The 'Bobbing' Bird
The ‘Bobbing’ Bird. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word ‘Bob’ with 6 possible definitions. But all of them mean the same thing either as a noun or a verb form, “a short, jerky motion”. “Bobbing” is it’s gerund version in English, adding the ‘ing’ ending to the word indicating that the action/activity of the word (in verb form) is still ongoing. And that’s what today’s Practical Tango Advice is really on about – A short, jerky motion, that is ongoing.
What is The ‘Bobbing’ Bird Error ? From a Tango perspective it is a short, jerky motion forwards with the Torso first and then back as the leg extends. For a smaller number of Tango dancers, we can, and do walk like this. It’s an issue that crops up, as shown in the video, can be egregious, but is more often than naught very subtle (not shown). The issue is The ‘Bobbing’ Bird error. Part of the reason it exists is due in fact that the individuals understanding of walking technique is flawed. So with that said, let’s dive into this months Practical Tango Advice for The ‘Bobbing’ Bird.
From A Following Perspective, your walk wants to be legs first, and torso second. Meaning that the leg moves first to create a stable platform and then your torso moves over that stable platform secondly. However in The ‘Bobbing’ Bird error (as shown), those things are reversed, and we end up with Bobbing Bird. 🙁 While you would think that this applies to the walk everywhere. It doesn’t. It only occurs in your back step or walk backwards, which accounts for 60% of your walking (depending on the lead, and the conditions of the floor – floorcraft). At the same time you would think that the solution is to just stop doing it. It’s not that simple. First we have to have an awareness that we’re actually doing this. And that takes a bit of video and/or someone pointing it out us. And if this behavior goes on long enough it becomes engrained and a habit and thereby very difficult for us to break. As shown in the video it’s very egregious, however the more common version of this error is very small, very tiny and it does crop up in about 70% of Followers.
Think of it another way. In Tango we have what is referred as “Apilado” (See Definition) which is a tiny lean forward into your partner, that lean forward is sometimes referred to as forward intention. In the modern form of Argentine Tango, Apilado as a practice has virtually disappeared, but a small amount of it remains creating the intention. Your job as a Follower is to create that forward intention, but the lead quite literally stops you and sends you backwards, this can appear as though you’re ‘Bobbing’ forwards, and there’s your misunderstanding right there or part of it. Still another misunderstanding that occurs is that we’re told as Follower’s that we must extend our legs, get them out of the way, by instinct we just shoot them back behind us, and again by instinct we tilt forward to make this happen. Put these two things together, Apilado and the desire to get our legs out of the way, and we have our ‘Bobbing’ Bird error.
From a Leading Perspective, you’re going to think that you don’t do this. That it’s a Follower thing only. And that’s not the case. You do this as well. But not in the same way. For you, it’s an up and down Head/Torso motion, while in the case of the Follower it’s forwards and back. To be clearer, your job, when walking, is to create forward intention (that’s the “Apilado” part), and that ends up as being your Torso goes first (without breaking or tilting at the waist). Which as a result sends the message to the Follower to extend their leg (that’s leg first for the Follower). And then your leg catches up with your torso, or Leg second (torso second for the Follower). However, for you, you go too far with the head and torso and dip too far forward thereby quite literally watching your Follower’s feet!
Have you seen Dancing In A Small Space (DIASS) ? If you’re planning to dance at a Tango Marathon, Festival, Encuentro, Buenos Aires, or your local Milonga is a very crowded and you want to know how to dance well in a small crowded space, then this video is the key to that process.
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From a Dancing Perspective both roles engage in The Bobbing Bird walking error to a limited degree. The fact that this page is calling out that error is not going to change anything. Is this a frequent error ? No. Can it be easily corrected ? Yes. Does the fix require you to learn proper walking technique ? Yes. For a Follower it’s about not titling forward or breaking at the waist. For the Lead, it’s the same but learning to keep their head from tilting forward as well.
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