Taller Follower/Smaller Lead

Height can be an issue with regards to ArgentineTango, not so for the Lead that is Taller but rather for the Follower that is Taller than their prospective Lead. 🙁 Most Followers that fall into this category of dancer, have to weigh a series of choices dancing with Leads that are a full head (or two) smaller than they are. And most Leads that are Smaller, have really only one issue and one major gaff that they have to deal with with regards to height. So with that said, let’s dive into this months Practical Tango Advice for the ‘Taller Follower/Smaller Lead’.

From A Following Perspective, you have 5 issues that are going to compromise your dance. So let’s dive right in.

1.) Head Tilt. While this issue generally comes up for most dancers, it is very prominent in the Taller dancer. This happens for 2 primary reasons. a.) The dancer is seeking the familiar physiological contact points that they’re used to getting and when someone lines up in the wrong places they’ll compromise their bodies to find those familiar places, which results in Dancer Head Tilt. 🙁

2.) Arm Over The Shoulder. You see this from so many Followers that you wonder, is there a technique class on this stuff somewhere ? The reason it persists is two fold, first due to the aforementioned popularity of it. And secondly due to it’s obvious intent, which is to get more physiological information out of the lead (the action, not the person).

3.) Armpit Following. Both roles are complacent in this problem, but the Taller Follower will actually place their body in their Lead’s armpit for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is comfort and familiarity.

4.) Collapsing Turn or Turn Collapse. This condition occurs when the Follower engage’s the Follower’s Molinete and on either their Forward step or their Back step, they’ll ’tilt’ their upper torso towards their lead, while at the same time leaving their feet, knees, and legs away from the Lead. Or worse, stepping away from the Lead in a linear step. 🙁

And lastly 5.) The ‘Dirty’ Cross. This is what happens when in the Argentine Cross, they’ll cross against themselves in what is essentially a ‘linear’ cross. They’re in an untenable position to begin with because more than likely they’re in the Lead’s armpit, and they quite factually step away from their lead, thereby rotating their body to maintain physiological contact, which results in them crossing over and against themselves into this really weird and contorted Argentine Cross. 🙁 Ugh.

None of these things are desirable in any way, shape, or form. They’re all affectations of the height differential but also (specifically the last) due in part to their poor understanding of their own technique and how to address it and fix it. And as a result we end up with body contortions that mar the embrace, posture, and in the end vocabulary. 🙁 The reality is that even identifying these things does not solve them. It’s just pointing these things out to you. However, without a clear guide as to what to work on and where, you might as well be shooting in the dark for your dinner. Not. Fortunately there are a set of solutions here, but you’ll have to subscribe to see them, which you’ll find in “the soup” section of this article which is currently hidden from you unless you subscribe.

From a Leading Perspective, the only real problem you have here in the height differential is the fact you can’t see around them enough that you can actually navigate, which makes leading a Taller Follower rather difficult. While there is the obvious gaff of your head is going to be right at or about their Bra line, which makes things slightly more awkward, socially. The obvious answer to the bra line issue is to pull your head back a bit. However this is a body contortion and more than likely will cause you a bit of pain. In reality, what you’ll do is pull your head back for about 3 steps and then slowly but certainly your head will slide forward… 🙁 Not desirable. However, the much larger problem is how do you deal with not being able to see around the Follower! For that, my friend, you’ll have to subscribe to see the answer. And the answer, isn’t one that you’d generally think of until the moment it’s said. Doing it on the other hand makes lots of sense given that the modern version of Tango is what it is. This is shown and detailed in the soup section of this article which is currently hidden from you. 🙁

Updated: This issue does not appear in the video above, so therefore you get it for free! There is ONE more thing that a Lead has to be conscious of, and that's where their right arm goes in relation to their Follower's height differential. From the Follower's perspective, you wrapping around them is going to feel odd, or strange, and there's a reason for that. It's in the wrong place! How's that ? They're used to the lead's arm being at or near their bra line across their back. And then you come along and...well, it's considerably lower. So you have a choice here, raise your forearm or keep it where it is. Truthfully this is off-putting for one of you. Either you raising your forearm to match their bra line (which is more work for you) or them freaking out because it feels 'wrong'. Now add this to the fact that a good number of Lead/ers (tsk, tsk, tsk) pull and compress the embrace (adding force and resistance doesn't help either), and it makes for pressure on the Follower's lower back. Uuuuuugh! Oy! Not desirable. 

From a Dancing Perspective the fact is that this practica tango advice is all about body contortion and a compromised position that stems from the fact that you’re used to dancing a specific way and as a result, you’re going to end up trying to do something that doesn’t work for you because the body parts don’t line up the way that they’re suppose to line up. That generally results in a painful dance, which you’ll remember for the future and try not to dance with that person again. They may be ‘nice’ people to talk to but pain is pain folks. You will avoid those people that cause you pain. Just like you avoid people who haven’t found the inside of a shower, or know what toothbrush looks like, or … or …. got it ?

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