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Five Common Lead Errors

Five Common Lead Errors

Today’s Tango Topic is for the Lead. It is for the Lead that wants to see a few tango habits that they may not be aware of. It is for the Lead that is on a pathway towards greater and greater physiological and kinesthetic awareness. It is for the advancing Lead that wants to create a dancing experience that is extremely desirable for their Followers and really for the entire room. If this sounds like you, then read on. If not, then don’t bother with this stuff. Honestly. It’s a complete waste of your time. And no we’re not kidding. Why ? Because what’s above and below is about what some call minutiae, or nitpicking, or being a Tango Perfectionist. And for those that just want to have a ‘fun’ time out social dancing, then these things, as far as you’re concerned are a complete and utter waste of your time. So don’t bother reading any further. There are cute cat videos that await your attention on Facebook that you haven’t seen today.

Also what’s contained in the video above, and what’s in the article below has absolutely NOTHING to do with Follower Technique in any way, shape, or form. There’s no information here for the role of the Follower. However, that doesn’t mean that the Follower should tune out, in fact ideally we want the Follower to tune in here. Why ? So that they can recognize these things when they happen and point them out during practicas and or private practice with their partners.

Today’s Tango Topic deals with 5 of the more common elements that happen for the Lead without involving the embrace. It should be noted that these are not the only things, it just means that we didn’t have time or space to include the entire list here or to shoot them all. To be clear, there are a host of things that a Lead needs to be conscious of in order to create a dance that is desirable. Like for instance:

Embrace (duh).
Kinesthetics (Physiological Pressure)
Posture.
Stability.
Foot Placement.
Walk.
Weight Change.
Vocabulary Understanding.
Vocabulary Execution.
Musical Understanding.
Musical Interpretation.
Musical Execution.
Cabeceo/Mirada.
Floorcraft.

and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. This listing is just a small taste and by no means the exhaustive list of things a lead has to be conscious of. Nor is the video above meant to be an exhaustive list, more like a brief reminder of things for you to consider.

That Said!

From the Intensive Process comes Five Common Lead Errors that Tango Topics has pulled from its archives, reshot, retooled, and condensed into byte/bite-sized chunks for easy digestion. It is by no means going to change your dance. Not one little bit. In order for change will only occur, if you put the time in to actively take charge of your tango (re) education. And that means concerted, continuous, near daily reminders about the execution of technique, solo practice, private partner practice, private lessons, and social dancing. It means working on your foundation with clear, detailed, and intricately laid out instruction with oodles of visual, verbal, textual, and kinesthetic examples. Every. Single. Day.

These Five Elements, by themselves, won’t necessarily create a dance that’s unbearable or undesirable for most Followers, but over time, because we’re dealing with ingrained leading habit, these behaviors tend to repeat themselves so it is very possible for a lead to generate an experience that is marred by these things. Thereby creating an experience for the Follower that is less than desirable. 🙁 It should be noted that assuming if you just make these 5 changes that this is not going to improve your ability to dance. Nor will it improve the execution of your vocabulary. Nor will it improve how you hear the music. It will not improve your embrace, or your other habitual errors that you aren’t even aware of! The only way these things will change is with continued, concerted, and detailed study of your movements with a Qualified Instructor of The Intensive Process! These things will only clean up these errors but won’t fix the underlying problem (see the section the underlying problem below).

So without further adieu: Here are 5 Common Lead Errors.

1.) Stepping Away From The Standing Leg. This first topic is seemingly innocuous. Almost a throw away until you realize that where you step and how you step has monster implications and reactions on the embrace and how your partner embraces you. So put simply, this isn’t an innocuous topic, it’s probably one of the biggest issues on this list aside from the next one. How, and in this case WHERE we step is insanely important. There is a sweet spot to where we want to step. And while the video above shows you one example of where this comes out, what it doesn’t show you are all the places where this can and does occur. So here’s a list of those places off the top of our head: Hmmm….you see only a paying customer gets to see this list, and since you’re not one, not so much with that. However, here’s a tiny taste – Think of the Argentine Wrap and/or Argentine Gancho that if you don’t step into the right position things tend to go awry. We mention these two because they’re the more common places where these things come up. In any case, this is just a small example. But what the video doesn’t talk about is one reason why we want to fix this issue, and it’s the one we alluded to above. Because this can and will affect your embrace. The closer you are to the Follower’s standing foot, the easier the walk becomes. Most Leads tend to blame their Followers for their walk when in fact it’s the Lead’s foot placement that generates the issue of Follower stability for a variety of reasons. Either the Lead is too close, or too far away, which can and will create an instability in the Follower where they’ll either topple forwards or backward. It should be noted that sometimes we’re talking about an egregious amount of space away from the Follower’s standing leg, and sometimes we’re talking about more than a few millimeters.

The Sweet Spot ? As alluded to above there is a sweet spot, the ideal distance, as to where you want to step or place your feet from the Followers, as far as walking is concerned. However, seeing it done and doing it are only 2 pieces of the puzzle. For this stuff to be successful you need to develop your proprioception skills. So that you can feel where your feet are in relationship to the Follower’s at all times. You must be able to feel where the Follower’s weight is at all times. This too is part of the skill of Proprioception that you absolutely must develop and then deploy!

2.) Wandering Giro Center. First a little Spanish lessons: ‘Giro’ is the Spanish 1st person singular verb form, which when translated into English means “I turn”. However, when we apply this to Tango it means that “I LEAD a Turn”. Ok, not really but that’s sort of what it implies. 🙂 A ‘Giro’ is the Lead’s side of the equation of the Follower’s Molinete where the Lead is the center of the Follower’s Molinete, they typically act as the anchor to that Molinete or circle and the Follower revolves around them. So whats a “Wandering” Giro ? It’s the Lead’s side of the Follower’s Molinete but where the L/lead continually moves the center of the Molinete. And in doing so the Follower’s Molinete becomes oblong, construed, distorted and/or a boatload of work for the Follower to actually follow the leads.

Most Leads don’t realize that they’re wandering or moving the center of the circle, and thereby making the Follower work harder than they need to.  Ideally as L/leads we want to stay over one point, however that may be somewhat challenging that you may not be aware of. The reason it’s challenging is because some Leads have their heads down or are watching their Follower’s feet in the turn to validate that the Follower is stepping in the right places. Ideally we don’t want to do this. This should be felt by means of the skill of Proprioception. However, knowing it and doing it, are two very different things. Still another reason has to do with the Lead’s posture and the dreaded ‘head-tilt’. Uuuugh. What’s happened is that the Lead’s sense of equilibrium is a little off due to the Head-Tilt, and so they ‘wander’ a bit in the turn. And sometimes, it’s not a physiological error, it’s a habitual error. They just do it because they don’t know any better.

The reality is that if the center of the circle moves even by a few millimeters, it will seemingly not create a problem. And that’s not the case. Those ‘few millimeters’ are magnified in degrees of the arc or the distance that the Follower has to cover in order to ‘catch up’ with their L/lead. Sometimes this turns into the Lazy Man’s Turn and/or Armpit Dancing! 🙁

3.) Stepping Into The Middle. This tiny little problem comes up in Sacadas, it’s where the Lead will step in the middle of the Follower’s feet, where they’re expecting a Sacada response (a leg displacement or a clean resolution displacement), and they’ll end up with one of 3 things (note: the video only notes 2 of them): 1.) The Follower ‘hears’ the Sacada step as a Wrap or Enganche. 2.) A sweeping Leg Displacement without a resolution (as shown). or 3.) [not shown in the video] A Rebounding Enganche where the Follower’s leg will rebound off the Lead’s and thereby create, by choice and habitual response, a small circular Boleo! This is not the Follower’s fault. It’s the Lead’s because the Lead is being wholly unclear in where they’re stepping. Sometimes due to the position of where they’re stepping, and thereby their leg placement, it can appear and feel a little intimately invasive, and the Sacada by definition should never be.

4.) The Unled/Led Ocho. This particular form of the Ocho is clearly an error. Most Leads start out leading a little bit of Disassociation when they’re leading Traveling Ochos, and then over time, slowly but certainly they realize that the Follower (once they’re trained to respond properly) that less and less and less and less physiological disassociation is required to get the same response out of the Follower. It’s like magic. And pretty soon before you know it, they’ve dropped it altogether. It’s right about this point that they start to use their hands and arms and push and pull a bit to get the same response. “If I push here/pull there…they ocho!”. While that may not be the conscious thought that happen in their heads, in the end it doesn’t matter. The L/lead stops actually leading their own Disassociation which results in Applied Disassociation (or what you erroneously think of as a ‘Pivot’) in the Follower. So as a result the Follower has to infer “Ummm oh wait, I’m supposed to ocho here because the Lead is pushing there/pulling there…”. They get used to every L/lead that they dance with exhibiting this kind of behavior so it becomes standard operating procedure for them. This is how the dance is supposed to happen.

Not. 🙁

Ideally we want the Lead to actually Lead their own disassociation, and to actually lead the Follower’s Ocho. Just as a side note, typically the Lead’s right side is almost never actually led. It’s the closed side of the embrace, and the one that’s inferred the most. The Lead (person) will sometimes lead (action) the left side of the embrace (open side), and think or believe that they’re rotating/disassociating on the right side of the embrace (closed side) when in fact they’re not.

So as a result of all of this not actually disassociating: The Follower Infers an Ocho. When in fact they shouldn’t Ocho at all.

5.) Blaming The Follower. This one is more psychological more than anything else. It’s where the Follower is led to do something and the Lead changes their mind quickly and does something else, and as a result the Follower has to magically read the Mind of the Lead that while they were feeling ‘X’ coming from their lead (the action), the were actually being led to ‘Y’, and then the Follower Apologizes to the Lead for missing the lead (action).

Say what ?

You read that right.

The Follower is apologizing to the Lead for the Lead’s mistake in the form of “I”m sorry for not being a mind reader”.

9 times out of 10 the Follower apologizes for a lead’s mistake in leading something or half leading something.

As a direct result of this the Lead tends to Blame the Follower for their inadequacies and their own mistakes.

The Wrap Up: These are the 5 areas where there we see common errors where things can and do go awry. “Awry” probably isn’t the best word there. Party these errors happen due to habit, and partly it’s happenstance, and sometimes it’s just an execution of poor floorcraft.

Let’s be clear about something, this isn’t about Perfectionistic Tango. Yes Tango can be ooooodles and oooooodles of fun. While for some the fun can be just on the surface, and that’s fine. There are some dancers who get their enjoyment from working in the minimal and more importantly the smaller seemingly infinitesimal! This is a vastly different kind of enjoyment of the dance. In this instance, that enjoyment comes from having cleaned up errors like this so as not to mar the experience of the infinitesimal communication that can happen between Lead and Follower to allow for a completely free flowing communication where the physical constrains do not get into the way of that line of communication. And errors like these mar that line of communication because the Lead is quite honestly stopping the communication. 🙁

Some Leads, once they learn how to do something, do not want to have to go back and re-learn how to do something properly. They view it as a point of ego. They already know how to do X, Y, or Z. What they may not realize is that they’ve drifted from the relevant material, and thereby are generating errors via their physicality. The tiniest thing can throw off their leading ability and they may not be aware of it.

So it’s generally a good idea to video one’s self periodically to watch for postural issues, vocabulary errors, walking errors, and yes musical errors. And once or twice a month to get one’s self into a private lesson to address or at least look at one’s errors. And, yes…you are generating them on a regular basis, you’re just not aware of them. And if you’re thinking that no one is complaining so they’re nothing wrong. There’s a reason why no one is complaining….it’s because they can’t. The rules of the Milonga prevent any kind of feedback that would give the Lead any indication that something is amiss. Then there’s the fact that the Follower generally doesn’t want to hurt a lead’s feelings by telling them that they’re squeezing the living daylights out of them, or more to the point that something isn’t working. However, they may only understand that X works with everyone else, and it doesn’t work with you but they’re not sure why. Where ‘X’ is a piece of vocabulary. So a bi-weekly private lesson series to address your issues isn’t such a bad idea. Then again, in lieu of the local teacher that you may not trust. You do have access to a resource that can clearly explain X, Y, and Z: TangoTopics!

This video shows you Five places, which isn’t an exhaustive list, where you can change your dance for the better but unfortunately it  doesn’t show you how to fix it, or how to change it. For that you may want to subscribe to Tango Topics and look at the vocabulary videos and their corresponding articles as a subscriber to help you to change these things. To understand why something works and then how to change it for the better!

Why should you subscribe for access ?  Several reasons. 1.) 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. 2.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 3.) And 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 voabulary there, or how to make things fit. These 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 Perpective 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 is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and 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. 

– The Last Word –

Tango Topics is little reminders and snippets of information that your teachers would have told you about but didn’t have time to or didn’t care to remind you for the umpteenth millionth time. Do you need videos like these ? Yes. Why ? Simple…you need as many reminders as possible in as many forms as you can get. In today’s Tango world it does take a village to raise a dancer. And that means having as many voices, reminders, ideas, concepts, perspectives as possible. This video and the rest of the ones that are sitting behind the Tango Topics paywall are that. While what you’re seeing above is only the smallest hint of what’s contained in the actual video. It should be enough for you to make a reasoned and intelligent choice that perhaps there’s something of value in this site and the videos that are here. Considering becoming a subscriber today.

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Backward Intention

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Backward Intention

Contrary to what you might believe, and it may be really hard for you to accept this but, Argentine Tango is not a dance of pushing and pulling. You will continually hear L/leads use the phrase, “Give me Resistance!” to indicate that they need physiological pressure (and compression) into their Left hand in order to ‘feel’ that X, Y, or Z is occurring. X, Y, or Z, in this case, can be, but is not limited to, walking, weight changes, ochos, turns, crosses, sacadas, musical interpretations, etc.

Today’s Tango Topic deals with a type of an indication, a specificity really, in how to initiate a step backward with our partner. And by ‘initiate’, we mean to lead, as in the action to intend to do something. It should be noted that Followers reading this Tango Topic that may erroneously think that they can tune out and need not listen to this stuff. Which in the Tango Topics opinion would be a mistake. 🙂 This stuff isn’t just for Leads, but for both roles, as you’ll soon see.

It should be noted that for some of you reading this, the topic will be an eye opener that this stuff exists, for some they’ll pay no attention that it doesn’t apply to them, and for some it will almost seem like a ‘duh! of course’! In all of those cases there is something here beyond the video above. Read on.

Let’s be clear about something: This isn’t rocket science, but it is about awareness and lots of it. And while this article may sound like ‘blah-blah-blah Tango’ to some of you reading it, trust that there is something here for you to grok and try to put into your dance. Or at the very least to stop and to think about, and that’s primarily the purpose why Tango Topics exists. To create a little awareness in your dance, instead of you doing the same thing over and over and over again. This particular topic is one of those areas that continually creates a problem for most L/leads, which they don’t realize is a problem area, and as a result, most Followers become the recipients of this problem. As it is the Follower that has to put up with the unaware Lead. As a result, the Follower grumbles when they get a Lead that hasn’t learned how not to push and pull with their embrace but rather to engage Intention Based Dancing in their dance. So without further yappment, Tango Topics presents the Importance of Backward Intention!

What Is Backward Intention ? First, we have to create a little bit of clarity as to what is a.) Intention. and then b.) Forward Intention and how it relates to your dance. and finally, c.) Today’s Tango Topic: Backward Intention!

a.) Intention is like starting to do something but isn’t completed. But, unlike an abrupt interrupt to stop and do something else, which happens frequently with a lot of Tango’s Leads (tsk, tsk, tsk), this is done on purpose but without any jarring motion of countermanding and instead a very gentle and kinesthetically, and not to mention but we will anyway, physiological dissipation of the intended motion’s intent. This would be Intention, in it’s simplest textual descriptive. It should be noted that this word has been defined by Tango Topics, and is used quite liberally throughout this site. Further, it is in our article database and our site dictionary. Please, follow the links (see: IBD or Definition), and watch the corresponding videos. We believe it will help you to understand what we’re yapping about. Further still, in the video above, it talks about the idea of Intention, but its focus is on Forward Intention and not on the root of the topic.

b.) Forward Intention has also been defined but by inference only, and demonstrated visually on this site in 3 different places: Intention Based Dancing, The Second Step Problem, Leading Technique), not to mention being discussed ad-nauseam in nearly every single Tango Topic in some way, shape, or form. However, again for the sake of argument and necessity to our ultimate goal, it can best be defined as a “little lean forward“. To be more precise: Where the Lead, engages their toes. Spreading them out inside their shoe/sock, and then pressing them into the floor as the phalanges (the toe bones) begin to take weight. There is a softening the knees with a little bit of downward compression, as well as a tightening of the quads to hold a stabilizing position. At this point, the Tibia & Fibula bones are allowed to float forward over the Talus bone (Ankle joint) resulting in about 2 to 4 degrees of forward tilt against a vertical line. This is a “a little lean forward”. How does this relate to your dance ? This is what generates the Follower’s back step! This is Forward Intention. 😉

c.) Backward Intention. So if Intention, is the intent to do something but is stopped, gently. And Forward Intention is a little lean forward. Backward Intention must be a lean backward with the intent to do something!

Phew! That was a long build up. Sorry. 🙁

Difficulty Rating:  (1.5 / 5)

From A Following Perspective, for you Backward Intention will feel like, if initiated and executed properly, a slight ‘whoosh’ forward. Because it’s the Lead’s motion we’re talking about here. So while they’re going backward, you’ll feel this as your lead is going away from you, and as a result, you’ll go with them. It will feel as if you are falling, almost. It’s a ‘Wheeeeeeee…this is fun!‘ moment. But it only lasts for a moment. That is, assuming, again, that it is done properly. Typically, however, it’s not. 🙁 What takes its place, unfortunately, you have experienced time and time again: Pulling. Uuuugh. The Lead pulls you into them to take you somewhere. If they want you to step with them, backward, they pull you. If they want you to step next to them or into them (as in a Sacada or step backward), they pull you with their embrace. Stop and think about this sensation for a moment – Each and every time you have been asked, ahem….ummm… ‘led’, you’ll see that this is pulling you. Now to be fair, you honestly may not remember the sensation. You honestly may not be that aware. But after reading this you may start to notice the physiological compression of the Lead’s right forearm around you in Close Embrace, compressing you, and squeezing you, and/or their hand creating compression into them engaging in La Marca type events. It’s uncomfortable for someone that has been trained in Intention Based Dancing.

At the same time you are being asked to deliberately lag behind your L/lead (to ‘wait for your lead‘), and then, at the same time, to create resistance with your embrace so that the Lead can ‘feel‘ you. And you’re told that this is normal and it’s supposed to happen. Ummmm….dearest Follower, that would be a ‘not’. Sooooo not! Just NOT! Did we mention that there was a ‘not’ in there ? Hmmm yes,…. ummm…NOT!!!! Ahem. We digress. Apologies for the textual attitude, and apologies to the non-native English speakers that will read those last two…umm…sentences…and think “WTF is that ?“.  What ‘it‘ is, is the reality is that for a lot of Followers there’s a lot of pulling (and pushing) going on. And you, as a Follower, have been told repeatedly that “this is how it’s supposed to be done“. So much so that you have come to accept that it is because it keeps happening with nearly every L/lead you have danced with. Nearly. Not all…nearly.

This experience is akin to hearing that drinking the sand is the most refreshing thing in the world for you, and then wondering why you’re continually parched in your throat and never seem to quench your thirst! Not so much with that. There is another way of dancing that does not include being pushed and pulled around the room, which is called Intention Based Dancing. And really, you do want to investigate this idea. A lot. However, this way of dancing does not come without its caveats. One of them is a physiological hyper-awareness of touch and pressure, which can be honed, and sharpened into physiological movement precision! Still, another is Arm Compression from your L/lead. Another is the ‘Resistance‘ idea discussed above. This stuff must be mentioned in order to talk about our ultimate goal here: Backward Intention.   

To be clear, sans attitude: The Follower’s perspective is that the Lead’s invocation of Backward Intention results, mostly, in the Follower taking a forward step. And as such that forward step will feel as though your lead (the action, not the person) is falling away from you. It’s important that we stop here and state that you have a built-in (due to how you were trained) deliberate ‘lag’ or hesitation because you were told to ‘wait’ (grrrrrr) for your L/lead. Thirdly, your reaction is absolutely important here. It’s not one of ‘waiting’ but rather to step into it…quite literally as if your life depended on it. In this instance, we, as Followers, really do want to move with alacrity here. You’re deliberately being led to step into or next to your lead (as the video above shows in one instance) and you can not lag or hesitate here. And the reason is a simple one: Music. The music is demanding that you do X on the spot. Fail to do it on the spot and you’re going to miss something and then you’ll end up apologizing for X and for missing it. We don’t want that. So to prevent the dreaded Follower’s Apology, we must take ownership over what we’re being led to do and instead of haphazardly stepping willy-nilly, but rather stepping with energy, power, and most of all control! The moment at which we feel the sensation of the lead going away from us we must be the follower-on-the-spot, as it were. With no lag, no hesitation, no waiting…go, go, go!

The Follower’s Gotcha. Your Fear. Uuuugh. The reality is that 9 times out of 10 that backward intention (except in Milonga Scissor Steps) that you will be led to stepping into your Lead, and in specific your Right foot/leg into their Left foot/leg space. The ‘gotcha’ here is that you’re going to have a fear of hitting your Lead’s foot. Especially because this Topic is telling you in no uncertain terms to do just that and with gusto! So here’s the piece of advice you need to hear: DO IT! Hit them. Or try to. You won’t. The goal is not to hit them, but with the advice to try it and don’t miss, what you’re doing is building up a response habit to step into someone’s space or next to someone’s space in a forward step with energy, power, and control instead of lagging behind which is typically what happens. You may not realize this because you’ve been told to do it so often, but that lag is actually forcing the Lead to push and pull you even more. The more that you step with energy, power, and control the less the Lead has to use force to accomplish their goals.

From a Leading Perspective, you really do want to start to invoke Intention Based Dancing. It will make your Followers very, very happy campers. They won’t know what’s changed about your leading. They won’t be able to identify specifically what’s different, but they will notice something is a bit more gentle and easier to do. Part of the reason they won’t know what’s different is that something is missing: You pulling them around the floor, in a myriad of ways, everywhere! 🙂

Let’s be clear about something, this is not something you’re going to learn overnight. It’s just not going to happen. Secondly, this is not something that you’re going to get on your own either. You do need a fully trained Intention Based Teacher (see: Tango Topics Teacher Training 2019) to clarify what’s going on here. Thirdly, this is going to take a bit of neurological rewiring on your part to get this right. And by re-wiring, we mean lots and lots and lots and lots and did we mention ‘lots’ of reminders. Right now you have ingrained ways of doing things, that’s not going to change unless you have an intervention of sorts. Training with an Intention-Based Teacher is that intervention!

The reality of this stuff is that it’s subtle. It’s quiet. And in fact, it’s much quicker to just pull your follower along with you. And by ‘pull’ we mean to use your arms and your hands to grip your Follower and use physiological force to do your bidding for you. No doubt about it. It is quicker than this pathway of Intention Based Dancing. And seemingly it is easier because it seems faster. However, when executed properly, and that’s the key right there, the results are nothing short of magical, almost effortless, dancing. Without the need to push, or pull your Followers to do anything with. There’s a reason why when dancing with more advanced Followers that everything seemingly works, and is effortless. This is one reason why that is true. It’s because they have developed a physiological response time and hyper-awareness that supersedes your own abilities, where they can read what’s about to happen, prepare for it, and then react so quickly that it makes it appear as if nothing could possibly go wrong even though you know you hesitated. They immediately corrected and came out in the right place that it appeared that everything just ‘worked’.

The Hard Part. You don’t believe that you use your arms to accomplish your goals. Nope. Never happens. You’re as gentle as a house cat. Right ? Ok, then here’s a test. It’s a simple test really. If you can pass this test, then you’re good. If not…then you need the help we’re giving you here.

The Test: Place your hands behind your back or behind your head. Either one will do. And then lead your follower. The Follower may place their hands on top of your shoulders only. Now dance. We’ll wait while you do this.

Done ?

It is very possible that you failed the test above. The Follower missed a lot of your ‘leads‘. And as a result, they ended up being behind. 🙁 Further, your dancing became limited more than you would have liked. You chose to dance in linear straight steps (forward, side, and back) more than likely. Mostly to keep things simple, and to prove that you could do the test. You dared not to turn, and/or cross! And forget about a Traveling Ocho! So not going to happen. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Is that dancing ? No. It’s not. But more than likely you became hyper-aware of just how much you wanted to use your arms for these things. If that’s the case then Intention Based Dancing may elude you for a while longer until you begin to study with someone that knows what they’re talking about.

The Backward Intent. The reality is that this is not that difficult. It really isn’t. It’s a little lean backward. That’s it. That’s all. It’s not that hard. It’s not that difficult. It is, however, a clear and distinct way of moving. A clear and distinct awareness of your body’s tilt backward at a higher than normal awareness level that your proprioception and well as equilibrium senses the change in tilt. This is minute. Small. But that smallness is the thing that you’re after. It’s a whole different layer of dancing that you may not have been aware of. To be fair, you may not want to dance like this at all. Because for a lot of people it feels like a lot of work for very little gain. However, the gains are in fact monstrous. Put simply: This is doing more with a lot less! A lot less. One clear benefit to this way of dancing is a lot less sweating going on. Less physiological movement meaning that there is less physiological exertion, which results in less sweat being produced. Thereby meaning you don’t have to change your shirts so often! Still another is that you’re able to dance longer and longer without the need to rest so much because you’re not racing around the room anymore because you don’t need to do so. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The Lead’s Gotcha!
This stuff doesn’t appear to be subtle. It’s just not. It is difficult to change your habit to squeeze, to compress, to hold on to your Follower, to pull them into you. It’s hard to change this aspect about your dance. And you’re not even aware that you’re doing it. However, changing it ? That’s the bees-knees right there! It’s the veritable glue that can and will change your dance from being a compressive nightmare embrace that Followers hate, to one that is far more delish! And we want delish. However, the road to getting to this stuff is not easy and it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s hard. It’s challenging. And most of all it’s confusing. Hence the need for a trained Intention Based Teacher that teaches this way of dancing.

What Can You Do With Backward Intention ? A lot actually. There are three common places where we can use this idea of Backward Intention in our dance. The first is in the Linear Ocho Cortado. The second is in Milonga Scissor Steps. And the third is in a Useful 8 Count Basic. Its practical application is nearly anywhere where the Lead wants to step backward and, as in the case of the Useful 8 Count and Milonga Scissor Step, wants to curve those steps or angle them away from the lane and line of dance. Basically Anywhere. However, its true purpose has everything to do with learning to lead in a very small way or incremental way! That’s the crux of this. It’s also why this article spent more time setting you up to hear this word, intention, over and over and over again. It’s the smallness factor that we’re after. This is the place where backward intention takes on its true brilliance. How’s that ? The reality is that the human body can only go ‘backward’ so far before it has to fall. The only other way it can do that is a break at the waist and at some point, the human body has to step to avoid an actual fall. And at that point we’re unstable and we will more than likely fall or topple over. Backward Intention sets you up so that you don’t have to do that at all. You don’t have to reach that point of instability or ever come close to it. Further, it also sets you up to never needing to use your hands or your arms at all to initiate this stuff. From a Following perspective, while you won’t notice that it’s been invoked until you’ve been trained to be aware of it, you will notice that something that isn’t missing. And that’s the $125.00 from visiting your local chiropractor the next day after a particularly rough night of dancing after your feet stop screaming at you!

These are just some of the places and ways where invoking the idea of Backward Intention can change your tango life and improve it for the better.

Thanks for reading.

thoughts about tango ?

The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you are reading this topic in the hopes that it may get you to question and to dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, this topic only scratches the surface. Because you’re only seeing half of the information. You really do need to see all of it. If you had registered or ponied up the kingly sum of $7.95 for your first week, then you’d either see a free tip here, or if you’re a paying subscriber you’d see some detailed notes about the video that were either left out of the video or were an afterthought to the video after it was shot! However, because you haven’t gone and registered at least, you’re missing some helpful information that could give you a tip to making your dance a better experience for you and your partners!

Why should you subscribe for access ?  Several reasons. 1.) 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. 2.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 3.) And 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 voabulary there, or how to make things fit. These 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 Perpective 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 is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and 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. 

– The Last Word –

Tango Topics is little reminders and snippets of information that your teachers would have told you about but didn’t have time to or didn’t care to remind you for the umpteenth millionth time. Do you need videos like these ? Yes. Why ? Simple…you need as many reminders as possible in as many forms as you can get. In today’s Tango world it does take a village to raise a dancer. And that means having as many voices, reminders, ideas, concepts, perspectives as possible. This video and the rest of the ones that are sitting behind the Tango Topics paywall are that. While what you’re seeing above is only the smallest hint of what’s contained in the actual video. It should be enough for you to make a reasoned and intelligent choice that perhaps there’s something of value in this site and the videos that are here. Considering becoming a subscriber today.

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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.

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. 

Difficulty Rating:  (2.5 / 5)

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. 

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 ? 

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.

thoughts about tango ?

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 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. 🙂

spicy dancing ideas

Why should you subscribe for access ?  Several reasons. 1.) 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. 2.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 3.) And 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 voabulary there, or how to make things fit. These 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 Perpective 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 is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and 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. 

– The Last Word –

Tango Topics is little reminders and snippets of information that your teachers would have told you about but didn’t have time to or didn’t care to remind you for the umpteenth millionth time. Do you need videos like these ? Yes. Why ? Simple…you need as many reminders as possible in as many forms as you can get. In today’s Tango world it does take a village to raise a dancer. And that means having as many voices, reminders, ideas, concepts, perspectives as possible. This video and the rest of the ones that are sitting behind the Tango Topics paywall are that. While what you’re seeing above is only the smallest hint of what’s contained in the actual video. It should be enough for you to make a reasoned and intelligent choice that perhaps there’s something of value in this site and the videos that are here. Considering becoming a subscriber today.

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