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Musical Interpretation with Turns

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

Please go look at Parts 1 & 2, Parts 3 & 4, Part 5a & 5b BEFORE reading further!

Musical Interpretation with the 'Turn'.

Dearest Reader: A very important component in modern argentine Tango is the ‘turn’. Without the turn in the equation almost no one would be able to dance. Why ? While most people think or believe, and as is oft repeated, “Tango is a walking dance.” This is no longer the case. That being the state of the Tango world, then we as dancers need to understand the ‘turn’ and more importantly, how to apply it…musically. While anyone can perform a turn, which is easy once you’re over the hump of the steps you’re ‘supposed’ to do, the issue at that point is to apply it musically! And more importantly where to apply it. Today’s Tango Topic deals with the when and where but not the how. So without further yapping, a Musical ‘Turn.

Some Considerations. This is a subscriber based website. While there are understandably places, where unless you are a subscriber you’re not going to see all the toys. That’s not going to happen. I gotta eat just like you do you know. However rather than be stingy with this information that I paid for, I choose to share bits of that information that can help you to help yourself. However if you want all the toys, and to fully understand what I’m talking about and why, instead of cherry-picking ideas out of context, then it would help yourself to subscribe. So if this looks like an ad to you, I assure you that it’s not. It’s free information that you can use.

Before we dive into talking about Musical Turns, we have to address a few things that will come up in reading this article –

1.) Tango Topics does not advocate the non-musical practice that some people teach or engage in known as ‘counting beats’ but rather understanding and then employing the 5 Musical Pause Types. Everything that Tango Topics advocates musically is built off this construct.

2.) In the instance of the Musical Turn, while we don’t have to hear a specific pause type, as is the case with the Argentine Cross, we do have to be able to hear them religiously without fail. This is one of those things that has to be so ingrained in you that you quite literally have to do it in your sleep. Sadly this process is not something that you can study for 5 minutes and then automagically be able to ‘get’. No! This is a process of a.) understanding. b.) application. and c.) practice, practice, practice with LOTS of corrective feedback. Fortunately this website has the necessary tools to help you to learn to discern this information for yourself! It will take you about 60 days of time to get the idea and once you do, your dance will never be the same. Ever.

3.) There is this erroneous belief that a lot of dancers engage in that the Lead is really the only person that needs to hear the music in order to access it. So the Follower shouldn’t really engage in hearing the music at all. They should just Follow what is being led. Ahem. This is so much of a ‘Not’! This article and nearly every article on this site advocates the role of the Passive Follower and the role of the Active Follower, and the role of the Follower in general. You’ll notice that nearly every article starts with the Follower’s Perspective because it’s that important! Here, in this instance, the reality is that the Follower must hear the beat. While they don’t necessarily need to hear the structure of the music, they do need to be acutely aware of the beat, and more important than that the time signature of the music. Constantly.

What is a Musical Turn ? First and foremost it is a ‘Turn’ or rotation that that the couple initiates within the line and lane of dance that can exist in one of three places in the music. 1.) The space between the musical pauses (which is what typically occurs). 2.) The actual musical pause itself, this is known as turning ‘On the Pause’. Or 3.) The notes just before or after the musical pause. 🙂

Secondly, a Musical Turn is a construct that starts, and ideally ends, on an accented note. That accent can be but is not limited to a Strong 1 of a 4 count, or it could be the odd lone accent note. However it can almost never exist inside a Sincopa structure, not without breaking the turn into paired movements. It can never exist inside a La Variacion (not socially) not without massive modifications to the structure of the ‘Turn’ in order to match the speed of La Variacion, and not without exacting precision in the execution of one’s technique. Otherwise it looks sloppy and appears ‘off’. A ‘Turn’ could be done off-beat, meaning on the upbeat and not the downbeat. However doing so can look, and more importantly ‘feel’ out of place. The only reason to do this is to extend your musical abilities, to flex your musical muscles. In other words, because you can. Which is to say, that just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean that you should do a thing.

In Tango music we typically walk on the strongest 1st note and the weaker 3, always. Hardly ever do we walk on the strong 2, and much weaker 4 (especially if it’s Biagi). In Vals we have several options where we can walk on the 1 (which is what typically happens), or the 1-2, or the 1-3, or the 2-3. However this article will not cover those aspects, as dancing to Vals is a whole different idea all together. Nor will this article cover Milonga, again…very different ideas and dynamics.

Thirdly a Musical Turn can be but is not limited to, as the accent of the dance itself. Because Tango is no longer a walking dance, but in fact a turning dance, the turn itself is the accent itself and becomes the entire construct of the dance.

What is meant by the word ‘Turn’ ? Most people when they hear the word ‘Turn’ they think of The Follower’s Molinete/Lead’s Giro construct. There’s a good reason for this line of thinking, it’s because this particular type of turn is the first turn that most people are taught. It’s also the one that they see repeated over and over again all night long while social dancing. It is the ubiquitous and common vocabulary. What they may not realize, what you may not realize, is that there are 7 other common turns that we have to choose from. Which are, in case you’re wondering: 1.) Walking Turns. 2.) Calesitas. 3.) The Linear Ocho Cortado or Circular Ocho Cortado. 4.) Rock Step Turns. 5.) Colgada & Volcada Turns (including Single Axis Turns which are in the Colgada family). 6.) Media Lunas (or “half-turns”). and finally 7.) The Milonguero Turn. If you’re having trouble visualizing these ideas, please visit the links so that you can see them in all their glory. 🙂

It’s important to recognize that we don’t just want to employ one single type of turn constantly. Further that sometimes it’s judicious for floorcraft purposes that the ubiquitous Follower’s Molinete/Lead Giro may not work due to space, time, and the ability of the dancer isn’t quite up to snuff (yet). So for these two reasons it’s important for us to begin to employ other types of turns and make it so that we’re just as facile with these other types of turns to create facility in our dance from a leading perspective as well as from a following perspective.

The Completeness of the ‘Turn’. When most people hear the word ‘turn’ they immediately think THREE-HUNDRED-SIXTY (360) degree rotation. While it is desirable and advantageous to do a full 360 degree rotation with the couple, the reality is that for a variety of reasons, we may not actually get to complete the turn. Therefore it’s important to recognize that a turn does not have to be a full 360. Either a 90 turn (such as is the case with an Linear or Circular Ocho Cortado), or what is more likely to happen, a 180.

The Common 180 Turn has benefits and detractions. The benefits of a 180 degree turn are there are options and opportunities to create other vocabulary choices that may make accentuating the music that much more desirable than a full 360. Things that you would otherwise miss because you’re too busy rotating 360 degrees. So put simply, doing a 180 not only creates options for other vocabulary choices after the turn, but also creates greater opportunities to further match the music to the dance in greater detail. 🙂 However, there are detracting factors a 180. Sadly. And one of them, is that it slows down the line, lane, and progression (the ronda) of dance. 🙁 Still another one is that rotating the couple just 180 degrees tends to end up facing against the line of dance. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Major no-no. Obviously we don’t want to do this but it’s precisely what does happen.

The Follower’s Bane! The fact of the matter is that a good portion of Follower’s are pushed AND pulled through all manner of turns, they’re rushed through most if not all manner of turns. They’ve been pushed and pulled so often and told to hurry up more times than not, that at a certain point, they end up rushing themselves through a turn no matter what that type of turn is. As a result they stop listening to the music, and instead their only goal is listening to their lead who is themselves rushing through a turn and engaging what Tango Topics calls ‘The Lazy Man’s Turn’. In this scenario, while it is depicted with a Follower’s Molinete, it still applies to all turns – A Lead will turn slightly ahead of the Follower not really leading the turn but implying that the Follower will turn all by themselves. The Follower is left to their own devices as to what they should do, and because they’ve been led to the same type of turn over and over and over again, they default to a Follower’s Molinete to the Lead’s almost non-existent Giro. This is known as part of the  Follower’s Default Behavior. As a result the Follower isn’t really paying attention to the music (and they need to), however they’re keenly aware that they’re not keeping up with the L/lead (the person/the action). As a result, their turn structure suffers, their execution of their practiced and honed technique falls apart, and everything looks sloppy. 🙁 Hence the reason why this is called “The Follower’s Bane”.

The reality is that this is not the Follower’s fault. It’s the Lead’s.

All That Said. This is a lot, and there’s rightfully a lot of stuff going on here. Before we go any further it’s important to recognize that we haven’t necessarily addressed the primary aspect of Musical Interpretation with regards to a Turn. We’ve spent most of the time of this article talking about the technical aspects and definitions of the turn concept. There’s a good reason for that, and that’s because this is a wide and vast concept with loads and loads variations on a theme. There’s also a bunch of stuff that hasn’t been mentioned but is implied, such a turn technique, the execution of the turns in different scenarios, floorcraft issues, and so on. And that’s not to mention the one thing that we absolutely have to talk about (which we’re going to do right now): When do we actually ‘turn’ and what we should start to practice so that we can hone our skills to become better dancers under all conditions. This isn’t just a matter of learning the steps, and you’ll magically become a better dancer. If it were that easy then tango would not be the intricate dance that it is today. The reality is that Tango is complex. The music is complex and so is the dance itself. That complexity creates near infinite possibilities.

A Last Definition of Terms. The Musical Statement. Anything between two pauses is a lot like an English (Spanish, Russian, German….) sentence that ends with a period, comma, or semicolon. The pause type tells you whether or not this is period, comma, or semicolon in terms of punctuation. If you were a paid subscriber, you would see what the 5 pause types are and how they relate to an English (German, Russian, Spanish….) sentence and grammatical structure here instead of the sales-like plug to get you to subscribe!

thoughts about tango ?

Honing Your Skills. As an important reminder: 1.) You need to understand the Musical Pause structure, and hear them religiously first and foremost. Without that in the equation, then you’re turning arbitrarily, and more importantly without purpose. 2.) The Follower must absolutely keep time with regards to the beat. While you don’t necessarily need to understand the pauses, you do need to keep time with the beat. 3.) You do need understand the 8 types of turns and be very familiar with them from a leading perspective (obviously) and a following perspective (respectively).

Let’s start with the simplest idea of the 3 already mentioned: The when to turn part.

You could quite conceivably initiate (leading) /respond to a turn (following) anywhere between two pauses. Which is typically what happens. However there’s just one little tiny issue with this idea. It looks haphazardly done. No matter where and how you do this, it looks out of place like it doesn’t fit. 🙁

You could try turning on the pause, and Tango Topics does talk about this in an addendum video that we’ll show later. However, there is another idea that we want to look at first for a reason, and that’s the placement of the turn near the start of the musical statement after a pause occurs. Thereby starting the the musical statement with turn, instantly.

Placing the turn here in this position, has a certain symmetry to it. That the dancer knows that the first thing that they’re going to do musically is a turn. And given today’s idea of tango then this isn’t such a stretch of the imagination. There’s just one little tiny problem with this idea, it doesn’t work. Why ? First and foremost, placing the turn structure here is out of place. It’s like starting a sentence with an Exclamation Point! Furthermore there’s no build up at all, there’s no resolution to an idea. We actually want to build and then resolve, build and then resolve. The turn is the resolution to an idea, musically, not building element. For that we use Traveling Ochos, and or Milonguero Ochos, and the 6 Ways of Walking to achieve our goals.  So in a nutshell, not so much with the starting the musical statement with a turn. 🙁  This is the place where we would invoke an Ocho Transition (one of the 4 that are on this site), go look at your library for Ochos and Ocho Transitions. Oh wait, you’re not a subscriber, so you can’t see those Ocho Transitions in their entirety. Hmmm, maybe you should think about subscribing so you can see those transitions and why they’re important ?

So now we’ve removed the logic behind turning anywhere between two pauses…it’s haphazard. And we’ve removed the idea behind turning at the beginning of the musical statement – no build up. That leaves, turning at the end of the Musical Statement or just before the pause!

It’s at this point that you’re going to ask, because everyone does, how do you know that a musical statement is going to end ? Don’t you need to know the music, note for note ? Don’t you need to have memorized the music in order to do that ? That helps to a certain degree, yes. Familiarity is a key component to this stuff, however there is another by product that happens due to your study of the 5 Pause Types, you can actually anticipate the end of a statement in every style of tango music. You can hear them coming, and thereby the Musical Pause. So, ummmm, ‘No’, you don’t.

So now that we’ve determined when a pause can happen. How do you do that ? There is a very specific place we want to plan to engage in a turn. A very specific place indeed. While it may sound haphazard that it’s at the end of the musical sentence, it is anything but. And it depends largely on the type of turn you’re engaging in! And this is yet another reason why you want to be absolutely clear, without any doubt about a.) Your pause types. and b.) Your vocabulary choices. You must know them inside and out. Why ? Hmmm….because you’re not a paying subscriber you’re not going to get to see the why, and sadly you’re not going to get to actually see how and where this works in specificity in relation to a piece of music. You see, the video above is just a teaser, it’s not the whole video. It’s just a taste of the exercises that you want to do on a regular basis that show you, and give you a practice tool to help you a.) identify the pause. b.) be clear about the vocabulary, and c.) put the two together in time to the music on a regular basis. But alas my friend, this is the end of the ride right here unless you subscribe, you’re not going to get to see this stuff. Sadly.

The Wrap Up. So this is the how you turn part, and why this article isn’t showing you the technique of this stuff, because rightfully you already know this stuff, or at least you should already know this stuff. That’s why you have to know your turns! And also why the Follower has to be aware their vocabulary and how it’s constructed as well as being aware of the beat because they’re going to be led to matching the beat to their steps! So why not just ‘lead’ them to do it and they just enjoy the ride. Because in today’s Tango world that’s a Follower who is a drain to dance with that’s why. That and it’s no fun to dance with this kind of Follower. There’s no inspiration to dance with that kind of dancer. Ideally we want to dance with inspiration and not necessary an automaton or marionette. Which is precisely what that is, Marionette dancing! In days past, many decades ago, this was the norm. It’s not so anymore.

Most Followers, myself included – Yes I consider myself a Follower, do not necessarily know their own side of the vocabulary equation. They only know it from the kinesthetics involved that when you do “a”, “b” proceeds “c” and then “d” comes next and so on and so on. However, what we’d like to do as Followers is become a bit more aware of specifically what we’re doing in relation to the music.

Where can you study the Music ‘Stuff’ ? Tango Topics has recently changed its Musical offerings. A brand new system that offers to challenge and educate you at the same time. We have 8 courses you can self study with videos, history, and quizzes to help you to understand more about the dynamic and fascinating music that is the basis of what we dance:

1.) The Beat Course.
2.) The 5 Pauses of Tango Music.
3.) 14 Days of Tango Music – A Guided Tour.
4.) Tango Del Dia – Part 1 – 30 Days of Tango Music.
5.) Tango Del Dia – Part 2 – The Singers of Tango.
6.) Tango Del Dia – Part 3 – Sincopa, Accent Notes, & La Variacion.
7.) Tango Del Dia – Part 4 – The Structure of Tango Music.
8.) Tango Del Dia – Part 5 – Putting It All Together.

This video is NOT for sale. You can only view it with a Tango Topics Subscription.

About The Video. This video package comes in at 34m:57s in length in 3 Sections.

Section 5c1 – Turns – Not Technique – 00:06:51
Section 5c2 – Turns – With a Metronome  – 00:20:57
Section 5c3 – Turns – With Music  – 00:07:09

Pre Requisites for Musical Interpretation Section 5c

1.) Musical Interpretation 1 & 2 with the 6 Walking Systems
2
.) Musical Interpretation 3 & 4 with Alternation & Symmetry
3.) Musical Interpretation 5a 
with Traveling Ochos
4.) Musical Interpretation 5b with The Argentine Cross

This video is NOT for sale. You can only view it with a Tango Topics Subscription.

spicy dancing ideas

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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The Follower’s Shortened Side Step

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

The Follower's Shortened Side Step

The Shortened Side Step.  The Follower’s Molinete in one respect it has become the staple of the dance due to the fact that the dance is no longer a walking dance but rather a turning dance. This, aspect, is due in part to the fact that the Ronda (the line of dance) no longer moves, it hesitates, it hovers. As such is the case, we have become students not of the walk, but of the Follower’s Molinete and the Lead’s Giro in Open and Close Embrace. More the Close Embrace variety more than anything else. And so that we hit all the hot spots here, that idea of Close Embrace is in an Open Vee, Closed Vee, Pseudo, Berlin, and/or Square Embrace format. In any and/or all of these varieties of the Embrace the Follower’s Molinete and the Lead’s Giro is the staple or go to turn. Even though there are 7 other types (Milonguero Turn, Ocho Cortado – Circular or Linear, Single Axis, Colgada Turns, Rock Steps, Walking Turns, and Calesitas.) that we want to use to create a little bit of variety with our dance on multiple levels. Not just from a vocabulary standing but from a musical interpretation position. But that’s a horse of a different color for another day. As it stands with the Follower’s Molinete there is a huge or monster issue that happens in that turn that is created by 4 separate issues that create a less than desirable experience for both Lead AND for the Follower. Before we get to those 4 issues. So without further yappage, the Follower’s Shortened Side Step.

What is the Follower’s Shortened Side Step ? It’s exactly what it sounds like, it’s a side step that is much, much smaller. By default when we’re performing the Follower’s Molinete (as Followers) you may have been told early on by various and sundry teachers that we want to create evenly sized steps. The reason for this is really simple: Predictability! That predictability is, so we are told, a way for the Lead to be able to rely on the consistency of your steps as a Follower. They require it. They need it. They can’t possibly dance any other way. That’s not true by the way. There is another way which Tango Topics teaches and promotes, and that’s Intention Based Dancing. Part of the goal of Intention Based Dancing is to create a hyper-awareness in the dancer so that they can and should be able to ‘feel’ via their nervous system the small and seemingly imperceptible changes that can occur in someone’s posture, body position, body placement, weight position, foot position, foot placement. And in ‘listening’ to those cues we can surmise where someone’s body is in space and time and then enact Newton’s 3rd Law of Thermodynamics in real time! So the Follower’s Shortened Side Step is really a side step that allows for a Lead to have not only predictability but also gives control back to the Follower. Control ? You see in this entire discussion of the Follower’s Side Step of their Molinete, they’ve lost control over their choices. They’ve been told this is how things are supposed to be done, when in fact they have oodles of choices. Lots really. This idea of the Shortened Side Step is just one of them.

Difficulty Rating:   (1.5 / 5)

From A Following Perspective your reasoning for engaging in a Shortened Side Step is below in the Leading section, however you as a Follower have been led to Molinetes that just don’t or won’t work and as a result have to make a few modifications (we’ll call them that) in order for your Molinete to work, or function. One those modifications is shortening one of your steps. You could shorten the Forward or Back Steps around your Lead. However doing so creates an issue of even smaller steps and less circumference around your Lead, which as a result creates even more steps. So ? Not so much with that. 😉 Then there’s the real issue of time. Time ? You barely have enough time to get around the Lead as it is. So doing all three (forward, side, back) equally sized steps is almost batshitcrazy! Almost. It can be done, but unless your technique is spot on, and the Lead is actually respectful of your abilities (they’re frequently not, they rush through the turn), and or you’re in a slow tanda. Forget it. It’s just not going to happen. So as a result you end up having to cut a corner here and there. Further still most of the time you end up in the Lead’s Armpit by the time you finish your Molinete and it’s just absolute insanity from that point forward! You feel like you’re racing to catch up with your Lead and you never do, and that’s in Tango or Vals. God help you if it’s MILONGA!!!! And then considering the fact that you spend most of your time turning, turning, turning….it’s no wonder by the end of the tanda you’re plum tuckered out (tired). There is another way!

Enter Shortening of your Side Step. Now to be fair, this advice does not come without a caveat. Doing so will create some ‘issues’ with Leads that want to control every single aspect of your Molinete. And there’s a good reason for it. The fact is that a good portion of what Tango Topics refers to as ‘Speciality Vocabulary’ is built off you invoking a large, and consistently sized, step in your Molinete. A good piece of Specialty Vocabulary is what Tango Topics refers to as the venerable ‘Sacada Turn‘. Wherein you are starting out from an Argentine Cross position, and then are led to a Follower’s Molinete as a result. That turn relies heavily on the predictability of a.) the size of your steps. and b.) that you actually have a side step at all. So if you shorten your side step, or remove it, in that movement, the resulting Sacada that the Lead is looking for can not and will not happen. 🙁

That said, the pluses of shortening the Side Step are that you are now able to get around your Lead in a timely fashion and gain a measure of control in executing what’s been asked of you. Phew.

The Assumption. The suppositions above assume that we’re talking about shortening your side steps, everywhere! We’re not. 🙂 We’re suggesting you engage this idea in one place and one place only: Vals! Engaging the idea of a shortened side step in Vals, and in Vals ONLY then makes loads and loads of sense for a variety of reasons. With Tango you have 4 notes to play with and you always feel like you’re rushing to catch up with the Lead. In Vals, it’s just crazy, now you only have 3! What would happen if you instead, shortened or even removed the side step ? Control is what would happen. You could and would feel like you’re able to do what’s being asked of you! That’s what’s would happen!

One More Thing. While there is a technique to doing this, and this version of the article only talks about it in passing, unless you’re a paid subscriber, the simplest solution here is to make the side step very small, but then we want to not only make it very small we actually want to turn it into something else that is far more beneficial to us as Followers. And that’s what this topic is really about. So if you want to see the technique that we’re advocating, it wouldn’t kill you to register and then subscribe. There’s some great material here for the Follower. Typically, most classes, focus solely on the Lead and what they have to do in order to lead you. And there’s really nothing there for the Follower, no advice, no help, no hints, no insights. This site, if nothing else, focuses on the Follower’s details first and foremost. Contained within each video, and every article you will see the Follower has prominence first! With a few notable exceptions, Music being chief among them. So consider subscribing today and take your dance to the next level.

From a Leading Perspective, there are 4 things you are doing that generating a less than desirable Follower’s Molinete whereby the Follower may have to resort to a Shorter Side Step than you would desire. Sadly, you’re going to have to get over it. And there’s no sense in blaming the Follower for doing this, or getting angry at this page for calling a spade a spade. The fact is that you are generating the problem that is necessitating this choice in the Follower. So before we get to how you alleviate the problem, we have to at detail the 4 Common Issues that you are generating that create the necessity of a Shortened Side Step in the Follower!

1.) Squeezing the Living Daylights out of your Followers with your right forearm! You may not realize it, your Follower’s aren’t going to tell you this (especially while you’re dancing with them), and furthermore no one is going to criticize you, or correct you. They can’t. It’s a Milonga. Remember ? But the fact is that unless you relax the forearm a bit towards what Tango Topics calls ‘skin to fabric contact‘ (see: Tango Haptics) and nothing more than that you’re going to continue to have embrace issues. Put another way: Squeezing or compressing the embrace creates a dynamic that stops the Follower’s body motion and more importantly their body rotation. The reality is that you may not even be aware that you’re generating this behavior. Only an Intention Based Dancer can tell you this. Think, and then do, lite and soft almost barely touching the Follower’s back. If at all! 😉

2.) Leading From The Armpit. You may have been told 10,000 times that you want to be in front of your Follower. So here’s 10,001: You want to be in front of your Follower, ‘buttons-to-buttons’ as it were. And yet where does the Follower end up ? In your armpit! It’s not the Follower’s fault quite honestly. You allowed this to happen, and furthermore you created the problem to begin with for a variety of reasons. Mostly notably because you lined up that way, mostly. Go look at the Berlin Embrace, or it’s kissin’ cousin, the Pseudo Embrace as reference. And if your embrace structure looks like this, then you have an issue that needs to get resolved. Part of your job as a Lead is to continually manage the Follower’s position in relation to yourself and what you lead. Failure to do this and you’re making the Follower work harder than they need to compensate for the fact that they’re behind you and your rushing ahead of them, and as a result they’re behind trying to catch up. Then there’s the whole aspect of you actually listening to what you’re leading in the Follower’s Molinete in response to your Giro. And not to mention, but we will anyway, the speed at which you generate the turn….thereby rushing through it. All of this is not desirable. These combined elements create a Follower’s Molinete that is, to put it mildly, unpleasant to dance with

3.) Watching the Follower’s Feet. Not all of you do this, but a good portion of Leads do in fact watch the Follower’s feet while they’re turning. Who cares ? As far as you’re concerned, watching your favorite dancers, Chicho & Juana for example…Chicho watches Juana’s feet from time to time. Or Horacio Godoy, or Sebastian Arce, or…. So if they do it, there’s nothing wrong with it, right ? Well, “yes there is!”. There is something that is less than desirable about it. Several things actually. a.) The Visual Line that you as a Lead are responsible for. You, in the role of the Lead, are responsible for what the couple looks like, the lines that are generated, and how elegant the couple appears. Why ? Because like it or not this is an elegant dance. And that means that there is some level of refinement and refined social happenstance that we’re always edging towards. Watching the Follower’s feet ? Not so much with that. It breaks the visual relationship of the couple, and makes it look like you don’t know what you’re doing. b.) Proprioception. The fact is that you have to be able to ‘feel’ where the Follower is in space and in time by sensation alone! Watching their feet does not build this skill. There are, and will be, times when you can’t see where the Follower is at, but you will want to lead a moment and will need to feel them. A back sacada for instance. And if you haven’t built this skillset of proprioception, then you are going to have issues. And lastly c.) Chicho knows those rules. He CHOOSES to break them. The same with any professional dancer. They know what they rules are, they know what they’re doing. They have spent a lifetime building a very specific way of dancing that promotes a very specific idea. When Chicho is watching Juana’s feet, he’s doing it for a reason. You are an entirely different story. You’re doing it because you don’t know any better, it’s unconscious behavior. He’s doing it because he can! There’s a difference. That and he’s Tango Royalty so he can do almost anything he wants. You, on the other hand, not so much with that! So unless you’ve suddenly become Tango Royalty, then lift up your head and stop watching the Follower’s feet.

4.) Your Hips are in the Way. This one you get for free. The Follower is trying to take a Back Step around you but unfortunately YOUR hips are in the way. The fact is that a good portion of the time when you lead a Follower’s Molinete to your Giro, your hips are forward. As a result the Follower can not ‘get around you‘. There’s no space. So as a result they end up going away from you. Do this enough times and the Follower’s Default Behavior becomes this. If you move your hips back slightly, ever so slightly, the Follower now has enough room to get around you in their Back Steps! However, remembering to do this, and actually doing it are two very different things. This is not something you’re going to remember to do. You must be taught to break your habits to generate this idea in nearly every Giro/Molinete structure that you lead. Your habits will get the better of you until you have someone that can train this behavior out of you. This is not, so that we’re clear about this, an egregious movement. It’s not breaking at the waist forwards and/or tilting the chest into the Follower, we’re talking about 2 millimeters backwards with your hips. It’s just enough, to create space for the Follower. That’s it, that’s all.

It should be noted that you could lead the Follower to a Smaller Side Step, or the specific technique that we’re ideally looking for here. There’s nothing wrong with that. Such thinking and action should actually be encouraged for you to do so. However, to do so would mean fighting Follower default behavior (which can be done) and your own default response to it. Further still while this can be led via Resistance Based Dancing (Force, Tension, La Marca, The use of one’s arms … tsk, tsk, tsk), Tango Topics eschews this methodology for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is that it’s compressive and pressured, and wholly unpleasant. 🙁

One more thing. While there’s not much here for you in terms of the Follower shortening their side step to get around you. Or for that matter you leading it, there is one thing that Tango Topics would like to remind you of: Do not blame your Followers for your inabilities. When something doesn’t work, or something goes awry, smile…nod…and move on. Do not under any circumstances a.) repeat the same movement over and over again, expecting different results. Or b.) stop and explain it to them like a 5 year old while you’re dancing with them. If something doesn’t work. Move on and say nothing about it. It’s not your place to criticize, or to comment on their abilities or their skills as a dancer in any way, shape, or form on a social dance floor. At a practica, maybe, but that’s only if they invite or ask for feedback. But never, ever on a social dance floor.  Not even if they ask you in the line of dance at a Milonga. Never. Ever. 🙂 This is about social dancing, not teaching!

thoughts about tango ?

About The Video. This video is 10m:51s in length in 2 sections. Lead causes and then Follower Technique is shown in the video only. There is virtually no Lead Instruction in this video.

Section 1 – What happens! – 00:09:09
Section 2 – Follower Detailed Technique – 00:01:41

This video is not for sale. It can only be seen with an active and valid Tango Topics Subscription.

Related Videos Mentioned In This Article: 

The Six Ways of WalkingDownload
DisassociationDefinition/Download
Applied DisassociationDefinition/Download

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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The Argentine Calesita

The Argentine Calesita

The Argentine Calesita. Tango consists, surprisingly so, of an almost dizzying array of ‘steps’ that it quite honestly boggles the mind. Really when you stop and you think about it, it’s just 2 feet, well 4 really, and you can’t even begin to imagine what you could do with 4 feet. The possibilities are nearly endless! Which brings us to Today’s Tango Topic: The Argentine Calesita.

Calesita is not a word that you hear all that often, and quite frankly even if you look it up to translate it, you’ll more than likely be more than a little confused. In the annals of Tango Vocabulary this is one of those things that quite literally have to ask, “What on God’s green earth is a Calesita ?”.

The Argentine calesita is a type of turn. One of the 8 Types. 1.) The Follower’s Molinete (open embrace, and close embrace). 2.) The Milonguero Turn. 3.) The Rock Step. 4.) The Ocho Cortado. 5.) Argentine Media Luna. 6.) Walking Turns. (El Giro de Caminando). 7.) Colgada Turns & Single Axis Turns. and 8.) The Argentine Calesita.

What is an Argentine Calesita ? The word “Calesita” roughly translates as ‘Carousel’ or in English, a ‘Merry-Go-Round’. Anytime the you see a ‘sita’ or ‘cita’ ending on a Spanish word, it means that whatever object is being modified is small, or made smaller, tiny. So this is a small carousel, or a small ‘Merry-Go-Round’. The Argentine Calesita is a basically a small turn! It’s nothing more than a variation on a El Giro De Caminando or The Walking Turn with a ‘twist’, there’s always a twist!

Difficulty Rating:  (2.5 / 5)

From A Leading & Following Perspective the Argentine Calesita is really simple for either one of you. This is nothing more than walking really. It’s just that this one of you (the person receiving the Calesita) will stay in the center, while the other (the person walking the Calesita) will walk around the other! While there are several versions of the Calesita, such as a Lead Forward Calesita (in the video), The Lead Back calesita (in the video), The Follower Side Calesita (in the video), and the Lead Molinete Calesita (not in the video) the one that you’re going to lead and follow over and over again, because of its simplicity, is the Follower’s Forward Calesita. This is where the Follower is going to walk forwards around the lead, as shown in the video above. While this is the common form of the Calesita that you’ll both be exposed to, there are the more interesting ones where you’re going to want play with (which is what the video is for). However, before you get to see that stuff (you can subscribe or purchase it), there are some things you may want to be aware of, read that as ‘issues’, that are common to both roles.

1.) Stepping Away. While this should be obvious, for a lot of people, it’s not and they wonder why the calesita fails. This is the primary reason why it will fail. Whichever partner is walking the Calesita, if you step away from your partner, you’re going to create an instability. The further away you step, the more instability you’re going to generate. And to be clear, you’re not the one that’s unstable. It’s the person in the center of the Calesita that becomes unstable because they can’t move! Most especially if it’s the Lead’s Forward or Back Calesita around the Follower!

2.) Stepping Too Close. The other primary issue that happens with the Calesita is stepping too close to the person that’s receiving the Calesita! This is sometimes known as stepping too shallow. In other words, your step is so close to their feet that you’re almost toppling them over.

3.) The ‘RigidEmbrace. Still another failing of the Calesita is an embrace where either the Lead, or the Follower, creates a state of rigidity with their arms and hands, and quite literally (if not factually) holds onto (seemingly for dear life), the partner that is receiving or generating the Calesita. That rigidity creates more problems than it’s worth. Ideally we want our embrace, in this case, to be somewhat fluid and very soft, think ‘air’, and then do ‘air’. We’re looking for either ‘air-to-air’ physiological contact, or ‘air-to-skin/fabric’ with our embrace and/or somewhere in between. This is better known as  Level 1 and Level 2 of Tango Haptics.

4.) Poor Posture. The Argentine Calesita relies on having ‘good’ posture. Meaning that you’re not tilting towards or away from your partner, or breaking at the waist, or your head is pointing at the floor (watching your partner’s feet…tsk, tsk, tsk). Doing so, creates another instability that you do not want in a Calesita from either a Leading Perspective OR a Following Perspective.

5.) The Unstable Walk. If you’re used to walking on the 5th Metatarsal of your foot (your baby toe, which is actually the 5th Phalanges), you’re going to create yet another instability, thereby creating, and generating an instability in your own walk and really your partner’s stability to maintain the center of the Calesita.

One Gotcha! There is one particular Calesita, which for a variety of reasons (2 actually) that will be nearly impossible to pull off unless you know a tiny little trick that can create it. The problem child ? The Follower’s Back Step Calesita. This particular Calesita is generally not done due to two Follower default behaviors that occur. So if you’re looking for that in the video, and how to generate one, then you’ve come to the right place. The video talks about and then shows you a method to generating the Follower’s Back Step Calesita!

These are just some of the more common issues that can and do happen with the Argentine Calesita that are common to both roles, as both roles can and do engage in a Calesita.

There are two common components to the Argentine Calesita, and they’re the primary reason why you need a video like this.

a.) The Common Entry points. There are several places that we can enter a Calesita from. The first and more common of them is a simple side step in either direction (to lead left, or to lead right). A Calesita can be generated in either direction. However there are multiple entry points that you’ll want to consider (see the video), that can create a dynamic ‘wow’ moment, and relaxing of the embrace.

b.) The Common Exit points. There are really only 3 common exit points that we want to engage in. While there are a host of options and opportunities for us to start to play with, the more esoteric items such as Sacadas, or any of the Colgada options, ideally we want to stick to the simplest exit points. And there’s a reason for that: Simplicity. Learning the exit points and understanding why they’re insanely important to keeping not only the dance moving but the ronda (the room) moving is not only good floorcraft, it also just makes good sense.

One More Thing. This stuff is really not that hard to envision but there’s one overriding reason why we actually want to add this into our dance, and it has everything to do with heat. Heat ? Yes, bodily heat. Typically the dance can generate a lot of body warmth and as such, things can get overheated quite easily. So engaging the Argentine Calesita tends to release that heat trap temporarily. Ok, that’s not a real reason but it sounds like one, no ? A good reason that we want to engage the Argentine Calesita is purely a musical one. A good Calesita can be used in any number of ways to accentuate the upbeat, the downbeat, dropping a beat, playing with 8th or 16th notes (almost patter like). This is the primary reason why we use them!

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The VideoThis video is 01h:14m:13s in length in 15 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.

Section 1 – Introduction – 00:01:10
Section 2 – Caveats – 00:05:35
Section 3 – Lead Set Up – 00:07:01
Section 4 – Lead Forward Calecita – 00:02:49
Section 5 – Follower’s Forward Calesita – 00:07:40
Section 6 – with Close Embrace – 00:05:23
Section 7 – with Milonguero/Lazy Ochos – 00:03:47
Section 8 – Calesita with 2 Turns – 00:03:42
Section 9 – Close Up – 00:05:09
Section 10 – Errors – 00:11:42
Section 11 – Footwork – 00:03:11
Section 12-Follower Technique – 00:05:15
Section 13-Lead Back Step Calesita – 00:05:54
Section 14 – Follower Back Step Calesita – 00:05:13
Section 15 – Closure – 00:00:42

Related Videos Mentioned In This Article: 

The Six Ways of WalkingDownload

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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Walking Turns

Walking Turns

The Walking Turn. Right from the start the 2nd or 3rd thing a Lead must learn is how to turn the Follower. Usually most Leads are taught the sexier turn, learning to lead the Follower’s Molinete to their Lead Giro. It’s a harder turn to learn for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the Lead must master disassociation first and foremost, and secondarily not to use their arms or hands to push or pull the Follower. That along with the timing of certain aspects of the guidance of the Follower’s Molinete can make it rather challenging. So you would think, given all that, that teachers would eschew teaching the Lead how to generate the Follower’s Molinete in favor of a much simpler turn. Nope. Most teachers go right for the Molinete/Giro combo and skip right past the simplest turn of all: The Walking Turn!

What is a Walking Turn ? In it’s simplest form, it is exactly what it sounds like, a turn where the Lead is walking in a very tight circle with their Follower. However, note the operative words there ‘simplest form’. Meaning or implying that there are is a level of complexity to this turn. And that’s putting it mildly. The Walking Turn has some tricks up its sleeve. Meaning that you can quite easily augment it with the 6 ways of walking to change it and/or spice it up a bit. The real trick of the turn is that it can be done in close or open embrace, with any partner, regardless of style and yes, it can work within the line AND lane of dance. 

The Problem: There’s a reason why this turn isn’t taught all that often. Actually 3 reasons. 1.) It is all too easy for The Walking Turn to become a navigational hazard, when executed by a beginner Lead, thereby breaking the line and lane of dance. 2.) it’s not sexy by comparison to the follower’s molinete, but rather it is very functional. And for some reason we like sexy and eschew functional. 🙂 The problem is that the turn itself while being very easy to learn, can be difficult to execute.  3.) After about 2 or 3 steps, depending on the size of your steps, will invariably have you and your partner facing against the line of dance. And this is a major no-no!  And if this something your teacher has not told you about, then fire that teacher immediately. Because this is one of those things that you should have drilled into your head! Which is a really good reason the turn is almost never taught to beginner leads, because they’ll end up screwing up the turn, freaking out when something doesn’t go right, and thereby screwing up the line of dance which in turn creates a navigational nightmare!

However, with a little judicious study, and some hard work, the turn can be taught, and executed with a great deal of control and precision, and eventually can become a useful staple of every Lead’s arsenal of turning tools in today’s modern version of Argentine Tango.

Linking Notation: All the links on this site are internal definition links, nothing is external (excluding tangotopics youtube channel, and facebook like & share links), meaning the links are there to create a deeper and richer clarity.

Purchase! The video above is small snippet of a full HD video (total runtime: 1hr:8m). You can purchase Walking Turns for just $34.99 not including your level discount.

From a Following Perspective, this is walking backwards for you, not much work for you at all. Or so you would think. There’s just one little tiny thing that makes it a little challenging, and that’s the judgement that a walking turn is being engaged, and how to manage it. The managing it part comes down to focusing on the extension itself and how you place your foot on the floor within the tight confines of the turn itself. Put simply, this is smallER steps for you, and matching the intention to the size of the step and staying with your lead all at the same time. The kicker is the intention part. Because for the beginner lead, unless they’ve been properly trained, they’re going to overshoot this one by a country mile and force larger steps out of you without meaning to do so, and thereby as a result end up going outside their lane of dance and making a muuuuuch wider turn than is necessary. You have 3 goals in this turn. 1.) Shorten your step. 2.) You have to curve your back steps. The curve is gradual and gentle, not immediate. It’s just enough to turn us as a couple and not enough to be egregious. 3.) The relationship of the couple is absolutely paramount! Meaning ? You have to stay in front of your lead at all times. Given the propensity for most leads to place you in their armpit this is even more challenging on multiple levels. Now add a compressive or restrictive embrace type and you’re just asking for a visit to the chiropractor the next morning.

From a Leading Perspective, this is a must have turn for you, especially at the beginning, and for years to come. However, before we get to that part, we have to address the primary issues – The entry point for the turn isn’t correct and as a result we end up with a much wider turn than we need. Then we over compensate in our intention making longer steps than we need to, making the turn even wider, and by that time we’re facing against the line of dance and/or out of our lane of dance. Not desirable. There are 9 turns that you will be taught in your tango life. The 9 Types ? 1.) The Follower’s Molinete (open embrace, and close embrace). 2.) The Milonguero Turn. 3.) The Rock Step. 4.) The Ocho Cortado. 5.) Calecitas (coming soon). 6.) Walking Turns. 7.) Single Axis Turns. 8.) Colgada Turns. And 9.) The Media Luna.  Hmmmm but you’ll notice that the Walking Turn isn’t on this list, and that’s because of the fact that for ONE step you’re going against the line of dance, and it’s all too easy for a beginner Lead to lose their frakkin’ minds and end up going against the line of dance. The turn itself is a natural progression from walking in the line of dance, only now we add turning with that walk, in a very tight space.

You’re going to ask yourself why on earth you need to spend an hour of your life that you’ll seemingly never get back learning something as simple as The Walking Turn? And the answer to that is not just because you can easily prevent the beginner screw ups that are going to happen by learning where the turn has to start, and then how to continually manage yourself and the follower without using the embrace! Now we add a little but very important nuance. What’s that ? Walking Systems! You see this is not just about walking in parallel system, but rather engaging all six! Walking in straight lines is all fine and good, however in today’s modern tango world where everything becomes a turn due to the ronda not moving, learning to curve or turn that walk in say 3 track cross system ? or Lazy Ochos ? Or an Inside Snake Walk ? Now you’re onto something! Honestly this is a beautiful turn, and a really wonderful musical tool, not to mention the navigational possibilities are quite limitless. It’s beautiful because it accentuates the walk. Today’s version of Tango, due to the ronda not moving, has become a turning (Molinete/Giro) nightmare that is very undesirable and a little repetitive. So one way that we can turn (no pun intended) tango back into a desirable visual and pleasurable experience accentuating the walk is to either fix the ronda issues (not going to happen unless organizers and teachers get their act together), or Lead’s begin to use The Walking Turn!

From a Dancing Perspective is that you’re going to see the turn, and think to yourself, I can do that. Until you realize that the issues pointed out above are all true and then you really do need to learn how to do this from a Leading perspective and a Following perspective. That’s the reality. Once you learn the turn’s inner workings and why it works, you’ll want to play with it everywhere in the line of dance. And this is where the turn takes on it’s beauty, it’s elegance. You’ll want to make the turn elegant simply because you can. You’ll want to start playing with the musical aspects of it. You’ll want to experiment with the walking systems and see how you can augment it. You’ll want to play with the tightness of the turn itself, to play with the size or your steps, to see just how far you can push it before it evolves into a rotation and not a walking turn.

About The Video. This video comes in at 1hr:8m in length in 19 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.

Section 1 – Introduction – 00:01:00
Section 2 – Set Up: 5 Embraces – 00:01:20
Section 3 – Basic Floorcraft – 00:02:00
Section 4 – Tango Hapitcs – 00:01:02
Section 5 – Without The Lead Back Step – 00:00:37
Section 6 – Set Up – Relationship = Alignment – 00:01:23
Section 7 – Starting The Turn – 00:02:00
Section 8 – The Walking Turn – 00:00:58
Section 9 – The Walking Turn with the 5 Embraces – 00:07:47
Section 10 – Follower Technique – 00:06:11
Section 11 – Lead Technique – 00:01:37
Section 12 – The Relationship – 00:03:21
Section 13 – Footwork: Closeups – 00:04:59
Section 14 – Why Walking Systems – 00:00:58
Section 15 – Walking Turns with 6 Walking Systems Explained – 00:06:49
Section 16 – Walking Turns with 6 Walking Systems Applied – 00:11:38
Section 17 – Walking Turns – Errors – 00:05:44
Section 18 – Embrace Reminders – 00:04:46
Section 19 – Closure – 00:02:07

You can purchase the video for the kingly sum of $34.99 from the video store and whole bunch of other items that can improve your understanding and application of technique. 

The Missing Information.  There’s a free tip (for registered free users) that’s not here because you’re not logged in. If you were logged in, you’d see a free tip, but because you’re not, you’re not seeing it. So ? If you want the free tip, then go register as a free user and login. 🙂 However, if you want the toys, and to see the 1hr:8m HD quality video on how to properly lead & follow a Walking Turn and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can get a $3.00 discount if you register as a free user, and then buy it with the discount code contained here that you can’t see yet. or 2.) You can subscribe!

Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you pay for this video, or subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you’ll find on Youtube doesn’t explain and walk you through the how the Walking Turn works! That’s why! 

So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that’s what they are ‘Presentation’ videos. The couple’s that you’re used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won’t help you, because you’re missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these videos is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and be done with it. 😉

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique.

In an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better prepared to do so!

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

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The Reverse Embrace

Reversing The Embrace

There are certain defaults that we possess after years of dancing. We don’t realize that they’re defaults but they are. And for the Non-native speaker, ‘default’ in this case means unconscious ways or methods of doing something that is performed frequently. ‘Defaults’ from a Tango perspective could mean but is not limited to how one crosses one’s feet, how one engages the embrace, how one asks for and follows a series of ochos, how one would follow a molinete, etc. These are default behaviors. We learn them as a result of several things, not the least of which is how we (at the time that we acquired the information) bodies weren’t able to accomplish an end goal so we do what we can and as a result we end up imprinting the ‘less-than-desirable’ way of moving, or engaging the embrace (read that as squeezing, pulling, pushing, hanging, etc), or crossing, or molinete, or …. or…. those ways of moving into vocabulary to accomplish the goal, even though it’s not desirable. We don’t realize that we have formed this way of moving, and it’s now ‘comfortable’ even though it’s contorted (mostly) and at the same time we sort of forget how to do X, Y, and Z properly (mostly because we don’t have someone poking and prodding us to remind us about X, Y, and Z and how it should be done) and therefore we stop paying attention to it. This becomes our ‘default’ behavior in Tango.

The Concern: This isn’t so much of a problem but rather a ‘concern’, something to be mindful of that if left unchecked, can create problems for us later on down the line. A good portion of you reading this will only look at the video and see this cool toy, and not look at the deeper issue that’s really going on here. A fair number of you will see the issue but not pay it any mind, thinking that this doesn’t happen for you. You’re perfect. Right ? Furthermore, a smaller number of you will only see that this isn’t just a Lead issue, but a Follower one as well! 😉 So what’s the concern ? That we as dancers become very accustomed to sending AND receiving kinesthetic pressure/compression/force/resistance information via the embrace which 9 times out of 10 creates more issues for us than we would like. This becomes our default behavior in the dance. The key component here is ‘sending’ and ‘receiving’. You’re going to think that sending refers to ‘leading’ and that receiving refers to ‘following’, when both messaging happen for both roles at the same time. A lead or follow both send AND receives information. Mind you a good portion of both roles, don’t actually listen to the other but that’s a story for a later topic. However, as a result of this way of dancing, we tend to get stuck or bogged down in our default behavioral responses and can’t see another way of moving.

One way that we can get unstuck and really start to open ourselves up to our preconceived notions of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it is to Reverse the Embrace structure.

What is ‘Reversing’ the Embrace ? It is exactly what it sounds like. – as a Lead and a Follow, we’re reversing the embrace structure.  Meaning that the Lead’s right arm is where the Follower’s right arm would be, and the lead’s left goes around the Follower. And vice versa. That’s it, that’s all. However, the question you’re going to have is why do this ? For that part, read on. However, the benefits of doing such a thing are wide and varied but this is the short and curly version: Because doing so changes your awareness of what you’re leading and following. For example: In the case of an Ocho from a Follower’s perspective, you may discover that you’re engaging in Traveling Ochos out of habit when in fact there was no actual Lead for the Traveling Ocho to occur. Another example: If you’re leading the Follower’s Molinete to your own Giro, you’ll more than likely discover that you’ve been engaging in a Lazy Man’s Turn for ages without realizing that you’ve been doing it! Crosses, Turns, Sacadas, Colgadas, and Volcadas even….everything gets turned upside down and in that turning things upside down, things tend to get righted, quickly!

Let’s be clear about something, don’t confuse this with swapping roles, or giving up the lead. No. That’s a whole different can of beans. This is solely swapping the embrace format to see how things are working (more like aren’t working but are being implied) more than anything else.

Difficulty Rating:  (1 / 5)

From a Following Perspective you may not realize that you to have a default way of moving, a default expectation and responses. You may, erroneously, believe that The Reverse Embrace structure outlined above in the video applies ONLY to the Lead/er (and Lead). Not true. It applies to you as well. How’s that ? Simple, you have the same embrace biases that the Lead does only to a smaller degree, however your concern is that you have a set way of doing things, specifically your turns, ochos, and crosses. By reversing the embrace, you realize just how awkward things feel. The awkwardness is a key component to making things feel effortless. Truthfully we want the awkwardness to occur, it creates a scramble in us and we want it to occur. Why ? Because it shows us just where we’re our expectations are at, and more importantly where our defaults are at and how they present themselves. By reversing the embrace you will recognize those things as well as where you are compensating for a poor or unclear lead to do X, Y, and Z. Or more importantly having to infer what a Lead (the person not the action) is or more than likely is NOT doing. It’s the inference that we’re really after. Why ? 2 reasons. Firstly, we can clean up what we’re doing, and secondly it also creates a place for us to interject an idea or two (think ‘active’ follower).

We have to address the larger resistance based follower crowd that may be reading this: You have issues. Resistance is not desirable. It’s work. Hanging, Pulling, Pushing, not so much with that. You will never progress to dancing with the desirable leads in the room as a Follower if you continue to utilize this way of moving, and reversing the embrace will only make things 10,000 times more challenging for you. “Challenging” is an understatement. More like downright impossible. You are hardwired to use your embrace and the lead/ers embrace to stabilize yourself in turns, ochos, and crosses. So ‘hearing’ (really ‘feeling’) the nuances of the dance are outside your abilities at this point because you are unstable, and this nuance topic of reversing the embrace is more of a ‘WTF’ than anything else. 

From a Leading Perspective a good portion of Lead/ers (not necessarily a Lead – we’ll get to that in a moment) rely heavily on the asymmetry of the embrace to communicate our intentions, specifically our left arm and hand (for a lot of leads) in turns and ochos (think ‘resistance’), and for a smaller number of leads their right forearm and a much smaller number of leads that use their right hand to paddle their followers into turning or stopping. This is using the embrace to communicate our intentions, or more to the point forcing the follower to do X, Y, and Z through compression, tension, resistance, and physiological pressures. These pressures are ‘messages’ to the Follower and what a good portion Lead/ers that use this way of dancing don’t realize is that this is not a desirable way of dancing. A Lead does NOT use these things, much like a Jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense – never for attack, they use body-on-body contact to communicate their intent without pushing, pulling, or physiological arm/hand pressures to indicate their intent. And even a Lead that does all of that properly still has a default set of movements, a default set of expected responses, that they’re unaware of. It is to that group that this topic is really speaking to. Why ? Because the Lead/er crowd of resistance based dancers have absolutely zero desire to change what they’re doing. For there to be change in that dancer, several things have to take place. Most notably they have to have reached the end of the road with Resistance Based Dancing, to be shown that it is less-than-desirable by experiencing it for themselves – what it’s really like to pushed and pulled around the floor for 12 minutes (assuming a 4 set tanda). That, and a lot of Followers saying “No” to them, and a lot of sitting. Speaking directly to the Lead reading this, you have a concern that your lead is not what you think it is, it’s not as clear as you think it is. So by reversing the embrace you will see the areas where you are weak, and where you are clear. 

spicy dancing ideas

The Dancing Perspective is that this is a nuance topic that a good portion of you will dismiss entirely as folly and not really helpful to one’s dancing at all. It couldn’t possibly change what you’re doing. It couldn’t possibly rewire you to do something else. That’s the dancing reality. When in fact reversing the embrace is probably one of the greatest tools you have to refining your skills as a dancer. Why ? Because ideally you want your dancing skills to be seamless and effortless regardless of what style or type of embrace you use or whom you are dancing with. Short of actual solo practice working on your technique of execution, this is one of the more useful diagnostic tools you can possibly get without a teacher in the equation! So when would you use this tool ? Simple, EVERYWHERE! Why ? Classes, Workshops, and/or Seminars ? Yup. Practicas ? Absolutely. Milongas ? Yup. Why ? Just for fun because you can. Flippancy aside, the fact is that you do want to do this everywhere in every aspect of dancing with EVERY partner that you currently dance with. Think of it as a spot check to see if you’re right about what’s going on. Right now you’re assuming that X, Y, and Z is happening. Reversing the Embrace can give you needed insight as to what’s actually happening. Yes it’s going to feel strange, but that’s solely because it’s unfamiliar. Aside from the unfamiliar part, it contains vital diagnostic information that you can’t get anywhere else!

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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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“. 

Linking Notation: All the links on this site are internal definition links, nothing is external (excluding tangotopics youtube channel, and facebook like & share links), meaning the links are there to create a deeper and richer clarity.

If you were a registered user you could see the free tip below, but alas, you’re not!

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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