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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’… 🙂

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

There’s a lot more to this ArticleThere’s the extensive Lead’s Perspective, the deeper Follower’s Technique Perspective, and sometimes we throw in a complete Dancing Perspective part, all of which are only visible to Tango Topics Freemium Registered Users, Gold Subscribers, Diamond Level Users, and Milonga Madness Users. To become a Freemium user, Registration is absolutely 100% FREE, click the button below, and you get access to this article, and over 400 videos, hundreds of articles on a wide range of Tango Topics. So what are you waiting for, go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select the “ARTICLES” button and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Easy. No ? 🙂

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Why You Need This! Music is the foundation of the dance. Without it, duh, there is no dance. However, when it comes to Tango, things get complicated very quickly because unlike other social dances where you can fool around with the beat, you can do that in Tango too by the way, what you can’t do, and so many people do, is fool around with 5 Musical Pause Types! This is the holy grail of tango music. And unless you hear them, you’re going to have an awful nasty time social dancing. Most people just throw in any piece of vocabulary to a piece of music, moment after moment and after moment. But the 5 Pauses Types dictate very clearly what you want to do. Unfortunately, almost no one listens to that and we end up with ‘haphazard’ dancing that looks shall we say questionable and haphazard at best. So yeah, you need this, a lot. And because this particular musical topic deals with WalkingMilonguero Ochos, Milonguero Turns, The Follower’s Molinete, Traveling Ochos, or The Argentine Cross, then it’s applied very differently, and you need to start applying that stuff to your musical interpretation to thereby clarify what it is that you are interpreting in the music. This is very different than just following a beat, this is using the pause with a piece of vocabulary that makes that music stand out! So yeah, you need this.

bsas-prep-title

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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

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The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you want to read this Topic, so that you can dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, you’re missing three important parts to this Article: The Follower’s Perspective, The Lead’s Perspective, and The Dancing Perspective. Which can change your thinking by informing of some important pieces of information that you may not necessarily be aware of. Watching a 5 minute video will not help you to change. Change is a concerted effort and requires a little thinking on your part: Becoming a Freeium User! As the name implies, it’s FREE. Register. You get to see everything above, and a whole lot more! 😉 Have a nice day.

Have you seen the Milonga Madness series ? Over 2.5 hrs of pure Milonga Instruction GOLD with one of the best Social Milonga Teaching couples alive: Detlef Engel & Melina Sedó! It covers everything you need to know to get you up and running today with Milonga. Don’t delay, subscribe today!

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Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out. This is known as Tango Twister.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won’t help you, because you’re missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and you’re done.

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 


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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.

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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 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5) (look for the blue “What is…” section. if it’s blue the post is free if you register)

There’s a lot more to this ArticleThere’s the extensive Lead’s Perspective, the deeper Follower’s Technique Perspective, and sometimes we throw in a complete Dancing Perspective part, all of which are only visible to Tango Topics Freemium Registered Users, Gold Subscribers, Diamond Level Users, and Milonga Madness Users. To become a Freemium user, Registration is absolutely 100% FREE, click the button below, and you get access to this article, and over 400 videos, hundreds of articles on a wide range of Tango Topics. So what are you waiting for, go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select the “ARTICLES” button and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Easy. No ? 🙂

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The Reality of WHY You Need This: There are many moves, steps, patterns, and figures to Argentine Tango that are really cool. What you may not realize is that most of that stuff is ‘fluff’, they’re nice to have, they’re nice to know, but honestly, you’re not going to use them that often! Mind you this is one side of the argument. This ain’t that! This piece is one of the more venerable selections of Argentine Tango that you will use frequently like Walking, Milonguero Ochos/Milonguero Turns, The Follower’s Molinete/Traveling Ochos, or The Argentine Cross. Tango Topics take this stuff very seriously, and we say that because we use this stuff ALL – THE – TIME! Our case is that you need this stuff because > This is all about foundation, or one of the Seven Foundation Steps that we use all the time to create the dance that we know as Argentine Tango. That’s why! 🙂 That said, you do actually need to watch this stuff. You can learn what you need from this video and then apply it. No lie. No gimmick. As always YMMV and to remember that the video itself is only a stepping stone! You will need some private lessons to go along with it to get the ‘feel’ of things. That is the reality of WHY you need this stuff. So subscribing for a few months to TangoTopics to get what we’re on about wouldn’t kill you. Further, it would probably help to hear another person saying what your current tango teacher has been saying all along. Think of this stuff as one more reminder that you absolutely need to hear.

bsas-prep-title

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 want to read this Topic, so that you can dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, you’re missing three important parts to this Article: The Follower’s Perspective, The Lead’s Perspective, and The Dancing Perspective. Which can change your thinking by informing of some important pieces of information that you may not necessarily be aware of. Watching a 5 minute video will not help you to change. Change is a concerted effort and requires a little thinking on your part: Becoming a Freeium User! As the name implies, it’s FREE. Register. You get to see everything above, and a whole lot more! 😉 Have a nice day.

Have you seen the Milonga Madness series ? Over 2.5 hrs of pure Milonga Instruction GOLD with one of the best Social Milonga Teaching couples alive: Detlef Engel & Melina Sedó! It covers everything you need to know to get you up and running today with Milonga. Don’t delay, subscribe today!

Milonga Madness with Detlef Engel & Melina Sedo

explore your dance with a subscription! 😉

Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out. This is known as Tango Twister.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won’t help you, because you’re missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and you’re done.

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 


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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 out of 5 stars (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. 

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!

Have you seen the Milonga Madness series ? Over 2.5 hrs of pure Milonga Instruction GOLD with one of the best Social Milonga Teaching couples alive: Detlef Engel & Melina Sedó! It covers everything you need to know to get you up and running today with Milonga. Don’t delay, subscribe today!

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Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out. This is known as Tango Twister.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won’t help you, because you’re missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and you’re done.

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 

Open post

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.

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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