The Cross - Getting In Front
For most Followers, that haven't been properly trained, they are rushed into an Argentine Cross right from the start of their Tango dancing lives. Aside from Ochos, it's the one thing that they're pressed to do without any training aside from the Lead/er (Controlling Lead hence the '/er' part) that quite literally tells them what to do as they're doing it. From that moment, right up until this one (assuming you've shared this video with them) they more than likely have no idea a.) why they're crossing their feet. and b.) more importantly what the point of the Cross is, and c.) what it all means.
The Problem: This isn't so much a Lead problem as it is a Follower issue. Contrary to what you might have been told, the Argentine Cross does actually serve a function. And believe it or not, it's not to do a Cross every 15 seconds for no good goddamned reason. No. The function of the cross...is well, you can watch the video for that part. The problem is that not only is the Follower not aware of what the function of the Cross is, they've been so indoctrinated into a passive way of dancing that they'll a.) Willy-nilly cross their feet due Two of the Five Errors of The Cross - specifically the Automagical Cross and the Wimpy Cross (see below), where in the case of the latter, the Follower has to infer what on god's green earth the Lead is attempting to do. (In the other 3 cases they don't have to infer, they're quite literally forced into crossing their feet whether they wanted to or not). and b.) That a good portion of the time, the Follower will end up in the Lead's Arm Pit. It is for this reason that we talk about - Getting In Front of Your Lead!
From a Leading Perspective, before we launch into Follower's side of this. Let's give credit for this problem, where credit is due. The Lead! Dude, a good 90% of this problem is your fault. Let's be clear about responsibility here. You created this problem and the Follower is only doing their best trying to fix it. How did this become your problem ? 1.) You lined up with the Follower in your Arm Pit! You placed them in there right from the gitgo ('start' for the non-native english speakers), and what's worse is that you kept them there, holding them in that spot, because it was convenient for you to pull off some crazy vocabulary, which you think you need to lead every 20 seconds, instead of (gasp!) actually walking with your Follower to the music. Eeeek! Which for some reason is 'boring' to you but heaven to them...gosh I wonder why !?!?!? 2.) Your embrace that you think is comfortable is like laying on a bed of nails because it's too compressive! Think 'squeeze' and you'll get the right idea. And even if someone tells you that to lighten up and let them loose, you'll go right back to squeezing the daylights out of your partners because to you think, a.) this is comfortable. and b.) it's all you know. 3.) Because your right arm is like a vice grip and you have this rather nasty tendency to paddle your Follower's with your right hand to 'direct' them, you somehow believe that this is desirable. Ummmmm not! And lastly you created this problem by 4.) being too damned restrictive and not being responsible by continually placing the Follower in front of you by repositioning your vocabulary to do just that. Instead, doing all 3 previous things to show off to keep the Follower from realizing that you were completely ignorant about 3 steps in and don't have a plan for the rest of the song let alone for the tanda! Yup, your fault.
From a Following Perspective, 10% of this problem is your issue. And it has to do with you understanding that the Cross is actually, in modern Tango, your piece of vocabulary. Not the Lead's, it's yours! There are many people that will disagree with this statement that the Cross is the Follower's vocabulary. The fact is that without you cooperating, the Argentine Cross, is not going to happen. You could say this about almost everything else in Tango, that without you cooperating nothing happens. And you'd be right. However in this instance, this is one of the few places where the Follower has an enormous amount of control of when something is done, how something is done, and most importantly where we go next! All of that from you crossing your feet. In this instance, this one little piece of vocabulary is YOUR place for you to shine, to sparkle, to show off your skillz as a Follower. Instead, what happens ? Well...watch the video.
To be fair, you have to contend with the Five Errors of the Cross (see above), and then there's the squeezing, the pushing, the pulling from your Leads. And then there are your issues, while in heels, to contend with. That aside, you do have an issue which is solely yours, which is the whole point of this topic - to get back in front of your lead!
The simple fact is that your lead (the action, not the person - lowercase 'l') either stepped outside partner or stepped into cross system and in either case you're essentially out of step with them. The whole point of the cross is to get back in front of your Lead (the person). However, part of your issue is that you've been indoctrinated to a way of moving that quite factually doesn't work for you. The way that you're moving is to send your leg straight back, and really to cross your body meridian away from the couple. This creates a problem for you, especially when you come to collect your feet in the cross. Your feet look like two mismatched and broken sticks pointing in opposite directions from each other with a watermelon in between them, instead of what they can look like. We do want pretty feet, but we don't want pretty knees, when we come to collection and even crossed collection! However, there's a tiny little problem in that your body is in the wrong place, and your hips are all twisted and you're basically out of alignment with your Lead, and on top of all of that, you're stuck in the Lead's arm pit! And there you will stay...sadly. 🙁 Unless...you do something about it. 🙂
The Dancing Reality is that this stuff happens with such frequency that no one, not even the teachers that you're studying with pay it any mind. It's so common place that one wonders if anyone is actually teaching technique to specifically create this issue! "Leads! You place the follower in your arm pit, and then rush around the room, all the while pulling and pushing! Followers, your whole job here is to stay in the Lead's armpit and then to come to a crossed collection so that your hips are all twisted up and you're off to the side of your lead! Ready ? Go!". Not!
Fixing it ? Well, there's a really simple solution, it's something that both lead and follower must do.
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Thanks for reading and have a lovely day.