Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance


The Unused Mordida

The Mordida (detailed in volume 3 of Tango Truisms). Better known in the common vernacular as a ‘foot sandwich‘. Usually the Follower’s feet collecting around the Lead’s singular foot, usually. However, that’s not always the case. Moving on. Typically the Mordida is a way of indicating to the Follower that one of several pieces of vocabulary are about to be invoked. Any one of a series of Colgadas including a series of Single Axis Turns which require the Lead to step around their Follower’s feet, or a Volcada, or … or … or there are quite literally 10’s of moves where the Mordida is an absolute requirement to set it up. It’s the little lead ‘cue’ that the Follower has been trained to listen for. That ‘cue’ is a signal that something is about to change. They may not know exactly what that change is going to be, but they’re pretty certain that change cometh. There’s just one little tiny problem with this piece of vocabulary, it’s used way too much. So much so that we have a problem. Enter The Unused Mordida!

From a Following Perspective, The lead has invoked a Mordida, and quite literally you’re standing there and then nothing happens. They readjust their embrace and you’re wondering WTF DUDE?!?!?! And again, nothing. And then they start walking forwards and you sort of stumble backwards. No Spinny Whoosh Thingy (Single Axis Turn), No Crazy Back Breaker (Volcada) thing that he likes to do. “What on god’s green earth is this guy doing ?”. What’s worse is he keeps doing it over and over again, is he expecting something to happen…. The first few times this happens, and nothing occurs, you just decide to be quiet and take a wait and see attitude. But he keeps doing it, there must be something to it. Hmmm…will you look at the color of the paint on the ceiling….

From a Leading perspective, most are not even aware that they’re invoking the a Mordida 95% of the time. They’ve gotten so used to dancing this way, that they’ll take a side step out of their lane of dance annnnnnd …. Mordida! And here comes the problem child – they won’t use it the way it was intended! Instead it gets used it as a point of collection and a way to reset the couple and the embrace and nothing more than that! And now we have the next issue, then they walk out of it. Meanwhile their Follower is left kinda wondering what they did wrong, something should have happened there but didn’t, did they miss something ? This Lead doesn’t realize that the message that their sending (actually two of them) is confusing to the Follower, because they’re expecting X, and they get…ummm nothing! And now we have 2nd issue, they kinda look a little ridiculous and they’re quite literally telegraphing ot the room that they’re a beginner or worse and uneducated intermediate dancer that has stayed in that awful undefined place of less-than-desirable dancing. Where all you have to do is watch for a while and you see error after error after error. The squeezing, the pushing, the pulling, the rushing from vocabulary to vocabulary choice. Just … <shudder>

The Dancing Fact is that Mordida is used too often by Leads that don’t know any better. They get stuck in a way of moving, a default behavior if you will, and they’re not even aware that they’re doing it. You quite literally have to stop them on the floor as they’re doing it. They’re like a dog that pees on the floor, you can’t scold them afterwards, you have to catch them in the act and rub their noses in it. Same thing with a Lead.

Fixing it ? How do you fix this one ? This one has become ingrained behavior at this point, and the only way to change the behavior is to catch them in the act. Further still, you have to show them that while they can come to stop (preferably one that matches what’s happening in the music), they should not Mordida the Follower, further still is that they should reset the embrace (it’s good practice), but rather continue down the line of dance sans Mordida! Unfortunately saying that, is muuuuuuch easier than doing it. You need a trained dancer to be relentless with Leads that do this, keep after them, constantly, because the moment they’re on autopilot they’ll go right back to what they were doing and that’s that. Poof! Instant backtracking.  So how do you fix it ? Buy the video or subscribe to find out.


Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because this stuff IS NOT on youtube. It’s just not. There’s plenty of videos out there that show you X, but not detailing what X is. Those videos are there for one purpose: To get you to go study with those teachers. And frequently they’re either after class performance videos, or milonga performance videos. And you’re missing the most important part: The teaching aspect. This video, and the videos like it on this site, are all teaching videos!

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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