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Follower Technique 2019

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Notation: This Tango Topic was originally written on June 3rd, 2016. It has been updated and expanded.

Follower Technique

For most Followers the words “Follower Technique” boils down to 5 things (minus adornments and embellishments): 1.) Posture. 2.) Embrace. 3. ) Forward Steps. 4.) Side Steps. 5.) Back Steps. Sometimes this line of thinking may cover the concept of Body Position (where one is in relation to the Lead) and beyond that even, Body Placement (what one does with that Body Position – e.g. vocabulary) within the construct of the embrace (e.g. how to stay in front of and then with your Lead). The thinking usually stops right about there. Most Follower’s, and even Leads don’t even consider that Walking-in-Opposition, then Disassociation, and then finally, Applied Disassociation as a basis for Follower Technique, and why it’s an important piece of the equation in certain pieces of Tango Vocabulary (such as Traveling Ochos, or the Follower’s Molinete). Today’s Tango Topic deals with explaining this stuff and then going a little deeper with these things. It should be noted that just because the title is “Follower Technique” that the Lead should tune out because there’s nothing here for you. And that would be flat out wrong! This topic is not just for Followers looking for a hint, any hint, that could boost their understanding. It’s also for the Lead wanting to understand what the Follower has to do in order to stay with them. So without Further yapping, Tango Topics Presents: Follower Technique.

What is ‘Follower Technique’? In its simplest form, it is a series of skills that when put together create a ‘dancing platform’ for the Follower. This is a platform that the Follower builds into their body through painstaking, detailed, carefully crafted motions that consists of: How to walk forward, side, and/or back; What one’s stance or posture should be like and under what conditions it may change; How to embrace and where and why;  What Close Embrace wants to be; What Open Embrace wants to be; Where and how the Follower has to be in relation to their Lead, within the different embrace types (‘Close Embrace, Open Embrace, Vee Embrace, Open Vee, Closed Vee, Berlin, etc) so that they’re always…always…always in ‘front of’ their Lead;  How to land the foot; How to extend the leg; Where the knee bend occurs;  Why one would ‘open’ one’s hip and under what conditions;  How to generate a slight open ‘v’ with the feet, and when, where, and why one would want to do that….just to name a few. For most people when they hear the phrase “Follower Technique” they think ‘pretty’ feet or most people think of Follower technique as just the Follower’s Back Step or a Forward step in the Molinete, and everything else just sort of works.

That’s not true.

Follower Technique is an economical, efficient, movement platform that is based on decades-old work, that many Followers have passed down from one Follower to another, who have been out social dancing within the Milonga experience. And then taken that social dancing knowledge and refined it, honed it, made it their own.

Follower Technique can go a lot deeper…a lot deeper! In Deeper Follower Technique, the Follower studies all three of the three primary steps and then takes it to a whole other level. Truly, Deep Follower Technique is all about the detail, it is all about the precision. And lastly, but not the least of which is that it’s all about the execution! Yes it is learning about to use one’s feet in relationship to the structure that is Argentine Tango, but it is also about learning how to use one’s body in an efficient, economical, and elegant way that accentuates themselves as well as their L/lead and what’s being done, while at the same time keenly aware of one overriding principle: One Step At A Time! But contained within that step is a monster amount of kinesthetic awareness, body consciousness, physiological history, a corporeal locomotion, muscle memory, tendon memory, nervous system memory, that when executed altogether – creates that one singular step that brings into it all of the things mentioned before.

This is Follower Technique.

Is Follower Technique easy work ? No! Although to listen to some Leads spouting their idea of what the Follower should or shouldn’t do, you’d think it was a cake walk! Ummm in a word, “NOT!”. Is Follower Technique, as a whole, something you can learn in an afternoon ? Possibly, depending on the teacher. But really Follower Technique takes more than a few sessions to work out the bugs (as it were). This isn’t about balance and stability, yes those things are there but there are other things to consider. In the end Follower Technique wants to become rote behavior, second nature, a naturally built-in response, or default but controlled, contained, and conscious behavior in the person that is dancing the role of the Follower. So a better answer to that second question is “NO”. Follower Technique is going to take a while. And anyone that tells you different either hasn’t studied the role of the Follower for very long or is lying through their teeth. The fact is that Follower Technique takes years to get, then to adjust and finally to perfect. And going further down the rabbit hole what works for some people may not work for everyone! In case you were unclear on this part, some people’s bodies are built differently, and that means their anatomical areas may not necessarily line up with what some Amazing Follower Teacher has said and/or shown. So, no, sometimes other ways of moving have to be employed. Follower Technique is not a one size fits all! Some of it is, and some of it isn’t. The part that is confusing about it, is figuring out which one is which! 😉

From a Following Perspective a good portion of Followers do know Follower Technique when they see it. They may not able to describe what they’re looking at, but they are able to recognize it. Unfortunately, that recognition is limited to what they’ve been exposed to. Meaning they’re only able to recognize what they’re familiar with…most of the time. This is a plus and a minus at the same time.

Let’s get right down to the crux of this stuff: ‘Follower Technique’ matters a whole lot on multiple levels, because the correct execution of physiological movement actually improves each and every single step that one takes. Which improves the quality of the vocabulary being executed, which improves the quality of the dance on the whole! One tiny change here, or there, can quite literally change the outcome a dance. It really is that big. So it stands to reason having good, clean, clear Follower Technique is paramount to better responsiveness in one’s dancing.  Put another way: It quite literally changes a dance from ‘meh‘ to ‘omg‘ or sometimes to ‘omFg‘! However that ‘omg‘, or ‘omFg‘, has a lot of gradations built into it for one simple reason: It depends on the amount of study and practice time that the Follower has spent on working their skillz. It also depends on the amount of detailed information that the Follower possess and what materials they’ve been given to study with, and how they’ve been given that information. Further still those gradations also depend on one’s own hyper self-awareness, and more importantly, the level of corrective self-behavior the Follower is willing to employ to change, modify, and/or correct their skillz.

It’s just Forward, Side, and Back…NOT! There’s more to it than that. A lot more to it. And while it is seemingly easy to ‘just‘ follow (As if!). The reality of Following is far greater than those three steps. First and foremost it is learning how to extend one’s leg, and land one’s feet in such a way that allows one to move with ease, while at the same time keeping the partnership together all the while allowing the couple to move effortlessly, but doesn’t feel jerky or bouncy. That right there is a tall order nad takes a while to get. Secondly, then to clean up that walk visually on the first pass, so that the Follower isn’t generating a ‘crab walk’ backward with bent knees, and uncontrolled foot placements, which invariably end up as ‘THUD’. Thirdly, it’s recognizing that the walk is connected to one’s embrace and that if the walk is clean, the embrace does not need to be compressive, restrictive, or pressured, and yes that means NO RESISTANCE, No Tension, No Force is required….ever. Fourthly, at some point along the curve, the Follower recognizes that their own internal stability is based on how they engage in their walk. Too far to one side, or too far to another side of their foot and their wholly unstable. Fifthly they recognize the root of their issues is/are their weight transfers from one ‘step’ to the next, and how they land their foot, and in what position. Lastly, they recognize their own Posture, and how their body moves in space and time in relation to their Lead (this is known as Body Placement). Forward, Side, and Back is just the beginning of this stuff. It’s the tip of a very large iceberg.

Follower Technique is Execution! Probably the single most important part of Follower Technique is it’s Execution. This is the bees-knees as it were. If the execution of how something is done is done poorly, sloppily, or haphazardly, then everything is off. That’s not a joke. That’s reality. Wobbling, Wavering, Wandering in how one executes a step, will result in the entire platform (walk, embrace, posture) being ‘off’. Precision is the name of this game, and the more precise that execution, the more exact it is, the more controlled and contained it is, the more practiced it is, the more it becomes effortless. Alongside that execution is the ability to control the power, and or strength of that execution. Meaning how much effort is required to do X, Y, or Z. And what goes part and parcel with that is a hyper-awareness of what is being led to generate this stuff. If all of that sounds about as fun as watching paint dry think of it this way: It’s a little like walking into a house that one just bought and then realizing that the walls aren’t painted, the floors aren’t safe and will need to be replaced, and the roof leaks! Which ultimately means spending a lot more money than what one spent to buy the house. Not so much with that. So as a result we want to learn to execute our technique with control, power, and containment.

That said there are 5 Guiding Principles of Follower Technique that we want to keep in the back of our minds:

1.) Always, always, always overshoot to underdo! What does that mean ? It means that the Follower must extend their capabilities to their upper limits and then continually expand them beyond what they think they can do. Why ? Because if you can do this stuff in the extreme, then executing something in the minimal will be a piece of cake!

2.) If you have to think about X while it’s happening then it’s too damned late! Meaning ? That if you have just finished a class with Famous Teacher “A”, and then you go out social dancing afterward and suddenly in the middle of dancing with your favorite Lead as they’re leading you to ‘Y’ tango move, you suddenly remember what you ‘studied’ in a lesson with A. Blip. It’s over. Damn it!!! You missed it. Why ? Because you had to stop and think about it to recognize it for what it was. It was a bit off from what said Famous Teacher A showed you, but that was a “Y”! And you missed it. Is it the end of the world ? No, it’s not. But if this continues to happen, it means that you are not prepared. And prepared, in this case, means…see #3!

3.) Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice, and….ummm…wait for it….PRACTICE. What does THAT mean ? Practice means solo practice time. It means that one spends a good deal of one’s time working in front of a mirror, without heels (that’s another point on it’s own) working on how one moves and making it clean, clear, effortless so that you build muscle memory. So that when said Amazing Lead comes along, and they will, eventually, that the Follower is ready for the experience instead of fumbling through it trying desperately to remember what Famous Teacher “A” said…yup, too late all because the Follower didn’t spend enough time practicing. Practicing also means working with a regular series of partners that are diverse enough in their skill sets that the Follower gets a wide range of experience to execute what they’re working on.

4.) Have a plan! This one is so dead simple but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t have a plan. Here’s a good one. Start every Solo Practice session with extensions (in case you’re wondering ‘YES!’, Tango Topics has a video on this idea, several actually), and then spend about a half hour warming up with that stuff. And then going deeper into your regime on Forward, Side, and Back, Body Position, Body Placement, Weight Transfers, Foot Position, Foot Placement. Here’s still another one, start every individual couple practice time with the first tanda doing nothing but ‘walking’. That’s having a plan!

5.) Flats To Start With. Really. These things are your saving grace. On multiple levels. Do your solo work and practice sessions in flats first and foremost. You’ll spare yourself oodles of pain later on down the line. The reality is that the Follower needs to be able to feel the floor, and the heeled shoe (sometimes) obscures that feeling. And sometimes, depending on the manufacture of the shoe, it actually compensates for the stability of a particular movement.  More often than not a heel deadens the sensation of the foot landing on the floor, or the impact of the foot on the floor. A flat does not do those things. The Follower feels the floor and their ability to move across the floor.

What To Focus On ?  The Follower wants to pay attention to these things in sequence:

1.) Posture, Posture, Posture. Learning what it means, from a Tango Perspective, to stand upright without creating rigidity in one’s body or stance. Learning how to elongate one’s spinal column without injury and/or pain. Learning how to lengthen one’s body, how to stand, how and why a slight compression (a micro-bend) of the knee is incredibly important…everywhere! That’s a hint by the way…the rest of this type of information is in the Foundations Video Series. However, one’s posture will affect the next 8 points. Hunch over, and nothing looks desirable. Ramrod straight, and you end up looking like a Robot. We want something in between that is comfortable and maintainable.
2.) The Weight Change, and later on the weight transfer. A weight change is done from a standing or collection position. A weight transfer is done from passing through collection position!
3.) The Leg Extension Begins Where? The leg extension comes from a very specific place, and understanding what that place is and under what conditions, and why is insanely important. As a.) The conditions are not always the same. and b.) The Extension is not always the same under certain conditions.
4.) Extending The Leg. This is actually extending the leg from a static position and working that extension over and over and over again. But more importantly focusing on what that looks like from multiple angles, using video from the side and from the front and back, and not just a mirror. Mirrors can and do ‘lie’ quite frequently. “Lie” isn’t the right word there. More like when you’re looking in the mirror, you only see a moment of time, not the entire thing. And you want the entire movement over time. It is for this reason that the Follower wants to use VIDEO from the side, and front, and back…constantly IN ADDITION to the mirror!
5.) The Shape of the Leg over that same period of time – where the knee must bend, and why, and under what conditions because they’re not always the same!
6.) Landing the Foot, where, and what part of the foot one lands on, and under what conditions. Because again, it’s not always the same. Which may come as a surprise to some of you reading this and wondering what those conditions might be. Here’s a helpful hint: SUBSCRIBE!
7.) The Shape of the Foot in the landing on part 6 above. The reality is that the shape of the foot creates the end point of the step and if that shape looks shoddy, then the extension that created it will look shoddy. 🙁 Shape ? It’s very important!
8.) The Weight Transfer. Now the weight transfer comes into play because more than likely you’re in motion after the first step….and now you need to understand where that weight transfer comes into play and why steps 3 – 7 are insanely important! Because now you’re in motion and while the static positions of an extension are nice to look at, that’s not where the problems come up once you’ve got the extensions down (or so you think), it’s the transition from one element to the next!

Now without going into a lot of detail, that’s what the video series is for, you really do need constant reminders, constant practice, and constant visuals to guide you towards a better way to doing these things. This is, unfortunately not something you can do on your own. You do actually require someone else to, at the very least show you what you need to focus on. Those 8 points above are all fine and good in text, but seeing it is very important…hence the video thing. This is an hour long video series that goes into great depth.

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

Class/Seminar Work vs. Video. Work. There really isn’t an either – or. The reality is that the whomever is studying the role of the Follower needs as many reminders, and valid examples of what should happen within the construct of the 3 primary steps as well as the inner workings of Traveling Ochos, the Follower’s Molinete, the Argentine Cross, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Class/Seminar work is great for in person, time spent, corrective work. Video work is great for seeing the same work that was done in a classroom setting and giving you a chance to see it again, and again, and again so that you can get every last piece of information you can from what was said and shown.

In this video series, which is ongoing by the by, there are (at the time of this writing) 13 sections that cover mostly what one does with one’s legs, and how we want our legs to appear, as well as how to move them, what to practice, how to land your foot, how NOT to land your foot (Lazy Follower’s Foot), how handle the most troubling aspect in all of Argentine Tango: The Follower’s Molinete, and to make it functional instead of an exercise in pain! However, understand that this video series is also spread out over a wide range of videos that integrate Follower’s Technique into the Movements/Topics on this site.

Heelwork. Working in Flats is all fine and good but at some point, someone or something is going to drive you to want to put on a pair of heels. And that’s where the Follower’s whole world is going to go topsy-turvy all over again. Balance will need to be redone. Stability will be an issue, again. And the embrace will change (slightly) due to the fact that the Follower is now in a pair of 3 in heels!

Heelwork is not easy, it’s elegant, yes….but it is not easy work. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and a lot of trial and error, lots and lots and lots of errors, to get this stuff just right so that it doesn’t look ungainly, so that all that Follower Technique doesn’t go out the window, while at the same time it isn’t too much a stretch of your physiological capabilities. Truthfully, Heelwork is refining the Follower’s skillset, while at the same time taking it to a whole other level and then adding ‘gracefulness’ to it.

Understand something – Heelwork plays hell with one’s anatomy and in specific the Plantar Nerve! So it stands to reason that we want to ease into heelwork by building up the muscles around the Plantar Nerve in flats and then start working on refining our skills, not being thrown into the deep end of the pool right from the start (learning in heels immediately). And then going one step further (no pun intended), adding style and detail to that heelwork! This is one reason why the Follower works in flats to start off with building up slowly to working towards the ultimate goal of being in a pair of heels.

Who to work with ? The question comes up, can you learn proper technique in person ? Yes. Can you learn less than desirable technique in person ? YUP! And the same is true of video work. What matters is the source of the information and goes right back to picking a good teacher or a knowledgeable source of the skill set. Which brings up another question, does that source have to be a woman ? Answer…No, it does not. It can be anyone that has spent a good amount of time studying the form of either role, gender doesn’t matter. What matters most is how deeply involved that person has immersed themselves in the form. Quite frankly, most men that invest in being a ‘good’ Follower want to be better than the women around them because they’ve recognized that they don’t want to be that ‘girl’ that sits. Further still they want to get it ‘right’, so they’ll invest hours…weeks…months in learning the intricate in’s-and-out’s of Following. Their goal is not to perform, nor is it necessarily to teach, it’s to understand the form as a whole. Truth be told there are more than a few really amazing male Followers in the world and to be quite honest with you, they blow the doors off your run-of-the-mill Followers and more than a few ‘performing’ teacher Followers IMHO.

From a Leading Perspective most Leads (the person) don’t have the skill set, or the language for that matter, to describe, be aware of, or to witness whether or not a Follower is executing proper technique. This is mostly because they don’t dance the role of the Follower themselves. Isn’t it odd that a good portion of them dole out advice to Followers in an attempt to ‘help‘ as to what the Follower should be doing though ? The only thing that they’re truly aware of is whether or not the Follower is in the right place, at the right time, when they asked (or in a lot of cases told, and shoved) them to be. They can sort of tell when it feels good, and they can tell when it’s not. Which mostly boils down to when the Follower isn’t ‘following’ what they believe they were leading. This comprises the Lead’s understanding of ‘good‘ Follower Technique. Honestly, the lot of them could give a damn if the Follower does X, Y, or Z just as long as they do what was led. If they add anything, just make damned certain that it doesn’t get in the way of what the Lead is leading, and for good christ’s sake don’t screw it up! And whatever is done, don’t miss anything!!! Oh and make it feel good while you’re at it. Oh and make it look amazing. Oh and …. if this sounds like a wish list of the Lead, that’s because it is. The reality is that a good portion of them don’t Follow and have no desire to learn to Follow for some reason that could best be described as Male Ego. So as far as Follower Technique is concerned, the only thing they care about is following what was led. Sigh. Sadly, very few have the forethought to appreciate just how much work goes into all of the seemingly magical experience of dancing with the Amazing, Effortless Follower. If that sounds myopic, it’s partially because there’s some (operative word) truth to that, and some hyperbole. 😉 Some Leads do actually care but not about technique, just about the overall execution.

So here’s some sage advice to the Lead that wants to understand Follower Technique:

If you don’t dance the role, then stop giving advice as to what the Follower should be doing, and instead use the following phrase to help them to understand what you’re sensing and/or feeling when they execute what you’ve led: “I feel …” or “I felt this…” and then tell them exactly what you felt by using “I” statements, not “YOU” statements. See the Post on Giving (and Receiving) Feedback.

If they ask you for feedback on the dance floor, at a Milonga. Smile, and say the following words: “I don’t give feedback on the dance floor at a Milonga”.

If they ask you for feedback at a Practica. Employ the Giving (and Receiving) Feedback model stated above, and THEN go find a teacher! 😉

If they don’t ask for feedback, then don’t give them unsolicited feedback even if they’re a beginner and you know how to fix X, Y, and/or Z.

If they’re hanging, pulling, pushing, compressing, squeezing, or anything else that’s bugging the living crap out of you, you have 2 options: 1.) Suck it up! 2.) Keep quiet until the end of the tanda and then say two words, “THANK YOU“. The reason ? Remember something – YOU ASKED FOR THE DANCE! So, therefore, you get to live with the benefits of your choices. Not to stand there in the middle of the line of dance and correct them about what’s bugging you about what you’re not actually leading and they’re having to read your mind.

So what can you do if you want to help the Follower with their Technique ?  Invite them to a private lesson or practica where you know a teacher can help them with their understanding of Follower Technique.

Are you getting where this is going yet ? In other words, keep your opinions to yourself, and actually, go study Follower Technique. It will do wonders for your own dancing skills, and probably create a greater appreciation for dancing the role of the Follower. Any Lead that has made this transition knows this axiom to be true: If you want to be a great Lead, start learning how to Follow! 🙂

About The Video. This video is 2hr:37m:14s in length in 25 sections. Follower technique is the bulk of this video.

Collection – (00:01:19) {Also See “Social Collection”}
Forward Steps – Footwork (00:03:03)

Forward Steps – Extension (00:02:21)
Side Steps – Footwork (00:01:21)
Side Steps – Linear (00:04:02)
Side Steps – Circular (00:03:30)
Back Steps – Extension (00:06:23)
Back Steps – Circular (00:04:26)
Back Steps – Footwork (00:05:48)
“Opening” The Hip (00:04:00)
Posture – Send/Counter-Send (00:05:53)
Molinete – Level 1 (00:13:33)
Backstep Pre-Launch Technique (00:05:50)
Molinete Pre-Launch Example (00:00:39)
Lazy Follower Foot (00:05:46)
Leg Shape (00:08:23)
Weight Change (00:01:23)
Weight Transfer (00:01:34)
Weight Transfer – Weight Change (00:01:34)
Landing The Foot (00:09:09)
Traveling Ocho Technique/Exercise (00:15:32)
Milonguero Ocho Exercise (00:09:38)
The Follower’s Molinete – All the Details (00:21:58)
The Milonguero Turn – Body Details (00:04:43)
The Milonguero Turn – Footwork (00:10:20)
Errors #1 (00:05:06)

Related Videos Mentioned In This Article: 

The Six Ways of WalkingDownload

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Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular 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. This is known as Tango Twister.  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 showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows 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 you’re done.

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 of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 

 

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Gooey Ganchos

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Gooey Ganchos

The are multiple varieties of Ganchos. We have explored the 4 most common ones, today we’re exploring a variant of the idea known as the ‘Gooey’ Gancho. Specifically what makes it ‘Gooey’ and how does it get it’s name. The reason this variety of Gancho is called ‘Gooey’ has everything to do with the speed of the Gancho itself, but it also has to do with the choice of the Gancho in certain respects, as you’ll see. That said, let’s talk about ‘GooeyGanchos.

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Have you seen our Gancho Video Series ? We have over 24 different Ganchos for you to learn from! Follower Ganchos, Lead Ganchos, Gooey Ganchos, Svelt Ganchos, and the Four Common Ganchos, and more! Over 6 hours of Gancho videos. Go look and start your Gancho journey today!

See > All Our Gancho Videos

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What is a Gancho ? In it’s simplest form, in the modern vernacular of Tango, it is a hooking of the free leg around your partner’s leg or thigh. It is an interruption of the extension phase of the step, which can (not always) result in the lifting of the respondent’s leg either as a result of, or by deliberate intention.

What is aGooeyGancho is a variety of Gancho that is usually executed from either the Follower’s or Lead’s position. It is a slow-motion Gancho, and in particular the ‘Launching’ leg of the dancer who is being “Gancho’d”. Everything prior to the Gancho happening is not the ‘Gooey’ part. The ‘Gooey’ part comes when the leg that is being lifted moves to engage the hooking action of the Gancho in a very slow, but very deliberate way. Very slow. 🙂 Hence the ‘Gooey’ part. 

Difficulty Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5) (look for the blue background in the “What Is …” section of a post. That’s a ‘Free with Registration‘ Post)

There’s a lot more to this ArticleThere’s the extensive Lead’s Perspective, the deeper Follower’s Technique Perspective, and sometimes we throw in a complete Dancing Perspective part, all of which are only visible to Tango Topics Freemium Registered Users, Gold Subscribers, Diamond Level Users, and Milonga Madness Users. To become a Freemium user, Registration is absolutely 100% FREE, click the button below, and you get access to this article, and over 400 videos, hundreds of articles on a wide range of Tango Topics. So what are you waiting for, go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select the “ARTICLES” button and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Easy. No ? 🙂

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The Case For WHY You Need This ? Actually, you don’t need it. Huh? Hmmm…that’s no way to sell videos or subscriptions. You’re right. It’s not. That’s because we’re not in the business of teaching you useless vocabulary that you probably don’t need. Stay with us on this one, it’s not going where you think it is. From a very specific point of view, this is cool vocab. No doubt about it. However, from another point of view, the social dancer who’s been dancing a while, a long while, this is nothing more than vocabulary that doesn’t further the cause of Social Dancing. Now here’s the kicker – Both, yes, BOTH points of view are valid. Here’s why:

From the Social Dancer’s point of view, you’re never going to use this stuff. Maybe once in a blue moon, but in reality the better that you get, the less you use this stuff. From their point of view, it’s four pieces of vocabulary that you need: The 6 Ways of Walking, Traveling Ochos/Milonguero Ochos, The Follower’s Molinete/The Milonguero Turn, and lastly – The Argentine Cross. That’s it. That’s all you need. From the Dancer’s point of view that’s hasn’t mastered this stuff yet, this is cool and you want to play with it, and to be able to master it. To find it’s in’s, out’s, how’s, and why’s, and mostly to have fun with it. Both points have their merits.

And now to the one twist in our point that you probably weren’t expecting. This stuff actually has validity, maybe not from a social dancing perspective, immediately, but more from a movement, and musical perspective. The fact is that this is all about one thing and one thing only: Skillz!

There’s a reason you study vocabulary like this, and it’s not because it’s cool (it can be), or that’s it’s musical (it is), or that it’s fun (it is that), or that it adds a little spice and variety now again (the once in a blue moon methodology). It’s because it’s all about your Foundation. Or put another way, because this vocabulary works your foundation in a really good way, by breaking down the movements to their component elements, so then you can become a much more fluid dancer so that you can use it, or not. It’s about availability, accessibility. Not about using it. Using it is entirely up you. But working the instrument, that’s what this vocabulary does. It works your instrument, … ahem…that’s you in case you weren’t paying attention.

No one wants to admit that they need help. That their dance isn’t stellar. Furthermore, you really don’t know that your dancing skills aren’t absolutely amazing until you see a room full of people all dancing way better than you are. And then you see it and feel like the poor cousin at the kiddie table during a holiday meal. There’s a reason those people have achieved ‘better’. It’s doing work like what you see in the video above. Being able to turn this stuff on and off as if it were a switch. A good portion of the time when we’re dancing we only think about the ‘cool’ toys in our dancing and we neglect the one thing that makes those cool toys possible: Our Foundation. That is, in case you’re not paying attention, this video series and others like it.

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About The Video. This video is 22:09 in length in 10 Sections. Lead and Follow technique is combined. 

Section 1 – Introduction – 00:00:35
Section 2 – Gooey Gancho Setup – 00:02:33
Section 3 – Possible Follower Exits – 00:02:45
Section 4 – Rotational Gooey Gancho – 00:03:25
Section 5 – Review – 00:01:31
Section 6 – The Missing Gooey Gancho – 00:03:51
Section 7 – Employing The ‘Launch’ Aspect – 00:02:00
Section 8 – The ‘Right’ Way – 00:01:12
Section 9 – The Real ‘Gooey’ Part – 00:02:20
Section 10 – Closing – 00:01:25

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you want to read this Topic, so that you can dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, you’re missing three important parts to this Article: The Follower’s Perspective, The Lead’s Perspective, and The Dancing Perspective. Which can change your thinking by informing of some important pieces of information that you may not necessarily be aware of. Watching a 5 minute video will not help you to change. Change is a concerted effort and requires a little thinking on your part: Becoming a Freeium User! As the name implies, it’s FREE. Register. You get to see everything above, and a whole lot more! 😉 Have a nice day.

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

explore your dance with a subscription! 😉

Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular 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. This is known as Tango Twister.  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 showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows 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 you’re done.

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 of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 


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Contortion

Contortion

Contortion.  You see so many different ideas of dancing tango that it sometimes very hard to differentiate desirable from the undesirable. That unless you teach you’re not going to see these issues and need to be reminded of them, frequently so that you stop co-creating these less than desirable issues.

What is Contortion ? In it’s simplest form, ‘Contortion’ is twisting your body, then placing your body, and further still compressing (squeezing) your partner’s body into you, into a physiologically untenable position, and staying there for the length of a song. Then starting the next song in the tanda from a clean position, and then starting to slide into the contorted position. This is ‘Contortion’.

And ‘yes’, it is an issue. Everyone exhibits some form of contortion. Everyone.

Before we go any further, 2 things are going to happen while you read and/or watch the video above: You’re going to immediately run to the judgement that 1.) The author/teacher is being a perfectionist. 2.) That the author/teacher is being arrogant. Neither are true. These are stark observations offered without judgement. If you see yourself in these things, then so much the better. However, the thing that you should rightfully pay attention to is not the resolution example, which gives you the idea of perfectionism, but the latter part of the video that starts at (07:36). 

That said, let’s talk about Contortion.

From A Following Perspective you have 3 primary areas of Contortion that come up for you. 1.) Arm Over The Shoulder. 2.) Side of Body Following. and 3.) Follower ‘Chicken Arm’ Distortion.

Arm Over The Shoulder – This is an outgrowth of wanting more, or deeper physiological contact with the Lead. And while the physiological contact does serve it’s intended purpose, more contact, the problem with it is that it compromises the body to do so. As a result of going over the Lead’s shoulder with yours (as shown) above, you end up raising one shoulder above the other, and thereby curving your spinal column. And as an added bonus you’ll tilt your head into your lead.

Side of Body Following – This missive is factually placing your body in the Lead’s armpit, but only having the physiological contact of about an inch or so of their body. As a result of this kind of Following, all of your vocabulary will become ‘linear’ or ‘oblong’. Example: Turns will no longer be circular, they’ll be ovals! The back step of the molinete (not a milonguero turn) will become almost impossible to do, and you’ll end up in the Lead’s armpit, thereby being behind the L/lead, seemingly never able to catch up to them. 🙁

FollowerChicken Arm – The Follower will create a loop with their left arm, placing their left hand on the ribcage of the Lead’s right side about 6 inches down from their armpit, and then bend their elbow out at a 90 degree angle, and here’s the wacky part – then they’ll raise their left shoulder above their right, thereby curving their spine, all in ‘close embrace’.

From a Leading Perspective you also have 3 areas of concern that generate Contortion. 1.) Head Tilt (Away/Towards). 2.) Side of Body Leading. 3.) Lead Chicken Arm.

Head Tilt – While the topic of Dancer Head Tilt has been detailed before, the Head Tilt that is most common here is the Tilt of the head TOWARDS the Follower. As a result the Lead will place physiological pressure on the Follower’s head. This is done without the Lead necessarily being aware that they’re doing this. Sometimes, infrequently this is Head Tilt AWAY as shown at (00:00) so as to ‘accommodate’ the Follower’s Bodily Contortion or because they don’t want to get too close to the Follower’s face or mouth area. It’s too intimate for some Leads.

Side of Body Leading – This lead missive is factually placing the Follower’s body along the side of your body. The physiological contact point is about an inch or two wide, and is a strip of contact on your body from the crease of your right armpit to your hip. As a result of this kind of Leading, all of the Follower’s vocabulary will become ‘linear’ or ‘oblong’. Example: Turns will no longer be circular, they’ll be ovals! The back step of the molinete (not a milonguero turn) will become almost impossible to do, and the Follower will end up behind YOU, seemingly never able to catch up. 🙁

LeadChicken Arm – The Lead holds their left arm out straight, level with their shoulder line, and then bends at the elbow in a 90 degree arc, towards the Follower, then grasps the Follower’s hand.

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From a Dancing Perspective these are 3 most common forms of Body Contortion that happen for both roles. You see this stuff everywhere and think to yourself “Well….if so and so is doing it, it must be ok, right ?”, and at that point you normalize the behaviors and postures of the people around you. At the same time you also have something else working against you, your memory of your last session with your ‘teacher’. At some point during that session (assuming said teacher has their collective act together) said teacher should have noticed (frequently a good portion of them don’t) and then remarked upon (again, they don’t want to hurt your feelings…mind you, it’s your money, ‘feelings’ shouldn’t enter into it!) the fact that you’re embrace, your posture, your body is contorting this way or that. And unless you are reminded about it constantly, you’ll think about it for about 2 steps and then you’ll completely forget about it. And if you’re thinking that you’ll remember this stuff on a Social Dance floor at a Milonga…think again. Stress gets in the way that happening. If you are stressed out how much space you have between yourself and the couple ahead or behind you. Or if you’ve missed something and you’re focused on that…posture, embrace, presence are the last things on your mind. You’re too damned busy freaking right the frak out. Dancing ? HA! Again this isn’t about perfectionism, nor is it about arrogance, this is demonstrable fact, proven time and time and time again.

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

explore your dance with a subscription! 😉

Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular 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. This is known as Tango Twister.  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 showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows 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 you’re done.

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 of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 

Open post

Four Common Ganchos

If you subscribed, you would see the premium version of this article here and the full video.

Four Common Ganchos

Gancho. The word in Spanish translates to the English word, roughly, as ‘Hook’. From an Argentine Tango perspective, it has a very specific meaning. You’ve seen these things hundreds of times, and while the vocabulary itself has a connotation as being somewhat ‘cheesy’, and only done by beginner leads who don’t know any better, the reality is a that it is a venerable piece of Tango vocabulary that do have a valid place off the main trunk of the Tango history tree. The story goes that while the Gancho existed long before NorbertoEl Pulpo Esbrez came along, his contribution to its storied history is where creativity meets innovation, specifically with regards to ‘elasticity’ and the Enganche. He is/was credited with pioneering and exploration the ‘invasion’ of the standing leg, the response of the free leg, as well as the space in between the opening of a step, and quite factually (if not literally), the intersection of these ideas.

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Have you seen our Gancho Video Series ? We have over 24 different Ganchos for you to learn from! Follower Ganchos, Lead Ganchos, Gooey Ganchos, Svelt Ganchos, and the Four Common Ganchos, and more! Over 6 hours of Gancho videos. Go look and start your Gancho journey today!

See > All Our Gancho Videos

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What is a Gancho ? In it’s simplest form, in the modern vernacular of Tango, it is a hooking of the free leg around your partner’s leg or thigh. It is an interruption of the extension phase of the step, which can (not always) result in the lifting of the respondent’s leg either as a result of, or by deliberate intention.

Today’s Tango Topic deals with just Four of the most Common Ganchos and a few of their issues that happen for both roles. While there are many, many, many types of Ganchos to explore and play with, these 4 only scratch the dancing surface of them. They are the foundation for nearly every other Gancho that comes after them. The Rotating Gancho, the Gooey Gancho series, the Follower Gancho series, the Ganchito (which is an itty-bitty Gancho), the Lead Gancho series, the Volcada Gancho, just to name a few, owe their foundation to the Four Common Ganchos in Parallel and Cross System.

Difficulty Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)  (look for the blue background in the “What Is …” section of a post. That’s a Free with Registration Post)

There’s a lot more to this ArticleThere’s the extensive Lead’s Perspective, the deeper Follower’s Technique Perspective, and sometimes we throw in a complete Dancing Perspective part, all of which are only visible to Tango Topics Freemium Registered Users, Gold Subscribers, Diamond Level Users, and Milonga Madness Users. To become a Freemium user, Registration is absolutely 100% FREE, click the button below, and you get access to this article, and over 400 videos, hundreds of articles on a wide range of Tango Topics. So what are you waiting for, go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select the “ARTICLES” button and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Easy. No ? 🙂

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The Case For WHY You Need This ? Actually, you don’t need it. Huh? Hmmm…that’s no way to sell videos or subscriptions. You’re right. It’s not. That’s because we’re not in the business of teaching you useless vocabulary that you probably don’t need. Stay with us on this one, it’s not going where you think it is. From a very specific point of view, this is cool vocab. No doubt about it. However, from another point of view, the social dancer who’s been dancing a while, a long while, this is nothing more than vocabulary that doesn’t further the cause of Social Dancing. Now here’s the kicker – Both, yes, BOTH points of view are valid. Here’s why:

From the Social Dancer’s point of view, you’re never going to use this stuff. Maybe once in a blue moon, but in reality the better that you get, the less you use this stuff. From their point of view, it’s four pieces of vocabulary that you need: The 6 Ways of Walking, Traveling Ochos/Milonguero Ochos, The Follower’s Molinete/The Milonguero Turn, and lastly – The Argentine Cross. That’s it. That’s all you need. From the Dancer’s point of view that’s hasn’t mastered this stuff yet, this is cool and you want to play with it, and to be able to master it. To find it’s in’s, out’s, how’s, and why’s, and mostly to have fun with it. Both points have their merits.

And now to the one twist in our point that you probably weren’t expecting. This stuff actually has validity, maybe not from a social dancing perspective, immediately, but more from a movement, and musical perspective. The fact is that this is all about one thing and one thing only: Skillz!

There’s a reason you study vocabulary like this, and it’s not because it’s cool (it can be), or that’s it’s musical (it is), or that it’s fun (it is that), or that it adds a little spice and variety now again (the once in a blue moon methodology). It’s because it’s all about your Foundation. Or put another way, because this vocabulary works your foundation in a really good way, by breaking down the movements to their component elements, so then you can become a much more fluid dancer so that you can use it, or not. It’s about availability, accessibility. Not about using it. Using it is entirely up you. But working the instrument, that’s what this vocabulary does. It works your instrument, … ahem…that’s you in case you weren’t paying attention.

No one wants to admit that they need help. That their dance isn’t stellar. Furthermore, you really don’t know that your dancing skills aren’t absolutely amazing until you see a room full of people all dancing way better than you are. And then you see it and feel like the poor cousin at the kiddie table during a holiday meal. There’s a reason those people have achieved ‘better’. It’s doing work like what you see in the video above. Being able to turn this stuff on and off as if it were a switch. A good portion of the time when we’re dancing we only think about the ‘cool’ toys in our dancing and we neglect the one thing that makes those cool toys possible: Our Foundation. That is, in case you’re not paying attention, this video series and others like it.

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video.This video package comes in at 49m:29s in length in 8 Sections. What you’re seeing above is only the introduction to the topic before we dive into the topics below. The one you probably want to see is #6 as it contains all 4 of the Ganchos. However, the rest of the videos make that last video possible. They’re all about set up, proper technique, and really the underlying method of how a Gancho works and where things can go terribly wrong, and how to correct for it.

Section 1 – Introduction – 00:07:13
Section 2 – Lead Technique – 00:04:01
Section 3 – Follower Technique  – 00:05:38
Section 4 – Free Leg Launch  – 00:05:13
Section 5 – Gancho Exercise – 00:05:35
Section 6 – Gancho Set up – 00:06:42
Section 7 – Four Common Ganchos – 00:19:27
Section 8 – Gancho Closeups – 00:15:17

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you want to read this Topic, so that you can dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, you’re missing three important parts to this Article: The Follower’s Perspective, The Lead’s Perspective, and The Dancing Perspective. Which can change your thinking by informing of some important pieces of information that you may not necessarily be aware of. Watching a 5 minute video will not help you to change. Change is a concerted effort and requires a little thinking on your part: Becoming a Freeium User! As the name implies, it’s FREE. Register. You get to see everything above, and a whole lot more! 😉 Have a nice day.

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

explore your dance with a subscription! 😉

Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular 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. This is known as Tango Twister.  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 showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows 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 you’re done.

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 of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 


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register for the site at no cost & get more great, and detailed content from tango topics!

 

Social Collection

Social Collection

Collection”, this is an odd word in the Tango world. It has come to mean that we, as dancers, want to bring our feet ‘together’ in some fashion. Some people refer to this idea or concept as “closing” your feet. Meaning to close the gap that naturally exists between them from a standing position where our legs are slightly apart to create more stability in our stance. ‘Collection’ is a refined version of this idea that exists 2 primary reasons. The first is very practical. And the second is purely visual. We’ll get to those in just a moment. There is another form of Collection that we want to start to be crystal clear about in today’s Tango world.

There’s a very clear reason why we need a clearer distinction of this word we use to define “Collection”. The reason has everything to do with the competition based Tango that is occurring with greater and greater frequency – The Mundials come to mind. As such there is greater attention to detail on precision-based Tango that is more focused on what things look like than their social function counterparts. Hence a bit of distinction that is required when talking about ‘Collection’ or more importantly ‘Social Collection’.

The Visual Idea. From a Leading or Following perspective, when we’re talking about Collection what is generally taught is usually the visual idea of collection. Not just bringing your feet together but generating a visual inverted triangular tapered form of the body to the legs to the feet. And as such we want to make that taper as clean, and sharp as possible. So for this reason you’ll see a good portion of dancers who have been taught to will pull one leg slightly behind the other, and one foot off at an angle. In either Lead or Follow it’s right behind left for a variety of reasons. The reason this is done is to remove the gap between the shins and ankles that naturally occurs in some people’s legs and feet. Further it creates that ‘nice’ taper that we desire. Why not left behind right ? Because from a salida step we tend to go (lead) left into (follower) right. Meaning that the Lead will step forward with their left leg/foot first, and the Follower will step backwards with their right. The visual idea is really all about the visual lines that are generated in either partner when coming together and creating a nice architecture. That’s it, that’s all and Collection, in the way that it’s taught and presented above, in both partners contributes to that.

The Practical Idea. From either roles perspective the idea of Collection makes things very clear that we’re in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time. From the Lead’s perspective it helps to clarify that the follower is in the right place when they collect so that they can proceed. It’s really easy to see or in this case ‘feel’ that the Follower is off and then to adjust for that ‘off’. Frequently however, that off is never adjusted for and the Follower ends up in the Lead’s armpit. 🙁 From a Follower’s perspective it’s the same idea only that when your lead collects it creates certainty in you. Think of the ‘cowboy walk’ when leading any of the 8 types of ochos.

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From a Dancing Reality Social Collection is really about the practical idea of bringing your feet together not for the visual idea but rather out of function more than anything else. It makes things rather simple and easy, that you’re not performing for the 15th row! Social Collection doesn’t mind that there is a tiny gap between your legs at the ankles to the knees, but rather it’s more important that you’re in the right place at the right time. Now if you want you can go the extra step (no pun intended) by creating a cleaner visual, however most people don’t and won’t go that extra step because it’s too much work for them. It’s another thing they have to remember and that’s already too much for them. So again, we’re at Social Collection. So if we define Social Collection as being too lazy but being practical. What’s it’s opposite ? Performance Collection! And that’s a whole different animal.

The reality is that a good portion of you are going to look at this video above, disagree with it because your teacher told you ages ago that collection is supposed to be the visual reason. But in reality do you actually understand any of what’s been said above ? Or did you just watch the video ? There’s a reason why we want Social Collection above all else that has not been mentioned, and it has everything to do with the role of the Follower as they’re being led to an Argentine Cross. Mind you this is just 1 of 3 reasons, but this is the most prominent. Think Armpit Dancer, and you’ll begin to get an idea of what’s going on, as a matter of fact, go look at that video, it talks about this aspect of Performance Collection. That’s the reality. Put simply if you as a Lead, want your Follower in your armpit, please keep doing what you’re doing, and pay this topic no mind.  Or if you as a Follower like being in your Lead’s armpit and quite literally behind your lead, then again….don’t pay any attention to this topic. It’s a complete waste of your time.

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!

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Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular 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. This is known as Tango Twister.  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 showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows 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 you’re done.

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 of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 

Open post

The Arm Pit Dancer

The Armpit Dancer

For most dancers their embrace is theirs and theirs alone. It’s what separates them from everyone else. It is their signature. Regardless of whether or not that embrace is desirable or not. Mind you they may not realize that their embrace is not desirable, they may not realize that the quality of their embrace is desirable. We like to believe that our embrace is the finest thing since sliced bread, and yet it is that embrace that causes more problems than it’s worth for a greater number of dancers. Take for example an aspect that is frequently passed onto dancers learning close embrace (which turns out to be a grand fallacy) that the Follower must apply ‘Resistance‘ (which generally ends up as ‘Rigidity‘) in order for the Lead/er to feel them. Or still another that the Follower should wrap their left arm around their Lead’s shoulders.

Each of these issues, and many more that aren’t listed here create physiological stresses on the couple that we don’t want. And as a result we end up having to compromise our natural bodily structure to compensate for what essentially amounts to an uncomfortable embrace.

To be clear, and fair, the embrace is not the only problem child here. The other major component to nearly every issue that you can think of comes from one other place, it’s the walk. Or more importantly, one’s stability in one’s walk. Do not discount what you’ll hear in the videos above, and this article as “Ahhh I just need to fix my embrace and then all will be magical!”. Nope. You must, must, must, must, must … let’s stress that one more time with feeeeeling -> you must work on your walk, and in specific, your stability in your walk. And there are loads of exercises you can do to correct for that, one of which has already been covered here “The Ballet Rise“.

The Problem: The embrace is massive component to the dance being successful on any level, and yet there is another component is just as important but very infrequently talked about. What’s that ? Body Position and Body Placement for both Lead and Follow! Body Position is where you place yourself within the construct of the embrace, Body Placement is what you do with it (e.g.: vocabulary). The issue is that getting this topic right is the dividing line between ‘ease‘ and ‘work‘, between ‘pain‘ and ‘pleasure‘, between “ouch” and “aaahhhhh“. And yet, no one talks about this thing. So what specifically is the issue ? The fact that a good 90% of the time both Lead and Follow will enter into an untenable embrace structure based on their respective Body Positions right from the start of the dance where the Both dancers will quite literally either place the Follower into their Lead’s Arm Pit, or the Lead will readjust to have the Follower there from the start. And in that we have what is known as “The Armpit Dancer“. 

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From a Following Perspective, this issue is as much yours as it is the Leads’ issue! You either went directly to the Lead/ers arm pit or more importantly you drifted there by means of every cross, turn, and ocho you were ‘asked’ to execute. In short, you are just as responsible for this as the Lead is for allowing the problem to happen in the first place. Let’s go on the theory that you went there by comfort, not by drift, that will happen later anyway. By comfort means that you don’t know anything else. You went right into the armpit of you Lead because you don’t know any thing different. It’s all you know. And quite honestly no one has probably told you that you have a responsibility to be actively ontop of being in front of your lead, and being in their armpit is not that place. Placing yourself in the armpit is less then desirable on several levels: 1.) You’re making work for yourself. 2.) You’re instantly behind on everything that is being asked of you. 3.) You’re more than likely going to end up in long forward steps because of your position.

Let’s be clear about something, there are certain aspects to the Modern Follow that did not happen 50, 30, and maybe even 20 years ago that does happen today. One of those things is that certain pieces of vocabulary mentioned above are all yours. The Lead may ASK (operative word) for it, but you’re the one that has to execute it with some degree of precision and awareness. And that means that while there’s nothing that you can do about the speed of one of these pieces of vocabulary, there is something you can do to change how things are executed because you’re the one that’s doing the execution! Put simply you are responsible for Forward, Side, & Back, and just how much disassociation you engage to execute X, Y, and Z that is being asked of you. You must place yourself in the right places at all times to allow for these things to occur. That means a.) Execute. b.) Get there in a timely fashion (read that as being on beat). This part is optional, but mostly quite desirable c.) With elegance! Generally the problem is that you have allowed yourself to ‘slip’ in any one of those three steps, in specific the back and forward steps of your Molinete as well as the back step prior to the crossing step of the Argentine Cross.

To ‘slip’ means that you are out of alignment with your lead. While the video above talks about the Follower’s Molinete where this occurs repeatedly, it also occurs in the Argentine Cross, and you as the Follower need to take control so these things don’t happen. One of the things in your way, unfortunately is a Lead’s embrace that is restrictive that won’t allow you the freedom to move across and around your lead’s body. If the embrace isn’t restrictive, you have the tools you need to accomplish your goals! Technique, and Space! Now the only thing you need to do is execute.

From a Leading Perspective, this one is as much your issue as it is the Followers! Why are you responsible for this issue ? 1.) It’s your embrace. 2.) You have control. 3.) You’re the one that’s choosing vocabulary, not the Follower. 4.) Navigation! 5.) One of your jobs as a Lead (you have 3), is Music. Your job is to select the beat that the couple is dancing to and on. That is why you are responsible.

Let’s go on the theory that you are ignorant of why placing the Follower in your armpit is not desirable. That you’re doing what you’re doing out of your own physiological comfort and ignorance:

Put simply, the Follower has a ton of physical work to do. You, my friend, have a different kind of work to do. While the role of the Follower is all about the physical, your role is intellectual – it’s all about planning. You think, they do. Mind you if you think and do for them, there’s not a whole lot for them to do except look nice and smile. Which is precisely what Tango was for many decades. That’s not the case in today’s Tango world, it’s changing…slowly. The role of the Follower has expanded more over the last 2 decades. And as a result, they have more to do, and you have less to do. The more ? They’re essentially being asked to execute a turn – the how the turn is done, but not when that turn is done (that’s still your job). Still another instance is that they cross their feet automagically because you’re not leading it 90% of the time. Still another is that in traveling ochos (what you call ‘back ochos’), they’re deciding how to ocho and how far that ocho goes, constantly. Put simply, they’re doing the heavy lifting, while all you’re doing is thinking about what should be done in time to the music.

Those three things (and there are more, these are just the prominent ones) are physical labor for the Follower. Specifically the 1st and the last. Why ? Because they require disassociation and applied disassociation (what you mistakeningly think of as a ‘pivot’) on the Follower’s forward and back steps of their Molinete, and their ochos. 9 times out of 10 you’ll start a turn to the Open side of the embrace (Lead left), using the Follower’s backstep as the opening step either from a stop (bad idea by the way, see a future WHIC video on this topic), or from an ocho (better idea). That disassociation (from you) and applied disassociation in your follower tends to land them right in your armpit and thereby makes it difficult for them to get around you (for a variety of reasons which are not discussed here) for the remaining steps of the turn. The same is true of the ocho! In short, this stuff is work for them, and every time they move from the armpit, they’re having to stretch to go further around you just to end up in the same place. What makes that even more challenging is that you compress the embrace, you turn away from them in turns and in crosses you place them in your armpit deliberately, and you move the center of the circle or you close the distance in crosses, and/or pull them with your left arm, your head is in the way of the turn or cross (watching their feet). Each and every time that you do this it makes their job harder and harder.

bsas-prep-title

From a Leading Perspective, this one is as much your issue as it is the Followers! Why are you responsible for this issue ? 1.) It’s your embrace. 2.) You have control. 3.) You’re the one that’s choosing vocabulary, not the Follower. 4.) Navigation! 5.) One of your jobs as a Lead (you have 3), is Music. Your job is to select the beat that the couple is dancing to and on. That is why you are responsible.

Let’s go on the theory that you are ignorant of why placing the Follower in your armpit is not desirable. That you’re doing what you’re doing out of your own physiological comfort and ignorance:

Put simply, the Follower has a ton of physical work to do. You, my friend, have a different kind of work to do. While the role of the Follower is all about the physical, your role is intellectual – it’s all about planning. You think, they do. Mind you if you think and do for them, there’s not a whole lot for them to do except look nice and smile. Which is precisely what Tango was for many decades. That’s not the case in today’s Tango world, it’s changing…slowly. The role of the Follower has expanded more over the last 2 decades. And as a result, they have more to do, and you have less to do. The more ? They’re essentially being asked to execute a turn – the how the turn is done, but not when that turn is done (that’s still your job). Still another instance is that they cross their feet automagically because you’re not leading it 90% of the time. Still another is that in traveling ochos (what you call ‘back ochos’), they’re deciding how to ocho and how far that ocho goes, constantly. Put simply, they’re doing the heavy lifting, while all you’re doing is thinking about what should be done in time to the music.

Those three things (and there are more, these are just the prominent ones) are physical labor for the Follower. Specifically the 1st and the last. Why ? Because they require disassociation and applied disassociation (what you mistakeningly think of as a ‘pivot’) on the Follower’s forward and back steps of their Molinete, and their ochos. 9 times out of 10 you’ll start a turn to the Open side of the embrace (Lead left), using the Follower’s backstep as the opening step either from a stop (bad idea by the way, see a future WHIC video on this topic), or from an ocho (better idea). That disassociation (from you) and applied disassociation in your follower tends to land them right in your armpit and thereby makes it difficult for them to get around you (for a variety of reasons which are not discussed here) for the remaining steps of the turn. The same is true of the ocho! In short, this stuff is work for them, and every time they move from the armpit, they’re having to stretch to go further around you just to end up in the same place. What makes that even more challenging is that you compress the embrace, you turn away from them in turns and in crosses you place them in your armpit deliberately, and you move the center of the circle or you close the distance in crosses, and/or pull them with your left arm, your head is in the way of the turn or cross (watching their feet). Each and every time that you do this it makes their job harder and harder.

The Dancing Reality. The reality is that this stuff is going to continue to happen. And these words will make no difference. You’ll keep doing this stuff and stressing your heads, bodies, and dances to the breaking point. The reality is that you like dancing like this. You like dancing in pain. You like working harder than you have to. You like force, tension, compression, and resistance. That’s the reality. You see other people doing it and seemingly having fun and think, that’s what I should be doing. What you may not realize is that these people are ignorant of what’s supposed to happen. It’s only after they start rubbing muscles and tendons, that are seemingly strained for some odd reason (!!!!!), and they need a massage or a chiropractic visit the next morning that they realize that Tango is the cause! So ‘no’ you shouldn’t be doing that. What you should do is fix it!

Paying For The Soup. Change can happen, but only if you want it to happen. And ‘want’ is the key word. First and foremost you have to see that this is an issue. If don’t, then so much the better, that means less work for you. But the reality is that this is a ton of work for both Lead and Follower. Further still you are contorting your bodies to make it happen, and then you wonder why you’re paying a chiropractor every few weeks for an ‘adjustment’. There’s a reason for that, and that’s because you’re contorting your bodies to dance like this. Here’s a helpful hint – STOP DOING IT! As arrogant as that may sound, and quite frankly the whole thing is arrogant, the fact is that it’s not arrogant if you see it as a helpful bit of advice that can stop you from being in pain. 

The Soup Part. This website isn’t a free resource. All the toys that can actually help you to change your dance are all behind a paywall. If you want access to the toys that means you have to subscribe. If you want access to the free resources, all you have to do is register. That’s it, that’s all. There are quite a few resources for the free user. However, all the good stuff, and really the up to date stuff, will cost you about .66 cents per day. It’s that simple.  If you were a free user, this paragraph would actually be about a tiny free tip that could see, but you can’t because you haven’t registered yet! If you registered…you’d see the tip. 

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The Expectant Cross

The Expectant Cross

For most Lead/ers (and Leads) we lead the Argentine Cross so often that we stop thinking about actually leading it and it just sort of ‘happens’. The reason it just happens is because of it’s ubiquitousness, its frequency. You do this enough times and even the most battle hardened Follower will cross their feet just to shut you up so that you’ll stop asking for the damned thing! 

The Problem: This is clearly a Lead/er (and Lead) issue. Contrary to what you may have been told the Argentine Cross is not two steps outside partner and the Follower automagically crosses their feet. If that were true then walking on 3 tracks would never happen. No the problem is the fact that we, as Leads, are expectant that we go to the cross, and then the cross just magically happens. We walk, they cross. Viola! Moving on to other things. Not! No. Not ‘moving on to other things’. The problem here is that you, as a a lead, are entirely expectant of the Follower crossing their feet every 20 steps.

From a Following Perspective, 10% of this problem is your issue, the other 90% is your Lead. The fact is that you should adhere to one singular rule at all times (as a Passive Follow, not as an Active Follow — not yet at least). The rule (again as a Passive Follow – this rule doesn’t apply to the Active Follow) ? If you don’t feel it, you don’t go there. It’s a pretty simple rule really. If it’s not led, then you don’t go there. More clearly – if you’re not aware of what your Lead is proposing, suggesting, inviting, engaging, while they’re attempting to being insanely clear about what they’re leading – minus the arm pulling, tension, resistance, forcing, pushing, and pulling that generally passes for leading at most milongas….assuming there is none of that business going on, then there’s only one thing left: If you didn’t feel it, then there’s absolutely no reason for you to do anything. Period. No lead ? Then listen (note the language there….’listen‘ not wait….’listen‘ for what’s going on). Do not give the Lead a Cross, simply because they stepped outside partner and took two steps. Unless, and there is always an unless, one of two conditions has been met. Condition 1.) They’ve actually generated the proper conditions for an argentine cross to exist. or 2.) It’s at a Milonga. If it’s at a Class, a Practica, a Guided Practica, a Workshop, or a Seminar, then don’t cross your feet unless led to do so. Assuming what’s already been discussed. Every time that you do give a Lead a Cross, it reinforces the belief that they’ve led things in a desirable manner that is conducive to dancing. And every time that you don’t, you force the lead to … well … actually guide, invite, suggest, cajole, propose, intend,… ummm lead a cross! Mind you a discussion might ensue of why you’re not crossing your feet. Which may involve a teacher or two getting a teacher to discuss the matter. But that’s what they are there for anyway. 😉 

At the same time, because we’ve broached the subject of the Role of the Active Follower, you do have a golden opportunity here because your lead isn’t clear, they’re not necessarily paying attention to what they’re leading at this point, this is an opportunity for you to interject an idea or two. More important to our point: To take a modicum of control and quite literally, if not factually, redirect the next step! I know…HERESY! Absolute Heresy! How dare I advocate a Follower interjecting an idea of their own….eeeek!

Believe it or not, you can slow the Lead down at this point to accentuate what’s happening in the music, you can speed it up, you can even control what step will happen next, and more importantly where you want to go! That’s a part of being an Active Following, we want to start to engage with what’s going on! That’s why the language above is LISTEN and not WAIT! 

However, as an Active (not Passive) Follow, there are 2 rules that we have to adhere to as Followers in this instance: 1.) If it’s not in the music, then it’s not on the floor! 2.) If you’re going to redirect the lead, then you have to have an exit strategy for where you’re going next and more importantly how to get out of things! In other words – a plan! To be fair it is important to recognize that a good portion of Leads freak right out when you ‘screw up‘ (which is really their fault to begin with because they weren’t clear) and then you take responsibility for by saying “sorry“.  One can only imagine if you interject an idea or two and watch what happens then. Talk about losing your proverbial mind! Good lord. So a.) Pick your Leads very carefully with this ‘active’ Following business, and b.) whatever you do, it’s got to be musically driven!

While this post is not on the Role of the Active Follower per se, it does touch on it considerably because the cross is all about the role of the active Follower for a variety of reasons most notably because the Cross is the Follower’s vocabulary, not the Lead’s. That said it should be noted that as a Follower, this whole Active Follower business is a little scary at first but once you open the door way to that happening….really cool things can occur! Cool and wonderful things actually. 

From a Leading Perspective, 90% of the reason why the Follower does not cross their feet is really your issue. Let’s call a spade, a spade: You expect a cross to just ‘magically‘ happen. The fact is that a good 99% of your crosses aren’t led in any way, shape, or form. You step into a parallel system cross (not exactly the most elegant crossing structure in the world, it screams ‘beginner lead’ ) and then take 2 steps, and the Follower just ‘crosses’ because they’re supposed to. Right ? There’s no question in your mind, or theirs. Right ? The problem is that is the problem! You’re not actually leading. You’re abdicating control of options and opportunities for both roles at this point. Every time that you expect a cross to magically happen, you create the situation for the Follower to actually take control and choose what’s going to happen next, whether or not you or they are aware of it. Mind you a good portion of Followers don’t do this, and they should because it opens options and opportunities for us to make other choices. At the beginning those choices are haphazard and untried and you’re going to stumble a bit. But in the end your versatility goes right through the proverbial roof! And we want our versatility to do precisely that! 

We want to encourage an active participation behavior from our Followers because it makes them feel as though they have a voice in the dance. Why ? Answer – Imagine someone dictating to you what you should do all day long. Every hour of every day. You have a mind of your own, and you do like to solve problems your own way. You don’t like to be told what to do or what to think. But that’s exactly what you’re telling your Follower to do each and every time you dance with them. “Don’t think. Don’t move, unless I say so. Don’t have an idea! That’s my job!”. How boring is that ? Ideally you want them to be a co-creating partner in the dance. Not just a vocabulary plaything. Which is precisely what they are now. By going at things in a slightly different way,  you open the doorway to a far more satisfying and co-creating dancing experience than anything else! Don’t mishear this as ‘Passive’ dancing is bad (which is what happens a good portion of the time), it isn’t fun and Miles said….not! Some people like that. They like turning off their ability to chose and would rather let someone else do the driving. But then … (there’s always a ‘then’) a piece of music comes on that they really like and well…they get involved and would like to make a few choices on their own. But unfortunately they’re with a Lead who just doesn’t allow for this stuff. And it feels kind of limiting. And once they’ve gotten used to making a few choices, they’ll want to do more of it and make it a regular part of their dance to interpret those musical ideas they’re having in their head.

Put another way, ideally we want to create ‘space’ for the Follower to have a choice in what they’re being asked to do. Doing so generates a sensation of comfort that you’re allowing the freedom to choose, which in turn generates an investment in what they’re doing and more importantly how they’re doing it. All this from an Argentine Cross! 

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 Dancing Reality is that no matter what’s written here, no matter what I say as a teacher, you’re not going to change what you’re doing. You’re going to keep doing what you do because you a.) don’t know any better. and b.) It’s comfortable. c.) Change is hard. d.) All this business of the Active Follower is absolute crap (unless you’re the Follower in which case, they completely get it). 

Thought is hard. Better…yes…better is hard. So who wants to do all that work to be better when it’s so much easier to just to continue doing the same things over and over again! The reality is that you would rather continue down the pathway that you’re on than to change what you’re doing. The reality is that you like the automagical cross. It just makes things soooo much easier for both partners and really the whole floor if the Follower just crosses their damned feet. It means that as a Lead, you don’t have to think so much.  And as a Follower we can have about 10 seconds of what is essentially 2 and a half minutes of pushing and pulling, of peace.  That’s the reality. 

Fixing it ? Well, there’s a really simple solution, it’s something that both lead and follower must do. Hmmmm, however as a FREE user, you’re not able to see the full solution, you have to upgrade to either a Silver, Gold, or Diamond level user! Once you do that you’ll be able to see this solution to this problem as well as over 100+ videos on tango technique, codigos, and more. Just click that little button below that says “SUBSCRIBE“.

 

The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you want to read this Topic, so that you can dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, you’re missing three important parts to this Article: The Follower’s Perspective, The Lead’s Perspective, and The Dancing Perspective. Which can change your thinking by informing of some important pieces of information that you may not necessarily be aware of. Watching a 5 minute video will not help you to change. Change is a concerted effort and requires a little thinking on your part: Becoming a Freeium User! As the name implies, it’s FREE. Register. You get to see everything above, and a whole lot more! 😉 Have a nice day.

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Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular 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. This is known as Tango Twister.  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 showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows 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 you’re done.

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 of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 


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The Cross – Getting In Front

The Cross – Getting In Front

For most Followers, that haven’t been properly trained, they are rushed into an Argentine Cross right from the start of their Tango dancing lives. Aside from Ochos, it’s the one thing that they’re pressed to do without any training aside from the Lead/er (Controlling Lead hence the ‘/er’ part) that quite literally tells them what to do as they’re doing it. From that moment, right up until this one (assuming you’ve shared this video with them) they more than likely have no idea a.) why they’re crossing their feet. and b.) more importantly what the point of the Cross is, and c.) what it all means. 

The Problem: This isn’t so much a Lead problem as it is a Follower issue. Contrary to what you might have been told, the Argentine Cross does actually serve a function. And believe it or not, it’s not to do a Cross every 15 seconds for no good goddamned reason. No. The function of the cross…is well, you can watch the video for that part. The problem is that not only is the Follower not aware of what the function of the Cross is, they’ve been so indoctrinated into a passive way of dancing that they’ll a.) Willy-nilly cross their feet due Two of the Five Errors of The Cross – specifically the Automagical Cross and the Wimpy Cross (see below), where in the case of the latter, the Follower has to infer what on god’s green earth the Lead is attempting to do. (In the other 3 cases they don’t have to infer, they’re quite literally forced into crossing their feet whether they wanted to or not). and b.) That a good portion of the time, the Follower will end up in the Lead’s Arm Pit. It is for this reason that we talk about – Getting In Front of Your Lead!

From a Leading Perspective, before we launch into Follower’s side of this. Let’s give credit for this problem, where credit is due. The Lead! Dude, a good 90% of this problem is your fault. Let’s be clear about responsibility here. You created this problem and the Follower is only doing their best trying to fix it. How did this become your problem ? 1.) You lined up with the Follower in your Arm Pit! You placed them in there right from the gitgo (‘start‘ for the non-native english speakers), and what’s worse is that you kept them there, holding them in that spot, because it was convenient for you to pull off some crazy vocabulary, which you think you need to lead every 20 seconds, instead of (gasp!) actually walking with your Follower to the music. Eeeek! Which for some reason is ‘boring’ to you but heaven to them…gosh I wonder why !?!?!?  2.) Your embrace that you think is comfortable is like laying on a bed of nails because it’s too compressive! Think ‘squeeze‘ and you’ll get the right idea. And even if someone tells you that to lighten up and let them loose, you’ll go right back to squeezing the daylights out of your partners because to you think, a.) this is comfortable. and b.) it’s all you know. 3.) Because your right arm is like a vice grip and you have this rather nasty tendency to paddle your Follower’s with your right hand to ‘direct’ them, you somehow believe that this is desirable. Ummmmm not! And lastly you created this problem by 4.) being too damned restrictive and not being responsible by continually placing the Follower in front of you by repositioning your vocabulary to do just that. Instead, doing all 3 previous things to show off to keep the Follower from realizing that you were completely ignorant about 3 steps in and don’t have a plan for the rest of the song let alone for the tanda! Yup, your fault.

From a Following Perspective, 10% of this problem is your issue. And it has to do with you understanding that the Cross is actually, in modern Tango, your piece of vocabulary. Not the Lead’s, it’s yours! There are many people that will disagree with this statement that the Cross is the Follower’s vocabulary. The fact is that without you cooperating, the Argentine Cross, is not going to happen. You could say this about almost everything else in Tango, that without you cooperating nothing happens. And you’d be right. However in this instance, this is one of the few places where the Follower has an enormous amount of control of when something is done, how something is done, and most importantly where we go next! All of that from you crossing your feet. In this instance, this one little piece of vocabulary is YOUR place for you to shine, to sparkle, to show off your skillz as a Follower. Instead, what happens ? Well…watch the video.

To be fair, you have to contend with the Five Errors of the Cross (see above), and then there’s the squeezing, the pushing, the pulling from your Leads. And then there are your issues, while in heels, to contend with. That aside, you do have an issue which is solely yours, which is the whole point of this topic – to get back in front of your lead!

The simple fact is that your lead (the action, not the person – lowercase ‘l’) either stepped outside partner or stepped into cross system and in either case you’re essentially out of step with them. The whole point of the cross is to get back in front of your Lead (the person).  However, part of your issue is that you’ve been indoctrinated to a way of moving that quite factually doesn’t work for you. The way that you’re moving is to send your leg straight back, and really to cross your body meridian away from the couple. This creates a problem for you, especially when you come to collect your feet in the cross. Your feet look like two mismatched and broken sticks pointing in opposite directions from each other with a watermelon in between them, instead of what they can look like. We do want pretty feet, but we don’t want pretty knees, when we come to collection and even crossed collection! However, there’s a tiny little problem in that your body is in the wrong place, and your hips are all twisted and you’re basically out of alignment with your Lead, and on top of all of that, you’re stuck in the Lead’s arm pit! And there you will stay…sadly. 🙁 Unless…you do something about it. 🙂

The Dancing Reality is that this stuff happens with such frequency that no one, not even the teachers that you’re studying with pay it any mind. It’s so common place that one wonders if anyone is actually teaching technique to specifically create this issue! “Leads! You place the follower in your arm pit, and then rush around the room, all the while pulling and pushing! Followers, your whole job here is to stay in the Lead’s armpit and then to come to a crossed collection so that your hips are all twisted up and you’re off to the side of your lead! Ready ? Go!”. Not! 

Fixing it ? Well, there’s a really simple solution, it’s something that both lead and follower must do.  

Hmmmm, however you actually haven’t registered as a user of this site, so you’re not able to see the full solution, and even then you’d have to upgrade to either a Silver, Gold, or Diamond level user! Once you do that you’ll be able to see this solution to this problem as well as over 100+ videos on tango technique, codigos, and more. Just click that little button below that says “SUBSCRIBE“.

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day.

 

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Intention Based Dancing

Intention Based Dancing

Resistance, give me resistance! I can’t feel you!“. Followers hear this so often that it begs the question if Leads learn this as part of their technique classes on “How to be annoying in 10 seconds or less!” or “10 things to say to your Follower that will piss them off!”. Piss them off ? Yup. Why ? From a Leading perspective you’re screaming to your Followers that you need to control them, and that’s all you know and or can hear. From a Following perspective, it screams…”I am unstable” and “I need to hang on you!”. Tango is all about nuance, and that means asking your dance partners to move in a way that does not use ‘force’ on any level. While you think or believe that you would never, ever, force your dancing partners to do X, the fact is that you do it constantly with every partner. Until you are properly trained to hear this aspect of dancing, you will continue to do it. Today’s Tango Topic deals with the first step in this process of changing how we dance for the better. This topic is only a stepping stone. While the article and video, and really this website are those first stepping stones, the reality is that this is all about learning the kinesthetics of the situation, and that means studying with an Intention Based Teacher. But first we have to define, Intention Based Dancing.

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What is Intention Based Dancing? In its simplest form ‘Intention’ is really about not using pressure, tension, or force, with one’s arms, or hands in any way, shape, or form to communicate an idea, a thought, or a movement. But rather the idea of ‘Intention’ is to intend to do something. To propose, to invite, to advice, to guide, to profer…these are all statements that we, as dancers, are asking our Partners to engage X. Where X can be, but is not limited to, a specific piece of tango vocabulary (Ocho, Cross, Molinete), a timing change, an embrace change, etc. Typically Intention is action of the Lead to the Follower, however the Follower can and should reciprocate this idea and practice as often as possible. We propose to our partners that we would like X to happen. That proposal is generally an extremely light physiological, and tactile contact, where the contact is not pressured at all. But rather the direction that we are going in is the intention of what X can be. This is the foundation of Intention Based Dancing. Because, as a rule, we use this technique throughout the entire lifecycle of a dance with our partners. 

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From a Following perspective: Truth be told, you have been told so often, in nearly every class or workshop, by Female teachers (who rightfully should know better) and Male teachers that you must … ‘wait for your lead‘. As a result, that waiting turns into lag, or hesitation, in you. You get so used to ‘waiting’ and hesitation that you become reliant on that hesitation to do everything! That lag results in the Lead needing to push or force you to do X, Y, and Z which as a result turns into…resistance. In this instance, you want to move with the intent of what is being asked of you, quickly and decisively. As you feel the intent to move, GO! Don’t sit there and wait to be pushed to do something…GO! This is better known in the Tango Topics world as MYA (Move Your Ass). These statements can easily lead one to believe that we’re talking about an out of control Follower, or a willful Follower that is willy-nilly going wherever they feel the need to. That’s not the case. The intent in this case is very small, your goal is to read that ‘small’ part and then to interpret it as either forward, side, back, or incremental, and either linear or circular and then to go with it while at the same time following a basic principle: Staying ‘with‘ your Lead. 

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From a Leading perspective: You believe erroneously that you must apply force, pressure, tension, and ask for resistance to get what you want out of your Followers. When the complete opposite is true. Yes, you can apply force to them to get them to do what you want. This methodology, however, says that you must control them. It also says to them that you don’t trust them and can’t rely on them to listen to what you’re leading, and then to execute it. Furthermore what it also says is that they will never, ever be able to hear the level of precision that you desire the most. Put simply if you don’t take the ‘guiding’ (ahem… and this is being kind when using that word…it’s more ‘steering‘ and rough steering at that) platform of your arms and hands away from them, then they’ll never be able to control that stuff themselves because you’re too busy being heavy-handed. As a result they’ll never learn how to manage their own stability, and their own bodily control. Further still, you’ll never learn to lead someone with nuance instead of Force! And beyond that, you’ll never be able to tell when you have a Follower in your arms that responds to effortless dancing because you’re too busy over-functioning, over-managing, over-controlling them! Further still is that there is no way to separate what’s your’s and what’s theirs if you’re constantly forcing your dance partner to do X, Y, and Z. There’s only one game here, and that’s you telling, or dictating to the Follower what they should do. The whole point is to suggest, invite, engage…not tell! No one, absolutely no one likes to be told what to do. So if you don’t like it, what on god’s green earth makes you believe the Follower is going to enjoy it ? 

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From a Dancing perspective: Most of this topic has dealt with resistance and it’s deleterious effects on the dancing couple. However, what would happen if you removed all that ‘stuff’ above ? What would happen if you were to engage stability as a Follower, where you didn’t need to be so heavy handed as a Lead ? What would happen if you were be responsible for your own walk, your own embrace, your own individual component of the dance ? What would happen ? Freedom is what happens! Options and opportunities happen! At first there is a lack of precision that occurs, and then later on the more that you practice this way of dancing the more precise control you have over the tiniest of things. For one thing there’s less sweat! This was of dancing is almost unreal! The dancing couple that is engaging in Intention Based Dancing is lighter, appears and acts effortless, there’s less stress on the couple as a whole, and more over far more precision in technique as well as musically. Over time what ends up happening to those people that dance from intention, both parties enjoy the experience and can then access the whole reason that they’re there for in the first place: Tango Nirvana. Now comes the kicker – a good portion of the better dancers use this ‘way’ of dancing. They don’t require the things described here because they know that something else is possible! Not all of them but a good portion of them employ this way of dancing.


Think of This: Applying resistance, tension, force, compression: Each time that you apply any of these things in any level of measure, it’s like a jarring transition from sleep! Do you like it when your alarm clock goes off first thing in the morning ? Probably not. Guess what ? You’re doing the same thing here with all that stuff to your dancing partners!

How do you change ? First do you want to change ? Put another way, do you want to wake your partners as if you were an alarm clock ? Probably not. Guess what ? You’re doing just that in a myriad of ways from your walk to your embrace to the choice of vocabulary. From a ‘THUD‘ to ‘Compression’ and everything in between. So if the answer to that question is a “I’d like to do that but it sounds like too much work and too much effort…” then thank you very much for reading, and have a lovely day!  Otherwise if the answer to that question is an emphatic “Yes Miles!!!” then there are a few solutions for you.

1.) Register as a free user, and you can read the rest of this article in its Entirety.
2.) Become a paying subscriber, and then you’ll have access to all the video content that is sitting behind the paywall. And more than a few of these videos discuss intention based dancing in detail.
3.) Try to work it out on your own. Good luck with that. 🙂

The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you want to read this Topic, so that you can dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, you’re missing three important parts to this Article: The Follower’s Perspective, The Lead’s Perspective, and The Dancing Perspective. Which can change your thinking by informing of some important pieces of information that you may not necessarily be aware of. Watching a 5 minute video will not help you to change. Change is a concerted effort and requires a little thinking on your part: Becoming a Freeium User! As the name implies, it’s FREE. Register. You get to see everything above, and a whole lot more! 😉 Have a nice day.

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!

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Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular 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. This is known as Tango Twister.  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 showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows 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 you’re done.

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 of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 


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Picking Your Teacher

Picking Your Teacher

At different stages of your Tango life you’re going to be faced with the task (and it is a task) of picking the ‘Right’ Tango teacher. Sometimes because of where you live you may only have one, and if you’re lucky two people that are teaching. Those people are teaching what they know and most of the time it is rudimentary Tango ideas and concepts, but you don’t know that. Sometimes those one or two people are absolutely fabulous social dancers, they’re teaching not because they want to teach, but because they have to teach to train people for them to dance with so that they don’t die in the Tango Wilderness where they live. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to live in a city like New York, Berlin, Moscow (etc), and as such you are blessed with a plethora of teachers. So you can quite honestly be picky. You can get other people’s opinions as to what ‘X’ is like as a teacher, and then try out their weekly classes to see if you’d like to study with them further.

As a beginner the question of who to study with is an easy question to answer because you don’t know any better, so you’re going to pick the first one that comes along that has any information. If you’ve been dancing for a while you’re seemingly going to be more selective by picking classes and topics that interest you, and more often than not, the personality of the teacher, believing that this is the right teacher for you. More often than not, sadly, most people are impressed by the dancing of the couple, and not their ability to convey an idea. They’re impressed by the performance of a couple, and it is assumed that if they dance like that, then they must be good teachers. People immediately equate one skill (dancing) with another (teaching). This is erroneous thinking. However, that’s where we start in today’s quest of Picking Your Teacher.

The Reasons Why. We have to back up a bit and look at the reasons why you are looking for a teacher in the first place.

From a Leading perspective, 1.) Your spouse or partner is interested in Tango, and they’re dragging you along because it’s a way to do something together. 2.) You need to get out more and someone you know suggested trying Tango. You’ve heard it’s hard but you like a challenge. 3.) You’ve been dancing a while now, and have seen the benefits of taking classes and regular study. You want more steps. 4.) You really want to dive in and take apart your dance. You’ve seen what X can do, and you really like how they dance. They’re impressive. Their steps, patterns, & figures. You’re turned on by the ‘moves’, and not necessarily ‘how’ they’re executed. This, you believe, will help you to pick a ‘good’ teacher and ultimately to become a better dancer.  Usually you’ll pick a man for these things because men lead, and women follow and that is the order of things. (clearing the throat….the proverbial ‘ahem’ sound: NOT!).

From a Following perspective, 1.) Tango doesn’t scare you. You’ve been wanting to do this for a while and you want your (enter intimate name of your partner here). 2.) You need to get out more, Tango looks sexy and there’s all that touching. It will make you feel sexy. (ahem). 3.) You’ve got a friend that suggested to you that you try Tango and you’re interested…maybe just one class. 4.) You’ve been dancing a little while and classes seem to be going well. You’re getting dances and meeting people and having a bit of fun. 5.) You’ve seen this really amazing girl do some really cool things, and while she doesn’t teach, you try to emulate her. You asked her who she studies with and pointed you at ‘Y’. 6.) You know you need the work. You want better dances. It’s that simple. You’re ready for the work. Guys tell you all these things and you feel like an idiot most of the time. You don’t know if any of it is true and classes aren’t really working at this point…so private lessons are your thing. 7.) You’re impressed by the local follower/teacher that you are exposed to, how they extend their legs, how they embrace, and you want to emulate this because they’re getting dances and they never sit unless they want to. They’re always dancing. They have beautiful feet.

Judging A Teacher.  Taking a class with a particular teacher is a good way of trying out a teacher. It shows you a small slice of how that person understands and engages the ideas of Tango.

Pay close attention to 4 parts of their class:

1.) Beginning of classes.
2.) The Topic itself.
3.) How the information is disbursed and to whom ?
4.) The End of class.

These 4 things are the arbiters of ‘good’ or the ‘right’ teacher. How they manage their teaching experience for all to see and glean what they can from it. 

Beginning of class – What does this teacher start with ? Do they have you walking around behind them in a circle to a piece of music, stomping out the beat of the music ? Dancing with a partner through a ‘mock’ tanda to warm you up ? Do they start class with a technique exercise ? Or do they start with an exercise while they call out things to focus on, and demonstrate while you are doing it with them ? Hint: You want the last one

Introducing a topic – Are their topics based on what you’re hearing in the music ? Or is a topic born from the exercise that you started with ? Again, you want the latter of the two. 

Gender Roles – Do they split up the women and men ? Meaning the Men do one thing only, and women do one thing only and you’re supposed to do your part and nothing more. Or are you invited, and encouraged to swap roles and engage in a discovery of what and how X, Y, and Z functions ? Again, you want the latter of these processes. 🙂 

(Notation: Role swapping is a good thing because not only does it give you a well rounded perspective of the dance, it also creates empathy for the other side of the embrace, and furthermore (believe it or not) you actually develop much faster as a dancer and you understand the vocabulary in far greater depth and detail than if you had focused solely on your ‘gendered’ role.)

End of class – Do they end class with a demonstration of X, Y, and Z to a piece of music ? Or do they end class with a list of where all the ‘gotchas’ are at and their possible resolutions –> where things don’t work, why they fail, further and more importantly do they show you all the possible variations of an idea in parallel, cross, open or close embrace, and how it fits into tango, milonga, and vals ? Again, you want the latter!

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

Look At Their Students. It is assumed that once someone takes on the teaching mantle that they have rightfully assumed the role of grand maestro (maestra) and are king (or queen) of all they survey. Ummmm…not. The fact is that a good portion of people that hang up their shingles as call themselves ‘teachers’ realistically know a little more than you do. This is not true of all of them, so as not to disparage anyone, but there are a fair number of those folks out there that do fall into this category. So how do you separate the ones that just started, from the one’s that know what they’re talking about ? Take a hard, but long look at their students! Look at the long line of their students. Not the line to get into their classes. No. The line of dancers that have studied with them. If you like what you see…then that may be a good place for you to start your investigation of whether or not this is a good teacher for you. However, understand that what you see, you may not understand, yet. A good portion of the time you really do have to be educated in what you’re seeing. Just like you had to be educated in watching a tango performance to see the nuances. The same is true here. Furthermore you have, by now, more than a few preconceived notions of what you think is ‘good’, or ‘bad’ Tango. And the notions of that language of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ will, believe it or not, get in your way and your ability to pick teachers. You must be educated about what real technique is, and why it’s important to build a desirable foundation. And more importantly what a desirable foundation is and is not. A teacher that understands these things will explain this to you and reinforce it in every single session! 

Dancing Is Not Teaching. Dancing and teaching are not the same things. Choosing a teacher based on whether or not they dance well as the sole criteria for whether or not the can teach you to dance is not a good idea. These are two very different skills. Far too often people make the mistake (followers) of being impressed by this the skill to dance thinking that equates to the skill to teach. You see it’s not about steps, patterns, and figures (leads) regardless of role, its about the technique of moving well, and more importantly their ability to explain the underlaying principles of HOW X, Y, and Z is done, and in every use case of it failing, where it fails, how it fails, and how to correct for it as well as the variations on a theme or an idea.

Put another way – watching a teacher dance, or dancing with that teacher just shows you that they know how to do X, Y, and Z. What it doesn’t tell you is how they can communicate those ideas to you and more importantly to the way in which you learn! The reality is that people learn at different speeds, and in vastly different ways. One size does not fit all. And that’s exactly what group classes are, one size fits all – cookie cutter tango!

There are certain areas of teaching that you want to focus on with regards to picking a teacher, these are some critical things to think about:

Critical Feedback.  Teaching you to do something is one thing. Giving you prompt, clear, consistent feedback of how you do X, Y, and Z (assuming they give any), how you feel (what it feels like – the kinesthetics involved), how you look, your embrace, your walk, your disassociation, your collections is absolutely critical to your ability to progress beyond your current skillset. Put another way, when they give you feedback is their feedback critical or effusive ? Do know if they’re telling you the truth ? Do they blow smoke up your ass with effusive complimentary commentary that tells you absolutely nothing about what you’re doing. “Yes dear, you’re doing just fine, fabulous …. keep up the good work!”.  Ideally you want a teacher that says in clear, constructive language, sometimes harsh or hard to hear, “Look bub, you’re screwing up here, here, and here…oh and while we’re at it…here, here, here, here and here!”. And then to say to you in no uncertain terms, “And this is how you fix it…”. And then goes on to show you the most important part of why you’re there: The How-To! Critical feedback is hard to hear, but one of the most crucial parts to your development as a dancer. You can’t see your own errors, and you can’t see how to fix them. Hopefully your teacher can and does have a solution for them. “Hopefully” ? Truthfully, just because said ‘teacher’ wears the teacher hat does not mean that they are the sole of all wisdom. 

Homework. Do they send you on your way with a pat on the back and/or a hug while they’re counting your money ? Or when you’re done with class/private lessons, do they provide you with a study plan of what you need to work on before you’re next meeting. Do they give you exercises to work on ? Do they have exercise videos for you to watch or to remind you of all the things you should be doing ? Do they give you a series of daily regimes that you must accomplish between now and your next session ?  Again, you want the latter. 

Progress. Do they acknowledge your presence outside of classes or instruction time with a kiss and a hug and that’s it ? OR do they a.) actively keep track of you when you’re out dancing at a practica or a milonga. b.) watching whether or not you’re doing what they’ve shown you to do. c.) comment on your dancing after a milonga or during your next private lesson and d.) engaging you outside of lesson time with reminders and support to get you to your next level of dancing ? Again, you want ‘D’.  

A teacher is not there to blow smoke up your ass. Nor are they there to collect the cash. They are there to educate you about Tango. You on the other hand are there to make mistakes, lots of them. It is only through those mistakes that you will learn, grow, and change. Further still, you absolutely require their feedback, and that means that you must, must, must be willing to ask questions, engage, take control of your own education, invest in doing the necessary research about how you look, how you feel, and more importantly to hear that feedback from them, and be willing to ask for it.

If you think class is about getting it right, that’s a mistake. It’s better that you make the mistakes in class vs. out on a social dance floor. Why ? Several reasons. First and foremost because believe it or not class is about making mistakes. John Dewey, a famous 18th centure educator, said “We learn best by doing”. He was right. And that doing takes time. It’s not about doing it right, it’s about the learning to do it right. So that you know and understand what it is that you are doing and why! Secondly, and some people will radically disagree with this reason: Because like it or not the Tango world can be very judgmental. You’ll go to a Milonga or a Practica, and there will be people watching you and judging your abilities. Yes, they’ll smile and talk you up one side So you would rather have a teacher that will tell you truth about how you feel and look, and then to show you the realities of your dance than blowing smoke up your ass for an hour and you leave with a happy smile on your face, and then at milongas sit all night long or not get the dances you desire. A good teacher, and really the ‘right’ teacher, does that for you. 

Look, the classroom is a crucible, in it we burn away all the irrelevancies that do not matter, and in it’s place we seek to inform, educate, illuminate, and ultimately get down to truth of how to do X, Y, and Z.

Which Teacher Do You Want to Have ? 

a.) The ‘show & copy’ teacher. Meaning they show you, and you’re expected to copy what they’re doing exactly and when you don’t copy it exactly, they move on to the next ‘show & copy‘ to repeat the cycle.

b.) The ‘show, copy, add music’ teacher. Meaning at the end they add a piece of music to make it all seemingly fit together.

c.) The ‘show, build, copy, and then add music’ teacher. Meaning that yes they show you a piece at a time, building the elements that create X, Y, and Z and then add music at the end.

d.) The ‘explain, build, explain, build more, explain, discover, build, discover, explain, discover, build, test, try, build more, add music, build more, explore more, discover…oops, class is over’ teacher.

You decide which of these teachers you want to have teaching you about what Tango is and is not. 

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