular Ocho Cortado functioning as advertised is in fact you employing Disassociation. Failure to accomplish this goal and you’re doing nothing more than pushing, pulling, and throwing your Follower around the floor. And while that may seem like you would never, ever in a million years do such a thing. Nor would you even conceive of it. And quite literally bristle at the idea that this page would even suggest such a thing…(ahem) the fact is that you do do this and quite frequently! This is called ‘Rushing the Follower’. A fair number of leads invoke this way of dancing. They believe or think that if they ‘just’ lead something that the Follower should…well…Follow it. With no cause or thought towards the whole reason why the lead is there in the first place…to GUIDE the Follower from point to point without being ‘pushy’ about it, or as it happens in Tango quite frequently “arm-y”. Meaning to use one’s arms (and hands) with physiological pressure, rigidity, tension, and force to indicate what is coming or intended next. So the whole of the Circular (not the Linear) Ocho Cortado relies on the fact that you must actually Lead your own disassociation without the use of your arms but in fact your torso! That’s it right there. That’s the toy. However, doing it properly and understanding the pitfalls of how and where this thing can and does go wrong is what today’s video is for. So that you can actually learn to lead it properly and avoid all of the many pitfalls of it. The vocabulary itself is insanely simple. But as with all things that are insanely simple, the devil is in the details. And the Circular Ocho Cortado has a lot of ‘details’ to it.

Smooth As Buttah. The fact is that this is a very elegant Change Of Direction. There are very few of these in Tango that aren’t ‘jerky’, and this one of them. The Circular Ocho Cortado has the potential to be a very elegant change of direction for you and your Follower. It’s also a wonderful opening to leading the Follower’s Molinete, and it also lends itself towards allowing for the Follower to employ a planeo or lapíz as they come around the Ocho, assuming they have the temerity of mind and more importantly you, as the Lead, create space for them to do so. How’s that ? You don’t rush them to accomplish what you’ve asked but instead ‘listen’ to the response of what you’ve led, and here’s the hard part, allow for the Follower to execute that. Assuming all things are equal here, the result will be a smooth Change of Direction for the Follower and you.

Disassociation. Think Ochos. Only for the Lead. You thought this was a skill that only the Follower needed to master ? Wrong thinking. This skill must be so ingrained in you that you have mastered your control over the speed, your posture as you rotate - no titling from side to side, you contain the motion (so that you don’t ‘spill’ the motion outside the longitudinal axial line - no wobbling), and most importantly the disassociation and the applied disassociation must be absolutely smooooooth, and not just in one direction, but both rotational directions (to the left - open side of the embrace, and the right - the closed side of the embrace). You must learn to do this independent of your Follower, and to do it slowly. This isn’t about speed but control. Every incremental motion must be smoothed out, no jerkiness. None. At no point along your applied disassociation can you jerk or lose control of the next stage of the rotation. It must all be slow, and controlled disassociation and then applied! 😉 If you think that’s going to take you a while to learn to do, you’d be right. This is not something you’re going to learn to do in 5 minutes, this takes time, patience, and ooodles of practice, hours, days, weeks, months and possibly years of daily practice to smooth out the rough spots in both directions. And remember that you want to be able to execute this stuff without the use of your arms or your Followers. This is independent control! Good luck, you’re going to need it. Gosh if only you had a Primer on this stuff, so that you could re-learn at your own pace in the comfort of your own home and correct your issues. If only there were a resource where you could see how this stuff is actually generated. [Disassociation - $12.99]

And just so that we’re clear about something, watching the video above is not going to create the necessary clear instruction that you absolutely need. No. You do need instruction on how to generate this stuff. Hence the link above.

One more thing: Going With The Follower. This site has talked about this item before, it is what drives the Ocho Transition Series of Videos. However, this idea is also present here in the Circular Ocho Cortado, and leading the Follower’s Molinete. You must in fact go WITH the Follower into their Ocho. What does that mean ? It means that you must match their motion to yours, while at the same time not rushing them to execute, all the while not pushing, pulling, compressing, squeezing or interrupting their motion at all in any way, shape, or form. This is the hard part of the Circular variety, this is the ‘requiring a bit more of you’ that was alluded to above. There are a few things that you have to do here in order to insure that the Follower hears the proper or correct message and doesn’t hear something else (as in the linear version of the cortado, or a molinete, or …. etc), that’s why this video exists.

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

Dancing Perspective ? The Circular Ocho Cortado when executed nicely, in time to the music, can be a lovely showpiece for both Lead and Follow to show each other off. From the Lead’s perspective it shows that they listen to their Follower, and are not rough with them but actually lead and guide the Follower gently. From the Follower’s perspective it creates yet another opportunity show off the Follower’s Unused Forward Step of the Dance! At the same time, a good portion of the time, once a Lead learns this piece of vocabulary, it can easily be overused in much the same way as a rock step is overused. So ? As a result, we want to use to sparingly from a Leading perspective. Rightfully the Circular Ocho Cortado should not take up anymore space in the line of dance than a Close Embrace Molinete does. If it’s taking up more space then something is amiss.

About The Video. This video comes in at 31m:28s in length in 9 Sections. Follower and Lead Technique is explained in the video. 

Section 1 - Follower’s Perspective - 00:12:43
Section 2 - The Difference Between Linear & Circular - 00:01:07
Section 3 - Leading Perspective - 00:03:09
Section 4 - The Open Side Circular Cortado - 00:02:44
Section 5 - The Close Embrace Version - 00:03:52
Section 6 - The Lead’s Error! - 00:01:34
Section 7 - The Lead’s Head - 00:01:34
Section 8 - Lead/Follower Footwork Detail - 00:03:41
Section 9 - Closure - 00:00:22

This video is not for sale. It is only included with a subscription package. 

Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you 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 how a Circular Ocho Cortado can function, but not all the toys that are described above. So this is one reason why you want this video series, and more importantly to have this stuff broken down for you from a leading and following perspective. 

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.

Open post

The Super Enrosque

The Super Enrosque

The Super Enrosque. There are only a small handful of things that a lead can do to ‘decorate’ what a Follower is doing. Usually, as Leads, we tend to leave the ‘decoration’ to the Follower. However we can in a small number of ways adorn what the Follower is doing, while they’re doing it. Doing so, tends to draw attention away from the Follower and towards the Lead, but sometimes that is desirable, sometimes. Today’s Tango Topic deals with one of these pieces of Tango vocabulary that isn’t seen too often (for a variety of reasons, see below), that when executed nicely can have a really nice effect on the dance, and at the same time open options and opportunities for both roles, not just the lead! 🙂

Let’s get this out the way, before another word is read, the Enrosque, and it’s kissin’ cousin of Today’s Tango Topic: The Argentine Super Enrosque is quite simply Lead flash, spectacle, and nothing more than that. Furthermore there’s absolutely nothing here for the Follower to do or to think about. Got it. You do not need to add this to your repertoire of tango vocabulary. It does not need to be executed every 3rd step simply because you believe that it’s cool Nor does every Follower want you to do this. Once or twice is fine in a night and then LET IT GO, move on to something else. Trust that the room has seen it all before, they don’t care that you can do 57 versions in 3 minutes, nor should a single song ever be populated with more Enrosques and Super Enrosques than the time it took for you to read this. Never. Ever. This is flashy vocabulary. It’s fun, to be certain but lord knows you don’t need to execute it!

That said, before we talk about what a Super Enrosque is, we have to define what an Enrosque is and is not!

The word ‘Enrosque’ (pron: ehn-RrOhs-kay - accent on the ‘O’) loosely translated to English from Spanish means ‘Thread’ or ‘Screw’. However, from a Tango perspective it has a very specific meaning. This a Lead based piece of vocabulary that can be done as adornment or accent to what the Follower is doing. It’s usually done with the Follower’s Molinete, but can be done anywhere really. But the place where it shines really is the Follower’s Molinete. So what is it ? The Enrosque is where the lead will cross one foot behind the other (in a clean fashion - there should be no daylight between the feet) and as the crossing behind happens there’s usually a pivoting rotation of the bodily position - This is the ‘Screw’ part of the definition of the Enrosque, not the crossing feet part. An actual ‘pivotmay occur, however where things get flashy and really where the Super Enrosque comes in, is where the Lead engages Applied Disassociation! There is a common misconception that the Enrosque also contains a Lapíz (a lead leg extension) that trails the Follower’s motion. This is not part of the Enrosque! It is it’s own separate thing, and you quite literally must separate these things, one from the other. Doing so will create a greater range of capabilities.

Below you should see one of two videos: Free/Open users will see an Enrosque without any explanation of what should happen, or the paid subscribers should see the Entire Enrosque video from your Lead Technique section which fully explains the technique that generates the example videos. 😉 Without this explanation you're quite literally pissing into the wind!

This video is NOT for sale.
It is only included with a subscription package.

What is a ‘Super’ Enrosque ? You’re going to ask yourself this question: If an Enrosque is placing one foot behind the other, or in front, both are true where the feet are in a crossed position, AND (the ‘and’ is very important) there is a pivoting bodily rotation that occurs. Then what on earth creates a ‘Super’ Enrosque ? MORE ROTATION! And in specific More Applied Disassociation, as there’s an enormous amount of super rotation that can occur due to the release of all that pent up energy. And that release creates some really interesting options and opportunities. 😉 So without further adieu: The Super Enrosque!

Difficulty Rating:  (4 / 5)

Following Perspective. To be fair, for you, there’s not a whole lot here for you. This is lead flash. However, 9 times out of ten you’re going to be doing a Follower’s Molinete here in ‘response’. You don’t have to do anything crazy, nothing strange, nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing, nada, not. This is easy stuff for you. However, what you do have to listen to is not to engage your Follower Default behaviors. Meaning ? That the Lead may attempt to slow your Molinete (not with their arms…tsk, tsk, tsk) with their own bodily rotation (that’s the screw part mentioned above). Aside from that, this is Forward, Side, Back. It’s not rocket science, it’s walking. 🙂

As easy as this sounds, and it does sound easy, and it is, the fact is that you’re going to feel a lot of pressure to go faster in the execution of your Molinete. Usually from the Lead’s left hand/arm pulling you, or more commonly from the Lead’s right forearm pushing you. The reason? Your Lead has not learned how to control or contain their own rotation (the screw part) in relation to you! So if you feel the Lead pushing you or pulling you along, it’s not because you’re moving too slow, it’s because the Lead is unwinding in a very controlled manner! There’s not much you can do about this one other than hold on for the ride.

Leading Perspective. This is all you. It’s all on you. This is the culmination of all your detail work, all your control work, all your practice and this is one of those places where you have to get it right, right from the start. Furthermore this movement is all about the details AND the execution of those details. Get it wrong, and it looks sloppy. Get it right and the dance moves on to the next thing without so much as a blink.

Let’s get some thing out of the way, the Enrosque, by itself, is Lead flash, meaning a spectacle. It’s a spectacle that can easily overwhelm when done too many times in the course of a song or even a tanda. It is one of those things that you should use sparingly, not excessively, like as in once in a tanda. The bulk of your dancing work should be to show off the Follower, and not yourself. The Enrosque is showing off the Lead and how amazing they are, and not the Follower! Got it ? So in other words, not so much with the Enrosque. And if we add in the ‘Super’ Enrosque, it’s even less so! So how often should you employ one ? Once in a blue moon, not every 5 steps! Which is to say that just because you can do one, does not mean that you should do one. Clear ? Good.

In order for a Super Enrosque to function properly, two things must be present before we can even make the attempt:

Disassociation & Applied Disassociation. Think Ochos. Only for the Lead. You thought this was a skill that only the Follower needed to master ? Wrong thinking. This skill must be so ingrained in you that you have mastered your control over the speed, your posture as you rotate - no titling from side to side, you contain the motion (so that you don’t ‘spill’ the motion outside the longitudinal axial line - no wobbling), and most importantly the disassociation and the applied disassociation must be absolutely smooooooth, and not just in one direction, but both rotational directions (to the left - open side of the embrace, and the right - the closed side of the embrace). You must learn to do this independent of your Follower, and to do it slowly. This isn’t about speed but control. Every incremental motion must be smoothed out, no jerkiness. None. At no point along your applied disassociation can you jerk or lose control of the next stage of the rotation. It must all be slow, and controlled disassociation and then applied! 😉 If you think that’s going to take you a while to learn to do, you’d be right. This is not something you’re going to learn to do in 5 minutes, this takes time, patience, and ooodles of practice, hours, days, weeks, months and possibly years of daily practice to smooth out the rough spots in both directions. And remember that you want to be able to execute this stuff without the use of your arms or your Followers. This is independent control! Good luck, you’re going to need it. Gosh if only you had a Primer on this stuff, so that you could re-learn at your own pace in the comfort of your own home and correct your issues. If only there were a resource where you could see how this stuff is actually generated. [Disassociation - $12.99/Applied Disassociation - $12.99]

And just so that we’re clear about something, watching the two videos above is not going to create the necessary clear instruction that you absolutely need. No. You do need instruction on how to generate this stuff. Hence the two links above on Disassociation and Applied Disassociation.

Clean Crosses. You must learn to cross your feet (forward or backwards) in a cleaner manner than you do now. Typically a cross for most people (lead or follow) is to turn the free leg ‘out’ to cross one leg behind the other which as a result creates a ‘pie wedge’ shape with the feet (see video). This is not a clean cross! It’s a pie wedge shape with your feet. So a ‘clean’ cross is where the feet are in a tight collection with the 5th Metatarsals (your baby toes) are touching! Where there is no daylight between the ankles, and the heels are together. This is a ‘clean’ cross. (see The Dirty Cross)

The Super Enrosque Exercises. Assuming that the underlaying technique of the two points above are clean, controlled, and contained. Then a Super Enrosque becomes possible. However, there’s one component that’s missing, and that’s the exercise itself. There is a Super Enrosque Exercise that you want to start to play with that will generate the underlaying skill set.

You’ll notice in these exercises, that the Lead does a complete 360, not a 180 while maintaining a clean cross ? That’s what you want to be able to do, as the Super Enrosque entails this specific skill set.

One More Very Important Piece Of Information. This site and the articles contained herein have a near constant thread for the Lead which is: Do not use your arms to push or pull your Follower, in any way, shape, or form. So what would make you believe that something is about to change simply because the name of the vocabulary changed ? In short, not. So using your arms to a.) Stabilize you. b.) Pushing and Pulling your Follower along in the Applied Disassociation phase is not allowed, ever. c.) Wobbling, Wavering, Collapsing …. again, not allowed. There’s a reason why this move is rated at 4 stars or better and this is it right here. If you have to push or pull your Follower using your arms to ‘lead’ the Follower then there are stability issues going on here that you absolutely must resolve before you even attempt this stuff.

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

Dancing Perspective ? The Super Enrosque is really an over rotation that happens in relation to the Follower’s Molinete. While it can be used with the Follower’s Traveling Ochos, which would create some very interesting options and opportunities for both Lead and Follower (from a vocabulary perspective), the place where we’re going to use one is the Molinete. The result will more than likely be an over-rotation which ends up as a Back Sacada for the Lead!

About The Video. This video comes in at 23m:34s in length in 11 Sections. Lead Technique is explained here in the video. No Follower technique is explored. 

Section 1 - Introduction - 00:01:33
Section 2 - Applied Counter Disassociation - 00:00:52
Section 3 - Enrosque with Lapíz - 00:01:48
Section 4 - The ‘Super’ Part - 00:04:08
Section 5 - A Few ‘Gotchas’ - 00:01:41
Section 6 - The Super Exercise - 00:01:40
Section 7 - Super Exercise Notes - 00:02:26
Section 8 - The Enrosque with a Follower - 00:02:50
Section 9 - The Super Part - 00:01:25
Section 10 - The Second Side Step - 00:01:20
Section 11 - A Few More Details/Closure - 00:03:05

This video is ONLY included in a subscription package. Please consider subscribing. 😉 Thank you. 

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 how A Super Enrosque can function, but not all the toys that are described above. So this is one reason why you want this video series, and more importantly to have this stuff broken down for you from a leading and following perspective. 

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.

Open post

A Useful 8 Count Basic

A Useful 8 Count Basic

A Useful 8 Count Basic. The 8 Count ‘Basic’ is a term and ‘move’ in tango that refers to 2 very different aspects of Tango that are put together. First the ‘8 Count’ which refers to the musical component, which is the counting of 8 beats. The second is a ‘Basic’, which refers to a simple, easily identifiable, and reproducible pattern of steps which can showcase the foundation of a particular dance form. With regards to Tango, our ‘Basic’ is deeply engrained in our DNA (as it were) as a venerable teaching tool.

We frequently use it to teach the very basic structures of Argentine Tango. We use  it to teach a lead to walk, and how to embrace, and how to engage with the Follower. We use it to inform the Follower how to engage an embrace, how to walk, and how to deal with the impulse of a ‘lead’. Furthermore the 8 Count really does force one to start to listen to the music in a very different way, instead of for enjoyment, but rather to learn to be in time with the music, and then to keep time with the music by focusing on the counting aspect of the music, and more importantly the ‘beat’ in very rhythmical, and set or predictable patterns that can easily be managed. Hence the 8 Count of it’s name.

The 8 Count Basic can be, if used properly, a really great primer about Argentine Tango (Aside: The author prefers the Golden Nugget of Tango as that primer but that’s professional bias). The 8 Count Basic goes one step (no pun intended) further, it even teaches both dancers about a rather ubiquitous piece of tango vocabulary: The Argentine Cross! 😉

So while the 8 Count Basic has all this going for it as a teaching tool, as a social dance tool, it has multiple failings! It’s a static pattern or figure! Talk about a yawn fest! Part of the ‘yawn fest’ comes from the fact that it’s repetitive. It never changes, there’s no variation at all. 🙁 However, that’s not it’s only failing. As you’ll see below, it has more than a few! 

However, the title of this Today’s Tango Topic is not a misnomer, it’s a reality. There is a version the 8 Count Basic that is actually quite usable. However, before we can talk about a useable version, we first have to define what an 8 Count is, and what it actually looks like, then identify WHY and HOW the 8 Count isn’t useful before we can actually show you a Useful 8 Count!

Purchase! The video above is small snippet of a full HD video (total runtime: 31m:31s). You can purchase A Useful 8 Count Basic for just $34.99 not including your level discount.

What is an actual 8 Count Basic ? Put simply, it is a series of 8 steps done in Parallel (shown below) or Cross system, that start out with 1.) The Lead stepping backwards with their Right, and the Follower stepping forwards with their Left.  2.) The Lead stepping side with their Left, and the Follower matching that step with their Right. 3.) Here we can invoke either cross or parallel system, by the Lead stepping Forward with their Right outside partner (in Parallel) or changing weight and stepping with their Right (Cross), for now we’ll keep this in Parallel system, and the Follower stepping backwards with their Left. 4.) The Lead continues Forward with their Left, and the Follower Backwards with their Right. 5.) The Lead comes to Collection as the Follower crosses their left over their Right (The Completed Argentine Cross). 6.) The Lead steps forward with their Left, and the Follower steps backwards with their Right. 7.) The Lead passes through collection and steps side with their Right, while the Follower passes through collection and steps side with their left. 8.) Both partners come to Collection!

The 3 Flaws of the 8 Count Basic. There are 3 built-in ‘flaws’ or errors to the 8 Count that may seem innocuous but really aren’t they’re for lack of a better way of putting it, social dance “no-no’s”. These ‘flaws’, as we’ll call them, aren’t related to the Follower in any way, shape, or form, this is all on the Lead baby. 😉 These ‘flaws’ have everything to do with navigation and floorcraft, and really maintaining the Line and Lane of Dance.

Timmy from Idaho writes in and asks, “Gosh Mr. Tango Topics, what on earth is the Line of Dance ?”.

Mr. Tango Topics Responds: “Gosh I’m so glad you asked Timmy! The Line of Dance is a term that we use in Argentine Tango that describes how the progression of couples is supposed to move in relation to one another, as if it were a driving along a road, that we maintain the direction that traffic flows (in Argentine Tango), which is counter clockwise.

Sheila from Arizona writes in and asks, “Driving along a road ? You mean like lanes of dance ?”

Mr. Tango Topics Responds: “Yes Sheila exactly that. Besides the Line of Dance, we also have what’s called the Lane of Dance. Which refers to ‘tracks’ of dancers as if they were in a racing lane, on a race track. That we ideally want to keep to our specific lane of dance, contained, so that we don’t impact others experience with our own dancing.

Flaw #1. This flaw refers to the very first rule of Leading Tango as a Social Dance. You do not step backwards in the line of dance! The first step of the 8 Count does precisely that! Cue the Wrong Answer Sound.

Flaw #2. This one occurs on step 2 of the of the Basic 8. It’s the Side step. Usually out of one’s Lane of Dance.

Flaw #3. This flaw is generated on step 7 of the Basic 8. It’s the another Side step back into the originating Lane of Dance.

For these three reasons the 8 Count Basic can not be used as a social dancing tool. 🙁

What is a Useful 8 Count Basic ? Put simply it is a modification, and goes further by actually adding for variations on a theme. The modification has to do with orientation, and then actual rotation. That if you modify the orientation of certain steps and you rotate the resulting steps in certain ways then the 8 Count Basic becomes more than useful, it’s actually a lot of fun in nearly any embrace that you can come up with (including the Berlin Embrace)! Not only that there’s a possible surprise at the end that you weren’t expecting that’s sitting there!

Difficulty Rating:  (2.5 / 5)

The Specific Steps of A Useful 8 Count ? 1.) The Lead curves their back step with their Right. Instead of stepping straight back which would break the first rule of Argentine Social Dance, we curve it so that it doesn’t impact the oncoming dancing couple! The Follower matches that curve by stepping forwards with their Left into their lead. This, one, simple change is quite possibly the game changer for the entire Useful 8 Count!  2.) The Lead steps side with their Left, and the Follower matches suit with their Right. 3.) While a Cross or Parallel version is possible here by invoking a simple weight change, let’s keep things in Parallel Walking System - the Lead steps Diagonally Forward with their Right and incidentally stepping outside partner, and the Follower stepping Diagonally backwards with their Left. 4.) The Lead continues Diagonally Forward (the diagonal part is very important, because it continues the rotation of the couple) with their Left, and the Follower Diagonally Backwards with their Right. 5.) The Lead rotates at 90 degrees perpendicular to the lane of dance (and pivots, and it actually is a pivot) and comes to Collection as the Follower crosses their Left over their Right (The Completed Argentine Cross) matching the rotation of the Lead! 6.) The Lead steps Diagonally BACKWARDS with their Left, and the Follower steps Diagonally Forwards with their Right. 7.) The Lead passes through collection and steps side with their Right, while the Follower passes through collection and steps side with their left. There is another option that’s sitting here, a very important option! 8.) Both partners come to Collection.

The Other Options ? The video talks about, near the end of the sample above, that there are other options sitting here. There are loads of them, this video only touches on 4 of them. 2 surprises and 2 options. But those surprises are astounding, and the options are implied from the title image: Sacadas! There are in fact 2 Sacadas that are embedding the modified version of A Useful 8 Count Basic. Truth be told one of those Sacadas is right there at the beginning of the non-useful version too!

The Active Follower! This topic doesn’t get talked about a whole lot for a variety of reasons most notably is that it’s frightening to a lot of people, still another is that it is highly misunderstood as to what an Active Follower actually means. While there is an definition on this website of what the Role of the Active Follower actually is and is not, in this instance this particular video only touches on ONE very important aspect of the Active Follower, and that’s ‘energy’. Energy ? Meaning adding more than a little “vim und voive” (liveliness) to what the Follower is doing in respect to this particular piece of vocabulary. However this aspect is an important one going forwards because we want to embed this idea everywhere that the Follower is engaging. Why ? Because far too often they are passive, they are ‘waiting’ for something to happen, instead of something else: Listening! This isn’t simple word replacement by the way, but a completely different state of mind. Put simply when you are ‘waiting’ you are giving up control of what you can and will do! When you are ‘listening’ you have complete control over what you can and will do! And yet this idea of ‘waiting’ for the L/lead is precisely what happens with most Follower from the first moment they step on the floor. As a result it creates in them, and we as Leads come to expect this out of them, a state of being ‘passive’. Which should not be confused with the Passive Follower definition on this site. Passive in the state of giving up their control of what they can and may want to do in relation to the music. The passivity of the Follower in this instance is not only energy based but also in options and opportunities. The Follower tends to shut down as result of being told to ‘wait’ so often. They may hear things in the music but don’t act on them because they don’t want to disturb their lead, and/or interrupt the Lead’s idea of what’s supposed to happen according to the Lead. Well what about the Follower’s idea ? Tango can be a cooperative experience, almost bordering on egalitarian if the Lead creates the space for that to occur. Doing so creates a much more responsive, and rightfully thoughtful Follower that can add interesting ideas and options for the couple to engage in. When a Lead does not create space for the Follower, it’s nothing short of a Monologue of the Lead’s ideas. And while that can be fun to experience how a Lead hears the music, it does get a bit monotonous. There are other ideas, and the role of the Active Follower is just one place. The reason why it’s relevant here is that it can and does show that a piece of executable vocabulary, when engaged with an Active Follower is far more preferable to the lackluster Following aspect that happens far too frequently. To be fair this is not Follower Bashing. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It is in fact LEAD bashing! And while these ideas may seem heretical, almost bordering on insubordination, they’re not. However this is a topic for a different day. More on this later.

About The VideoThis video comes in at 31m:13s in length in 16 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.

Section 1 - Introduction - 00:00:49
Section 2 - The 8 Count Basic - 00:01:10
Section 3 - Why It’s Useful - 00:00:26
Section 4 - Three 8 Count Flaws - 00:01:53
Section 5 - A Useful 8 Count - 00:02:01
Section 6 - Leading Perspective - 00:01:43
Section 7 - Following Perspective - 00:01:58
Section 8 - The Open Embrace Version - 00:00:40
Section 9 - The Close Embrace Version - 00:01:37
Section 10 - The First ’Surprise’ - 00:02:41
Section 11 - The Inverted ’Surprise’ - 00:03:39
Section 12 - The Basic with Sacadas  - 00:02:31
Section 13 - Follower Technique - 00:02:43
Section 14 - with Follower Adornments/Embellishments - 00:00:52
Section 15 - with the Active Follower - 00:04:20
Section 16 - Closure - 00:01:31

You can purchase the video for the kingly sum of $34.99 from the video store and whole bunch of other items that can improve your understanding and application of technique.

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

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 1hr:13m HD quality video on how to properly engage A Useful 8 Count Basic and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can get a $3.00 discount if you register as a free user, and then buy it with the discount code contained here that you can't see yet. 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 how a A Useful 8 Count Basic can function with Surprises, Sacadas, Rotations, and Engaging the role of the Active Follower! That’s why! Correction. You will find one or two videos that walk you through the a version of this idea, but not all the variations that are described above. So this is one reason why you want this video series, and more importantly to have this stuff broken down for you from a leading and following perspective. 

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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The Argentine Calesita

Linking Notation: All the links on this site are internal definition links, nothing is external (excluding tangotopics youtube channel, and facebook like & share links), meaning the links are there to create a deeper and richer clarity.

The Argentine Calesita

The Argentine Calesita. Tango consists, surprisingly so, of an almost dizzying array of ‘steps’ that it quite honestly boggles the mind. Really when you stop and you think about it, it’s just 2 feet, well 4 really, and you can’t even begin to imagine what you could do with 4 feet. The possibilities are nearly endless! Which brings us to Today’s Tango Topic: The Argentine Calesita.

Calesita is not a word that you hear all that often, and quite frankly even if you look it up to translate it, you’ll more than likely be more than a little confused. In the annals of Tango Vocabulary this is one of those things that quite literally have to ask, “What on God’s green earth is a Calesita ?”.

The Argentine calesita is a type of turn. One of the 9 Types. 1.) The Follower’s Molinete (open embrace, and close embrace). 2.) The Milonguero Turn. 3.) The Rock Step. 4.) The Ocho Cortado. 5.) Argentine Media Luna. 6.) Walking Turns. (El Giro de Caminando). 7.) Single Axis Turns. 8.) Colgada Turns. and 9.) The Argentine Calesita.

What is an Argentine Calesita ? The word “Calesita” roughly translates as 'Carousel' or in English, a ‘Merry-Go-Round’. Anytime the you see a ‘sita’ or 'cita' ending on a Spanish word, it means that whatever object is being modified is small, or made smaller, tiny. So this is a small carousel, or a small ‘Merry-Go-Round’. The Argentine Calesita is a basically a small turn! It’s nothing more than a variation on a El Giro De Caminando or The Walking Turn with a 'twist', there's always a twist!

Difficulty Rating:  (2.5 / 5)

Purchase! The video above is small snippet of a full HD video (total runtime: 01h:14m:13s). You can purchase The Argentine Calesita for just $34.99 not including your level discount.

From A Leading & Following Perspective the Argentine Calesita is really simple for either one of you. This is nothing more than walking really. It’s just that this one of you (the person receiving the Calesita) will stay in the center, while the other (the person walking the Calesita) will walk around the other! While there are several versions of the Calesita, such as a Lead Forward Calesita (in the video), The Lead Back calesita (in the video), The Follower Side Calesita (in the video), and the Lead Molinete Calesita (not in the video) the one that you’re going to lead and follow over and over again, because of its simplicity, is the Follower’s Forward Calesita. This is where the Follower is going to walk forwards around the lead, as shown in the video above. While this is the common form of the Calesita that you’ll both be exposed to, there are the more interesting ones where you’re going to want play with (which is what the video is for). However, before you get to see that stuff (you can subscribe or purchase it), there are some things you may want to be aware of, read that as ‘issues’, that are common to both roles.

1.) Stepping Away. While this should be obvious, for a lot of people, it’s not and they wonder why the calesita fails. This is the primary reason why it will fail. Whichever partner is walking the Calesita, if you step away from your partner, you’re going to create an instability. The further away you step, the more instability you’re going to generate. And to be clear, you’re not the one that’s unstable. It’s the person in the center of the Calesita that becomes unstable because they can’t move! Most especially if it’s the Lead’s Forward or Back Calesita around the Follower!

2.) Stepping Too Close. The other primary issue that happens with the Calesita is stepping too close to the person that’s receiving the Calesita! This is sometimes known as stepping too shallow. In other words, your step is so close to their feet that you’re almost toppling them over.

3.) The ‘RigidEmbrace. Still another failing of the Calesita is an embrace where either the Lead, or the Follower, creates a state of rigidity with their arms and hands, and quite literally (if not factually) holds onto (seemingly for dear life), the partner that is receiving or generating the Calesita. That rigidity creates more problems than it’s worth. Ideally we want our embrace, in this case, to be somewhat fluid and very soft, think ‘air’, and then do 'air'. We’re looking for either ‘air-to-air’ physiological contact, or ‘air-to-skin/fabric’ with our embrace and/or somewhere in between. This is better known as  Level 1 and Level 2 of Tango Haptics.

4.) Poor Posture. The Argentine Calesita relies on having ‘good’ posture. Meaning that you’re not tilting towards or away from your partner, or breaking at the waist, or your head is pointing at the floor (watching your partner’s feet…tsk, tsk, tsk). Doing so, creates another instability that you do not want in a Calesita from either a Leading Perspective OR a Following Perspective.

5.) The Unstable Walk. If you’re used to walking on the 5th Metatarsal of your foot (your baby toe, which is actually the 5th Phalanges), you’re going to create yet another instability, thereby creating, and generating an instability in your own walk and really your partner’s stability to maintain the center of the Calesita.

One Gotcha! There is one particular Calesita, which for a variety of reasons (2 actually) that will be nearly impossible to pull off unless you know a tiny little trick that can create it. The problem child ? The Follower’s Back Step Calesita. This particular Calesita is generally not done due to two Follower default behaviors that occur. So if you’re looking for that in the video, and how to generate one, then you’ve come to the right place. The video talks about and then shows you a method to generating the Follower’s Back Step Calesita!

These are just some of the more common issues that can and do happen with the Argentine Calesita that are common to both roles, as both roles can and do engage in a Calesita.

There are two common components to the Argentine Calesita, and they’re the primary reason why you need a video like this.

a.) The Common Entry points. There are several places that we can enter a Calesita from. The first and more common of them is a simple side step in either direction (to lead left, or to lead right). A Calesita can be generated in either direction. However there are multiple entry points that you’ll want to consider (see the video), that can create a dynamic ‘wow’ moment, and relaxing of the embrace.

b.) The Common Exit points. There are really only 3 common exit points that we want to engage in. While there are a host of options and opportunities for us to start to play with, the more esoteric items such as Sacadas, or any of the Colgada options, ideally we want to stick to the simplest exit points. And there’s a reason for that: Simplicity. Learning the exit points and understanding why they’re insanely important to keeping not only the dance moving but the ronda (the room) moving is not only good floorcraft, it also just makes good sense.

One More Thing. This stuff is really not that hard to envision but there’s one overriding reason why we actually want to add this into our dance, and it has everything to do with heat. Heat ? Yes, bodily heat. Typically the dance can generate a lot of body warmth and as such, things can get overheated quite easily. So engaging the Argentine Calesita tends to release that heat trap temporarily. Ok, that’s not a real reason but it sounds like one, no ? A good reason that we want to engage the Argentine Calesita is purely a musical one. A good Calesita can be used in any number of ways to accentuate the upbeat, the downbeat, dropping a beat, playing with 8th or 16th notes (almost patter like). This is the primary reason why we use them!

About The VideoThis video is 01h:14m:13s in length in 15 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.

Section 1 - Introduction - 00:01:10
Section 2 - Caveats - 00:05:35
Section 3 - Lead Set Up - 00:07:01
Section 4 - Lead Forward Calecita - 00:02:49
Section 5 - Follower’s Forward Calesita - 00:07:40
Section 6 - with Close Embrace - 00:05:23
Section 7 - with Milonguero/Lazy Ochos - 00:03:47
Section 8 - Calesita with 2 Turns - 00:03:42
Section 9 - Close Up - 00:05:09
Section 10 - Errors - 00:11:42
Section 11 - Footwork - 00:03:11
Section 12-Follower Technique - 00:05:15
Section 13-Lead Back Step Calesita - 00:05:54
Section 14 - Follower Back Step Calesita - 00:05:13
Section 15 - Closure - 00:00:42

You can purchase the video for the kingly sum of $34.99 from the video store and whole bunch of other items that can improve your understanding and application of technique. 

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

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 1hr:13m HD quality video on how to properly lead & follow a Calesita and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can get a $3.00 discount if you register as a free user, and then buy it with the discount code contained here that you can't see yet. 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 how a Calesita works! That’s why! Correction. You will find one or two videos that walk you through the Follower's Forward Calesita, but not all the variations. So this is one reason why you want this video series, and more importantly to have this stuff broken down for you from a leading and following perspective. 

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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