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Golden Nugget Extensions

Golden Nugget Extensions

The Tango Walk is the hallmark of Argentine Tango. It is what sets Tango apart as a social dance, and a performance element. For some people when they talk about the Tango walk, they don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it, it’s just there. For some they hear the words that the walk is important but for one reason or another they just don’t get it. For others, they see that the walk is absolutely everything. It’s the bee’s knees. Anything and everything is possible once you have mastered the walk. Some people only see the walk as what one does in between the vocabulary (the steps, patterns, and figures). However you view the walk, the walk consists of four phases, not a singular element. The 1st of those 4 phases is what we call The Explosion Phase. This is where all the energy for the step is generated. It only happens for a moment. After that the energy dissipates in a controlled fashion throughout the rest of the step. The 2nd phase is The Extension Phase. This is where the leg actually, and fully extends, to a point. The 3rd phase is what we call The Perihelion Phase. In this phase we ‘pop’ the knee, meaning to fully elongate the entire knee area thereby creating a longer and cleaner extension of the leg. This phase is important because it is the mid-point of the step. And finally the 4th phase, The Transfer Phase. In this phase we do four things in sequence. 1.) We begin a sliding action along the floor with the free foot, shaping it, and engaging in supination. 2.) We begin to transfer our weight from one foot to the other, in this case the sliding foot. 3.) We allow the energy of the Explosion Phase to dissipate in a controlled way. And finally 4.) We allow the knee to flex back to the point of compression that we started out with.

Why are we talking about this stuff ? Because Today’s Tango Topic relies heavily on three of these 4 phases to begin playing with what we call Golden Nugget Extensions.

What are Golden Nugget Extensions ? We need to back up a bit and explain The Golden Nugget of Tango (TGNoT). TGN is where Today’s Topic gets the basis of it’s name from. TGN is not just another piece of Tango Vocabulary. It makes the idea of Tango very accessible and removes a lot of doubt of what’s going to happen next. It is one of the very few patterns that Tango Topics actually endorses, and teaches, with some frequency. TGN can be very useful in interpreting the music, meaning that it works really well in all 3 styles of Tango Music (tango, vals, and milonga). It is also exceptionally extensible, meaning that you while you have the basic pattern of it, you can change it, modify it, and add to it, adorn it, edit it to fit what you’re doing from a Leading perspective as well as from a Following perspective. There are loads of places in TGN where the Follower has oooodles of control over what’s happening. But that’s a topic for another day to be filed under – The Role of the Active Follower.

And now we get to the other half of today’s explanation. The title (Golden Nugget Extensions) is a both a double-entendre as well as a deliberate explanation of what it is. First and foremost, it is taking TGN and adding an expansion pack to it. Things you probably hadn’t thought of when playing with TGN assuming that you have watched the video and learned something from it. Secondly, it’s also applying an element of Tango that doesn’t get a whole lot of usage except maybe in Milonga: The Incremental Step (Traspie) & The Check Step. Golden Nugget Extensions fuses these two important elements into one core concept that you want to apply to your dance. This is the Golden Nugget Extensions principle.

Difficulty Rating:  (3 / 5)

From a Following Perspective, this is one of the very few times in Argentine Tango where the Follower has oodles of control over what’s being done to and with them, but not when it’s done to and with them. 🙁

The Upside of this stuff. Every single extension, every single  transfer phase, every single perihelion phase you have control. You have control over the execution of the extension itself, how it looks, how it responds, what the shape of your leg looks like, and to a certain degree you have control over where the leg goes, but not when it starts. You have control over where your foot lands (to a certain degree), and what part of your foot you’re going to use. But again, you have absolutely zero control over when something is initiated, and/or when it stops. But you do have a limited amount of control over the duration of the extension, foot placement, and the resulting body position and placement (under certain conditions) assuming that the Lead isn’t squeezing the living daylights out of you, or the Lead isn’t placing you in their Armpit (see: The Armpit Dancer). Assuming all of that, you have more control than you believe you do.

The Downside of this stuff. There’s always a downside with these things. Always. 9 times out of 10, the Lead … you remember the Lead you said “Yes” to their cabeceo ? That one! 9 times out of 10, they’re rushing through X, to get to Y, to arrive at Z. And you have about as much time as it takes to blink as you do to take your sweet time to do X, or for that matter Y, while not even aware that Z is going to happen. Time is a factor you don’t necessarily control here in this stuff. Sadly. However, if you invoke certain aspects of being an Active Follower you can slow down the Lead, deliberately, and thereby give yourself enough time to execute what you desire. There are Seven (7) places where that can happen by the way, which are quite considerable by the way: 1.) The Argentine Cross/All Crosses. 2.) All 3 steps of the Follower’s Molinete & the Lead’s Giro/The Lead’s Molinete/Follower’s Giro, and all 8 Turns including and especially the Follower’s Calisita! 3.) Any of the 8 types of Ochos [a.) Linear Ochos. b.) Milonguero Ochos. c.) Traveling Ochos. d.) Circular Ochos. e.) Over-Rotated Ochos. f.) Anti-Ochos. g.) Milonga Ochos. h.) Time Ochos.]  4.) Paradas. 5.) Barridas. 6.) The Linear Ocho Cortado/The Circular Ocho Cortado. 7.) Any and all Vocabulary Transition (going from one idea to the next).

Mind you this is just a singular step that we’re talking about, and how you can execute it. But that single extension is everywhere, so anywhere you engage is a good thing. Unfortunately some Leads take any level of initiative of their Follower as absolute heresy, and they lose their damned minds. So it’s a good idea to pick your Leads carefully that can handle this stuff otherwise you’ll be labeled a ‘Willful’ Follower and you want no part of that, unless of course you do. 😉 Your call.

The Gotcha. Assuming you want to invoke being an ‘Active Follower’ there are some rules to this stuff. One of which is having mastered your foundation, first and foremost. Which means, no hanging, no pulling, no pushing, no resistance, tension, or force. Ever. It also means stability. No using your hands or arms to stabilize yourself against your Lead in 3in heels. Got it ? Secondly it means understanding the vocabulary mentioned above. It means no longer being ignorant of what you’re being led to, but rather being keenly aware that X is happening and then attempting to inject an idea if there’s space for it. Thirdly it means being musically cognisant of the beat, the musical pauses, and the musical phrases (not phrasing, you have no control over that one). And lastly, it means having a plan. It’s the last one that we’re most interested in because while the first three are absolute requirements, the last 1 has a slight bend to it. Meaning ? That if you’re going to play Ms. Active Follower, then you had damned well better have an exit plan. That if you plan to interject an idea you need to have planned out ahead of time what you could possibly do, and then fit it in, and then here’s the kicker…it must match what is happening in the music. Period. If it’s not in the music, then it’s not on the floor. Got it ?

From a Leading Perspective, playing with Extensions is loads of fun. It’s the game changer that adds nuance to your dance. You’ve been thinking that only vocabulary can save or turn your dance around. Most Leads make this mistake, and they overlook the one thing that have going for them here: Playing with the Follower’s Extension. And truth be told, a whole bunch of other things which we’ll touch on below.

A Few Rules before we get to the fun part:

Rule #1: Do Not repeat yourself. Meaning ? No repetitions. Or try to keep it to an absolute minimum.

Rule #2: Do Not overuse this stuff. Meaning ? While you can interject these ideas as accent or ‘spice’ material, do not make the whole of your dance. The example above shows you one idea but it’s not the only way to do this.

Rule #3: Do Not copy what you see above. Ok, that’s not entirely clear. So let’s make it clear. Copy what you see above, but don’t outright steal it. Use this as a jumping off point to create some ideas of your own.

Rule #4: Do Not Squeeze, Pull, Push, Use your Arms or Hands to direct, and/or tilt your head into or away from your Follower.

Rule #5: Always. Posture. Posture. Posture.

The Fun Part. Below are 5 of the more important hotspots in this idea video. And that’s exactly what this is. It’s a way for you to expand your ideas to add nuance to your dance.

1.) First and foremost, this is really extending the Golden Nugget of Tango. It is augmenting it. Changing it. Modifying with the simplest of things, Leg Extensions,  Weight Transfers, and Incremental Steps!

2.) All Extension Steps are available to you as options to ‘play with’. Side, Back, and Forward. In that order of operations. Arguably the easiest of these things to play with is the Side Extension. Next is the Follower’s Backstep, and finally the Follower’s Forward step. That last one is very uncommon but it’s still doable.

3.) All steps can be Incrementals Steps. All are available to you as options to play with. So if there’s an extension you can add an incremental as an option to add variations.

4.) All Traveling Ochos, Linear Ochos, Ochos Reversals, and Incremental Ochos are available to you as options to engage. Musically of course!

5.) All Crosses can be reversed, slowed down, sped up, or made incremental.

Quite honestly there are so many options here to augment your dance, these are just the high points. Seriously there’s a reason why this video was shot and this is it: Because there are so many options that you can play with, and these items mentioned above are just the hot spots. There are more in the video.

The Gotcha. The entire Golden Nugget Extension relies on one thing: Your ability to hear the beat and execute anything and everything you desire on the beat. And secondarily, and probably most importantly, your ability to respect the Musical Pauses. If you can’t hear them, or you don’t know what they are, then this entire topic is a complete and utter waste of your time. You must, must, must, must have mastered keeping musical time, hearing the beat, executing on the beat, and respecting the pauses. Otherwise this stuff looks out of place. This entire topic relies heavily on your ability to hear the pulse or beat of the music. It is strongly not advised to try this stuff with ‘Melodic Dancing’ ideas of Fresedo or Late Di Sarli. Meaning to play with the long-stringy notes. This stuff works ideally with Canaro, Donato, D’Arienzo, OTV, Lomuto, Biagi, Laurenz, Varela, De Caro, Demare, early Pugliese, and early Di Sarli. De Angelis, late Troilo, Late Pugliese (anything from the late 50s and beyond), Piazzolla, Caló, and Fresedo will NOT work. Which is to say, if you haven’t studied your orchestras, if you don’t know your music cold, then playing with the Golden Nugget Extensions is good practice but it’s musical application is absolutely crucial to your success!

The Fundamental Truth. The fact is that this is walking. Nothing more than that. Don’t get confused. Don’t get lost. Don’t focus on anything else but that. You are playing with the extension phase of the walk. If that walk for either role is unstable, unclear, not visually clean, then you’re going to have problems like nobody’s business. If you haven’t mastered your foundation, then playing with this stuff is like building a rickety house, on a shoddy foundation. It will look sloppy, and will feel even worse. That’s the fundamental truth. So it behooves (15 cent word) you to get the into some private lessons and clean up your walk. This topic is a wonderful toy! It’s musical. It has great potential of adding serious nuance that borders on going down the proverbial rabbit hole to what you otherwise would think of as “boring vocabulary” becomes anything but.

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video. This video is 11m:27s in length in 7 sections. Both lead and follower technique are combined and integrated into the video.

Sacada Introduction – 00:03:26
Sacada Review – 00:02:37
Follower Technique – Part 1 – 00:01:15
Lead Technique – Part 1 – 00:00:50
Lead Technique – Part 2 – 00:01:05
Follower Technique – Part 2 – 00:00:55
Quick Examples – 00:01:20

Related Videos Mentioned In This Article: 

The Six Ways of WalkingDownload
Close Embrace SacadasArticle/Download

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

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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Picking Your Teacher

Picking Your Teacher

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pay close attention to 4 parts of their class:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

creative tango ideas

Which Teacher Do You Want to Have ? 

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

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

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

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

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

The 8 Count Basic

The 8 Count Basic

Most people start out learning, one of three things: 1.) A walk. 2.) An Ocho Cortado. or 3.) The 8 Count Basic which later turns into The Argentine Cross

From a Leading perspective the 8 Count Basic is about as useful as a small kitchen appliance unplugged. However we do end up using it’s core component religiously, steps 2 through 5 of the Basic 8 or The Argentine Cross

From a Following perspective, the 8 Count Basic almost never happens for you. You’ll almost never encounter it on a social dance floor. Once you’re done (hahahahahha) with your foundation classes, you’ll never run into it again.

Truthfully the 8 Count Basic, consists of nothing more than 2 side steps, 3 back steps, and a cross and that’s about it for the Follower. And 2 side steps, Forward steps, and a clear collection. This is simple tango vocabulary for both roles.

From a Dancing perspective you’ll almost never see this arcane piece of vocabulary, and if you do, you know you’re looking at a Beginner who quite factually started dancing last week. You’re also looking a brave. Because it takes balls to pull that out on a social dance floor in the midst of everything else that’s going on around them. 

Why teach this stuff if it’s not used socially ? Because it contains some very useful information for both roles:

For the Lead 1.) It gets them to walk forwards (forward steps) with someone in front of them. 2.) They learn about side steps (they’re going to spend a lot of time on this). 3.) They have an awareness of the use of their arms and hands (which they unfortunately will not discard any time soon in favor of feather light contact, and level 1 of tango haptics). 4.) They get exposure to a ‘Crossing Step’.

For the Follower they learn 1.) Side. 2.) Back. 3.) Cross…over and over and over again and unfortunately it gets drilled into them thereby becoming ‘default‘ behavior. 



256 Argentine Cross Variations

256 Argentine Cross Variations

Of the 7 major moves for the Follower, the Argentine Cross is probably the most over used and least understood and quite honestly, least explored by the modern Tango dancer.

Just imagine for a moment, that you’re dancing along as a Lead or a Follower and you’re dancing the same Argentine Cross again, and again, and again. After about 5th or 6th time, it would become so rote that you’d stop thinking about it and it would happen by default. No artistry, no distinction, nothing. That is precisely what has happened with the modern version of this idea. The cross has become so ubiquitous that we have stopped exploring it and mining it for its rather unique properties. Like for instance the mere fact that it is the only time in any couple social dance where the Follower willingly (a very important distinction) crosses their feet! Or the singular distinction that there are about 256 and variations of the Argentine Cross, and yet…you only know one of them ? 

Yup. You read that rightly…TWO HUNDRED and FIFTY SIX different combinations. Let that sink in for a moment.   

Now Imagine that same dance above…only this time instead of the same old cross, your partner were to lead a mirror cross, and inverted cross, or perhaps….oh wait, you’ve never heard of these things before because they just aren’t taught. Ooops! As far as you understood it there is ONLY the one cross and that’s it, no more. These variations are just gobbly-gook…right ? They serve absolutely NO purpose. Well if you believe that then keep doing what you’re doing instead of inviting something different or fun, or expanding your potential for opportunities that you didn’t see before or couldn’t because… well…again, this stuff isn’t taught as standard practice.

Go Download the video, see what you think. And if you don’t like it…you know you can always throw it out. 😉 But I’m willing to bet you won’t. Why ? Because not only is it cool, not only is really interesting and educational, but quite honestly…it’s LOADS OF FUN!!!! And isn’t that the whole reason you’re here in the first place…FUN!  

Pre-Requisites: There is only one – The Argentine Cross itself, Walking, The Embrace just to name a few. You really do need to understand HOW the cross works in order for you to study these variations. While this video is NOT a class or workshop, it’s here to show you the possible. The underlaying foundations of the video can be found in This Argentine Cross Primer. Do you want to play ??? 

La Variación #5

La Variación #5

About 6 years ago after I had made a rather revolutionary discovery about the Music and wondered why it wasn’t taught it all. I came across a rather important, and sometimes beautiful, but VERY arcane concept known as “La Variación“. What you may not realize is that you, like most people, dance right past this thing most of the time. It’s in nearly every piece of tango music, by every major orchestral lead, in almost every age after a certain point. The thing is, you can’t actually dance past it. There’s something you SHOULD BE doing to it.

Rightfully in today’s Tango world, with the state of Modern Tango being what it is (it turns a LOT), that it’s sometimes impossible to engage La Variación due to a few factors – space being chief among them. However, the mere fact that you know that it’s there and more importantly that you’re aware of it is half the battle! Mistakenly you may be tempted to think that this is just a ‘Lead’ thing. Nope. It’s a DANCER thing. The Follower has a role here as well and it’s NOT to just FOLLOW what’s being led!

This should be an awakening to the trained ACTIVE Follower in all of us that hear La Variación and want to dance to it! As an aside, very few teachers teach this idea of this concept of the dance. For several reasons, most notably it’s fallen out of fashion. Furthermore it can sometimes be rather destructive to the line of dance IF engaged inappropriately.

You may wish to register for ‘Interpreting The Music‘ seminar series. And if you register today, get $50.00 off the purchase price.

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The Accent Note

The Accent Note

The Accent Note is rife in Tango, Milonga, and Vals. It’s everywhere and also in the most unexpected places! They are there for one reason: To draw attention to that particular measure of music that you’re listening to, highlighting that measure as if it were bolded, italicized, or underlined text. Because of the accent notes emphasis, it gives us something really cool to play with from a dancing perspective.

From a Following perspective: The active Follower perspective (meaning: that you’re not hanging, pulling, pushing, squeezing, compressing the living daylights out of your Leads and can walk unassisted in a pair of 3 inch heels, as well as turn, ocho, and boleo without help…at minimum and have moved on to actually redirecting your leads, and interpreting the music…), where you can interject an embellishment to the accent notes.

From a Leading perspective: Most of the time that we hear this stuff we just keep going, never realizing that dancing to the Accent Note can separate us as Leads! Quite honestly hitting the accent note is a little like an unexpected, but fun, “What was THAT ?” experience for the Follower. Truthfully we don’t want to do this constantly, but enough times so that there is logic to our dancing experience. You’ll note in this example that there are 4 of these accent notes, meaning that it’s not a random number. There’s purpose in that. Stuff like this always come in pairs or even numbers, never an odd number of things. This same idea plays itself out on a much larger scale than you imagine. 😉

From a musical perspective: Given the recent notations on this page about Tango Sincopa, it is quite possible that you may hear this and think that this is a Sincopa! That would be a mistake. Now the question is WHY isn’t this a Sincopa ? To figure this stuff out takes time, that’s why it’s important to have a good resource to study this stuff. Register for Tango Topics and get access to materials like this today. 😉 

Sacada Foundations

Sacada Foundations

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Tango Sacada is a very amazing piece of tango vocabulary. The first time I saw one, I did what most people do — “Wow!! That’s really cool!!!“. And then I went about trying to learn them. “Trying” being the operative word.

For most Leads, the Sacada represents a graduation in a sense of “cool”, yes, but also that next level, the next chapter of their tango development. One accomplishment on a road to a series of accomplishments, this is the first of this class of accomplishments that says, “Cool”.

For most Followers, oddly enough, it’s the polar opposite of “Cool”. It’s “Did I get it right ?“. Their only concern is not the coolness factor but rather did they miss anything ? Did they ‘hear’ (feel) the lead properly ? Was their foot in the right place ? Their leg ? Are they hanging on their Lead ? Was their leg supposed to do that ? “Oops I’m sorry” an oft repeated apology for doing what they were led to do (see Truism #893. Vol. 3). All hoping that it was right and that they didn’t hurt anyone, and in the end hoping that their Lead will still want to dance with them…in the beginning. Later on, as they improve, hoping that said Lead WON’T dance with them! But that is a topic for another time.

There are two immutable facts about every single Sacada known to man: 1.) The Sacada is an illusion! 2.) They’re in the the family of displacements. It’s the 2nd one that we’re interested in the most because this part usually fails in the Lead’s understanding and execution of exactly what it is that they’re trying to do. I failed at this constantly, in the beginning, failing to see this most intrinsic element that not one of my 98 teachers told me about. Not one.

When learning to Follow, I realized that the Sacada is, was nothing more than my body wanting to take the place of the Lead’s body. It just so happened that my leg would naturally want to go away from my lead because of their invasion – hence the displacement part. Proper Tango Technique taught me to do something else with that leg than just let it fly away, potentially hurting someone with my 3 inch heels!

Good thing you have access to a video that discusses all of these things in lurid detail in Sacada Foundations for both Lead and Follow, especially the proper Follower Technique part. In 7 minutes and 8 seconds you’ll learn everything you need to know about the foundation of every sacada known to man and beast. 🙂 All in HD quality with good clear sound and close ups of every aspect of importance. Plus a free preview of Back Sacada technique for both Lead and Follow. Buy it here.

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