Golden Nugget Extensions
The Tango Walk is the hallmark of Argentine Tango. It is what sets Tango apart as a social dance, and a performance element. For some people when they talk about the Tango walk, they don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it, it’s just there. For some they hear the words that the walk is important but for one reason or another they just don’t get it. For others, they see that the walk is absolutely everything. It’s the bee’s knees. Anything and everything is possible once you have mastered the walk. Some people only see the walk as what one does in between the vocabulary (the steps, patterns, and figures). However you view the walk, the walk consists of four phases, not a singular element. The 1st of those 4 phases is what we call The Explosion Phase. This is where all the energy for the step is generated. It only happens for a moment. After that the energy dissipates in a controlled fashion throughout the rest of the step. The 2nd phase is The Extension Phase. This is where the leg actually, and fully extends, to a point. The 3rd phase is what we call The Perihelion Phase. In this phase we ‘pop’ the knee, meaning to fully elongate the entire knee area thereby creating a longer and cleaner extension of the leg. This phase is important because it is the mid-point of the step. And finally the 4th phase, The Transfer Phase. In this phase we do four things in sequence. 1.) We begin a sliding action along the floor with the free foot, shaping it, and engaging in supination. 2.) We begin to transfer our weight from one foot to the other, in this case the sliding foot. 3.) We allow the energy of the Explosion Phase to dissipate in a controlled way. And finally 4.) We allow the knee to flex back to the point of compression that we started out with.
Why are we talking about this stuff ? Because Today’s Tango Topic relies heavily on three of these 4 phases to begin playing with what we call Golden Nugget Extensions.
What are Golden Nugget Extensions ? We need to back up a bit and explain The Golden Nugget of Tango (TGNoT). TGN is where Today’s Topic gets the basis of it’s name from. TGN is not just another piece of Tango Vocabulary. It makes the idea of Tango very accessible and removes a lot of doubt of what’s going to happen next. It is one of the very few patterns that Tango Topics actually endorses, and teaches, with some frequency. TGN can be very useful in interpreting the music, meaning that it works really well in all 3 styles of Tango Music (tango, vals, and milonga). It is also exceptionally extensible, meaning that you while you have the basic pattern of it, you can change it, modify it, and add to it, adorn it, edit it to fit what you’re doing from a Leading perspective as well as from a Following perspective. There are loads of places in TGN where the Follower has oooodles of control over what’s happening. But that’s a topic for another day to be filed under – The Role of the Active Follower.
And now we get to the other half of today’s explanation. The title (Golden Nugget Extensions) is a both a double-entendre as well as a deliberate explanation of what it is. First and foremost, it is taking TGN and adding an expansion pack to it. Things you probably hadn’t thought of when playing with TGN assuming that you have watched the video and learned something from it. Secondly, it’s also applying an element of Tango that doesn’t get a whole lot of usage except maybe in Milonga: The Incremental Step (Traspie) & The Check Step. Golden Nugget Extensions fuses these two important elements into one core concept that you want to apply to your dance. This is the Golden Nugget Extensions principle.
Difficulty Rating: (3 / 5)
From a Following Perspective, this is one of the very few times in Argentine Tango where the Follower has oodles of control over what’s being done to and with them, but not when it’s done to and with them. 🙁
The Upside of this stuff. Every single extension, every single transfer phase, every single perihelion phase you have control. You have control over the execution of the extension itself, how it looks, how it responds, what the shape of your leg looks like, and to a certain degree you have control over where the leg goes, but not when it starts. You have control over where your foot lands (to a certain degree), and what part of your foot you’re going to use. But again, you have absolutely zero control over when something is initiated, and/or when it stops. But you do have a limited amount of control over the duration of the extension, foot placement, and the resulting body position and placement (under certain conditions) assuming that the Lead isn’t squeezing the living daylights out of you, or the Lead isn’t placing you in their Armpit (see: The Armpit Dancer). Assuming all of that, you have more control than you believe you do.
The Downside of this stuff. There’s always a downside with these things. Always. 9 times out of 10, the Lead … you remember the Lead you said “Yes” to their cabeceo ? That one! 9 times out of 10, they’re rushing through X, to get to Y, to arrive at Z. And you have about as much time as it takes to blink as you do to take your sweet time to do X, or for that matter Y, while not even aware that Z is going to happen. Time is a factor you don’t necessarily control here in this stuff. Sadly. However, if you invoke certain aspects of being an Active Follower you can slow down the Lead, deliberately, and thereby give yourself enough time to execute what you desire. There are Seven (7) places where that can happen by the way, which are quite considerable by the way: 1.) The Argentine Cross/All Crosses. 2.) All 3 steps of the Follower’s Molinete & the Lead’s Giro/The Lead’s Molinete/Follower’s Giro, and all 8 Turns including and especially the Follower’s Calisita! 3.) Any of the 8 types of Ochos [a.) Linear Ochos. b.) Milonguero Ochos. c.) Traveling Ochos. d.) Circular Ochos. e.) Over-Rotated Ochos. f.) Anti-Ochos. g.) Milonga Ochos. h.) Time Ochos.] 4.) Paradas. 5.) Barridas. 6.) The Linear Ocho Cortado/The Circular Ocho Cortado. 7.) Any and all Vocabulary Transition (going from one idea to the next).
Mind you this is just a singular step that we’re talking about, and how you can execute it. But that single extension is everywhere, so anywhere you engage is a good thing. Unfortunately some Leads take any level of initiative of their Follower as absolute heresy, and they lose their damned minds. So it’s a good idea to pick your Leads carefully that can handle this stuff otherwise you’ll be labeled a ‘Willful’ Follower and you want no part of that, unless of course you do. 😉 Your call.
The Gotcha. Assuming you want to invoke being an ‘Active Follower’ there are some rules to this stuff. One of which is having mastered your foundation, first and foremost. Which means, no hanging, no pulling, no pushing, no resistance, tension, or force. Ever. It also means stability. No using your hands or arms to stabilize yourself against your Lead in 3in heels. Got it ? Secondly it means understanding the vocabulary mentioned above. It means no longer being ignorant of what you’re being led to, but rather being keenly aware that X is happening and then attempting to inject an idea if there’s space for it. Thirdly it means being musically cognisant of the beat, the musical pauses, and the musical phrases (not phrasing, you have no control over that one). And lastly, it means having a plan. It’s the last one that we’re most interested in because while the first three are absolute requirements, the last 1 has a slight bend to it. Meaning ? That if you’re going to play Ms. Active Follower, then you had damned well better have an exit plan. That if you plan to interject an idea you need to have planned out ahead of time what you could possibly do, and then fit it in, and then here’s the kicker…it must match what is happening in the music. Period. If it’s not in the music, then it’s not on the floor. Got it ?
From a Leading Perspective, playing with Extensions is loads of fun. It’s the game changer that adds nuance to your dance. You’ve been thinking that only vocabulary can save or turn your dance around. Most Leads make this mistake, and they overlook the one thing that have going for them here: Playing with the Follower’s Extension. And truth be told, a whole bunch of other things which we’ll touch on below.
A Few Rules before we get to the fun part:
Rule #1: Do Not repeat yourself. Meaning ? No repetitions. Or try to keep it to an absolute minimum.
Rule #2: Do Not overuse this stuff. Meaning ? While you can interject these ideas as accent or ‘spice’ material, do not make the whole of your dance. The example above shows you one idea but it’s not the only way to do this.
Rule #3: Do Not copy what you see above. Ok, that’s not entirely clear. So let’s make it clear. Copy what you see above, but don’t outright steal it. Use this as a jumping off point to create some ideas of your own.
Rule #5: Always. Posture. Posture. Posture.
The Fun Part. Below are 5 of the more important hotspots in this idea video. And that’s exactly what this is. It’s a way for you to expand your ideas to add nuance to your dance.
1.) First and foremost, this is really extending the Golden Nugget of Tango. It is augmenting it. Changing it. Modifying with the simplest of things, Leg Extensions, Weight Transfers, and Incremental Steps!
2.) All Extension Steps are available to you as options to ‘play with’. Side, Back, and Forward. In that order of operations. Arguably the easiest of these things to play with is the Side Extension. Next is the Follower’s Backstep, and finally the Follower’s Forward step. That last one is very uncommon but it’s still doable.
3.) All steps can be Incrementals Steps. All are available to you as options to play with. So if there’s an extension you can add an incremental as an option to add variations.
4.) All Traveling Ochos, Linear Ochos, Ochos Reversals, and Incremental Ochos are available to you as options to engage. Musically of course!
5.) All Crosses can be reversed, slowed down, sped up, or made incremental.
Quite honestly there are so many options here to augment your dance, these are just the high points. Seriously there’s a reason why this video was shot and this is it: Because there are so many options that you can play with, and these items mentioned above are just the hot spots. There are more in the video.
The Gotcha. The entire Golden Nugget Extension relies on one thing: Your ability to hear the beat and execute anything and everything you desire on the beat. And secondarily, and probably most importantly, your ability to respect the Musical Pauses. If you can’t hear them, or you don’t know what they are, then this entire topic is a complete and utter waste of your time. You must, must, must, must have mastered keeping musical time, hearing the beat, executing on the beat, and respecting the pauses. Otherwise this stuff looks out of place. This entire topic relies heavily on your ability to hear the pulse or beat of the music. It is strongly not advised to try this stuff with ‘Melodic Dancing’ ideas of Fresedo or Late Di Sarli. Meaning to play with the long-stringy notes. This stuff works ideally with Canaro, Donato, D’Arienzo, OTV, Lomuto, Biagi, Laurenz, Varela, De Caro, Demare, early Pugliese, and early Di Sarli. De Angelis, late Troilo, Late Pugliese (anything from the late 50s and beyond), Piazzolla, Caló, and Fresedo will NOT work. Which is to say, if you haven’t studied your orchestras, if you don’t know your music cold, then playing with the Golden Nugget Extensions is good practice but it’s musical application is absolutely crucial to your success!
The Fundamental Truth. The fact is that this is walking. Nothing more than that. Don’t get confused. Don’t get lost. Don’t focus on anything else but that. You are playing with the extension phase of the walk. If that walk for either role is unstable, unclear, not visually clean, then you’re going to have problems like nobody’s business. If you haven’t mastered your foundation, then playing with this stuff is like building a rickety house, on a shoddy foundation. It will look sloppy, and will feel even worse. That’s the fundamental truth. So it behooves (15 cent word) you to get the into some private lessons and clean up your walk. This topic is a wonderful toy! It’s musical. It has great potential of adding serious nuance that borders on going down the proverbial rabbit hole to what you otherwise would think of as “boring vocabulary” becomes anything but.
Sacada Introduction – 00:03:26
Sacada Review – 00:02:37
Follower Technique – Part 1 – 00:01:15
Lead Technique – Part 1 – 00:00:50
Lead Technique – Part 2 – 00:01:05
Follower Technique – Part 2 – 00:00:55
Quick Examples – 00:01:20
Related Videos Mentioned In This Article:
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