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Argentine Rock Steps

Argentine Rock Steps

The Argentine Rock Step is a very venerable piece of tango vocabulary it’s used quite often as a way to avoid a hazard, and infrequently as a what is primarily supposed to be used for as musical interpretation. More often than naught for a lot of people the addition of the Rock Step is where they stop developing kinesthetically. This becomes their experience, their go to move, and they don’t realize that this is the case.  So let’s talk about Today’s Tango Topic: The Argentine Rock Step.

What is A Rock Step ? First let’s define what the word ‘Rock’ means. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the English word ‘Rock’ in this case is being used as a verb. It has a noun form, which means “a mass of stone”. In it’s verb form it means “to sway back and forth”. Next when we apply that idea to Dancing, a Rock Step means that you have a step that is going to go from weight transfer to weight transfer, very quickly.

An Argentine Rock Step is a little different. It refers to a very specific construct, and is not swaying to from side to side, but actually weight transfer to weight transfer (usually back and forth) sometimes with a Resolution (more on that later). In a lot of ways a ‘Rock’ Step appears to look like (operative word) as if the couple dancing are a Rocking Chair. The Argentine Rock Step is in the family of ‘Alterations’ of Tango Vocabulary. Meaning that due to a possible Resolution, the Follower’s direction (orientation) changes as a result. One more thing: There is a distinct and clear difference between an Argentine Rock Step and a Check Step and/or Incremental Step as shown in the video below.

The video above shows the difference between the two (and one possible error that happens quite frequently). A Check Step has no weight transfer forward (for the lead) and backwards (for the follower). In the case of the Rock Step there is a clear, and definitive weight transfer backwards AND THEN forwards. 🙂

Difficulty Rating: 2.0 Stars2.0 / 5 

Check Please! The video above is small snippet of a full HD video (total run time: 14m:16s). You can purchase Argentine Rock Steps for just 15.99 not including your level discount.

 

From A Following Perspective there are two things that are going to confuse you about a Rock Step. 1.) The Rocking Motion itself. And 2.) The desire to collect your feet. Let’s deal with the second item first, as it’s the easiest to describe. You’ve been taught to ‘collect’, ‘collect’, ‘collect’, and then along comes the proverbial Rock Step that says, “don’t collect…not just yet”. While there is a collection there, that collection is in fact, a led collection. And that’s the part that will confuse you. Why ? Because a good portion of the Leads you’re currently dancing with will not lead it, and more over they expect that you’ll ‘follow’ them. This is better known as reading their minds. You’re not a mind reader are you ? Hmmmm, probably not.

Now let’s deal with the first of these issues, the ‘Rocking’ motion itself. First and foremost it is actually much like a rocking chair motion, only we don’t actually lift our feet off the ground. It’s more like a weight transfer back then forward more than anything else. Now for the confusing part, we actually want to add a tiny bit of ‘spring’ to the motion itself. Truthfully the rocking motion is kind of dead, there’s no energy to it. And that’s the problem with it right there. You’ll transfer your weight back, and then forward and it’s like a ’thud’. But we don’t want to that to happen, and instead we want a tiny bit of a ‘spring’ motion to happen on the back step. So for this, you’re going to bend your knee and launch into the forward rock.

The advice above, covers the Linear and Parallel/Cross System Rock Steps. However, when we make the step Circular and not Linear, and then make them Parallel or Cross System Rock Steps, and then the possible resolutions out of the Rock Step, this is where things get interesting for you.

Resolutions ? First we have to talk about resolutions. What’s that ? A Resolution means that you want to get back in front of the Lead. Usually facing the lead, your torso plane facing the lead’s. However when we make the Rock Step Circular and Cross system based, your rock step resolution (just the resolution part) is not back in front of your lead, but rather turned perpendicular to them (not shown above but in the Rock Step Video)!

This Circular Cross System Rock Step and Resolution part is a little confusing at first and the reason is that it’s an unusual motion for you, it’s not back to facing your lead. Most of your Tango life to this point has been about resolving back in front of your lead. “Stay in front of your lead” is what you’ll generally hear. The Circular Cross System resolutions specifically breaks that convention. Because you’re not, in certain cases, going to end up facing them, but rather perpendicular to them. 🙂 And you’re going to think to yourself that you missed something, or that you’re behind, or that you’ve ‘disconnected’, and that’s less than desired thinking. If you followed what was led, then you’re not wrong. The fact is that the resolution is awkward, fun, but awkward.

The Caveat of the Rock Step. A good portion of your leads are going to jerk you around with their arms and hands. They’re going to believe that they have to ‘stop’ you. And thereby they’ll feel that they need to pull you towards them. This is an error on their part, they haven’t quite mastered intention based dancing. Neither have you for that matter. So as a result their going to squeeze, or compress, the embrace with their right forearm to stop you from going any further. This is not desirable on their part, but they don’t know it. And since no one has complained about it, they see no reason to change their behavior. Unfortunately this stopping motion has an undesirable visual side effect. It make the couple look ‘choppy’, as if the lead is jerking the Follower around. Truthfully, there’s not a whole lot you can do about this. Sadly. You’ll just have to survive until the end of the song, at which point you can say “thank you” and move on. But that’s your choice. Best practice ? If the squeezing is really painful, switch embrace types, and then if that still doesn’t change anything, you can always say “Thank you” at the end of the song (and not the tanda). Remember to take care of you! There’s one more fix here and that’s to start saying “No” to these leads that Rock Step endlessly, and jerk you around, as shown in the video below.

From a Leading Perspective the Rock Step is over used. Once a Lead learns this stuff they lose their proverbial mind, and it becomes their go to vocabulary for every possible resolution. Further still they have a distinct and clear, unconscious in most cases, desire to squeeze their partners bodies in order to stop them from continuing backwards or forwards or resolving cleanly. It’s an evil thing really. Quite honestly the Rock Step is usually performed without any level elegance unless by a trained professional and sometimes not even that. However, most of the time it’s overused, and executed in a manner that makes the couple appear sloppy and inelegant. 🙁

That said…

Now we get to the good parts of the Rock Step. There are some really cool things that we can do with a Rock Step. And the fun parts really begin with the Cross System and Circular versions. Because in both cases they’re door openers to other ideas and other pieces of vocabulary. Basically they’re transition elements. If nothing else, they’ll act like glue between one idea and the next. And it is for this reason that they’re over used. There are other ideas that don’t get used at all that can take their place such as turns, ocho cortados and the options, wraps, colgada turns just to name a few.

One more thing: Stepping backwards in the line of dance. The Rock Step seemingly breaks the convention of stepping backwards in the line of dance, and that’s not necessarily the case. If done properly, it should take up no more space than a single walking open step. However, if you’re concerned that you’re taking up too much space, here’s a free tip: Angle the resolution step, backwards against the line and lane of dance!

About The Video. This video comes is 14:16 in length in ONE section broken up by markers. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.

Marker 1 - Introduction - 00:00:48
Marker 2 - Lead Technique/Follower Technique - 00:01:15
Marker 3 - Side Step Resolutions - 00:02:06
Marker 4 - Parallel Linear Rock Steps (Example: Close Embrace) - 00:00:20
Marker 5 - Parallel Linear Rock Steps/Resolution (Example: Close Embrace) - 00:00:18
Marker 6 - Cross System Rock Steps - 00:01:27
Marker 7 - Cross System Resolutions - 00:02:38
Marker 8 - Cross System Examples with Resolutions - 00:01:20
Marker 9 - Linked Rock Steps (Multiples) - 00:01:50
Marker 10 - Chained Rock Steps with Resolutions & Closure - 00:01:57.

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

From a Dancing Perspective as has been indicated, it’s over used, far too often. There are other ideas that we want to engage. However, from a dancing perspective you’re going to see it every where and think that there’s nothing wrong with it until, after reading this article and seeing the requisite videos that you start to recognize that you use them far too much. Is this article going to change your mind on the topic ? No. Are you going to continue to use them ? Yes. Are you going to continue to over use them and thereby squeeze the living daylights out of your partners ? Yup. So why bother wasting breath on this stuff ? Simple. Awareness. The fact is that the more voices out there telling you not to do something hopefully it will start to sink in. And that, friends, is the point at which change has happened or can occur and that’s part of the reason why this page and the site and the videos under exist. So that change can and does occur, that you begin to think differently about the dance than you have.

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 22:14 HD quality video on how to properly lead an Argentine Rock Step & Resolutions 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 an Argentine Rock Step & Resolution 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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The Dark Side Salida

The 'Dark Side' Salida

The Salida. The Spanish word ‘Salida’ translates in English to ‘Exit’ or ‘Left’ as in the past tense of the verb to ‘Leave’. However when we apply this to Argentine Tango it means something else entirely different. It is a process that includes Cabeceo/Mirada, and the Entrada in the line of dance, as well as the Exit (Salida) from the dance, and walking your partner back to where you found them. In BsAs, or more formal Milongas in the world (including Encuentros), this means walking them back to their table. This is the process known as ‘Salida’. However with regards to the dance we typically only equate the word Salida with Entrada phase of the dance, and this is known as a ‘Salida’ Step. An entry (or exit) into (or from) the line and/or lane of dance. There is typically only one that gets talked about and or shown, and that’s the very typical couple side step into the lane of dance. There are, as you might imagine, loads of others. Today’s Tango Topic talks about a very specific and special one referred as the Dark Side Salida.

What is a Dark Side Salida ? It is a Salida step that is entered into from the ‘Closed’ side of the embrace. Typically any piece of vocabulary that is referred to as such is a Dark Side ‘X’,  where ‘X’ is the vocabulary is the mirror copy of the Open side of the embrace. This has nothing to do with walking systems, or embrace formats. It only refers to the bi-lateral bisection of the body or in this case the couple’s embrace.

A Dark Side Salida on the other hand is a whole different ball of wax. It’s not your typical side step into the lane of dance, because … because doing so would step you out of the lane of dance and off the floor.  🙁 That would be bad. No. A Dark Side Salida step uses very simple, or basic, tango vocabulary put together to form figure in order to accentuate the ‘Closed’ side of the embrace AS the opening step of the dance! To be fair, while you can use this piece of vocabulary at nearly any point in the dance, employing as the Salida step has certain benefits, one of which is that it has incredible musical properties (not shown in the video).

That said, let’s take a look at one particular variant of a Dark Side Salida, and some issues that surround it.

From A Following Perspective for you this is employing three of your seven foundational elements. Foundational elements ? Forward, Side, Back, Embrace/Posture, Disassociation (including Ochos), Turns, and Crosses. The three you’ll be using ? Back, Forward, and walking to the Cross. However, for you, there is a tiny little trick that we want to be aware of. But before we get there we have to talk about the dreaded “Armpit Dancer”. Eeeeek! In this instance, you as the Follower are going to be specifically placed in the lead’s armpit.  And you actually want to be there, strange as that may sound. This is one of the few times (there are only 4), where this is completely desirable, because you’ve been led to do so. Every other time (aside from the 4) you want to be buttons-to-buttons, or in front of the lead. In this instance you don’t. There is an instance of transition where for just an instant (as you can see in the splash shot above), where the Follower ends up in the lead’s armpit and this is desirable. But, and here’s the kicker, it only happens for an instant.

Now to the little caveat of this piece of vocabulary for you. In nearly every piece of Tango vocabulary there is an aspect of going ‘around’ the lead (the action, not the person - hence the lowercase ‘l’). The Dark Side Salida Step reinforces this idea, specifically on the Follower’s forward step (not shown in the video above unless you’re a subscriber).  It is absolutely necessary for you to take a long forward step around the lead. Far too often the Follower takes a smaller forward step (known as the Non-Forward Step) where they end up in front of the lead OR they step away from their lead in linear fashion. Neither of these two states are desirable. Instead we, was Follower’s want to step towards and around the lead! To be fair, stepping too close to the lead will create an instability, stepping too far away creates another kind of instability, but it’s an instability none the less. Ideally there is a ‘sweet’ spot for how far or close you can step towards or away from someone. This is slightly different for each person based on height and girth as mitigating factors. 😉

There’s one more thing about this particular Dark Side Salida Step, it’s going to throw you a bit, it’ll feel awkward in the moment. The reason is that you’re so used to doing the typical Salida step that it’ll be a bit of a surprise as in, “WTH is this guy doing ?”. You’re going to have that moment of fear that the lead is going to pull out some crazy, wild, strange piece of vocabulary that they just learned 10 minutes earlier and haven’t really practiced all that much except in their heads. And rightfully you should worry or concern yourself with this, be ever vigilant. However, that’s no reason not to ground yourself in your foundational elements (forward, side, back, etc). Doing so will help you to survive those moments of ‘WTH!!’.

From a Leading Perspective this is a pattern. No doubt about it. So let’s dive right into it. Like all patterns, it has some areas where it works, some areas where it doesn’t, where you should use it, where you shouldn’t and so on. The upside to a Dark Side Salida Step is that they’re insanely easy to do and create lots of space for variation instead of the same ol’ same ol’. Even the variation has variations on top of variations. Still one more, is that it does create a bit of a surprise for the Follower (as indicated above) from the standard ‘side step’ - let’s dance thing that happens. The down side is that it can get old very quickly, and rather repetitive. It is for this reason that we want to study Enganches (Wraps), Ganchos, Cross variations, and Walking Systems! That last one is insanely important especially in a Dark Side Salida Steps!

This particular Dark Side Salida Step has three components to it that does require some thought and some practice. What are they ? 1.) The opening weight change. 2.) Leading the Forward Step around. 3.) The Capture!

1.) The Opening Weight Change. Far too often we, as leads, force a weight change onto the Follower by either pushing (or pulling) them into weight shift, typically it’s done by Compression (read that as ‘squeezing the living daylights out of your Followers’…tsk, tsk, tsk). The more you compress, the more the Follower has to go with. It’s not desirable and yet it’s done all the time. This weight change has to be done a completely different way, and that’s why we reinforce learning 2 different kinds of weight changes. a.) the WITH Weight Change. and b.) the WITHOUT Weight Change. The ‘With’ weight change is exactly what it sounds like, you change weight WITH the Follower. Pretty simple, no ? However, the WITHOUT weight change is where all the fun is at. This where you change which foot the Follower is on, WITHOUT changing you at all. And here’s the kicker, you can not use force or compression to do it. It doesn’t work. It is for this reason that it’s insanely important to learn the secret of executing a WITHOUT weight transfer (clearly demonstrated and explained in this video on this site) without the use of force because it doesn’t work in all situations under all conditions. This is also another reason to learn to dance with ‘intention’ and not ‘resistance’. An intention based dancer has far more options and opportunities than a resistance based dancer does. And the only way that you’ll know that is by studying with an Intention Based Teacher (Hint, hint, hint).

2.) Leading The Forward Step Around. This is another place where most leads fail. Why ? Because they forget that they actually have to rotate their upper torso (along with their arms!) and not just push and pull with their arms. Most male Leads don’t necessarily understand or comprehend their own physiological pressure that they place on their Follower’s bodies with their arms and hands via physiological compression, force, tension, hand pressure, forearm pressures, and the like. It’s not exactly desirable or a pleasurable experience, and yet this is exactly what happens for most male Leads. The only way that they’ll feel this and really understand what’s going on is first by dancing with a Resistance Based Lead that uses pressure and compression to ‘move’ them. And then immediately afterwards, to see the sharp comparison, dancing with an Intention Based Lead. How does this relate to the Forward step around themselves ? Because most male leads don’t realize intention based leading exists, and almost never realize it, and end up pushing and pulling their Followers, not around themselves, but actually away from themselves in linear fashion (on a line away). When instead what they want to do is rotate their Torso (specifically employing T7, T8, T9 of their upper spinal column) around their spine by use of intention. Slowly going with the Follower not pushing them. Indicating but not pushing. The problem here is that most leads forget this stuff and rush through X, Y, and Z and just expect that they Follower will haphazardly just ‘follow’ the lead. When in fact the lead itself is unclear and doesn’t allow for the Follower to ‘just follow’ but instead rushes them through it. 🙁

3.) Capturing The Follower. This one is probably the trickiest of the bunch caveats above. Because your want is to stop the Followers motion and redirect it. And that means using your arms. However in this case, you do not want to use your arms. You actually want to use your motion, or in this case your not-motion! This is referred as a ‘Null-lead’ or a ‘No-lead’ where the arms (specifically the Lead’s right) acts as a structural element and nothing more than that. Far too often when learning this particular Dark Side Salida Step most Leads compress the hell out of their Followers with their right arm around their Followers, and this is a major no-no. The Capture in this case is very gentle and entirely non-compressive!We want fabric to skin contact and nothing more than that.

This particular Dark Side Salida Step employs a weight change, a cross system walk, then a capture (!!!), then leading a circular forward step, and then finally walking them to the cross! It can be used anywhere inside the dance not just as a Salida step, it’s great in place of an Alteration step, where you want to change the direction of the Follower. It’s also great musically because it has so many possibilities attached to it. It’s also a lot of fun to execute and has lots of variance to it. Lots and lots actually! With a small modification it could be turned into a ‘Gooey Gancho’, an Enganche (for either role), a force back cross on the Step around, or even a Soltada! Just to name a few. There are so many options here that it’s mind boggling. You could literally use this Dark Side Salida Step as the gateway to opening your dance to do a whole variety of things, not just the step itself.

dancing in a small space ? try these articles!

bsas-prep-title

From a Dancing Perspective it’s cool. There’s no doubt about it. However, 98% will not dance it, mostly because they don’t know it exists. That and there is always the tried and true Simple Open Side Salida Step as their entrada. This is what you’ll see 98% of the time dancing. However, pay attention when you see a different Salida step, it means that that particular lead is thinking outside the box. It means that someone want to do something different not because it looks cool, but because they’ve been thinking about how to surprise their dance partners and make the dance that much more inviting and exciting than the run of the mill Salida step that permeates every single tanda. Side step, begin dancing, side step, end dancing. Over and over again. With a Dark Side Salida Step it’s anything but that! And the world is your oyster

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 13 minute HD quality video on how to properly lead and follow the Dark Side Salida 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, with real world examples, of how this stuff works! That’s why! And furthermore, what you may see from some of those videos is shall we say, less than desirable social tango technique. So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos you want. Spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out from the single camera angle how things might work in that situation. Which may help you, and more than likely it won't, because you're missing something! The explanation from an experienced teacher! Which is precisely why those videos exist on Youtube. The goal of those videos is to entice you to actually go study with those teachers in person. Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. 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 underlaying technique. Which 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 armed 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.

Walking – Cross System – Weight Change Step

Walking - Cross System - Weight Change Step - + Admin JavaScript warning: I'm sorry, your JavaScript appears to be broken. Please use "Check template" in plugin settings, read our troubleshooting guide, troubleshooting guide for programmers or order our pro support and we will get it fixed for you.

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Walking – Cross System – Step/Half Step

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Walking – Parallel System

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Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you in class!

The Reverse Embrace


Reversing The Embrace

There are certain defaults that we possess after years of dancing. We don't realize that they're defaults but they are. And for the Non-native speaker, 'default' in this case means unconscious ways or methods of doing something that is performed frequently. 'Defaults' from a Tango perspective could mean but is not limited to how one crosses one's feet, how one engages the embrace, how one asks for and follows a series of ochos, how one would follow a molinete, etc. These are default behaviors. We learn them as a result of several things, not the least of which is how we (at the time that we acquired the information) bodies weren't able to accomplish an end goal so we do what we can and as a result we end up imprinting the 'less-than-desirable' way of moving, or engaging the embrace (read that as squeezing, pulling, pushing, hanging, etc), or crossing, or molinete, or .... or.... those ways of moving into vocabulary to accomplish the goal, even though it's not desirable. We don't realize that we have formed this way of moving, and it’s now ‘comfortable’ even though it’s contorted (mostly) and at the same time we sort of forget how to do X, Y, and Z properly (mostly because we don’t have someone poking and prodding us to remind us about X, Y, and Z and how it should be done) and therefore we stop paying attention to it. This becomes our ‘default’ behavior in Tango.

The Concern: This isn’t so much of a problem but rather a ‘concern’, something to be mindful of that if left unchecked, can create problems for us later on down the line. A good portion of you reading this will only look at the video and see this cool toy, and not look at the deeper issue that’s really going on here. A fair number of you will see the issue but not pay it any mind, thinking that this doesn’t happen for you. You’re perfect. Right ? Furthermore a smaller number of you will only see that this isn’t just a Lead issue, but a Follower one as well! 😉 So what’s the concern ? That we as dancers become very accustomed to sending AND receiving kinesthetic pressure/compression/force/resistance information via the embrace which 9 times out of 10 creates more issues for us than we would like. This becomes our default behavior in the dance. The key component here is ‘sending’ and ‘receiving’. You’re going to think that sending refers to ‘leading’ and that receiving refers to ‘following’, when both messaging happen for both roles at the same time. A lead or follow both send AND receives information. Mind you a good portion of both roles, don’t actually listen to the other but that’s a story for a later topic. However as a result of this way of dancing, we tend to get stuck or bogged down in our default behavioral responses and can’t see another way of moving.

From a Leading Perspective a good portion of Lead/ers (not necessarily a Lead - we’ll get to that in a moment) rely heavily on the asymmetry of the embrace to communicate our intentions, specifically our left arm and hand (for a lot of leads) in turns and ochos (think ‘resistance’), and for a smaller number of leads their right forearm and a much smaller number of leads that use their right hand to paddle their followers into turning or stopping. This is using the embrace to communicate our intentions, or more to the point forcing the follower to do X, Y, and Z through compression, tension, resistance, and physiological pressures. These pressures are ‘messages’ to the Follower and what a good portion Lead/ers that use this way of dancing don’t realize is that this is not a desirable way of dancing. A Lead does NOT use these things, much like a Jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense - never for attack, they use body-on-body contact to communicate their intent without pushing, pulling, or physiological arm/hand pressures to indicate their intent. And even a Lead that does all of that properly still has a default set of movements, a default set of expected responses, that they’re unaware of. It is to that group that this topic is really speaking to. Why ? Because the Lead/er crowd of resistance based dancers have absolutely zero desire to change what they’re doing. For there to be change in that dancer, several things have to take place. Most notably they have to have reached the end of the road with Resistance Based Dancing, to be shown that it is less-than-desirable by experiencing it for themselves - what it’s really like to pushed and pulled around the floor for 12 minutes (assuming a 4 set tanda). That, and a lot of Followers saying “No” to them, and a lot of sitting. Speaking directly to the Lead reading this, you have a concern that your lead is not what you think it is, it’s not as clear as you think it is. So by reversing the embrace you will see the areas where you are weak, and where you are clear. 

From a Following Perspective you may not realize that you to have a default way of moving, a default expectation and responses. You may, erroneously, believe that The Reverse Embrace structure outlined above in the video applies ONLY to the Lead/er (and Lead). Not true. It applies to you as well. How’s that ? Simple, you have the same embrace biases that the Lead does only to a smaller degree, however your concern is that you have a set way of doing things, specifically your turns, ochos, and crosses. By reversing the embrace, you realize just how awkward things feel. The awkwardness is a key component to making things feel effortless. Truthfully we want the awkwardness to occur, it creates a scramble in us and we want it to occur. Why ? Because it shows us just where we’re our expectations are at, and more importantly where our defaults are at and how they present themselves. By reversing the embrace you will recognize those things as well as where you are compensating for a poor or unclear lead to do X, Y, and Z. Or more importantly having to infer what a Lead (the person not the action) is or more than likely is NOT doing. It’s the inference that we’re really after. Why ? 2 reasons. Firstly, we can clean up what we’re doing, and secondly it also creates a place for us to interject an idea or two (think ‘active’ follower).

We have to address the larger resistance based follower crowd that may be reading this: You have issues. Resistance is not desirable. It’s work. Hanging, Pulling, Pushing, not so much with that. You will never progress to dancing with the desirable leads in the room as a Follower if you continue to utilize this way of moving, and reversing the embrace will only make things 10,000 times more challenging for you. “Challenging” is an understatement. More like downright impossible. You are hardwired to use your embrace and the lead/ers embrace to stabilize yourself in turns, ochos, and crosses. So ‘hearing’ (really ‘feeling’) the nuances of the dance are outside your abilities at this point because you are unstable, and this nuance topic of reversing the embrace is more of a ‘WTF’ than anything else. 

The Dancing Perspective is that this is a nuance topic that a good portion of you will dismiss entirely as folly and not really helpful to one’s dancing at all. It couldn’t possibly change what you’re doing. It couldn’t possibly rewire you to do something else. That’s the dancing reality. When in fact reversing the embrace is probably one of the greatest tools you have to refining your skills as a dancer. Why ? Because ideally you want your dancing skills to be seamless and effortless regardless of what style or type of embrace you use or whom you are dancing with. Short of actual solo practice working on your technique of execution, this is one of the more useful diagnostic tools you can possibly get without a teacher in the equation! So when would you use this tool ? Simple, EVERYWHERE! Why ? Classes, Workshops, and/or Seminars ? Yup. Practicas ? Absolutely. Milongas ? Yup. Why ? Just for fun because you can.

Fixing It or in this case, changing it. The really cool part about this is that you can do this going forward today. You don’t need a class, you don’t need a workshop or seminar or a private lesson to teach you to do this. Nope. Not one little bit. There’s no special class on this one, it is it’s own class. The feedback that you’ll get from employing this tool is nothing short of immeasurable data that you wouldn’t get otherwise. If you’re thinking that you could just ask for feedback from your partners. That’s not going to help. a.) They don’t possess the language skills to identify what’s going on. Ok, a good portion of them don’t. b.) Honesty, that’s the problem right there. A good portion (like 90 to 95%) of the people you are currently dancing with will NOT tell you the truth of how you feel to dance with, or comment on your dancing for fear that it will offend you or hurt your feelings. And quite honestly you don’t want to hear their feedback either mostly because you think that your dance is spot on to begin with. So unless you want to have your head handed to you (and most of you, unfortunately, don’t) then this is the probably the safest route to getting the necessary feedback that you require in order to change what you’re doing!

However, you do actually require help. And that means actual technique, actual feedback, and actual clear, clean, consistent, concise information that you can play over and over again. That’s this page, and the videos that are sitting behind it. Registration is free, and you get about 40 older videos that will open the door to those ideas. However, that’s not the real power of this site. It’s the foundation, technique, exercise, and whic videos that are sitting behind a paywall. It’s the full videos that these snippets that you see are from. You want the full videos. All of them. 🙂 Hit the green button and subscribe and consider a gold membership. It’s really the best of all possible worlds. You get access to all the video content that you can watch anytime - anywhere, and a 40% discount on all video purchases in case you want to download something for offline use when you don’t have an active internet connection.

The ‘Ballet’ Rise

The 'Ballet' Rise Exercise

Let's dispense with a few misnomers right out of the gate. 1.) Balance is not the same thing as Stability. 2.) Balance is a component of Stability. 3.) Your stability is generated via 3 very different mechanisms that are all connect via your nervous system. And so that we're clear on this one, one of them is not your 'core', and anyone that tells you different is either lying through their eye-teeth, or doesn't understand anatomy and physiology of the human body. Truth be told, your 'core' muscles have absolutely nothing to do with stability. Nada. Zip. Zero. 

From a Following perspective, you have your work cut out for you. Your stability is directly related to 2 things. 1.) How you place your foot on the floor, and your proprioceptive abilities. Meaning how and what you sense around you without looking. What makes things challenging for you is your Lead. 9 times out of 10, they're compressing the embrace (squeezing the living daylights out of you because no one has told them to stop doing it), and/or squeezing your right hand and then using your right arm as if it were a joystick, thereby compromising you and your stability. And when that's not happening, they're usually rushing from vocabulary choice to vocabulary choice not really completing one idea nor the next. 🙁 And then blaming you for not keeping up. Compounding the problem are you in your pretty 3 in. heels that you were forced into almost immediately when you weren't really ready for them at all. And that seemingly were devised by a madman (actually they go back as far as the 8th or 9th centuries to the Persian horse riders as a way to stay in stirrups, and then there's the rumor/history of a danish king that used them to stand above his court and subjects but that's another topic that's already been covered in Tango Truism 809Volume 2). Still another compound problem is that the surface area of the heel is 40% of a normal shoe and you're supposed to instantly master your stability in these things while at the same time, turning, disassociating, applying that disassociation (erroneously thought of as a 'pivot'), and at the same time appearing elegant, and on/in time to what is being 'led', all while in the embrace of a Lead that can barely walk that's blaming you for all of their screw ups. Yup. Tall task. Good luck with that! 

From a Leading perspective, your ability to control your next steps and ultimately your next vocabulary choice is quite literally based on just how stable you are. The more stable you are, the easier it is to pull off whatever it is you want. That stability can be impacted by any number of things, foot placement, foot position, lateral foot orientation, the floor itself, knee position, an embrace that is compressive (yours and your follower's), and a follower that is hanging on you, just to name a few. In the end you must learn how to compensate for all of these things (and one of those compensations is a slight bit of knee compression - a micro bend). Your forward steps while appearing 'elegant' must also be very stable, you must learn to balance these things against each other. What makes this stuff even more challenging is that you have another human being in front of you that has their own issues going on that you must learn to 'hear'/'feel', and then learn to negate those issues (one by one) while at the same time maintaining forward momentum, good posture, while in time to the music, and all without pushing, pulling, or using resistance in any way, shape, or form so that the Follower can 'float' within the construct of the embrace. 🙂 Tall order ? Yup. You didn't think this was going to be easy did you ? And in case you're wondering, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what makes a 'good' dancer good!

dancing in a small space ? try these articles!

bsas-prep-title

The Dancing Fact is that most of these things are related to one thing and one thing only...how the dancer places their foot in contact with the floor. Note the nomenclature: 'dancer'. Not 'Lead' (the person), Not, 'Follower'. No. 'Dancer'. Got it ? This is a gender, and really role agnostic reality that a good portion of you lot need to get your heads around. There are certain motions that are very common to both roles, and this is one of them, stability is a problem for both roles. So consequently what works for one role in terms of exercises, works for the other as well!

Quite honestly your stability can be controlled through a series of confined exercises that, if done daily, will greatly improve control of your weight transfers regardless of role, age, height, or weight! Although shedding more than a few pounds will probably do wonders for you in the long run as well.

The Ballet Rise Exercise ? One exercise that comes to mind that can help you control and contain your stability is The 'Ballet' Rise Exercise. It is so named because it comes from 1st position of Ballet. However, it borrows heavily from a guiding Tango idea: Collection! The exercise is seemingly easy at first but quickly you realize that you're going to be very unstable the first few times you try it. Truthfully you're going to wobble, you're going to waiver, you're going to 'shaky' and uncontrolled in the beginning (read that as a few days if not weeks). However in the long run it really does a wonder on your achilles tendon, as well as the 5 metatarsals (the bones of the foot) and their related tendons, as well as the phalanges (the bones of the toes) and their tendons. Talk about a humdinger of an exercise that will blow your mind ? This is the bomb! And the best part is that you can do this by yourself, as much or as little as you want, whenever you want. Standing in line, talking to someone, anywhere. You don't need to go to the studio, you don't need to go anywhere. You can do this in the comfort of your own home. 

Reality. The exercise does not come without some warnings like if you've had surgery on an Achilles Tendon, or you have chronic Plantar Fasciitis, check with your Doctor or Physical therapist before you do this kind of work. It would be a real bummer if you had to stop dancing altogether because you have ruptured or injured your tendons! So don't just jump right in and think that you're good to go. If you have these issues, then check before you jump, ok ? Otherwise, read on. Still another reality is that when starting out with the 'rise', it's important that we not overdo it. So a good practice is to perform the exercise on an 8 count very slowly, 10 times. One 8 count up, and one 8 Count down...is one repetition. Doing it more than once in a day is counter productive. So it's best to do this first thing in the morning and then to let it go. There's no reason to do it more than that. Unless you're feeling like you didn't get your reps in for the day, in which case...go do. Still another reality is that more in this case is not better, the effect is cumulative, not iterative. Meaning the more that you do is not going to improve you. This work is done over time, typically a 30 day period of time at minimum.

The key to this work is really the speed at which this is done: Slower is better. This isn't about powering through this, but rather slow and patient, mindful work! The goal of this work is to build up strength, endurance, and control. And you will learn nothing through speed! Control is not gained through powering through something but rather slow and patient understanding of this process. One more key, it is important that you not lock out your knees during this exercise. You actually want a 'micro' bend to them! 

The Benefits ? The benefits of this exercise will take time to show up. It's not going to magically happen over night. Get used to that fact. This exercise requires patience, practice, and persistence to see the benefits. And quite honestly just because you do this a few times, nothing is going to magically change in your dance. Nothing. The exercise must performed religiously every. single. day. before you start your day!  The benefits will be felt gradually, and in specific how your foot comes in contact with the floor. You'll feel a bit more control, a bit more stability and a bit more as if you can do what you want with very little effort. That's because you're building up the strength in the tendons around the bones in question. Something you quite honestly don't use all that often in quite this way. This exercise forces you to use those tendons in new and expansive ways that you will end up using in tango whether or not you realize it or not. One benefit is that you will finally be able to control that super enrosque that you want, or an over-rotation because the muscles of the foot have been strengthened for you to effectively hold your weight. Whereas prior to this work, you would fall out of the rotation or enrosque! Still another benefit is that you'll be able to hold a backstep for a few seconds longer without wobbling, or a forward step without needing to hold onto your Follower for stability! See there's that word again, stability! In short, control the foot, and you control the application of your stability! Oh and before we forget, so the 3 things above that control your stability ? 1.) Your feet. 2.) Your inner ear. 3.) Your cerebellum! Your 'balance' is an affectation of your inner ear, not (for the love of christ) your 'core', please stop repeating that lie. 

Fortunately for you, dear reader, you have access to a video that explains and shows you what to do and how to do it, and even better that you can watch it and share it with your friends. Now if only you were a Silver or Gold Level Member, then you could see the entire video. But alas you're not, unless you were to subscribe... ©Tango Topics. 

Your Trip to BsAs

Your Trip to Buenos Aires

The fact is that for a lot of you, 2 weeks in Buenos Aires is all you can really manage. You'll go, spend scads of money on airfare, apartment, shoes, clothes, privates with X and Y, and then spend every waking moment taking class after class after class in those 2 weeks. You'll be filled with Tango morning, noon, and night. Milongas, classes, food, more milongas, more classes. Your every waking moment will be tango, tango, tango...which is the whole reason you're there in the first place. You didn't fly 10000+ miles to sit on your ass you know!

From a Leading perspective, yes you're going to get your head handed to you from the moment you land, yes you're going to be intimidated, and yes you're going to have more than a few dances with people from all over the world that will challenge you, change you, and bless you...all at the same milonga in the same night. That's day one. The rest is an uphill climb for a variety of reasons.

From a Following perspective, same as above. You'll see footwork that will confound you and then you'll want to take privates to be able to do just that. Go ahead, knock yourself out.

The Dancing Reality is:

a.) You're not going to be able to retain 90% of what you've seen, heard, or practiced. Even if you video the end result. The "how" you got there will elude you. And it's the 'how' part that's insanely important!

b.) Most of what you have seen, heard, or tried to practice, you're going to screw up and misremember. You'll think you're doing one thing, when in fact you're doing another! The kicker is that you won't notice it.

c.) Most of what you will see, hear, and learn will screw with your head because a good portion of the information is specific to just BsAs. Meaning that it only applies to BsAs.

d.) Most of what you will experience from shows and classes is showy noise that does not and can not work in the line of dance. The trick is to focus on the social stuff that you can actually use in the line of dance. The real trick is being able to see the difference between Tango for Export and Social Tango!

d.) The trick to getting the most out of your trip to BsAs is working on your foundation (your walk, your stability, your underlying technique). This can create change in you. Steps, patterns, figures, or dancing like X, Y, or Z will not help you. Change comes from how the foundation is put together. 🙂 

e.) The Argentines are a lovely people. They are. They've been through hell and back again. There is one immutable fact, no matter how 'nice' they are, they're STILL not going to dance with you until you prove that you have a handle on this Tango thing...that means:

From a Leading perspective: Following the line of dance, not killing your partners with crazy, bullshit vocabulary (all 502 Sacadas known to man, or the 410 types of volcadas, etc all thrown into one song), and not bumping into anyone causing blood or limb loss. While at the same time looking elegant.  All the while, making it musical, fun, and engaging for your Follower partners and showing them off! This may prove to be challenging for you because the embrace will be filled with levels of compression, and the walk will be a near constant 'impact' that you'll feel of the follower's foot on the floor - not to mention the hanging, the pulling, and the pushing. If you're looking for 'stellar', you're lookin' in the wrong place! Good luck!

From a Following perspective: Dancing with the locals is a bit easier. They're actually wanting to dance with you, and not because you're stellar either. It's because you're Norte Americano. The fact that you're female and susceptible to their charms is...icing on the cake! Truth be told you've never had a man woo you like an Argentine man will. And the attention is unlike anything you've ever experienced (unless you're Italian, or from NYC, and in which case you got this).  

f.) The floors, at certain times of the years, are packed. Read that as Jan - Mar. That's the 'high' season. When every teacher in the known universe is in Buenos Fuckin' Aires. The floors are packed with teacher/dancers...of a sufficient quality that will quite literally blow your mind. The rest of the year, if you're looking for that experience...good luck with that. It's like a ghost town by comparison. Keep that in mind when you're booking your trip, and looking for the dancing reality that is Buenos Aires. 

g.) Two fucking weeks is not fucking long enough. Quite honestly, you're wasting your time and your money by spending two weeks there. It's a waste of money to rush down there for 2 weeks. You ideally want to be there at least a month, and really 3 and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Quite honestly those first 2 weeks is just getting the lay of the land. The rest of the time is figuring out how you're going to extend your stay by another 2 to 3 months! Realistically, you'll be afraid and isolated the first few days. You'll wonder how on earth you got yourself into this mess. Going to the Milongas and classes and wonder 'WTF!'. In the end you'll be so sad when you leave that you'll have forgotten the depths of the horrors your were thinking just a few days earlier. 

h.) Learn to pace yourself. All the running around you're going to do is going to tire you out no matter how old or young you are. You can not do it all. Realistically it's about finding good experiences, not about the quantity of those experiences. Quality is the order of the day. And learning how to pace yourself in the face of those quality experiences in the mass that is BsAs is quite essential. 

i.) You're going to find people that you groove with, and not groove with. You will dance really well with some people and not others. There's a reason for this: You're all at very different places in your tango development. The more experienced you are as a dancer will allow you to dance with nearly everyone and create a 'nice' experience, and know how to manage those dances to make them palatable for both parties. The less experienced dancer (the one's that hang, pull, push,can not navigate the floor musically. And then a few days later...you'll 'magically' be able to dance with X, Y, and Z for some reason. Again, simple reason, you're getting in tune with the pace of Tango, and the idea of Tango that is BsAs. That getting in tune will leave you when you go back home. 

j.) Tango is very different at home than what you'll experience in Buenos Aires. Very different. And yet...it is the same thing. Which is to say that while it looks the same, the music is the same, the people are the same...the experience itself is vastly different for a reason:  Dancing in Buenos Aires is about a way of life. At home, you're trying to imitate that way of life in a 4 or 5 hour time period through a Milonga. The Milonga is a way of life in Buenos Aires, better known as "Tango Es Vida". Once you understand this thing, Tango then takes on a whole different way of being as does your 'two weeks' in BsAs. ©Tango Topics.

Extensions

Extensions

Quite honestly we spend a good portion of our time walking and turning that we forget that that walk is really four phases, not a singular element. 4 phases ?

The 1st - The Explosion Phase.
The 2nd - The Extension Phase.
The 3rd - Perihelion Phase.
And the 4th - Transfer Phase.

From a Leading perspective, realistically modern tango turns A LOT, and because this is a defacto of the dance today, quite honestly we get a little tired of any of the 8 varieties of turns. There are only so many turns that one can do in the course of a dance. There are other options. Timing for one is an option, changing from normal time to half time, or double timing a turn (talk about wearing the Follower out), or going OFF Beat, or playing with just the singer...those are all perfectly valid options and do provide a fair amount of extensibility to the 8 turn options. Mathematically speaking, we're looking at 5 possible options for each turn type or 40 different varieties of turns in time to the music.

From a Following Perspective, realistically about 2 turns in and we're done. Seriously! You wanted to dance, not become part of a Whirling Dervish Display. Some Leads have absolutely zero clue that along about the 2nd molinete you're done! You've had enough. Seemingly that turn is all they know...they don't see the other 7 turn types as valid. They only see the 'Sexy' over rotated one! Because that's the cool one. And you're visiting the chiropractor the next morning because they squeezed the life blood out of your back! Ppphhhhht! ENOUGH!

There is another option: Extension, Disassociation, or Weight Change play. In simple terms it's using the Follower's Extensions as musical Elements! Or Disassocations, or Weight Changes. Or for that matter the Lead's! Adding in this option turns that 40 variations into 200 available options! And that's without adding the Incremental Step, or Tango Patter (Circular or Linear) into the equation.

Playing with these options can, as you can see (mathematically speaking), change things from a Leading perspective from a the same ol' same ol' to something a bit more dynamic. The attached video only shows a small portion of this applied to the Golden Nugget of Tango. However, the same ideas and concepts can be translated across your dance! Check out Golden Nugget Extensions, and while you're at it, check out the Golden Nugget. You might learn something in the process. ©Tango Topics.

Articulation

Articulation

For the better portion of Tango dancers the very idea of 'detail' work is just too much work. It's too much, too difficult, an effort to remember. Oy! Yet that same work is what sets the better dancer apart.

'Detail' work in this case means execution of vocabulary is either done with sharp, crisp clarity or in a 'sloppy' manner. 'Detail' work can also mean a 'cleanliness' in one's posture, hands, fingers, head, hips, knees, and feet. Speaking of feet, there are two areas that come to mind when discussing 'detail' work. One is Collection, and still another is Articulation.

From a Leading perspective Articulation defines the presentation of the Follower's movements. Because the Lead is leading, they're quite literally pointing the way towards something else. So it stands to reason that their foot Articulation has to be ... well, POINTING! Hence the Articulation part. 🙂

From a Following perspective Articulation of one's feet quite factually defines the elegance of one's footwork in adornments and embellishments. The more one Articulates, the more one 'sells' the shoes as it were, and the move, and in a larger sense...the couple! And by 'sell', meaning that the visual presentation is seen as very desirable.

From a Dancing perspective, the more that a couple pays attention to this insanely simple detail, the more elegant that they become, visually (to a degree). The body 'lines' of the couple become sharper and more distinct. The areas of posture, and presentation change dramatically due to the Articulation. Try it sometime and see if you can see a simple change in your posture, how you walk, how you interpret the music, simply by Articulating your feet as you walk. ©Tango Topics.