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Six Ocho Variations

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Six Ocho Variations

Ochos!  They are the stalwart of Argentine Tango. They’re the goto move that keeps the dance moving, almost like the glue that holds everything together. Here’s an interesting experiment to prove if the statement above is valid or not, try not leading or not following them for a little while in the middle of a song, or for an entire song, and see what happens! More than likely you’ll see the validity of the statement, and how often we use them as Transitional Elements. What’s a Transitional Element you may ask ? In it’s simplest form, and yes there are complex forms of this idea, it’s a tool that we use to transition from one Tango idea to the next. Hence there’s a reason why we have detailed 3 of the more commonly used Transitional Elements, which Tango Topics calls Ocho Transitions. You might want to go look at the 3 of the 4 primary Ocho Transitions [ 1.) Milonguero Ochos into the Milonguero Turn. 2.) Traveling Ochos into The Follower’s Molinete. 3.) Traveling Ochos into The Milonguero Turn. 4.) Milonguero Ochos into The Follower’s Molinete (this video is only available to subscribers).] Moving along towards Today’s Tango Topic, there is something else that you may not recognize which is also true: Your understanding of the Ocho itself is not expansive enough. More than likely when we wrote the word “Ochos” above only one image came to your mind. You should know by now that this website details multiple ideas of what a specific piece of vocabulary can be. Take for instance the Ocho Cortado. There are 3 major variations of it. The Circular Ocho Cortado (used in Europe and BsAs), The Linear Ocho Cortado (used in North America and BsAs), and the Ocho Cortado Variations (used everywhere). Or Sacadas, we’ve detailed multiple variations of Sacadas (Simple Sacadas 2018, Close Embrace Sacadas, Crossing Sacada Turns, and Back Sacadas 2019…coming in January ), or any of the 3 types of Boleos (Social, Linear, or Circular), Ganchos (Common Ganchos, Lead Ganchos, Follower Ganchos, Gooey Ganchos), Colgadas, Volcadas…lots and lots and lots of variations. So what would make you believe that there aren’t Ocho Variations here as well. There are in fact Six Common Ocho Variations Tango Topics discusses. So without further adieu, Tango Topics presents the importance of Six Ocho Variations.

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Have you seen Dancing In A Small Space ? If you’re planning to dance at a Tango Marathon, Festival, Encuentro, Buenos Aires, or your local Milonga is a very crowded and you want to know how to dance well in a small crowded space, then this video is the key to that process.

Dancing In A Small Space

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What Is An ‘Ocho Variation’ ? It is an Ocho that is varied. Hahahaha. That definition isn’t that far from the truth. Before we dive into the Variations, there’s something that you should know going in which require us to review the types of Eight Types of Ochos that are possible within the structure of Argentine Tango. There are Eight Types ? You thought there was only One, which is our point above. There are in fact Eight that Tango Topics yaps about. So without further delay a little refresher on the Ocho:

Type 1: Milonguero Ochos (sometimes called “Lazy” Ochos). They’re called “Lazy” because there is almost no physiological work for the Follower to invoke the application of this idea. This is the 2nd most common Ocho after Traveling Ochos (see Type 3). This is where the Follower is led to stepping backwards (or forwards) with their legs/feet crossing over their body’s natural meridian line on a 45 degree angle on the diagonal and more importantly their hips do not rotate in any way, shape, or form. Easier done than described or said. Here’s an example >

Type 2: Linear Ochos. These are Ochos that employ Disassociation (from the Lead) and then Applied Disassociation (from the Follower), where the Follower is being led to rotate their torso (via disassociation) and then their entire body 180º (via applied disassociation) perpendicular to their Lead. They are asked to move backward or forwards, typically backward, along a linear line in front of the Lead. Where the Follower’s feet/legs do not cross over their body’s natural meridian line. Where the Lead actually engages Disassociation (not inference) to their Left Side (Open Side), and their Right Side (the Closed Side of the Embrace) which results as Applied Disassociation in the Follower (not a Pivot! Tsk, tsk, tsk).

Type 3: Traveling Ochos. This type of Ocho is the common one that most people are familiar with, it’s the one that you thought of when the word is used most often. However, in this instance, this particular type of Ocho, and where it gets its name from, is the fact that it ‘travels‘ down the line of dance. Each Ocho invokes a smaller, or lesser amount of Disassociation (from the Lead), and a smaller or lesser amount of Applied Disassociation (from the Follower) which ends up as a 90º rotation perpendicular to the Lead. Typically these should only be done in triplets and not continuously, and going with the Followers motion, and should not be inferred. However, they are typically inferred and the Follower either guesses that they’re being led to Traveling Ochos or because they’ve done them so often they will invoke a Traveling Ocho on their own when none was led, which is better known as ‘The Automatic Ocho‘ or part of their default behavior.

Type 4: Circular Ochos. These Ochos resemble Type 2, but instead of the linear line and 180º in front of the Lead, the Ocho is led on a semi-circular arc 180º in front of the Lead.

Type 5: Over-Rotated Ochos. These Ochos are very uncommon but still a valid form of the Ocho, and to be honest with you loads of work for the Follower, and oodles of fun at the same time. These are Ochos where the Follower is led to an Over-Rotation at 270º to step backward (or forwards) into the space that the Lead has created with the same foot/leg that the Follower is stepping backward (or forwards) with! Example here:

Type 6: Anti-Ochos. These Ochos resemble Type 2 Ochos except instead of the Lead going with the Follower’s rotation and direction, the Lead goes against it! They’re insanely cool, and looooots of fun to do. Example here:

Type 7: Milonga Ochos. This type of Ocho is only used in one instance, Milonga. And while they resemble the motion of Type 3, the Follower is led to not to step backwards but to rotate over their feet in an actual full body pivot and then change weight and pivot again in the opposite direction, creating the effect of slight but rapid movement down the line dance. This is the only Ocho that seemingly breaks the Tango Topics rule of Resistance when in truth of fact does not and can be led and followed without employing resistance at all. Here’s an example of the Follower’s Milonga Ocho >

Type 8: Dynamic Ochos. These Ochos are more than likely a Tango Topics construct. This is where an Ocho starts out as one thing and is morphed into another type of Ocho where the only requirement is time in relationship to the music! Meaning you might start out in Milonguero Ochos and transition into Traveling Ochos over the course of a few bars of the music.

These are the 8 Types of Ochos. Why list these ? Because our primary topic deals with having the knowledge of these 8 things so that now we can ‘vary’ them into Six possible Variations on a theme.

What are the Six Variations ? The Six Variations are tools used for navigation, music, and just fun or to vary the idea a bit so that you don’t end up doing the same thing over and over again. In the next section we show you what the variations are for this video. However, the short and curly answer is that an Ocho Variation is a variation of one the ideas above that have no been detailed on Tango Topics before this article.

Difficulty Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

Hey!!!!! Isn’t there more to this post ???? Where’s the Lead’s Perspective, the Follower’s Perspective, and the Dancing Perspective parts of the Post … ??? These very helpful, extremely descriptive, and FREE parts are still here, and you can see them too, just scroll to the bottom of the page, and register. Registration is a hassle! We know. But it is also free, and who doesn’t like free stuff!!! You get a whole bunch of other stuff that can help you with your dance, and the rest of this post. So go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select Articles, and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Just scroll, register, and then read! Easy. No ? 🙂

you can do better, all it takes is practice and time.

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 one of 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.


bsas-prep-title

this video can only be seen in it’s entirety if you register, just scroll down.

About The Video is 23m:37s in length in 8 sections with a combined technique for Lead and Follow. Item in bold in example video, if the section is partially bolded that means that the section is partially in the video. 🙂

Section 1: Introduction (00:01:32)
Section 2: Incremental Ochos (00:04:44)
Section 3: Forward Traveling Ochos (00:03:28)
Section 4: Forward Milonguero Ochos (00:03:11)
Section 5: Lead Traveling Ochos (00:04:09)
Section 6: Ocho Reversals (00:01:08)
Section 7: Ochos as a Navigation Element (00:01:37)
Section 8: Vocabulary Review and Closure (00:03:30)

Related Videos Mentioned In This Article: 

The Six Ways of WalkingDownload
Ochos Bundle – Download.
Ocho Transitions 1 – Milonguero Ochos into the Milonguero TurnArticle/Download
Ocho Transitions 2 – Traveling Ochos into the Follower’s Molinete –  Article/Download
Ocho Transitions 3 – Traveling Ochos into the Milonguero Turn –  Article/Download
Dancing In A Small SpaceArticle
Dancing In A Small Space – The Addendum – Article

this video can only be seen in it’s entirety if you register, just scroll down.

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 video 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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Ocho Transitions: Milonguero Ochos into the Follower’s Molinete

If you were logged in, you’d see the premium version of this Tango Topic! Just sayin’… 🙂

Milonguero Ochos into the Follower's Molinete

Lazy Ochos into The Follower’s Molinete. This is an odd transition to be certain. It mixes two very different types of tango styles or ideas into one way of dancing. Typically the ‘Lazy’ or Milonguero Style Ocho is done in Milonguero style of dancing, that means that the Lead is not leading the Follower’s hips to rotate at all, ever. And then, all of a sudden, and it is all of a sudden, we ask (note the language here…’ask’) the Follower to engage their Molinete. Not a Milonguero Turn, but a Close Embrace Molinete. Talk about confusing! Oy. So let’s get into L/leading and Following Milonguero Ochos into the Follower’s Molinete!

What is an Ocho Transition ? It is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a transition between a commonly used type of Ocho into another commonly used piece of vocabulary. There are 4 types of Ocho Transitions that rely on 2 of the more common types of Ochos. Milonguero Ochos, which are sometimes referred to as “Lazy” Ochos because the hips of the Follower do not rotate. This type of Ocho is absolutely perfect for dancing in a small space, and requires very little effort to lead and very little effort to follow, hence the reason why they’re called “Lazy” Ochos. The second commonly used type of Ocho is the one that everyone is familiar with, these are called “Traveling Ochos” because they do exactly what they say they do, they “Travel” down the line of dance! A Traveling Ocho is where the hips of the Follower do rotate. A Lead will typically engage one or sometimes both of these types of Ochos as a way to transition into another type of vocabulary, usually as a way to lead upto one of the Eight types of turns that are used in Argentine Tango.

What is a Traveling Ocho to Follower’s Molinete TurnIt’s quite possibly the single most used transition the Tango world, for those that are Dancing with a Lot of Space. This transition employs the Follower’s taught Ocho technique (applied disassociation) to open into their led Molinete!  A bit of clarity as to what a ’Traveling’ Ocho is and is not. A ‘Traveling’ Ocho is an ‘Ocho’ that goes down the line of dance. As shown below:

It is one of 8 Ocho types that we use quite frequently, and it is the one that most people think of when you say the word. However, there are others, just so you know! Moving on. What is it not ? It’s not a Lazy Ocho (sometimes rightfully referred to as a ‘Milonguero’ Ocho), nor a Circular Ocho, nor a Linear (just to name a few). No this Ocho, is the venerable one that most Followers are forced to do on day one of Following regardless of whether or not they have been properly trained to do them or not. Usually it’s more the ‘not’ variety than anything else. Why are we talking about ochos ? Because this particular variety of Ocho is so venerable that we use it for nearly every kind of transition there is.

Pre-Requisites: So that we’re all clear on this part, note the difficulty rating below, it is not an exaggeration! You would think this is just walking and turning. That would be a mistake. 1.) You must have mastered your walk first and foremost to the point where you are not using your partner (either lead or follow) for stabilization. 2.) You must be familiar with the Traveling Ocho from a Leading perspective as well as from a Following perspective. 3.) You must have mastered Applied Disassociation. This is not a Pivot! And anyone that tells you differently is taking the easy way out. Applied Disassociation is much harder to do but soooo worth it in the end for a variety of reasons, most notably due to its controlled elegance! 4.) You also must have mastered the Follower’s Molinete from both sides of the embrace. While this transition is a natural extension of both ideas put together it’s important that you have them both clearly in your mind before you attempt to put them together. The reason this video exists is to clean up the issues of the transition itself so that you don’t run into the common problems that most people do when they put these things together. 

Difficulty Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Hey!!!!! Isn’t there more to this post ???? Where’s the Lead’s Perspective, the Follower’s Perspective, and the Dancing Perspective parts of the Post … ??? These very helpful, extremely descriptive, and FREE parts are still here, and you can see them too, just scroll to the bottom of the page, and register. Registration is a hassle! We know. But it is also free, and who doesn’t like free stuff!!! You get a whole bunch of other stuff that can help you with your dance, and the rest of this post. So go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select Articles, and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Just scroll, register, and then read! Easy. No ? 🙂

you can do better, all it takes is practice and time.

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 one of 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.


bsas-prep-title

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video. This video is 12:37 in length in 1 section.  Lead and Follow technique is co-combined.

The funny (strange, not ‘ha-ha’) thing about this Ocho Transition Series is that it is used more often than you would think. So learning both techniques and tools will help you in the long run as you can use both pieces of vocabulary almost anywhere. From a Following perspective, you’re going to make the mistake of believing that this is all about the Lead. And that’s not the case here. You really do want to understand the Milonguero Turn for you, because the question will come up as it always does, when would I do engage one turn over the other ? And who’s actually leading the turn, the Lead or the Follower ? And the answer is a little bit of both in today’s Tango world.

 

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 video 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. 

REGISTRATION COSTS YOU NOTHING

register and get more great, and detailed content from tango topics!

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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.

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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. 

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