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The Argentine Calesita

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.

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 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.) Argentine Media Luna. 6.) Walking Turns. (El Giro de Caminando). 7.) Single Axis Turns. 8.) Colgada Turns. and 9.) 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)

Purchase! The video above is small snippet of a full HD video (total runtime: 01h:14m:13s). You can purchase The Argentine Calesita for just $34.99 not including your level discount.

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!

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

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. 

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

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:13m HD quality video on how to properly lead & follow a Calesita 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 a Calesita works! That’s why! Correction. You will find one or two videos that walk you through the Follower’s Forward Calesita, but not all the variations. So this is one reason why you want this video series, and more importantly to have this stuff broken down for you from a leading and following perspective. 

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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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!

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

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.

Turns – Milonguero Turn

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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.

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. 

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. 

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.

Fixing It or in this case, changing it. The really cool part about this is that you can do this going forward today. You don’t need a class, you don’t need a workshop or seminar or a private lesson to teach you to do this. Nope. Not one little bit. There’s no special class on this one, it is it’s own class. The feedback that you’ll get from employing this tool is nothing short of immeasurable data that you wouldn’t get otherwise. If you’re thinking that you could just ask for feedback from your partners. That’s not going to help. a.) They don’t possess the language skills to identify what’s going on. Ok, a good portion of them don’t. b.) Honesty, that’s the problem right there. A good portion (like 90 to 95%) of the people you are currently dancing with will NOT tell you the truth of how you feel to dance with, or comment on your dancing for fear that it will offend you or hurt your feelings. And quite honestly you don’t want to hear their feedback either mostly because you think that your dance is spot on to begin with. So unless you want to have your head handed to you (and most of you, unfortunately, don’t) then this is the probably the safest route to getting the necessary feedback that you require in order to change what you’re doing!

However, you do actually require help. And that means actual technique, actual feedback, and actual clear, clean, consistent, concise information that you can play over and over again. That’s this page, and the videos that are sitting behind it. Registration is free, and you get about 40 older videos that will open the door to those ideas. However, that’s not the real power of this site. It’s the foundation, technique, exercise, and whic videos that are sitting behind a paywall. It’s the full videos that these snippets that you see are from. You want the full videos. All of them. 🙂 Hit the green button and subscribe and consider a gold membership. It’s really the best of all possible worlds. You get access to all the video content that you can watch anytime – anywhere, and a 40% discount on all video purchases in case you want to download something for offline use when you don’t have an active internet connection.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

bsas-prep-title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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