Tango Argentino > Ballroom following versus AT following

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Peaches, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Debated putting this elsewhere, but opted for the AT forum cuz I like you guys ;)...

    Thinking about things in the other thread, and the idea of differences in following in ballroom versus in AT...what do the more experienced people have to say?

    For my own part, I know that following in AT makes sense to me. Not so much for Standard. Really, not at all. Stay put...move when asked to move...energy forward towards the leader...keep center aligned to the leader, unless that alignment is deliberately changed. Makes perfect sense, right?

    Except I've run across ballroom dancers saying that Standard is the same. (Somewhere here on DF. Don't ask me where.) Whaaa??? I don't see how I can keep my center aligned to his when I'm all contorted like that. I don't get where I'm supposed to be focusing my energy--towards him? Into his hand? Somewhere I haven't even considered? When does your center begin to move? Seems to me, there's got to be some split-weight thing going on, but it seems like others have said it isn't. Synchronicity...yeah, kinda got that much...conceptually, at least.

    Can someone add their thoughts and wisdom? And, please, if you're talking about Standard, please explain it like you're talking to someone *really stupid*, because otherwise I really just don't get it. Or relate/compare it to AT, which I get?
  2. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Ok, I'll share my experience based on two friends. One is exclusively an AT dancer. The other, a pro-champion BR dancer who knows how to dance AT.

    I also dance with several follows and roughly in under 10 seconds you can tell who the ballroom dancers are. They feel VERY, VERY different from the exclusive AT follower.

    The AT follower:
    • Dances "into" the leader (an embrace)
    • Waits a split second for the lead, then moves
    • Warm, and cozy
    • The primary focus is the connection
    • The lead and follow relationship is heart-felt and is emotional
    • At the end of the tanda, if it all comes together, the both of you feel like embracing each other as a thank you

    The BR follower:
    • Dances "away" from the lead (closed-standard dance position, stiff, tense, and tends to bend backwards)
    • Technically astute
    • deliberate and precise
    • Primary focus is getting the steps right
    • The lead follow relationship feels regimented and almost mechanical
    • At the end of the dance, if it all comes together, you want to bow, shake her hand, and escort her to her seat in gratitude
  3. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Originally posted by Chris in another thread. Moved here by me...
    You seem to be taking the view that there's a leg only phase, and then fairly concise change of weight action, and that you would follow your partner for both of these. That may be appropriate in some partner dance styles, but speaking more generally, we could say that there's a potential for leg only movement, a (limited) potential for movement of the body weight while still remaining balanced on the standing foot, and then a range of speeds at which the body weight can depart the standing foot towards arrival onto the moving one. And perhaps some other ranges that might be familiar to you but are outside my experience.

    The general answer for all of these is that you would progress through each range at the speed you were lead to. The simplest case of that would be that you'd progress through each of these at the same speed your partner does, the more complicated case would be that you'd do it at a speed based on a feeling he's creating for you, different than what he's actually doing himself.

    What you think of as characteristic movement for a given type of dance is a habit of using some of these ranges to a greater or lesser degree - for example, your foot only phase and then your center movement / weight change. But ultimately, if you allow for a greater range of possibilities, encompassing both those used by AT leaders and those used in other dance styles, you may find that the current model oversimplifies even AT, leaving out nuances that might ultimately be there. The real complaint probably wasn't that you were moving your center too soon for AT or too late for ballroom, it was that you were doing something different from your partner.
  4. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Heh...I'm reading this through and wondering what we're disagreeing about, exactly. Well, up until the very end, that is.

    Part of it is that I wasn't matched to my partners' movements. But there is/was also a fundamental difference in how each expected me to move, which comes down to some fundamental difference in technique. Again, I can really only speak to things in the context of AT, and how it compares.

    With the AT teacher, he was expecting/wanting (*ahem* demanding *ahem*) that I keep my center stationary, weight over my standing leg, and energy towards him until he asked for a weight change. Granted, that change could be slow or fast, whole or partial. But up until he asked for it, however he asked for it, my center stayed with his. Any movement was reaching for the next step, up through my hip--a lengthening of my side between the hip of my free leg and my center.

    As for what the ballroom guy said/felt...um...i can't really give you any more detail, because it's not as if I understand that type of movement. The comment was that it took a lot of motivation before I'd move my center on my own; that I didn't move from my center right away. Perhaps someone can translate that...

    That any movement should be in time with either leader is a given, but there seems to be a very big difference about what that actually translates to in terms of actual movement and following. Like I've said, the AT makes sense to me. It's the Standard that I can't wrap my mind around and that drives me nuts.
  5. Alias

    Alias Member

    Are you talking to yourself? ;)

    Your quoting is a bit misleading.
    It's a bit tricky to keep quotes inside quotes ...
    So here it goes:

    From the "Girl wants to learn Leads part" thread:

    The discussion went on from post 39:
    ... to post 64:
  6. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    ... heavy pushing

    Hello Forum,

    first of all, I find it difficult to define, what actually AT Leading is.

    For me: usually it will be the impuls of my thorax together with the weight shift which gives the information in close embrace.
    Neo dancing is totally different because it depends on the Naveira system of "showing the room" . And remember that there is the old Todaro-Bravo System (Nuevo and stage Tango) of leading which uses heavy pushing with your right hand to get the woman into the right position !! (I usually call it Tornado style ;-) ) And with Milonga traspie: you will lift your hips slightly to get the leg free. And in the evening it will surely happen that you mix some salsa commands in between.

    So what is AT leading?

    My answer: not the leading is unique, position and embrace rule the leading.
  7. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    If the tango lead is supposed to come from your center, your tango center is apparently much higher than your ballroom center...
  8. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Don't know. If I make a fist, and jam it up into the inverted V of my rib cage...that's about where I think of my center as being. It's what I try to keep up and towards the leader, it's what I think of really controlling (well, that and my axis/spine), and it's what I "listen" to from the leader.

    And for ballroom...where do you think of your center/leading from?
  9. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

  10. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    (Helpful, as always, I see.)

    Knees lower? Belt buckle? Navel?
  11. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Somewhere between buckle and sternum.
  12. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I do think it's true that in BR you are more "away" from your partner. I see this all the time with beginners who are taking up AT for the first time. The connection areas are different, becasue the "frame" is different, down towards the pelvic area and not up in the upper ab/sternum area.

    I tend to see the other 4 BR points with the men (getting steps right) as I've found even a good BR follow will want to follow, even thought she's weighted all wrong for AT (shoulders back, offset, trying ot connect in the hip area) but I don't know any BR pros who have seriously taken up tango.

    One of the dead giveaways for both is the arms...BR arm positioning is different, a hard habit to break and leads to a different feeling in the lead (not much feeling, IMO)

    The thing I felt I had to relearn after a long time of BR was exactly what my legs wanted to do when walking. My other half and I had problems with bumping legs for awhile and I realized I was still used to waiting for the motion to come from lower down and wasn't getting my legs out of the way, and when I did, I guess my axis shifted too much. So I worked out on my own the whole, extension-stay-on weighted-leg-move thing til it got better so maybe it was just bad axis management on my part or maybe it was a holdover from BR (I had the shoulders back thing too when I first started), who knows.

    I will say it feel different both leading a person who dances BR and following someone in AT who dances BR.
  13. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Joe, it depends a little bit on the extent of oneĀ“s paunch ;-)


    @ opendoor in addition to my post 6 above:

    The longer I dance TA the more my centre slides downwards. You can dance almost every step and figure in TA with a colgada-like centrifugal outward spin. This requires a very low centre comparable to the BR lead.
  14. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Well the true center of gravity for a normal human is somewhere around the belly btton, maybe a little lower for women.

    So the word center is not used in a true sense for Ballroom and apparently not for AT either.
  15. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I had one teacher who said that it is where the chest of the shorter person hits the torso of the taller person (i.e. it depends).
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Every Body has a center of gravity (aka center).
    It would be possible to determine the (more or less) center by placing that Body on a "see saw" like apparatus. The determination of the exact location of the "center" would be limited by the amount of friction at the balance point of the "see saw".

    If you want to see what a "physics guy" and his collaborators think about the location of the "center" go to this url http://web.hep.uiuc.edu/home/g-gollin/dance/dance_physics.pdf and search for "center".

    Notice that in the diagrams with "people" in them, and the center shown as a circle, that arms and legs are in positions that social dancers don't often find themselves in.
    In particular look at page 14. Note the leg up and behind, but also note that the "center" is in front of the standing foot, balancing the weight of the leg up and behind the body.

    Look at page 16: Staying Balanced. Note that the "center" is between the feet, if you draw a straight line from the center of the body straight down into the floor. This body is "at rest" or motionless.

    P.S. These diagrams seem to be from Physics and the Art of Dance by Kenneth Laws.
  17. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    For ballroom I dunno but for AT yes.
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    When your body is at rest, how do you move forward?
    The average person picks their foot up and moves it forward away from their body. As this motion occurs, the "center" moves forward also. Remember that in the diagrams I referred to above, arm, leg, and torso postions "balance", and keep the "center" directly above the standing foot.

    As the center moves in front of the standing foot, you begin to "topple" forward.
    If you don't want to move forward, you have to move something else backwards, to balance the weight of your foot/leg that is now in front of your body.
    I've posted these links before:

    In AT rather than pick our foot up to initiate forward movment, we train ourselves to "lead from the center" and begin the forward movement by moving our upper body forward first, and delay the movment of our foot.
    The shape of your body hasn't changed, and the location of your center hasn't changed, you just inititate forward movement differently. In the apilado style this different way of initiating forward movment is very noticeable. In an open style it is less noticeable.
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    So what about the follower?
    Well, the same thing but backwards and in high heels.
    In an earlier post in another thread I think I mentioned that women often move that foot out behind themselves, taking their center with them and away from the leader. (or more accurately, your body is going to "want" to move backwards)

    If you move your leg out and behind yourself, and you don't move something forward to balance that force, you are going to move backwards.
    (I would love to have a high speed / high resolution motion capture camera to document this, but would be surprised of someone somewhere hasn't done it already.)

    When we dance with a partner, we influence how they move. Rather than initiating movement by themselves, we can act on our partner's body to initiate movement.

    When I move forward in AT fashion, less from the picking up of my foot/leg and more from the top of my body first, I am acting on my partner's body (if we are physically connected). My upper body literally pushes against my partner's body. How she reacts to my forward movement, and the physical force involved, is the crux of this thread.
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    It gets really interesting when we consider at least two things: we aren't inanimate objects, and there can be many different ways to physically connect with our partner.

    Touching, "embracing", or creating a "frame" with our partner leads to no end of discussion. This is why I like to use an apilado, chest to chest "embrace" when discussing things. No arms or shoulders are required. Arms and shoulders, etc can and do act as "shock absorbers" and such, absorbing, dampening, increasing things we do with the rest of our body. It gets complicated, and eliminating it makes things simplier.
    Of course, I don't think people dance chest to chest in standard. So this is where this will all break down. But before it does...

    We can react to a force that is making us "want" to move. When I move my upper body toward my partner, she will feel that increased pressure. She can move immediately, or she can use her musculature to resist. I can increase the "energy" towards her. I do this by relaxing muscles on the back side of my body, and contacting muscles on the front side of my body. I can move my foot forward. All of these things will make my body "want" to move forward. (Actually, gravity will be pulling my body forward.)

    At a certain point my partner will begin to move backwards, either because she can no longer resist the energy/weight/force pushing against her, or because she simply no longer resists and allows herself to move backwards by relaxing the muscles that were holding her in place.

    I could be wrong about this, but I think that extra split second between moving the upper body forward and moving the foot forward, the part where the woman is "resisting" the movement, then when the woman is moving moving her foot/leg as her "center" moves backwards, then the man has "cleared" that space for his own foot/ leg....
    I think this comes from the fact that in AT you don't know where the next step is coming from or going to, and you therefore need that extra split second.
    That is the part that you don't feel in other dances such as standard.

    Or as I like to say, that resistance makes it feel like your partner wants to stay with you, rather than staying ahead of you.

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