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The Social Lápiz & Enrosque

The Social Lapiz & Enrosque

The Spanish word ‘Lápiz’ (pron: lah-pees - emphasis on the 'LAH' and not the 'pees') translates to English as Pencil, and the word ‘Enrosque’ translates to English as ‘Screw’ or ‘Thread’. From a Tango perspective these are primarily ideas that relate solely to the Lead’s side of the dancing equation. Mostly. 🙂 A Follower can and does engage in a version of the Lápiz when applying a needle turn in ochos, or a planeo but as it relates to the Enrosque, it is very infrequently done by the Follower on their own. That said, let’s talk about the Social Lápiz & Enrosque.

What is a Lápiz & Enrosque ? Let's take those words one at a time. A Lápiz is a leg extension (and pointing of the foot/toe) done in circular fashion in response to what the Follower is doing. Usually this is a leg extension out away from the body (Forward to 12 O’Clock), then around to the side (at Nine O’Clock), and then the back (at Six O’Clock), and then back to collection. The Lápiz is usually done to the Follower’s Molinete or Traveling Ocho on their resulting back step.

What makes it ‘Social’ is that it is very small, very tiny. Meaning that the footprint (no pun intended) should not take up anymore space in the line of dance than say another step forward would. In other words ? No space.

And what about the Enrosque ? An Enrosque is essentially the lead crossing one foot behind the other without space between the crossed feet (better known as a 'clean' cross) and then, here’s the hard part, unwinding that cross back to collection without wobbling, wavering, or using the Follower to do it! Typically the Lápiz and the Enrosque Follow each other. First a Lápiz and then the Enrosque.

From A Following Perspective to be fair, there’s not a whole lot here for you from a technique standpoint. For you, there is quite literally no difference in what you’re doing, nor how you’re doing it. Why ? Because nothing that the Lead is doing should affect your dancing in any way, shape, or form. Quite truthfully, actually what they’re doing should enhance what you’re doing from a visual perspective. Assuming that they execute the Lápiz and enrosque with any level of deftness and cleanliness, you shouldn’t actually be able to tell that they’ve executed one! You shouldn’t necessarily feel anything at all except probably the lightest of taps on the back of your heel, as the toe of the their shoe touches the back of your heel, and that’s about it. Other than that, there’s should be no indication that said Lápiz or Enrosque has occurred in any way, shape, or form. This is a decoration for them. It’s the lead’s side of an embellishment for you. The whole reason they do this stuff is to decorate what you’re doing. Specifically on your back steps of either a Linear Ocho (infrequently used), Traveling Ocho (more likely), or the Follower’s Molinete (most likely). And really the Lápiz is there to accentuate the line of your back step. And the Enrosque ? It’s Lead flash! Meaning that it serves no earthly purpose except to say ‘look at me’. And again, assuming that the lead has done their job properly, the Enrosque shouldn’t be felt on your part. The lead shouldn’t need to hang on you, to pull, or push, or to employ/use resistance, tension, or force in their embrace in any way, shape, or form to stabilize themselves against you. So in short, this is all on the lead.

However, there are 3 things that you should be aware of with regards to the Lápiz and a possible resulting Enrosque.

1.) Continuity of Steps: For you, your Molinetes, have to be consistent. Meaning that you can not step away from your lead, and the size of your steps must be the same. The size of the Forward step must be equal to the back step which must be equal in size to the Side step and so on. So you must develop a sense of continuity to your steps. Without that continuity, a lead can not and should not attempt to play with the Lápiz. Why ? Because of the consistency problem. If the lead can’t rely on the size of your steps, that they’re all over the place or they’re small one time and large the next, then they can not trust that what you’re doing, and thereby can not and should not use the Lápiz to draw attention to your steps.

2.) Pop The Knee: On your back steps, you really do want to create a long clean line. And that means ‘popping’ the knee backwards to generate that line. Anything less than this, and you’re really doing yourself a visual disservice. 🙁

3.) Stepping Around: With regards to your Molinete (not necessarily to the Traveling Ocho), you ideally want to step ‘around’ your lead in the Molinete, not away from them on your back step. The problem with this is that most Leads, in the Molinete in Close Embrace specifically, do not make space for this to happen. So getting ‘around’ your lead becomes problematic at best. Each step of the Molinete must, must, must be around your lead, not away from them. If you step away from them, it breaks the possibility of a Lápiz occurring that can accentuate the line of your back step.

Quite truthfully the Lápiz could be employed on your Forward step and it’s really cool when that happens, but it’s usually done in response to your Back step!

From a Leading Perspective this is the epitome of Lead flashy embellishments. However, before we go any further, it is strongly advised that you review the proper Lead Technique for the Lápiz and resulting Enrosque (see Lead Technique) before you attempt this sort of thing. That said, let’s dive in.

This is a very flashy illusion for you, and a very challenging one at that. Quite possibly for most of you reading this the hardest part about it will be rotating over one foot, while extending the free leg. It’s a difficult thing for a lead to do, and then to do well. That last part (“do well”) must be practiced with all due diligence, over and over and over again. Most Leads can do these things poorly, or just barely, but not all of them can do them well. And to make it ‘Social’ ? That takes skill, time, practice, and patience. Most leads erroneously believe that this is just sticking your leg out there, and swinging it around or that the Follower is moving the Lead. Not so. The Lápiz and Enrosque are independent motions of the Follower’s motion. Completely independent.

That said, there are 5 things that you want to focus on with these things. Three things that can and will force you to think about how you execute everything else from this point forward.

1.) Pointing Your Toe. This is one of those things where you may think that you’re doing it, and it certainly feels that way, but when you watch the video you don’t see it happening at all. And that’s happens for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is failure to properly articulate your foot and the shoe appropriately.

2.) Cleaning The Leg. ‘Cleaning’ ? What does that mean, it means elongating the leg itself, without breaking at the knee or the waist, as your send the leg out away from the body (12 O’Clock), to the side (9 O’Clock), and back behind the body ( 6 O’Clock). We want a straight leg along the curved circle!

3.) Applied Disassociation. While this has been shown ad-naseum at this point from this site, and there’s virtually nothing left to talk about (follow the link above), it should be important to note that most Leads believe that they don’t need this stuff. That it’s Follower’s that have to study this stuff. And that’s just not the case. Both roles must discover and employ this stuff on a regular basis.

and 4.) The ‘Clean’ Cross. Meaning ? That there is no space between your feet as you bring one foot behind (or in front of) the other. Inside 1st metatarsal touching inside 1st metatarsal, and outside left heel touching outside right heel. And there is no ‘gap’ between the knees! And as you unwind from an Enrosque, that there is no space either.

5.) Watching The Follower’s Feet. It almost goes without saying that you can not, should not, and will not watch the Follower’s feet at all, in any way, shape, or form. Poor form, poor posture, and a bad idea all the way around. Why ? It breaks the entire visual illusion. Not to mention it also does not develop Proprioception! Which you sorely need to develop.

For you this is all about the attention to detail in the 5 things above. Failure to do that, and the Lápiz and potential resulting Enrosque aren’t worth the effort. They look ‘sloppy’. Now we add the ‘Social’ part where they have to be smaller, much smaller, and effortless, and that’s where things take on almost mythical proportions.

The Meat of the Lápiz 🙂

The reason this is Lead flash is because you are accentuating the Follower’s Back Step. Nothing more, nothing less. You’re embellishing their movement, that’s all. It’s an illusion because if done properly it can ‘appear’ as if you’re drawing their foot/leg backwards. When in fact, that’s not the case. It just so happens that it’s all about timing. Do this in the right place, and you create the illusion of this happening. Do it wrong, and well you’ve blown the illusion. While the video shows only accentuating the Follower’s Back Step, you can do this with the Follower’s Forward step of their Molinete as well, it’s just not done all that often. So start with the Follower’s Back Step of their Molinete, muuuuuuch easier.

One Caveat that you need to be aware of as indicated above, but which can not be stressed enough is that your Follower’s Molinete’s and Traveling Ochos must be clean and consistent for you attempt this stuff. If they’re not, you’re going to have a bitch of a time trying to employ this stuff. At the same time, you must be stable, and you can’t rely on them to stabilize you at all. If the Follower steps away from you, you have a problem. If the Follower steps too close to you, you have a problem. If the Follower pulls on your left arm, you have a problem. If the Follower leans on your left arm, you have a problem. If the Follower hangs on your shoulders in any way, shape, or form, you have a problem. If you employ resistance, tension, or force in any way, shape, or form, you have a problem. If all of these things are negated you still have a problem, and it’s probably the biggest problem of the Lápiz: Your rotation! Rotating your body in a Pivot that starts as Disassociation (and then applying that disassociation) OR engaging the Pivot instead (rotating all at once) is a major pain in the ass! While the video doesn’t show you how to do this, that’s what the underlining videos on the site are for, it is precisely what has to happen. This is something that you must train your body to do independent of the Follower’s motion!

One Important Thing: You must, must, must, must, and one more time with feeling, must have mastered your own stability independent of the Follower’s motion before you can even attempt this stuff. This is not a move that you can muscle your way out of to stabilize yourself against the Follower’s stability. The fact is that a good portion of Follower’s are not stable in their motions. They tend to step away from their Leads, and both of those things lead to problems with the Lead initiating and then executing a stable Lápiz and clean Enrosque.

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About The VideoThis video is 14:03 in length in 7 Sections

Section 1 - Introduction - 00:00:12
Section 2 - Basic Technique - 00:01:29
Section 3 - Close Embrace Exercise - 00:02:22
Section 4 - Executing The Social Lápiz - 00:03:34
Section 5 - Adding The Enrosque - 00:02:45
Section 6 - The Social Version - 00:04:17
Section 7 - Closing - 00:00:19

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

From a Dancing Perspective truthfully while it takes forever for this stuff to be engrained in the body, in reality we’re talking about 2 seconds of time, that when executed nicely can be a nice embellishment to the Follower’s motion. In reality there’s a whole lot of stuff that needs to happen before it can even be attempted by a Lead. The reality is though, and it should be seen as the cold, hard reality, it’s flash. Nothing more than that. Do you need to do this stuff ? No. Is it cool ? Yes. Does it up the level of your dancing ? Yes. Does it make the Follower look even better ? Yes and no. The fact is that it is an accentuation and nothing more than that. You’re really, just for an instant, showing off the Follower. Do you need to do this ? Yes, at every possible moment. Do you need to add an embellishment to do this ? No, you do not. You can and should just walk with your partner. That is showing them off, everything else is just flash! That said, you can and should play with this stuff, until it is in you. Until you have mastered all the things above. Until it comes out of you on social dance floor with effortlessness. And then you should promptly forget all about it. Why ? For all the reasons above. But mostly because it is not the meat of the dance. Walking, Ochos, Turning, Crossing (the Follower’s Cross), is the meat of the dance in time to the music. The rest, is just accent and should be used to accent a note in the music and then we move on to the main course of the meal…walking with your partner!

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 14:09 HD quality video on how to properly lead a Social Lápiz & Enrosque 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 Social Lápiz & Enrosque 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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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. 😉

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 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.

Engaging The Embrace


Engaging The Embrace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Leading Technique – Tango Topics


Leading Technique

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About The Video. This video is 9 separate videos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Social Collection


Social Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The 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". 

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.

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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".

 

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