Looking Three Couples Ahead
Three Couples Ahead. On our little blue planet there’s ooodles and ooodles of space, especially in the United States and Europe. And because of this fact, it’s really not an issue for start thinking about space, and how you use it, or how you occupy it. So, really who needs to think about these things. Well, actually YOU do. And we’ll get to the reasons why in a bit. Today’s Practical Tango Advice (PTA) deals with a space issue first and foremost, and from the 50,000 foot view it’s all about a really simple floorcraft solution. To be fair Today’s PTA is not a sexy issue. Really, it’s kind of boring. This is one of those things that most people don’t even think about. It’s a solution that you don’t see being employed all that often, and in all likelihood you are either not doing using it because the thought never occurred to you or your Tango focus is very myopic…or a little bit of both. Followers you’re going to think to yourself that Today’s PTA has absolutely nothing to do with you. And you’d be mistaken. 🙂 The reason as you’ll see, which isn’t in the video above, and isn’t even mentioned in the video, has to do with your awareness! So without further adieu, Tango Topics presents the floorcraft issue: Looking Three Couples Ahead.
The Issue: As a Lead (mostly) you are unaware of an impending bottleneck or blockage until it happens to you, and then you really can’t go anywhere so you feel boxed in, and then you have to navigate from there which as a result causes a hesitation and more than likely a repetition behavior to resolve the line of dance which has basically stopped at you, which now has stopped the couple behind you from proceeding further.
The Solution: Looking ahead a few couples a few moments earlier would have given you a heads up that something was different and then to manage your dance and select more appropriate vocabulary choices in time to the music create a seemingly flowing idea of the music in relation to the floor.
The Follower’s Side of the Equation. From your perspective, you seemingly don’t have a whole lot of control over what the Lead invokes upon you (not true by the by), and further, you have absolutely zero control when or where something is done and/or how it’s done. Again, not true but that’s a topic for the Nine Places of the Active Follower which you should totally go read and watch (yes, there’s video!).
There is a desire that when you’re dancing with your partner to close your eyes and just ‘feel‘ (“feel” in this case derives it’s meaning from the physiological, and thankfully not the emotional meaning that is so often ascribed to Argentine Tango) what your Lead (the person) is leading (the action) you to do. We know you want to just dance, to feel what’s going on. We, also know that you see other Followers doing this, and from your perspective when you’ve done it, you’re able to concentrate on the lead (the action) and not get distracted by the room, other dancers, the line of dance, or the whirling dervish that has become modern Tango. And as a byproduct of this way of dancing, you, sometimes, get lost in the dancing, it can be a very powerful drug. We get it. We’re not immune to this drug. It’s a nice drug. There’s just one leeeetle tiny, almost insignificant issue with it. Honestly you can not do this. Ever! For a variety of reasons. Most notably is your stability. Yup. Your stability. Think you’ve got great stability ? Just as a side note – try this little test:
1.) Stand up. No…right now, stand up while you’re reading this.
2.) Bring your feet together in what Tango Topics calls Social Collection. There should be no space between your feet in any way, shape, or form. This is important.
3.) Close your eyes.
What’s going to happen is you’re going to waver a bit. That wavering, by the by is actually what’s supposed to happen. Don’t fight it. Some people fight for their balance or stability. The reality is that the older that we get the more that we rely on our eyesight to compensate for our physiological instabilities, and in specific our hearing. Your balance, and thereby your stability, is derived not from you ‘core’ (more loads of tango bullsh*t that has no basis in fact but is the oft-repeated tango fallacy), rather it is generated from your inner ear and your cerebellum.
Why is this important ? Because IF that instability is occurring while you are standing still with your eyes closed, THEN imagine what’s happening when you’re in motion and trying to dance!
Let that sink in a moment.
So…keeping your eyes OPEN while dancing is one way to prevent instability from occurring. It’s not the only way but it’s a vitally important one.
If you’re thinking that your Lead is there to stabilize you with their embrace, and to hold you up while you wobble all over. Then you’ve got an idea about Tango that is quite honestly less-than-desirable to dance with. Think of this as dragging someone around that has no will to control their own body. No one likes that. So why would you think that just because it’s Argentine Tango that your Lead wants to experience that ? They don’t.
So this is just one reason to keep your eyes open while you’re dancing. The reality is that with your eyes open, not closed, while your eyes are open and you’re paying attention to what’s going on around you, then you can see an issue forming in the Lead’s blind spot. And at least warn your lead with a little squeeze* of your embrace that there’s trouble afoot.
*That little “squeeze” is reason number 4,598 of why you don’t use your arms while embracing your partners. It one of the reasons why you don’t hang, pull, or push, with them either. It’s also one of the reasons why Resistance Based Dancing is a major no-no. If you keep your embrace feather-lite at all times, with barely any physiological pressure, or physiological weight then when you do present a warning with a small or slight compression with your arms to indicate to the Lead that they should probably stop what they’re doing otherwise they’ll run you into someone or something, then it should come as an alarm bell to your Lead to stop!
The Lead’s Side of the Equation. We have a few responsibilities as leads. One of them is to not run our Followers into anything or anyone. Unfortunately, in the course of our dancing, we sometimes do precisely that. The kicker is that it is entirely avoidable. The reason it’s avoidable is that you have to add a small visual check to what you’re doing in relation to the line and lane of dance. It’s not that complicated. However, you’d be surprised at how many Leads engage in Head Tilt, and Watching the Follower’s Feet, and a host of other things that impair their abilities as well as the Followers to the point where this piece of advice is seemingly simple but hard to do because it’s another thing for the Lead to consider while they’re dancing.
How do you do this ? Simple. As you are dancing, lift your head, it should be lifted anyway….just sayin’, and occasionally glance three couples up. It doesn’t get any more complicated than that. Remembering to do it ? That’s the hard part.
Why do this ? You’re ideally trying to avoid collisions or potential collisions. Even though really you can not avoid the blockage, you can at the very least prepare for the blockage. And by prepare, this means not only to gird yourself for it but actively start changing your vocabulary choices to reflect the stress against the line of dance.
The Real Deal. You’re not always are you going to be facing down the line of dance. This is a concern because modern Tango is a turning dance most of the time and not a walking dance as we would like to believe. As a result, you’ll be turning more than doing anything else, or hopefully executing any one of the 7 other types of turns other than the Follower’s Molinete/Lead’s Giro structure. As such, you’re going to want to ‘mark’ the turn and continually visually check down the line of dance before and after each and every turn. Mind you, your turns should not traverse down the line of dance anyway, but rather they should be over a singular space so there should be no issue here but some of you do wander a bit in the turn which makes the turn unwieldy as well as more work for the Follower.
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As A Side Note: If you follow every piece of advice that this website offered, you’d seemingly be overwhelmed and never actually dance a step. It’s just too much to do or so it would seem. Today’s Practical Tango Advice is one more piece of wood on the fire that is seemingly overwhelming. However, this is also one of those pieces of advice that you absolutely must incorporate into your dance with every partner, always.
As a Lead you have a responsibility not just to your partner, and to the music, but also to the line and lane of dance that you’re in, as well as to the ronda at large. Creating a safe environment for all dancers is your responsibility because believe it or not, you are part of that environment. You are helping or hindering to create that environment. If you’re blocking the line of dance, if you’re slowing down to show off how amazing you are, if you’re pulling some wild move that you saw Chicho do on YouTube that you haven’t really practiced at all, then you are a Navigational Hazard. However, let’s err on the side of belief that you would never do those things, but instead you are wandering in and out of your lane of dance, you are stepping backwards against the line of dance, and/or you’re not completing your turns. Then, the sad fact is that you are generating a navigation hazard that someone else has to avoid. 🙁
However for the moment let’s assume that you’re being the hero of this story and are doing what this site has offered as more than desirable social dancing habits: You’re not tilting your head, or breaking at the waist, or compressing the embrace, or engaging in excessive same vocabulary, or talking and/or chewing gum in your partner’s ear, or engaging resistance based dancing ideas, or stepping backwards in the line of dance – consciously or unconsciously, etc. You are however engaging in the Lead’s Cabeceo to enter the line and lane of dance, you engage in the adjustment phase of the dance every time, you’re posture is upright without being rigid, your embrace is loose and very lite allowing for your partner’s movement across and around you in their Molinete and Milonguero Turns. And quite honestly, you eschew all the Ganchos, Boleos, Volcadas, Colgadas with the exception of the Social Boleo, the Social Volcada, and Social Colgada, and the Single Axis Turn because they’re small and the fit within the line and lane of dance without taking up any space. But instead you actually you keep it real by adding lots of variation to the Four pieces of Social Tango Vocabulary (Walking – The 6 Ways of Walking, Ochos – Milonguero Ochos & Traveling Ochos, Turns – Follower’s Molinete to Lead’s Giro & The Milonguero Turn, and lastly Crosses – The Argentine Cross) in close embrace all while keeping your dance tight and compact, or what Tango Topics refers to as Dancing In A Small Space (DIASS).
Why do you want dance this way ? Because believe it or not, this is preparation for dancing in Buenos Aires, dancing in Berlin, dancing in Moscow and dancing at any of the Encuentros (assuming you’re lucky enough to get invited to them) in the European tango scene. It’s one of the components of floorcraft that you as a dancer should start engage in regardless of role. It’s also one way to keep the line of dance healthy and flowing rather than the mess and melange that it can easily become.
Why are we yapping about DIASS ? Simple. Looking Three Couples Ahead is a component of better Floorcraft as well as DIASS that’s why! It’s not implied in there the DIASS video or article or the DIASS Addendum article or video. It is however briefly mentioned in the video. It’s also briefly mentioned in the Preparing for Buenos Aires video but not in the article.
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