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The Tango Pre-Lead

Leading, some would say, is insanely difficult. Others might say that once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier and easier. But no one says that leading is easy or a ‘snap’. There is some difficulty to it that does require some skills that must be mastered. When one starts out with the prospect of leading another dancer, usually there are more than a few assumptions that are quickly disproven when attempting to lead a side step, or a walking step, whereupon someone’s feet get stepped on, and then reality sets in. All is not as easy as one would assume. Usually at this point the Lead in question resolves to study how to lead something. Most Leads realize that the process of leading X, or Y is not all one thing. It’s a multi-sectional process that results in the Follower being led to want to step in a particular direction at a particular speed or frequency. Some L/leads want a shortcut to that process which usually results in the use of one’s arms to push or to pull the Follower, or to engage in continuous La Marca. The Lead, at this point, may not even recognize that they’re pushing, pulling, squeezing their Followers but are in fact doing just that. And since no one is saying anything, mostly because they can’t at a Milonga, they assume that all is well.

Some Leads advance beyond this stage of leading to a far more desirable form of the dance, and some don’t. The ones that do advance beyond the pushing and pulling stage, go much deeper by asking simple but pointed questions, “How does my embrace feel ?”, “Am I pushing you ?”, or “Do you feel compression from my right forearm ?”. They internalize this information and then consider how to change their embrace, how to change their walk, how to adjust their skills to affect global or minute changes at the point of inflection where they need it the most.

Some Leads view this type of advancing Leading Technique as a lot of arcane, detailed, intricate, and physiologically overwhelming information that one just does not need at all in order to have “fun”. However, those that have passed through and beyond that stage know intimately well that they’ve graduated to a better class of Followers, not because of their looks, or how they smell, or what they’re wearing, or what kind of shoes they have on, or how nice they are, but rather because their abilities have grown beyond the need to push, pull, and compress. They have graduated to a place known as Intention-Based Tango, and it is in this place that the Lead runs across this crazy idea that opens up a whole other world of possibilities for them. And that’s today’s Practica Tango Advice Topic: The Tango Pre-Lead.

What is a Tango Pre-Lead ? In its simplest form, it is an Intention-Based Motion or movement that precedes an actual step or the beginning of a figure or pattern. However, that preceding Intention-Based Motion is so small and imperceptible that anyone witnessing it might not necessarily see it to begin with. The only person that will feel it is the person that sent it and the person that received it. Generally, the Pre-Lead is a physiological direction of the Lead’s entire body and more importantly their inertia towards a particular direction that starts with their thought, and then that thought is directed towards the feet, or the spinal column as directional motion. Note what is not happening here, at no point are one’s arms are being used to direct the movement or vocabulary of X, Y, or Z but instead, it’s all about inertia of the Lead in a particular direction with their entire body. The arms, and hands only act as a conduit to communicate the intent not as a way to force to push or pull with or to magnify the intention.

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the boleo series

The Follower’s Side of the Equation while it may appear that there is really nothing here for the Follower to do in terms of what’s being asked of them when it comes to a Pre-Lead, that’s not the case. If anything the Follower has to be even more vigilant, even more aware to be able to respond to a Pre-Lead. While the video above doesn’t go into great detail about this, if at all, it does suggest that you do have to be aware of this stuff. Why ?

Let’s paint a picture for you: You’ve accepted a Cabeceo from a Lead, they round the floor to get to you, they walk to you, and get you from your chair (and you wait for them to do so), and then they escort you to the floor. They engage in a Lead’s Cabeceo to ….

If you want to read the rest of the Practical Tango Advice for the Follower, all you have to do is register. The PTA is free, there’s no charge, just register below by filling out the form. 😉 That’s all you have to do.

Have you seen the Milonga Madness series ? Over 2.5 hrs of pure Milonga Instruction GOLD with one of the best Social Milonga Teaching couples alive: Detlef Engel & Melina Sedó! It covers everything you need to know to get you up and running today with Milonga. Don’t delay, subscribe today!

Milonga Madness with Detlef Engel & Melina Sedo

The Lead’s Side of the Equation …. Oye! There are so many places where a Pre-Lead can happen it’s not even funny anymore. Where to start with this stuff ? Hmmm….it’s a good idea if you just accept that all steps in Tango, Vals, and Milonga have to have a starting point. That starting point is the Pre-Lead. If you think or believe that any step in Tango, Vals, or Milonga doesn’t have one, and/or that your leading the Follower involves you pushing or pulling in any way, shape, or form, then you’re not engaging a Pre-Lead at all!

Let’s get something out of the way. A Pre-Lead is not step that leads into another step. No. That’s just one version of a chained step. A Pre-Lead is a motion that indicates direction, speed, and intent to engage a either a larger version of a step (as indicated in the video above) or a variation on a theme of a step! But make no mistake, it is the starting point of that step.

Here are some common Pre-Leads that you use all the time:

1.) Stepping in between…

If you want to read the rest of the Practical Tango Advice for the Lead, all you have to do is register. The PTA is free, there’s no charge, just register below by filling out the form. 😉 That’s all you have to do.

This is a Free View of Today’s Tango Topic: It’s Free, you don’t need to register, but to see the rest of what Tango Topics offers you do need to register and then consider becoming a subscriber. Registration is Free, Subscribing will cost you a few pennies. 🙂 This free view is an example of the kinds of information and the detailed information that you will find if you subscribe. This view is one of hundreds of videos and articles on the nature of Argentine Tango and really Social Dancing as a whole. 

Why Should You Subscribe ? You can easily find this stuff on YouTube, right ? There’s plenty of presentation videos out there that can show you what you need to know. There’s just one little tiny problem. This stuff isn’t on YouTube! You can only find this content, and content like it, here on Tango Topics. 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 subscriber today.


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