Tango Argentino > Crossing over from ballroom to Tango

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by twnkltoz, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    I'm a leader, yes. I have done a little following - took a couple "follower's technique" classes, and learnt to ocho and walk backwards properly and feel the lead. It was very beneficial for my leading
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    True. And maybe they sat around over glasses of Chianti and argued the finer points of this or that. Been in a few conversations like that, myself. I just think it's presumptuous of us, at this point, to think we understand what happened many years ago.

    Music and dance history are both great to understand, to give context. That's fine. :cool: And... let's dance rather than argue about dance. :wink:
  3. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I can think of several reasons, but I'm only guessing when it comes to follower other than myself. (you know why I don't post there... like we've discussed, I'm a dancer not a musician, and I don't need to break the music down to be aware that a change might be coming, or how long the change might last before returning to the main theme)

    It could be that women are more likely to be "dancers" like me and don't feel a need to analyze the music. They feel it and they know what's about to happen because they feel it, not because they study it. (leaders are frequently baffled how I know to be ready to stop for the last note as though I know it is coming... I DO know it's coming even in an unfamiliar piece... although I sometimes get taken by surprise when it continues)

    It could be that since followers don't get to decide where to go and what to do to the music, there's no point for them in dissecting the counts and phrases.

    It could be that since followers don't have to plan ahead, and in fact should NOT plan ahead, they don't care about what's coming up in the music.

    It could be that for the reason above, followers are either more naturally able, or more "trained" at interpreting the music on the fly spontaneously as they hear it.

    It could just be that since most followers are women, women generally dance to FEEL something and intellectual analysis seems not only beside the point, but counter-productive. Of course, that's not completely true, because intellectual analysis of the actual dance technique is required in tango, so it's not like we get to avoid it completely.

    Those are my thoughts on why followers aren't flocking to your music threads. It would be interesting to note a gender breakdown as well however... are there female leaders participating?
  4. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    A great deal of what passes for tango history is questionable - more folklore and repeated cliches, really. A real musicologist could separate fact from fiction and trace the development of the music very accurately and in detail - that's their job. And a dance historian could do the same for the dance itself. There may be scholarly books or articles in journals about tango music and dance history in Spanish (which I can't read, another thing on my list get at) but I haven't read much that I consider reliable, in English. (Steve Pastor would know more about this than me.)

    I once saw a professional dance troupe dance 17th-18th century court dances, dressed in costume. Courantes, Sarabandes, Gigues, Bourees...Dance historians can bring "dead" dances back to life. It shouldn't be impossible to trace accurately tango's development either.

    I'm all for dancing, not arguing. But discussion is entertaining and interesting....
  5. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    By the way, one of my slogans to scandalise within our tango scene in Hamburg, and to offend tango DJs in particular is:

    There are by far much more poor tangos than actually really good ones
  6. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Well, hopefully I haven't given you the impression that I need to analyse the music to hear such basic things. :( I study the music to internalize it - the tango sound and character - to be spontaneous on the dance floor, and feel it, as you say. And I like doing the analysis for its own sake, as AndaBien said...

    Unless it's Pugliese, then you have to wait an extra beat. ;)

    Thanks for posting them. Some I assumed, others made me think a bit. Interesting, question, don't know if there are female leaders or not.
  7. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Me too. After the first year, when a major had to be declared, I choose musicology over performance. Still had to study an instrument (guitar and piano as a secondary), but the focus was on theory and history of the major periods and very detailed study of specific works by the composers in the "classical" tradition, from Gregorian Chant to the most recent (at the time) compositions.

    What was your specific major, if you don't mind me asking?
  8. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    It could be that followers need to understand music comes later. During my two first follower years I actually did not hear music. All concentration was focused on leaders intentions and taking the steps. Even when I started to hear melodies and rythms I was not able to explore my own musicality but got a new type of interpretation with every new leader.

    As a leader I can explore my personal musicality during all my dancing hours. At the same time I lack the variations followers have and this boring effect is chasing me to learn more, to hear more.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Out tango teachers, and our fellow dancers often share with us their understanding of tango history and the music. Some are better informed than others.

    Me, I want to know. And I want to know to the best of my ability to understand and to find out what actually went on and at a level of say, someone who can actually play music or is an accomplished dancer. Chalk it up to a background in science, early moral training, some background in journalism, a hobby of trying to learn to play the piano and (more recently) guitar... whatever.

    One of the best dance teachers I know (that would be Skippy Blair) has spent decades teaching dancers, and perhaps more importantly dance teachers, about music and how dancers can be more in tune with it.
    Sign me up! (oh, wait, already did that, plus frequently reading and "studying' her books, essay, etc)

    We have great libraries here in Vancouver/Portland, so I can easily get to books. But the two tango books I have purchased, and recommend are:

    Tango The Art History of Love by Robert Farris Thompson
    Tango Creation of a Cultural Icon by Jo Baim
  10. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    I've read Thompson and highly recommend it too. I'll get Baim.

    But what I'd really like is a history written by a musicologist, and there just doesn't seem to be any. In English, maybe in Spanish - Thompson footnotes a lot of Spanish language references.

    For those unfamiliar with Thompson, he is a Yale Art history prof., specializing in African art. His history of tango is heavily biased towards an African influence, but I take him at his word. I assume he has scholarly integrity and has fact-checked everything. It is a very interesting and informative read.
  11. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    My goal for music work is to HEAR more, to be aware about all the things going on simultaneously. I want also to maintain the separation of Practica and Milonga. At home and practica I train and try to understand, break down and assemble together again! At milonga I empty my head and just dance at the hearing level I am that day!

    ... and yes! I am PASSIONATE about training and building up my minimalistic knowledge of today! (My main follover is not!)
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Jo Baim is an organist. She has chapters on Tango Music, Tangos in Waltz Time and The Tango in the World of Art Music. Will look forward to your comments on her writings.

    Thompson, with his knowledge of music, language and dance in Africa and South America, balances, for instance, Alberto Paz whose short history of tango in Gotta Tango makes no mention of influences from Africa.
  13. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

  14. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    Nope. :)
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I always heard it and it made me nuts in my early days that the beginning leaders I was dancing with were ignoring it.
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Y..e...ah, politcal economy of passion????

    Went to JSTOR where there are several reviews that I think I'll look at before I consider whether or not to invest in a library request.
  17. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Funny, I took "LadylLeader" to mean a leader of ladies, not a lady who leads. :doh:
  18. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I'd be interested in reading something that contributes information or ideas, rather than just denies others.
  19. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I would have thought that "Nope" dealt with that (and the rest) perfectly adequately. Just in case I missed it, what is the name of this book - where can I buy it? It would save me a lot of time and considerable effort.

    The language of dance technique can be very easily applied to AT - if anything, I have found that there is a much more limited range of movements, so the job shouldn't take long - so perhaps the same author could be asked to look at some You Tube material, and then produce the AT edition, and then we can ALL dance like automata.

    Wind us all up, flick the lever, and off we all go, together.
  20. Zhena

    Zhena Well-Known Member

    OK then, refer back to opendoor's post, which contains some inaccuracies and could be rewritten as follows:

    Some descriptions of ballroom patterns and techniques have been gathered into books. These descriptions can be meticulously detailed. However, they do not limit what dancing should look like, but describe a foundation on which a ballroom dancer can build their own unique expression. In other words, the ballroom books are DESCRIPTIVE rather than PRESCRIPTIVE. There are many ballroom dancers who do not dance "by the book" ... indeed there are many who are not even aware that such books exist. Although there may be no such book/syllabus in Argentine Tango, there are certain people who would rigidly prescribe limits to the movements allowed in AT, and would deny that movements other than those listed are not "true" tango. In both ballroom and AT, though, many people dance in many different ways. In both cases the deeper you get and the more you understand music and the roots of the dance, the more you feel free to build upon the tradition in different ways. Dancers are in dialog with the music. Both forms have practitioners who are constantly evolving and diverging, and there is always tension between the old and the new ... and sometimes it's hard to tell when something new is just a variation within the "original" form and when it becomes something that deserves a category of its own.

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