“Floorcaft”. From time to time, in reading posts, listening to other people talk, and/or in certain classes you’ll hear this word ‘Floorcraft’ and you’ll have a question in your mind, “what the frak is that ?”. The word, is more like a phrase more than anything else. You won’t find this one in Webster’s dictionary. Put simply ‘Floorcraft’, from an Argentine Tango perspective, is a multi-tiered practice, and activity, that encompasses several areas all at once, not just one.
‘Floorcraft’ can be defined as, but is not limited to: The active choice of, and execution of tango vocabulary (lead or follow) in time to the music (beat/pause/and phrasing), within the line and lane of dance, that does not impede the ronda, or the couples around the initiating couple (as a lead or follow), nor does it impact or endanger other couples. Instead, floorcraft as a practice works harmoniously within the embrace of the initiating couple, and then the couples around them, and coexists peacefully within the ronda. This is all done without bumping into anyone, or anything, without passing others in the line and lane of dance, without exiting the line and and lane of dance but instead maintaining it, all while maintaining the integrity of the ronda. Phew! That’s a lot.
Usage. Typically ‘floorcraft’ is employed (used) mostly by a Lead (the person, not the action). However an Active Follower (and even a Passive one) can, and will, employ good floorcraft in a myriad of different ways. From the leading perspective in the minimal, it (floorcraft) exists solely within the execution of vocabulary that does not hit, or impact an object or another couple, and nothing beyond that. From the Active Follower’s (not Passive) perspective it is all about changing the direction and destination of the lead (the activity, not the person) so that the next thing that can be executed can and does ‘fit’ harmoniously within the line and lane. From a Passive Following perspective, it’s really about keeping your eyes open (literally) and watching for when a Lead (the person, and not the action) is about to bump (you) into someone or something because they’re not being aware of their surroundings!
Lead, Follow, or Both ? Both roles.
Tango Topics Videos: There are several videos on this site that employ the idea of Floorcraft, most notably the Ocho Transitions series of videos.
The Tango Topics Opinion: For a variety of reasons this is a very difficult topic to talk about. The definition alone encompasses, navigation, vocabulary, embrace structures, musical interpretation, line and lane management just to name a few. It is for this reason that you’ll see almost no classes on the subject, almost no specific video on the subject, and even fewer workshops that go over this insanely important point. So if it’s so insanely important why doesn’t it get talked about ? A few reasons: 1.) Because any topic of floorcraft focuses solely on the vocabulary choices. Which means a long and lengthy discussion and then defaulting to a class on a specific movements. 2.) Once you’ve got the vocabulary down, next we end up talking about the musical component and understanding it thoroughly (which they frequently don’t), which most people erroneously believe is all about beat, it’s not, there’s more. And after that, they tune out. 3.) This is not something that can be discussed in 45 minutes to an hour. It’s just not. There are so many aspects to it, that it can rightfully take weeks to hit all the hot points before you get to drill down to the specifics. 4.) And lastly it’s all the stuff that happens in the moment between one idea of X execution and the next. It is for these reasons this is a difficult topic to discuss.
The primary question of Floorcraft is “Can I make ‘X’ fit ?”. Where ‘X’ is a Sacada, or the Follower’s Back Step of their Molinete, or a Lead Super Enrosque, or , or, or, or… etc. Floorcraft is in one respect about fitting but it’s so much more than just that. It’s really about the elegance of fitting in something….it’s the elegance, not just the fitting! That’s the real toy. To be able to look nice, and to fit in everything without appear to break one’s form to do it. Or to push, pull, squeeze, compress, etc. in order to do something.
Floorcraft from a meta-perspective is actually about crafting, creating an entire dance, and really the tanda, in the moment and then modifying that plan as conditions of the floor, and the line of dance changes. This is sometimes referred to as “Dancing To Plan ‘A’ Dancing. Where plan ‘A’ is what you had in your mind, however due to the conditions of the floor, you’ll need to toss that plan because it doesn’t fit anymore.
Good Floorcraft is flexible, and should be malleable. That means that the execution of vocabulary should be facile and easeful, and it should flow from one idea to the next within the context of the music, and within the line of dance, and within the distance and time that one has. Nothing is written in stone that can’t be modified or changed in some way, shape, or form.
Most of you reading this are thinking of Floorcraft in terms of changing vocabulary choices. No. Good floorcraft can also be about precision in execution, making things smaller OR bigger to take up space as well! You see, you didn’t think of that either. This is another reason why this topic is so difficult to talk about because it’s all of this stuff and about making choices that fit the floor conditions, and it’s all the stuff that you haven’t thought of. In one respect it’s about vocabulary and in another it’s about space, and still another it’s about keeping the partnership together!
Still another aspect of Floorcraft that isn’t sexy and doesn’t get a whole lot of talk is about keeping the ronda moving! Good floorcraft doesn’t interrupt the flow the line of dance, but instead keeps it going, keeps it moving at a healthy pace.
The Last Thought: You’re more than likely thinking about Floorcraft from a Leading perspective…there’s the Follower’s side of this as well! Floorcraft can be executed by the Follower in either an Active state or a Passive state. The simplest one is that the Passive Follower will watch out for oncoming or impending impacts with other couples or objects, and sometimes both. However, the Active Follower is the one that you’re ideally shooting for, because they can redirect a particular movement or execute a particular movement so that it fits as well in elegance as well. They may have been led to do X, but their execution of X is really where the toy is at! So as much as we would like to believe this is all about the Lead, it’s more about the Follower and their ability to hear (listen) the lead and then execute and really make a choice of can they do X and create that execution so that it flows from one idea to the next? But the Active Follower goes one step (no pun intended) further: “Can I redirect this do something else that I hear in the music ?”. You see the difference between the Passive Follower and the Active Follower is that choice! Whereas the Passive Follower will follow exactly what was led and nothing more than that for fear of pissing off the Lead. The Active Follower is making a slightly different choice: How can I do X, and still appear to do X, when what I want is Y, so that it fits within the music, and doesn’t piss of Mr. Wonderful’s lead or interrupt it while at the same time, making it appear that it was Mr. Wonderful’s idea ?