“Collection”, this is an odd word in the Tango world. It has come to mean that we, as dancers, want to bring our feet ‘together’ in some fashion. Some people refer to this idea or concept as “closing” your feet. Meaning to close the gap that naturally exists between them from a standing position where our legs are slightly apart to create more stability in our stance. ‘Collection’ is a refined version of this idea that exists 2 primary reasons. The first is very practical. And the second is purely visual. We’ll get to those in just a moment. There is another form of Collection that we want to start to be crystal clear about in today’s Tango world.
There’s a very clear reason why we need a clearer distinction of this word we use to define “Collection”. The reason has everything to do with the competition based Tango that is occurring with greater and greater frequency – The Mundials come to mind. As such there is greater attention to detail on precision-based Tango that is more focused on what things look like than their social function counterparts. Hence a bit of distinction that is required when talking about ‘Collection’ or more importantly ‘Social Collection’.
The Visual Idea. From a Leading or Following perspective, when we’re talking about Collection what is generally taught is usually the visual idea of collection. Not just bringing your feet together but generating a visual inverted triangular tapered form of the body to the legs to the feet. And as such we want to make that taper as clean, and sharp as possible. So for this reason you’ll see a good portion of dancers who have been taught to will pull one leg slightly behind the other, and one foot off at an angle. In either Lead or Follow it’s right behind left for a variety of reasons. The reason this is done is to remove the gap between the shins and ankles that naturally occurs in some people’s legs and feet. Further it creates that ‘nice’ taper that we desire. Why not left behind right ? Because from a salida step we tend to go (lead) left into (follower) right. Meaning that the Lead will step forward with their left leg/foot first, and the Follower will step backwards with their right. The visual idea is really all about the visual lines that are generated in either partner when coming together and creating a nice architecture. That’s it, that’s all and Collection, in the way that it’s taught and presented above, in both partners contributes to that.
The Practical Idea. From either roles perspective the idea of Collection makes things very clear that we’re in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time. From the Lead’s perspective it helps to clarify that the follower is in the right place when they collect so that they can proceed. It’s really easy to see or in this case ‘feel’ that the Follower is off and then to adjust for that ‘off’. Frequently however, that off is never adjusted for and the Follower ends up in the Lead’s armpit. 🙁 From a Follower’s perspective it’s the same idea only that when your lead collects it creates certainty in you. Think of the ‘cowboy walk’ when leading any of the 8 types of ochos.
From a Dancing Reality Social Collection is really about the practical idea of bringing your feet together not for the visual idea but rather out of function more than anything else. It makes things rather simple and easy, that you’re not performing for the 15th row! Social Collection doesn’t mind that there is a tiny gap between your legs at the ankles to the knees, but rather it’s more important that you’re in the right place at the right time. Now if you want you can go the extra step (no pun intended) by creating a cleaner visual, however most people don’t and won’t go that extra step because it’s too much work for them. It’s another thing they have to remember and that’s already too much for them. So again, we’re at Social Collection. So if we define Social Collection as being too lazy but being practical. What’s it’s opposite ? Performance Collection! And that’s a whole different animal.
The reality is that a good portion of you are going to look at this video above, disagree with it because your teacher told you ages ago that collection is supposed to be the visual reason. But in reality do you actually understand any of what’s been said above ? Or did you just watch the video ? There’s a reason why we want Social Collection above all else that has not been mentioned, and it has everything to do with the role of the Follower as they’re being led to an Argentine Cross. Mind you this is just 1 of 3 reasons, but this is the most prominent. Think Armpit Dancer, and you’ll begin to get an idea of what’s going on, as a matter of fact, go look at that video, it talks about this aspect of Performance Collection. That’s the reality. Put simply if you as a Lead, want your Follower in your armpit, please keep doing what you’re doing, and pay this topic no mind. Or if you as a Follower like being in your Lead’s armpit and quite literally behind your lead, then again….don’t pay any attention to this topic. It’s a complete waste of your time.
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You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out. This is known as Tango Twister. Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won’t help you, because you’re missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perpective as well as from a Following perspective!
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