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Gooey Ganchos

Gooey Ganchos

The are multiple varieties of Ganchos. We have explored the 4 most common ones, today we’re exploring a variant of the idea known as the ‘Gooey’ Gancho. Specifically what makes it ‘Gooey’ and how does it get it’s name. The reason this variety of Gancho is called ‘Gooey’ has everything to do with the speed of the Gancho itself, but it also has to do with the choice of the Gancho in certain respects, as you’ll see. That said, let’s talk about ‘GooeyGanchos.

What is a ‘GooeyGancho ? In specific it means that while this particular variety is usually executed from the Follower’s position, the Lead can and should under certain conditions engage in the same variation but not for the same reasons that the Follower will. So what is it ? In specific it is a slow motion Gancho, and in particular the ‘Launching’ leg of the dancer who is being “Gancho’d”. Everything prior to the Gancho happening is not the ‘Gooey’ part. The ‘Gooey’ part comes when the leg that is being lifted moves to engage the hooking action of the Gancho in a very slow, but very deliberate way. Very slow. 🙂

Tango Warning: Before we go any further, it is strongly recommended that you watch the 4 Common Ganchos first and have practiced them religiously before attempting these. This is not something a beginner should attempt in any way, shape, or form. This is clearly very advanced material. The material in this video should only be attempted by someone who has mastered their walk (sans wobbling or wavering, or needing to hold on to anyone in any way, shape, or form, and that includes forward steps, back steps, and side steps for both roles). And so that we’re absolutely crystal clear here because every beginner lead asks this question “how long should I have been dancing before I try these ?”. There is no rational answer to this question because time is not the factor that makes a damned bit of difference. Time on the floor is what makes a difference! So 6 months ? A year ? Two years ? No. Not that kind of time. However a good telltale sign that you may be ready for leading these movements is you have stopped watching the Follower’s feet, you have stopped using your arms to lead things, you understand and can employ a ‘no’ (or null) lead, you can employ disassociation without thinking about it.

From A Following Perspective while you’re not going to get led to these things all that often, there are a few things that we want to be aware of when engaging any Gancho. But before we go any further with what those things are. We have to talk a little bit about Gancho safety.

First and foremost, if you do not feel safe being led to a Gancho, don’t go there. While said Lead may ‘ask’ for a Gancho that doesn’t mean that you should do one! The Gancho is always, always, always your choice. And when we’re talking about the Gooey variety this is even more true than the 4 Common Ganchos! Secondly it should be noted that while the Gancho is your choice, you do have to make a decision about the Gancho. And that decision is based on what is sometimes referred as the ‘impatient’ lead. This is a kind of Lead/er that insists upon using vocabulary (like a ‘Gooey’ Gancho) without really understanding it, or having practiced it until the cows come home. They lead this stuff without a care in the world for what it looks like or how they’re doing it. The problem is that they’re going to lead this thing over and over and over again until you give in. Sometimes, more often than naught, this type of Lead/er will use their arms to insist that you Gancho. And until you do, you’ll get no peace. So this is the decision you’ll have to make, either you ‘give’ the Lead/er the Gancho or you risk paying the price for excessive use of force, repetition, and shall we say less than desirable Tango behavior. A good rule of thumb with this stuff (and really any advanced vocabulary) is always do you feel safe with this person ? If the answer is ‘no’, then don’t go there. And as it relates to any Gancho (and in specific the ‘Gooey’ variety), don’t Gancho. It’s that simple. This is your body, and quite honestly without you there is no dance. Be smart, listen to the lead (the action, not the person) and if you’re not being taken care of physically in the action or activity of the dance or the lead for X/Y/or Z, and being respected physiologically, then a Gancho (any variety) is quite literally out of the realm of possibility. Take care of you!

Moving On…

In every Gancho we have the Launching Leg or the ‘Free’ leg. Instead of just ‘throwing’ your leg up and behind, this is more like striking a matchstick more than anything else. Now enter the ‘Gooey’ Gancho part! With a normal Gancho we want that matchstick Free Leg to be quick, fast, and sharp. We want the back of our knee to come into clear, direct contact with our Lead’s thigh. We want the engagement of the leg to be full on contact, not dainty. With a ‘Gooey’ Gancho we still want the matchstick strike to happen, but the rest of the motion is slow, deliberate, and most importantly controlled!

The question that comes up for most Follower’s when being led to a ‘Gooey’ Gancho is how do you know that it’s a ‘Gooey’ Gancho ? There are 2 telltale signs that you’re expected to engage the ‘Gooey’ hook of your leg.

1.) The Music. La musica will tell you what you need to know. Specifically the ‘long’, stringy notes of Fresedo, Laurenz, D’Agostino, late DiSarli (50’s), late Calo, or very late Pugliese, or even (grrrrr) Piazzolla (uuuugh!). Tanturi, Canaro, Rodriguez, Malerba, Donato, Firpo, OTV, Demare, D’Arienzo, Troilo, Lomuto, and any early De Caro just isn’t going to cut it here. The compositions, musically speaking, are too ‘choppy’. So a ‘Gooey’ Gancho really isn’t possible musically speaking.

2.) The Speed. It’s all about the speed at which this variety of Gancho is led. If you’re feeling a slow motion to begin with, chances are, that the Lead (the person, not the action) is expecting a slowed motion, or a ‘Gooey’ Gancho.

From a Leading Perspective in every Gancho you’re leading, there is, to coin a phrase, a “need for speed”. In this instance, just the opposite is true. We want to move very, very, slowly. Deliberately. Controlled. Your motion here, or the lack therein is what creates the speed. The slower you move, the more that you’ll ensure a ‘Gooey’ Gancho!

That said, before we go any further, we have to talk a little bit about Gancho Safety and Gancho Sanity. Let’s start with the Sanity part first. Repeat this line before attempting this or any Gancho depicted on this site. Ready ? “I will lead this once with an experienced Follower, and then I will let it go”. Now the safety bit: Do not push, do not pull, do not use your arms in any way, shape, or form. You’re going to hurt someone, specifically your Follower! Do not force the Follower into a Gancho, ever. It’s not a pleasant experience. Further still do not try this with a novice, someone that’s just starting out either. They have no idea about this stuff, and it’s not your job to show them or introduce this stuff to them, that’s what a teacher is for. You are not one, you’re a social dancer, so….dance. Which is to say that teaching a beginner Follower on a social dance floor while at a Milonga makes you look bad. You’re not helping anyone out, you’re not doing that Follower a favor at all, ever. This is not what you want to hear but facts is facts, and as cool as a Gooey Gancho is, performing this because it’s fun for you, is no reason to do this with a beginner Follower who doesn’t know right from wrong, up from down, etc. It’s just not cool. Got it ?

Moving on…

This series of Ganchos, rightfully can be done from any of the 4 Common Ganchos, but they work really well from the Follower’s side step, or their Forward step! The trick to this Gancho series is the speed at which you lead it. Lead it slow, and you get your Gooey Gancho. Lead it quickly and it defeats the entire purpose of the Gooey part. There’s one caveat, among many, that we do want to focus on, there is a desire to compress, or pull the Follower into you, or to hold onto the Follower in the Gancho, and you can not do this. This creates an unstable Gancho. Truthfully the connection point of the Gancho, where your legs are touching is the support point, the arms don’t really matter all that much. They act as a visual frame not an actual one.

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About The Video. This video is 22:09 in length in 10 Sections.

Section 1 - Introduction - 00:00:35
Section 2 - Gooey Gancho Setup - 00:02:33
Section 3 - Possible Follower Exits - 00:02:45
Section 4 - Rotational Gooey Gancho - 00:03:25
Section 5 - Review - 00:01:31
Section 6 - The Missing Gooey Gancho - 00:03:51
Section 7 - Employing The ‘Launch’ Aspect - 00:02:00
Section 8 - The ‘Right’ Way - 00:01:12
Section 9 - The Real ‘Gooey’ Part - 00:02:20
Section 10 - Closing - 00:01:25

It can be purchased for $15.99 or downloaded as part of your subscription with a discount.

From a Dancing Perspective truthfully this particular variety of Gancho can be a little creepy or can appear that way. There’s a reason for that justifiable creepiness. And it has everything to do with where the Lead is placing their body. Too close and it’s creepy, too far away and the Gancho fails. So there is a sweet spot of bodily position. Think of it as a comfort zone. Factually speaking the whole Gancho thing to begin with stretches the idea of the comfort zone, and this Gooey Gancho really stretches it to its breaking point. Having said all that, when this series of Ganchos is done they can appear quite elegant, and honestly speaking…they’re really cool. They do tend to show off the Follower, and this series of Ganchos are the quintessential ‘flashy’ move. Realistically you’re not going to see this variety all that much, but when you do take a moment to examine the precision of the dancers technique, that will give you an indicator of just how much time and effort they’ve spent on this stuff. 😉

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 49:29 HD quality video on how to properly lead and follow a Close Embrace Sacada and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can buy it. or 2.) You can subscribe!

 Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you pay for this video, or subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you'll find on Youtube doesn't explain and walk you through the how a Gooey Gancho 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 couple's that you're used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they're not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about 'Social Dancing'. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won't help you, because you're missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these videos is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and be done with it. 😉

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique.

In an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better prepared to do so!

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

 

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Body Contortion

Contortion

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

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

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

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

That said, let’s talk about Contortion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better prepared to do so!

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

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Four Common Ganchos

Four Common Ganchos

Gancho. The word in Spanish translates to the English word, roughly, as ‘Hook’. From an Argentine Tango perspective it has a very specific meaning. You’ve seen these things hundreds of times, and while the vocabulary itself has a connotation as being somewhat ‘cheesy’, and only done by beginner leads who don’t know any better, the reality is a that it is a venerable piece of Tango vocabulary that do have a valid place off the main trunk of the Tango history tree. The story goes that while the Gancho existed long before NorbertoEl Pulpo Esbrez came along, his contribution to its storied history is where creativity meets innovation, specifically with regards to ‘elasticity’ and the Enganche. He is/was credited with pioneering and exploration the ‘invasion’ of the standing leg, the response of the free leg, as well as the space in between the opening of a step, and quite factually (if not literally), the intersection of these ideas.

What is a Gancho ? In it’s simplest form, in the modern vernacular of Tango, it is a hooking of the free leg around your partners leg or thigh. It is an interruption of the extension phase of the step, which can (not always) result in the lifting of the respondent’s leg either as a result of, or by deliberate intention.

Today’s Tango Topic deals with just Four of the most Common Ganchos and a few of their issues that happen for both roles. While there are many, many, many types of Ganchos to explore and play with these 4 explored below only scratch the dancing surface of them. They are the foundation for nearly every other Gancho that comes after them. The Rotating Gancho, the Gooey Gancho series, the Follower’s Gancho series, the Ganchito, the Lead’s Gancho series, the Volcada Gancho, just to name a few, owe their foundation to the Four Common Ganchos in Parallel and Cross System.

From A Following Perspective before we go too deep into this, there are some issues that you need to be aware of. 1.) While you have almost ZERO control over the initiation of a Gancho, the response to the lead for the Gancho is all yours! Factually speaking you have complete control over whether or not a Gancho is performed at all. Ganchos are entirely optional for you. Contrary to what you may have been told, you are under no obligation to perform one. Ever. None. And don’t let some Lead/er tell you differently either. 2.) The Four Common Ganchos are all about simple technique for you. It’s really an interrupted back step. Nothing more than that. The hard part about them for you is controlling the leg extension up (the hooking part) while balancing on one foot, and then…the leg extension out of them. Why ? What typically happens, unless properly trained and strengthened is that you, as the Follower, will drop your leg away from the Gancho almost immediately. 🙁 3.) Contrary to what you might believe, you are not going to hurt your lead (as much as some of them deserve it sometimes). You don’t want to hit anyone, or step on anyone, and you certainly don’t want to lift your leg! That’s just crazy! You can’t see what’s going to happen, and you quite literally freak out.

Your part in this is - Your Back Step. And in specific, your extension without a weight transfer. The key component for this series of Ganchos, because once you have the technique for one, it applies to the other three, is that you do want to raise your leg. However, there are some things about that leg raising that you want to be aware of. a.) It’s not done because you want to. No. It’s done as a result of the interruption of the lead’s leg (their thigh) in your way. That interruption is what causes your leg to ‘wrap’ or ‘hook’ around your lead’s leg. b.) Frequently Follower’s just ‘give’ the Gancho to their leads for any number of reasons, when in fact while the Gancho has been led, it is done so improperly. Thereby creating a bit of confusion in you as the Follower, “Was that a Gancho ? Screw it, just Gancho!”. c.) They’ve been over-led so many times to these things that you’ll just do it without really understanding what’s really supposed to happen. The reality is that the Gancho is a learned piece of vocabulary and unless you learn to feel the proper conditions, and or see what those conditions are for one to exist, you’re going to continue to ‘give’ the lead the Gancho and thereby look like you don’t know what on earth you are doing. 🙁

The Sweet Spot and Two Mistakes. Mistake #1: Stepping Away. Mistake #2: Stepping Too Close. In this variety of Common Ganchos these two mistakes are so common one would think that there’s a class on this stuff. However the reason these two mistakes occur at all is due to the Follower having not mastered finding The ’Sweet’ Spot. What is the ‘Sweet’ Spot ? It’s a very specific distance around your lead. Truthfully the ‘spot’, really it’s an appropriate distance, happens around every lead. And while each lead is physiologically different from one to the other, there are some similarities. One of them is the distance that you can be from them, while ‘walking’ around them that will not impair your motion, or theirs, or the combined motion of the couple. Or in this case, one of the Four Common Ganchos. Finding that spot is a bit tricky, but there is a rule of them to doing it. Something so obvious that you’ll wonder why no one ever mentioned it before. Truthfully they did, and it’s usually buried in talking to the lead as an after thought. Sadly.

Lastly this series of Ganchos are all based on mastering your Circular Ochos. Not Traveling, not Linear, not Milonguero, not Over-Rotated, and certainly not Milonga Ochos. No. These Four Common Ganchos are married to Circular Ocho which requires you to go ‘around’ your lead with your back step. Typically what happens for most Followers when they extend around their lead like this, they tend to step away from them. They tend to believe that they’ve stepped around their lead, when in fact, no they have not. That stepping away can and does cause the Gancho to fail. 🙁 Which quite truthfully at some Leads invoke these things, isn’t such a bad idea!

From a Leading Perspective the Gancho is accent or ‘spice’ vocabulary and should only be used sparingly. However, and this is where we go right off the rails, that’s typically not what happens. Some of you go a little Gancho Crazy (read that is ‘Gancho! Gancho! Gancho!) and tend to over do and over lead and repeat the same Gancho 4 or 5 times, and/or more than a few times in a song. Talk about annoying! Is it ever. No one likes to repeat the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over … you see the point here ? No one likes it, any more than you did reading that series of ‘over and over and over’ statements. So if you don’t like it, what on god’s green earth would make you believe that doing the same Gancho 4 or 5 times within the length of 10 seconds, and then to repeat it 10 steps later, wouldn’t drive someone absolutely batty ? The fact is that repetition of ANY piece of tango vocabulary is annoying. And this is where the Gancho has gotten a bad reputation - Repetition. So here’s a free tip for you - Lead it once, and then let it go for the love of Gardel! Lead it once, and then let it go! That said…

There are 5 Common Errors for the Gancho that you need to be aware of.

1.) Using Your Arms. The fact is the at good number of Leads use their arms to push, or pull their Followers around the floor, and while there are some good reasons why it may seem like it’s necessary to do this, it’s never ‘ok’, period. Under no circumstances should one pull or push anyone around the floor….ever! The use of arms as a way to communicate your intention to lead any of the Four Common Ganchos is absolutely verboten! Never. Nunca. Not.

2.) Watching The Follower’s Feet. Watching the Follower’s feet is a failure of Proprioception. It’s that simple. Why is this important in any of the Four Common Ganchos ? Because doing so, you break the illusion of mastery of the vocabulary. Not only that but it breaks the visual lines of the couple.

3.) Failed Articulation! A good number of Leads will fail to Articulate their legs into the proper position to be able to receive the Gancho and instead extend a straight leg into the walking path of the Follower. Thereby effectively giving the Follower nothing to Gancho! 🙁

4.) Resistance! This issue happens for a lot of people that dance Resistance Based Dancing. It’s work. It’s painful. And quite honestly, you have to overpower your Follower for them to hear the ‘lead’. Oy. In short, you don’t need it. Ever.

5.) The Arm/Hand Issue. This move is all about allowing the Follow to disassociate through their Circular Ochos but typically what happens is that you stop that motion by either squeezing the living daylights out of them, OR by placing your hand right hand along their side and applying pressure thereby stopping any rotation motion. 🙁

Ok, now to the actual Common Ganchos. There are 4, as indicated, 2 Parallel and 2 Cross system ones. To be fair all are easy and doable for both roles, there’s nothing confusing or strange about either one. Typically what happens when learning this stuff is that one side gets used a lot more than the other and then it becomes ingrained behavior. It’s an illusion really. Both sides (open and closed) are accessible and easy to get to. Why ? Because these Common Ganchos are typically done in an Open Embrace variation. That’s why. The one that we want to start out with however, is the Closed Side Parallel System one. It will allow you to learn and then use the structure of these 4 Common Ganchos all that much easier.

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From a Dancing Perspective truthfully, when executed a.) in time to the music. b.) as an accent piece of vocabulary, to an accent note. and c.) when none of the issues noted above are present to mar the Gancho…they can be quite lovely to watch. However that’s rarely what happens. What tends to happen are all the things mentioned above, and a few more that have not been mentioned. Part of the reason why Ganchos have the reputation of being ‘cheesy’ or less than desirable is that a.) they open the embrace. b.) they have a historical connotation with ‘Nuevo Tango’ (which is a misnomer of terms, ‘Nuevo Tango’ actually refers to the style of music that Astor Piazzolla founded in 1960 - 62 when he was living in Paris) and lots of legs flying everywhere because of that. c.) they tend to take up a lot of space. and d.) They’re typically poorly executed, very sloppy, making them appear (and actually are) like they’re an exercise in acrobatics. Oy. However, most of that can be tastefully, and judiciously removed by having good, clear instruction that clearly illustrates what and how to initiate and receive a Gancho, hence this video series.

About The Video. This video comes in Six (6) Parts, for easy digestion of the topic (and download - Total Run Time 49:29).  What you're seeing above is only the introduction to the topic before we dive into the topics below. The one you probably want to see is #6 as it contains all 4 of the Ganchos. However, the rest of the videos make that last video possible. They're all about set up, proper technique, and really the underlying method of how a Gancho works and where things can go terribly wrong, and how to correct for it. 

Part 1 - Introduction (08:12).
Part 2 - Lead Technique - 04:02.
Part 3 - Follower Technique - 05:39.
Part 4 - Gancho Exercise - 05:36.
Part 5 - Gancho Set Up - 06:43.
Part 6 - Four Common Ganchos - 19:27.

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 49:29 HD quality video on how to properly lead and follow the Ganchos and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can buy it. or 2.) You can subscribe!

You're Not Logged In: If you were free user of this site you could login to your account, you'd see a different video from the one above! You'll see the part 4 on the Setup for a Gancho. Furthermore this is only the first 4 Ganchos of a much larger Gancho series of 21 other possible Ganchos - Rotating Ganchos, Volcada Ganchos, Lead Only Ganchos, Follower Only Ganchos, and Gooey Ganchos. 

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 Gancho 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 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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Argentine Back Sacadas

Back Sacadas

Sacada. Meaning – 'a-really-cool-move-that-you-think-is-really-complicated-but-is-an-illusion of techniques'.  For most people when they see a sacada for the first time, their reaction is one of surprise that a.) it looks really complicated (it's not). and b.) that they can never see themselves doing one (you will). And these are usually forward sacadas for the Lead into the Follower's side step. Usually. There are about 1024 sacadas, which drops to 512 when you rule out certain impossibilities. In reality there are about 10 different 'flavors' of them that when you combine the different flavors of walking systems, that number jumps to insane number.  Things go right off the rails (as the saying goes) when we see a sacada that does not fit into this paradigm. Enter the "Back Sacada".

From a Following Perspective. This is the quite possibly the scariest of all moves in Tango for the Follower. Why ? Most people have an innate desire NOT to hit or hurt anyone, and the Follower's Back Sacada opens up that fear in very real ways. The Follower's Back Sacada to the Lead's side step or Forward Step is quite possibly one of those moves where the Follower has to do some serious acrobatics to make it work. Or so you would think. Not entirely true. Almost from the day that a Follower learns to dance. They're expected to do 5 things right from the start: 1.) Walk backwards. 2.) Embrace nicely. 3.) Cross their feet. 4.) Turn. and 5.) Ocho. It's the 5th one that we're on about because your 'Ocho' as you understand it, with a tiny modification, and a little bit of technique work can become your default for all Ocho movements and thereby take the 'scare' factor out of any and all Back Sacadas for you. The fact is because the Follower is stepping backwards into their Lead they're trusting (eeeek) that they're not going to hurt the Lead! Talk about scare the shit out of you! "Please god, don't let me screw this up!". Usually that screw up comes in one of three ways. 1.) Missing it entirely (which is rightfully not the Follower's fault, the move is poorly led most of the time). 2.) Stepping on their Lead's foot (he led it, so why are you apologizing for it?). and 3.) Not placing their heel close to the floor. You see, the Follower is in 3in heels, and those things are lethal weapons, leaving the heel up, can cause...shall we say, 'Issues'. 🙂 However, the solution to making a led Back Sacada work for you ? Is two fold ... 1.) Learn to collect your feet. No. Seriously. Frequently you throw your leg out behind you like so...

And the 2nd solution ? Extend your leg only AFTER you have completed your applied disassociation!

From a Leading Perspective. The Back Sacada qualifies as the quint-essential 'cool' move that quite honestly is on the radar screen (at the beginning) and is seemingly just out of reach for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the applied disassociation that's in the equation. Applied Disassociation ? In order for MOST back sacadas to work, that means that you're going to have to do some foundational work that you would think only belongs in the purview of the Follower: Study Your Ochos. And the foundation of the Ocho is ? Applied Disassociation. Most Leads, think kind of work is beneath them. They see women doing this work and think 'Follower' Technique. "I don't have to study that stuff." And they'd be wrong. Flat out wrong. If you want the cool toy, then that means you have to lose the attitude and go learn how to Follow and in specific learn how to Ocho without being pushed, or pulled in order to do it. That's where the study of Applied Disassociation comes in. Correction: Intention Based Applied Disassociation! This isn't pushing and pulling folks, this is work. And quite honestly, most people don't want to do it. They'd rathe push and pull to do the job. It's not necessary. How does this relate to the 'Back Sacada' ? Because the engine of the Lead Back Sacada is in fact their ability to FREELY APPLY DISASSOCIATION without the use of resistance from the Follower, tension in the arms, or needing to push off of, or compress the Follower in any way, shape, or form, not even in the slightest. And all of this is just the tip of the iceberg because this definition above assumes that we're talking about a LEAD back sacada to the Follower's side or forward steps! What about the reverse ? 

From a Dancing Perspective. The Back Sacada takes up an inordinate amount of space on a social dance floor, while it is the cool flashy move, it also like spice in a meal. Spice ? Use it too often or too much and you ruin the meal! Use it sparingly (very sparingly) and then it’s a nice surprise now and again (like once in an evening and then let it go). However, most of you, specifically the Leads, are not going to hear this and think that you're being ‘cool’ because now you can set up and receive a Back Sacada or you can do them yourself. The fact is that there really is no space on a social dance floor for them, except in the middle of the room. And most certainly not on a crowded floor in the outer track. Not now. Not ever. But again, you're not going to hear that because you've gone Sacada crazy, and you want to try out the cool new toy. Let me introduce you to the only place where you should use them - A ‘Practica’. Specifically the ‘North American’ version of one. Where it’s not a class, it really is about ‘practicing’. That’s about the only place where you really want to pull this thing out and play with it. So if it doesn’t belong on a social dance floor, then why teach it ? Answer, it’s not about the Sacada but rather the underlaying technique of how you generate one – the Applied Disassociation!

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About The Video. This is a combined video format, lead and follow technique is mixed together.

Sacada Foundation Review - 00:03:50
Lead Foot/Leg Technique Review - 00:00:52
Disassociation/Applied Disassociation Review - 00:03:20
Lead Disassociation - Engaging the Follower's Side Step - 00:04:51
Engaging a Circular Side Step - 00:01:40
Follower's Back Sacada - Using Linear Ochos - 00:01:25
Follower's Back Sacada - Lead Details - 00:04:54
Follower's Back Sacada - Follower Technique - 00:02:06
Back Sacada Review - 00:00:53
A Variation - Rotating Back Sacada - 00:02:31
A Variation - The Closed Side Back Sacada - 00:01:13
Multiples - "Chained" Back Sacadas - 00:02:49

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 31:38 HD quality video on how to properly lead and follow the Back Sacada and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can buy it. or 2.) You can subscribe!

You're Not Logged In: If you were paid user of this site you could login to your account, you'd see a different video from the one above! You'd see the full Back Sacada video.

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 Back Sacada 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 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' and Social Dance Vocabulary and it's execution. 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.

Social Collection

Social Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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The Arm Pit Dancer

The Armpit Dancer

For most dancers their embrace is theirs and theirs alone. It's what separates them from everyone else. It is their signature. Regardless of whether or not that embrace is desirable or not. Mind you they may not realize that their embrace is not desirable, they may not realize that the quality of their embrace is desirable. We like to believe that our embrace is the finest thing since sliced bread, and yet it is that embrace that causes more problems than it's worth for a greater number of dancers. Take for example an aspect that is frequently passed onto dancers learning close embrace (which turns out to be a grand fallacy) that the Follower must apply 'Resistance' (which generally ends up as 'Rigidity') in order for the Lead/er to feel them. Or still another that the Follower should wrap their left arm around their Lead's shoulders.

Each of these issues, and many more that aren't listed here create physiological stresses on the couple that we don't want. And as a result we end up having to compromise our natural bodily structure to compensate for what essentially amounts to an uncomfortable embrace.

To be clear, and fair, the embrace is not the only problem child here. The other major component to nearly every issue that you can think of comes from one other place, it's the walk. Or more importantly, one's stability in one's walk. Do not discount what you'll hear in the videos above, and this article as "Ahhh I just need to fix my embrace and then all will be magical!". Nope. You must, must, must, must, must ... let's stress that one more time with feeeeeling -> you must work on your walk, and in specific, your stability in your walk. And there are loads of exercises you can do to correct for that, one of which has already been covered here "The Ballet Rise".

The Problem: The embrace is massive component to the dance being successful on any level, and yet there is another component is just as important but very infrequently talked about. What's that ? Body Position and Body Placement for both Lead and Follow! Body Position is where you place yourself within the construct of the embrace, Body Placement is what you do with it (e.g.: vocabulary). The issue is that getting this topic right is the dividing line between 'ease' and 'work', between 'pain' and 'pleasure', between "ouch" and "aaahhhhh". And yet, no one talks about this thing. So what specifically is the issue ? The fact that a good 90% of the time both Lead and Follow will enter into an untenable embrace structure based on their respective Body Positions right from the start of the dance where the Both dancers will quite literally either place the Follower into their Lead's Arm Pit, or the Lead will readjust to have the Follower there from the start. And in that we have what is known as "The Armpit Dancer". 

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.

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From a Following Perspective, this issue is as much yours as it is the Leads' issue! You either went directly to the Lead/ers arm pit or more importantly you drifted there by means of every cross, turn, and ocho you were 'asked' to execute. In short, you are just as responsible for this as the Lead is for allowing the problem to happen in the first place. Let's go on the theory that you went there by comfort, not by drift, that will happen later anyway. By comfort means that you don't know anything else. You went right into the armpit of you Lead because you don't know any thing different. It's all you know. And quite honestly no one has probably told you that you have a responsibility to be actively ontop of being in front of your lead, and being in their armpit is not that place. Placing yourself in the armpit is less then desirable on several levels: 1.) You're making work for yourself. 2.) You're instantly behind on everything that is being asked of you. 3.) You're more than likely going to end up in long forward steps because of your position.

Let's be clear about something, there are certain aspects to the Modern Follow that did not happen 50, 30, and maybe even 20 years ago that does happen today. One of those things is that certain pieces of vocabulary mentioned above are all yours. The Lead may ASK (operative word) for it, but you're the one that has to execute it with some degree of precision and awareness. And that means that while there's nothing that you can do about the speed of one of these pieces of vocabulary, there is something you can do to change how things are executed because you're the one that's doing the execution! Put simply you are responsible for Forward, Side, & Back, and just how much disassociation you engage to execute X, Y, and Z that is being asked of you. You must place yourself in the right places at all times to allow for these things to occur. That means a.) Execute. b.) Get there in a timely fashion (read that as being on beat). This part is optional, but mostly quite desirable c.) With elegance! Generally the problem is that you have allowed yourself to 'slip' in any one of those three steps, in specific the back and forward steps of your Molinete as well as the back step prior to the crossing step of the Argentine Cross.

To 'slip' means that you are out of alignment with your lead. While the video above talks about the Follower's Molinete where this occurs repeatedly, it also occurs in the Argentine Cross, and you as the Follower need to take control so these things don't happen. One of the things in your way, unfortunately is a Lead's embrace that is restrictive that won't allow you the freedom to move across and around your lead's body. If the embrace isn't restrictive, you have the tools you need to accomplish your goals! Technique, and Space! Now the only thing you need to do is execute.

From a Leading Perspective, this one is as much your issue as it is the Followers! Why are you responsible for this issue ? 1.) It's your embrace. 2.) You have control. 3.) You're the one that's choosing vocabulary, not the Follower. 4.) Navigation! 5.) One of your jobs as a Lead (you have 3), is Music. Your job is to select the beat that the couple is dancing to and on. That is why you are responsible.

Let's go on the theory that you are ignorant of why placing the Follower in your armpit is not desirable. That you're doing what you're doing out of your own physiological comfort and ignorance:

Put simply, the Follower has a ton of physical work to do. You, my friend, have a different kind of work to do. While the role of the Follower is all about the physical, your role is intellectual - it's all about planning. You think, they do. Mind you if you think and do for them, there's not a whole lot for them to do except look nice and smile. Which is precisely what Tango was for many decades. That's not the case in today's Tango world, it's changing...slowly. The role of the Follower has expanded more over the last 2 decades. And as a result, they have more to do, and you have less to do. The more ? They're essentially being asked to execute a turn - the how the turn is done, but not when that turn is done (that's still your job). Still another instance is that they cross their feet automagically because you're not leading it 90% of the time. Still another is that in traveling ochos (what you call 'back ochos'), they're deciding how to ocho and how far that ocho goes, constantly. Put simply, they're doing the heavy lifting, while all you're doing is thinking about what should be done in time to the music.

Those three things (and there are more, these are just the prominent ones) are physical labor for the Follower. Specifically the 1st and the last. Why ? Because they require disassociation and applied disassociation (what you mistakeningly think of as a 'pivot') on the Follower's forward and back steps of their Molinete, and their ochos. 9 times out of 10 you'll start a turn to the Open side of the embrace (Lead left), using the Follower's backstep as the opening step either from a stop (bad idea by the way, see a future WHIC video on this topic), or from an ocho (better idea). That disassociation (from you) and applied disassociation in your follower tends to land them right in your armpit and thereby makes it difficult for them to get around you (for a variety of reasons which are not discussed here) for the remaining steps of the turn. The same is true of the ocho! In short, this stuff is work for them, and every time they move from the armpit, they're having to stretch to go further around you just to end up in the same place. What makes that even more challenging is that you compress the embrace, you turn away from them in turns and in crosses you place them in your armpit deliberately, and you move the center of the circle or you close the distance in crosses, and/or pull them with your left arm, your head is in the way of the turn or cross (watching their feet). Each and every time that you do this it makes their job harder and harder.

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From a Leading Perspective, this one is as much your issue as it is the Followers! Why are you responsible for this issue ? 1.) It's your embrace. 2.) You have control. 3.) You're the one that's choosing vocabulary, not the Follower. 4.) Navigation! 5.) One of your jobs as a Lead (you have 3), is Music. Your job is to select the beat that the couple is dancing to and on. That is why you are responsible.

Let's go on the theory that you are ignorant of why placing the Follower in your armpit is not desirable. That you're doing what you're doing out of your own physiological comfort and ignorance:

Put simply, the Follower has a ton of physical work to do. You, my friend, have a different kind of work to do. While the role of the Follower is all about the physical, your role is intellectual - it's all about planning. You think, they do. Mind you if you think and do for them, there's not a whole lot for them to do except look nice and smile. Which is precisely what Tango was for many decades. That's not the case in today's Tango world, it's changing...slowly. The role of the Follower has expanded more over the last 2 decades. And as a result, they have more to do, and you have less to do. The more ? They're essentially being asked to execute a turn - the how the turn is done, but not when that turn is done (that's still your job). Still another instance is that they cross their feet automagically because you're not leading it 90% of the time. Still another is that in traveling ochos (what you call 'back ochos'), they're deciding how to ocho and how far that ocho goes, constantly. Put simply, they're doing the heavy lifting, while all you're doing is thinking about what should be done in time to the music.

Those three things (and there are more, these are just the prominent ones) are physical labor for the Follower. Specifically the 1st and the last. Why ? Because they require disassociation and applied disassociation (what you mistakeningly think of as a 'pivot') on the Follower's forward and back steps of their Molinete, and their ochos. 9 times out of 10 you'll start a turn to the Open side of the embrace (Lead left), using the Follower's backstep as the opening step either from a stop (bad idea by the way, see a future WHIC video on this topic), or from an ocho (better idea). That disassociation (from you) and applied disassociation in your follower tends to land them right in your armpit and thereby makes it difficult for them to get around you (for a variety of reasons which are not discussed here) for the remaining steps of the turn. The same is true of the ocho! In short, this stuff is work for them, and every time they move from the armpit, they're having to stretch to go further around you just to end up in the same place. What makes that even more challenging is that you compress the embrace, you turn away from them in turns and in crosses you place them in your armpit deliberately, and you move the center of the circle or you close the distance in crosses, and/or pull them with your left arm, your head is in the way of the turn or cross (watching their feet). Each and every time that you do this it makes their job harder and harder.

The Dancing Reality. The reality is that this stuff is going to continue to happen. And these words will make no difference. You'll keep doing this stuff and stressing your heads, bodies, and dances to the breaking point. The reality is that you like dancing like this. You like dancing in pain. You like working harder than you have to. You like force, tension, compression, and resistance. That's the reality. You see other people doing it and seemingly having fun and think, that's what I should be doing. What you may not realize is that these people are ignorant of what's supposed to happen. It's only after they start rubbing muscles and tendons, that are seemingly strained for some odd reason (!!!!!), and they need a massage or a chiropractic visit the next morning that they realize that Tango is the cause! So 'no' you shouldn't be doing that. What you should do is fix it!

Paying For The Soup. Change can happen, but only if you want it to happen. And 'want' is the key word. First and foremost you have to see that this is an issue. If don't, then so much the better, that means less work for you. But the reality is that this is a ton of work for both Lead and Follower. Further still you are contorting your bodies to make it happen, and then you wonder why you're paying a chiropractor every few weeks for an 'adjustment'. There's a reason for that, and that's because you're contorting your bodies to dance like this. Here's a helpful hint - STOP DOING IT! As arrogant as that may sound, and quite frankly the whole thing is arrogant, the fact is that it's not arrogant if you see it as a helpful bit of advice that can stop you from being in pain. 

The Soup Part. This website isn't a free resource. All the toys that can actually help you to change your dance are all behind a paywall. If you want access to the toys that means you have to subscribe. If you want access to the free resources, all you have to do is register. That's it, that's all. There are quite a few resources for the free user. However, all the good stuff, and really the up to date stuff, will cost you about .66 cents per day. It's that simple.  If you were a free user, this paragraph would actually be about a tiny free tip that could see, but you can't because you haven't registered yet! If you registered...you'd see the tip. 

The Expectant Cross

The Expectant Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Cross – Getting In Front

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.  

Hmmmm, however you actually haven't registered as a user of this site, so you're not able to see the full solution, and even then you'd have to upgrade to either a Silver, Gold, or Diamond level user! Once you do that you'll be able to see this solution to this problem as well as over 100+ videos on tango technique, codigos, and more. Just click that little button below that says "SUBSCRIBE".

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day.

 

Follower Technique – Part 1

Follower Technique

The very words for most Followers boils down to 5 things, minus adornments and embellishments. 1.) Posture. 2.) Embrace. 3. ) Forward Steps. 4.) Side Steps. 5.) Back Steps. A good portion of the time this training also covers Body Position and Body Placement within the construct of the embrace (e.g. how to stay in front of and then with your Lead). The training usually stops there and does NOT include a physical dissertation on Disassociation or Applied Disassociation...but rather perpetuates the fallacy that a 'pivot' is Disassociation and that they're the same things – they're not. All of this in service to do several things all that same time: a.) To improve the Follower's kinesthetic capabilities with regards to the 5 things listed above. b.) To create a deeper awareness of the 5 things. c.) To give the Follower a slightly better toolset than they had previously. Usually this is done in a single 2 or 3 hour session whereby afterwards the Follower is supposed to have magically improved by leaps and bounds. Ummmmm...ahem....not bloodly likely, not today, not tomorrow, and not next week. Follower technique does not magically happen after 2 or 3 hours of 'class'. It is a diligent study that happens over a long period of time of patient study, correction, influence, building skills, and most importantly – time, and lots of it.

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From a Leading Perspective most Leads (the person) don't have the skill set, or the language for that matter, to describe, be aware of, or to witness whether or not a Follower is executing proper technique. This is mostly because they don't dance the role of the Follower themselves. Isn't it odd that a good portion of them dole out advice to Follower's in attempt to 'help' as to what the Follower should be doing though ? (ahem...it's not 'odd', it's down right rude and wrong) The only thing that they're truly aware of is whether or not the Follower is in the right place, at the right time, when they asked (or in a lot of cases told, and shoved) them to be. They can sort of tell when it feels good, and they can tell when it's not. Which mostly boils down to when the Follower isn't 'following' what they believe they were leading (the action). This comprises the Lead's understanding of 'good' Follower Technique. Honestly the lot of them could give a damn if the Follower does X, Y, or Z just as long as they do what what was led. If they add anything, just make damned certain that it doesn't get in the way of what the almighty Lead is leading, and for good christ's sake don't screw it up! And whatever is done, don't miss anything!!! Or heaven's forbid engage in an actual conversation or have a thought as to what should happen. That would be....tantamount to sacrilege! Pahhhh-leeease.

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From a Following Perspective a good portion of Followers DO know Follower Technique when they see it. They're not able to describe what they're looking at (mostly because they don't have the language descriptors). However, they are able to witness and recognize it. Unfortunately that recognition is limited to the awareness of what they've been exposed to, which boils down to the prettier Followers that get all the dances and emulating their 'habits' which masquerades as 'technique' that those Followers learned from watching YouTube videos of a performance of someone else's and then doing their own version of it! Ding! Instant 'technique'. 

From a Dancing Perspective as long as the dance is served, and everything comes out alright, quite honestly seemingly no one gives a damn. As long as there is no blood lost, no limbs injured, and there are smiles, giggles and laughter at the end of the tanda, quite honestly...no one cares whether or not 'proper' technique was executed or not. Until someone comes onto the floor, that is executing proper technique, and then the whole room is talking about nothing BUT that, and then all of a sudden everyone cares!

The Dancing Fact is that the 'Technique' actually matters a whole lot on multiple levels. It matters because the correct execution of that technique actually improves, not only the quality of the experience as a whole, but it improves each and every single step, which in turn improves the quality of the vocabulary being executed, which in turn improves the quality of the dance on the whole! It quite literally changes a dance from 'meh' to 'omg'. However that 'omg' has a lot of gradations built into it for one simple reason: It depends on the amount of study and practice time, the amount of detailed information that they possess and are able to access at any one time, and more importantly the level of corrective self behavior the Follower has employed previously to change or correct their abilities. So that 'omg' is very subjective. However you do recognize the 'skillz' when you see it and more importantly when you dance with it. The skillz are the difference between 'omg' and "oh my f*cking GOD!!!" Execute them properly and you're on to something that separates you from the run-of-the-mill Follower. Execute them poorly and you're going to end up sitting more often than not. 

Quite honestly good follower technique rocks! The operative word in the sentence ? 'Good'. There's lots of less-than-desirable technique out there, and there's also a lot of desirable technique. And there's a lot of technique out there for Export. ie: Show Tango masquerading as Social Tango. Stop and think about it, when you're on a social dance floor do you need your legs flying all over the place or adorning and/or embellishing every 3rd step ? Seriously ? You would only do that if you were performing for the 15th row to Pugliese or Piazzolla based music when you have an entire stage to yourself and aren't in the line of dance. In other words – stage tango. Proper Follower Technique executed within the embrace does not need to interrupt the lead (the action) at all, it only enhances the overall experience of the dance, the embrace, the walk, the desired vocabulary, and to a limited degree - the musical interpretation....or basically everything you do. 🙂

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Learning proper technique ? Really that's the question. Do you want to learn ? And then when you're done learning it, are you going to practice it ? Because learning it is one thing. Practicing the frak out of it is another. Truthfully you can learn proper technique but you absolutely MUST spend a fair amount of time actually practicing what you learned. Failure to do that, and you're just putting money in someone's pocket for an hour or two, and it was a complete waste of time because you're not practicing it – daily! The fact of the matter is that if you don't practice it, daily, then it's not going to happen on a social dance floor when you need it the most. If you have to stop and think about it, you're screwed. Hence the reason you practice the frak out of it. And yes, sadly, this does require repetition...but not mindless repetition but rather mindful, conscious repetition of watching yourself in a mirror, spending a few hours every week in front of it, going over what you can remember. 

Memory. Your memory is fickle. You're going to forget key aspects of what you've been taught. So that means that either you spend a few hours a week with a private teacher which can get rather pricey over time or you invest in a few well produced videos from a few reputable sources. 

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Who to work with ? The question comes up, can you learn proper technique in person ? Yes. Can you learn less than desirable technique in person ? YUP! And the same is true of video work. What matters is the source of the information and goes right back to picking a good teacher or a knowledgeable source of the skill set. Which brings up another question, does that source have to be a woman ? Answer...No, it does not. It can be anyone that has spent a good amount of time studying the form of either role, gender doesn't matter. What matters most is how deeply involved that person has immersed themselves in the form. Quite frankly, most men that invest in being a 'good' Follower want to be better than the women around them because they've recognized that they don't want to be that 'girl' that sits. Further still they want to get it 'right', so they'll invest hours...weeks...months in learning the intricate in's-and-out's of Following. Their goal is not to perform, nor is it necessarily to teach, it's to understand the form as a whole. Truth be told there are more than a few really amazing male Followers in the world and to be quite honest with you, they blow the doors off your run-of-the-mill Followers and more than a few 'performing' teacher Followers IMHO.

Fortunately for you, dear reader, you have access to a teacher that has spent a considerable amount of time learning, relearning, exploring, pulling apart, putting back together, figuring out, asking questions, dancing, studying, more dancing, more studying, investigating, and then a lot more dancing (in heels), discovering every aspect of the role of the Follower from the Embrace to the Walk and back again. Now to be fair, while this teacher does spend a fair amount of time in either role, in class and on a social dance floor it does not necessarily make him all knowing - all seeing but it does make him...shall we say...'aware', and we'll leave it at that.  That being said you may wish to take advantage of that resource by clicking that green button below, just a thought...nudge, nudge, nudge... 😉 ©Tango Topics. 

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Intention Based Dancing

Intention Based Dancing

"Resistance, give me resistance! I can't feel you!". Followers hear this so often that it begs the question if Leads learn this as part of their technique classes on "How to be annoying in 10 seconds or less!" or "10 things to say to your Follower that will piss them off!". Piss them off ? Yup. Why ? From a Leading perspective you're screaming to your Followers that you need to control them, and that's all you know and or can hear. From a Following perspective, it screams..."I am unstable" and "I need to hang on you!". This dance is all about nuance. Meaning that your arm and/or hand employing force, tension, pressure, compression...is not desirable.

From a Following perspective: Truth be told, you have been told so often, in nearly every class or workshop, by Female teachers (who rightfully should know better) and Male teachers that you must ... 'wait for your lead'. As a result, that waiting turns into lag, or hesitation, in you. You get so used to 'waiting' and hesitation that you become reliant on that hesitation to do everything! That lag results in the Lead needing to push or force you to do X, Y, and Z which as a result turns into...resistance. In this instance, you want to move with the intent of what is being asked of you, quickly and decisively. As you feel the intent to move, GO! Don't sit there and wait to be pushed to do something...GO! This is better known in the Tango Topics world as MYA (Move Your Ass). These statements can easily lead one to believe that we're talking about an out of control Follower, or a willful Follower that is willy-nilly going wherever they feel the need to. That's not the case. The intent in this case is very small, your goal is to read that 'small' part and then to interpret it as either forward, side, back, or incremental, and either linear or circular and then to go with it while at the same time following a basic principle: Staying 'with' your Lead. 

From a Leading perspective: You believe erroneously that you must apply force, pressure, tension, and ask for resistance to get what you want out of your Followers. When the complete opposite is true. Yes, you can apply force to them to get them to do what you want. This methodology, however, says that you must control them. It also says to them that you don't trust them and can't rely on them to listen to what you're leading, and then to execute it. Furthermore what it also says is that they will never, ever be able to hear the level of precision that you desire the most. Put simply if you don't take the 'guiding' (ahem... and this is being kind when using that word...it's more 'steering' and rough steering at that) platform of your arms and hands away from them, then they'll never be able to control that stuff themselves because you're too busy being heavy-handed. As a result they'll never learn how to manage their own stability, and their own bodily control. Further still, you'll never learn to lead someone with nuance instead of Force! And beyond that, you'll never be able to tell when you have a Follower in your arms that responds to effortless dancing because you're too busy over-functioning, over-managing, over-controlling them! Further still is that there is no way to separate what's your's and what's theirs if you're constantly forcing your dance partner to do X, Y, and Z. There's only one game here, and that's you telling, or dictating to the Follower what they should do. The whole point is to suggest, invite, engage...not tell! No one, absolutely no one likes to be told what to do. So if you don't like it, what on god's green earth makes you believe the Follower is going to enjoy it ? 

From a Dancing perspective: Most of this topic has dealt with resistance and it's deleterious effects on the dancing couple. However, what would happen if you removed all that 'stuff' above ? What would happen if you were to engage stability as a Follower, where you didn't need to be so heavy handed as a Lead ? What would happen if you were be responsible for your own walk, your own embrace, your own individual component of the dance ? What would happen ? Freedom is what happens! Options and opportunities happen! At first there is a lack of precision that occurs, and then later on the more that you practice this way of dancing the more precise control you have over the tiniest of things. For one thing there's less sweat! This was of dancing is almost unreal! The dancing couple that is engaging in Intention Based Dancing is lighter, appears and acts effortless, there's less stress on the couple as a whole, and more over far more precision in technique as well as musically. Over time what ends up happening to those people that dance from intention, both parties enjoy the experience and can then access the whole reason that they're there for in the first place: Tango Nirvana. Now comes the kicker – a good portion of the better dancers use this 'way' of dancing. They don't require the things described here because they know that something else is possible! Not all of them but a good portion of them employ this way of dancing.

Think of This: Applying resistance, tension, force, compression: Each time that you apply any of these things in any level of measure, it's like a jarring transition from sleep! Do you like it when your alarm clock goes off first thing in the morning ? Probably not. Guess what ? You're doing the same thing here with all that stuff to your dancing partners!

How do you change ? First do you want to change ? Put another way, do you want to wake your partners as if you were an alarm clock ? Probably not. Guess what ? You're doing just that in a myriad of ways from your walk to your embrace to the choice of vocabulary. From a 'THUD' to 'Compression' and everything in between. So if the answer to that question is a "I'd like to do that but it sounds like too much work and too much effort..." then thank you very much for reading, and have a lovely day!  Otherwise if the answer to that question is an emphatic "Yes Miles!!!" then read on....

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

Actual Change ? Sadly. This is not something that you can learn from a video. More specifically you can not learn the kinesthetics from a video. However, you can learn the vocabulary and how to move from a video. The kinesthetics is something that must be felt and then replicated over time with someone who can adjust how you feel in every aspect of your embrace and your walk at the same time. 

If we're being honest, you're going to think this is just about the embrace. That is a mistake that a good portion of dancers make. If you change just the embrace, that everything will be fine. No. It won't. You must address both the walk and the embrace at the same time for issues of stability and clarity and cleanliness from every possible perspective. This change is also about the precise control that you have over that walk, without hanging, pulling or pushing on your partner! Failure to address both aspects and you're just putting money into someone else's pocket and wasting your time.

From a Follower's perspective this change deals mostly with corrective back step issues that arise from how the leg extends and how the foot lands on the floor. This change must be drilled, and trained into the Follower over and over again. It is repetitive in one respect and corrective in another. This isn't about mindless repetition but rather 'mindful' or conscious process. Now we add the embrace component and really dealing with 2 very important phrases that means very little now but will mean an enormous amount later. 1.) Staying in front of your Lead. and 2.) Staying with your lead. It's important to note the distinction here of 'Lead' and 'lead'. The 1st is the person (Lead) and the 2nd is the action (lead)!

From a Leading perspective this deals with creating a series of physical limitations across the walk, and the embrace too numerous to mention here (that's why there are videos on this topic) that can not be used and then working from within that construct. This sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Truthfully it's quite difficult to get the proper balance of embrace and walk without pulling or pushing and at the same time, maintaining one's posture. However once this is mastered, then the fun begins, adding music!  ©Tango Topics. 

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