Tango Argentino > Dancing both Tango Argentino and Competition Ballroom?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Chris Stratton, Jul 2, 2004.

  1. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Can anyone comment on what it would be like to switch back and forth between Tango Argentino and competition style ballroom? I'm specifically thinking of the apparent differences in hold, posture, and footwork - can one learn to turn these things on and off as needed? Or is cross-contamination inevitable?
  2. bjp22tango

    bjp22tango Active Member

    I don't think there is a simple answer to this, but here are some of my thoughts based on experience and observation...

    Switching rapidly from one style to another-as at a USABDA dance-can be a challenge. The frames and mindsets of the dances are so different that if you don't take a moment to reset you can find yourself dancing Argentine Tango with a too stiff frame. I don't seem to have as much problem reverting to ballroom from Argentine Tango :lol: but I've been dancing ballroom longer. When dancing at a Milonga I don't have a problem shedding the "ballroom" frame after a dance or two. The music and lead just reminds me to relax into the Argentine Tango frame and rules.

    This is not restricted to Argentine Tango however.

    I find myself dancing Mambo or Salsa differently depending on the music. Ballroom Mambo music and street music that follows that formula makes me want to dance the sharper Mambo style, while Columbian music will put me into a more relaxed Salsa groove everytime. I personally have to ignore the music if my style and the leaders style are too different.

    Lindy Hop and WC Swing can converge at certain tempos and/or certain music styles. I have to really watch it when dancing with a Lindy leader to a piece of blues music that screams WC Swing to me and vice versa, because I tend to veer into the style of dance the music says, not necessarily what the leader is leading :oops: and the styles are just different enough to cause problems.

    I think of this in terms of sports also. If you are good at soccer and basketball, or racketball and tennis, you will have to adjust your skill sets to each game. They are each athletic, but demand certain skills over others. Foot skills in soccer and hand skills in basketball, but running in both. Swinging a racket in both racketball and tennis, but response times to the return of the ball differ so reaction times are different.

    I would think some kind of cross contamination would be inevitable, even if not realized. Using another analogy, how many 10 dance champions are simultaneous Latin champions or Standard champions? The very skills that allow them to be good at many dances probably also preclude them from being expert at five....
  3. MadamSamba

    MadamSamba Member

    I'd agree too, bjp. I find the same. If I only dance tango on a night or only salsa, I'm fine, but if I go from a ballroom event then off to a milonga I need a couple of dances to switch "modes" and shrug off my rigid diaphragm-to-diaphragm mode. Going the other way doesn't seem to be such a problem though, probably because street salsa and AT are inordinately more natural than the solid ballroom positions.

    Mind you, having said that, I do find that I sometimes want to do AT's point, shift weight and step reflex when I'm waltzing or quickstepping!

    But "cross-contamination" is inevitable. I love throwing in a boleo or ocho into ballroom tango, or even salsa, if you can slip it in quick enough. :)
  4. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I let a ballroom friend talk me into trying an Argentine Tango lesson last night. We had excellent teachers, who decided to present fundamental concepts rather than figures or any sort of basic amaglamation. For the most part, I was able to look at what they were demonstrating, and match it to an already familiar concept from the variety of techniques used in the spectrum of ballroom/latin dances. So we learned some basic concepts of partnering, weight position, walking action, ochos, and then were turned loose for general dancing - had a lot of fun just experimenting with moving in the style, trying to see which ballroom figures might be de-evolved back into an argentine tango source (and which couldn't), etc.

    I did come up with a few questions though:

    In the more ballroom-like hold (salon style I guess), when the lady does the swiveling action of an ocho, does her whole torso turn inside her arms? Or does she keep her chest more towards her partner and turn her feet relative to her body?

    What about if dancing in a closer hold, where the arms cannot really provide any of the compression force between your tops? Does the lady seperate out for an ocho? Do it with feet only and keep shoulders/chests in contact? Or does the leader rotate his top with her, as I would to say lead an outside swivel in ballroom tango? For that matter, can I do an outside swivel? And if so how would I lead it?

    Is there any general "knees veering in" bias? Or is that purely a ballroom idea? Watching I noticed a lot of ladies with their free ankle broken sideways, in a way that would suggest a preference for stepping onto the inside edge of the foot.

    Do walks generally curve? Or is this this whole ballroom story about dancing around the brothel tables pure invention?
  5. MadamSamba

    MadamSamba Member

    Chris, I'll try to answer the qestions, but I'm not a teacher, so more experienced dancers on the forum might want to pipe in and correct or add to my answers:

    Both. Technically she keeps her chest towards her partner and only turns her feet, but anyone with a torso will tell you it's neigh impossible to do it dead straight and, inevitably, there will be turning.

    You'll have to ask the leaders on DF about how to lead it, but as a female/follower, I've done ochos in closed hold. They're smaller and rare, but entirely possible. In fact, if done properly, they come off looking quite classy.

    Yes, Chris. The female's foot is generally pointed outwards as you suggest, but rather than purely stepping, you point and change weight and the movement is done more with the side of the ball of the feet than the tip of the toe. Actually, depending on the girl, it's done with a part of the foot in that general idea, but never with a heel lead or ball-flat.

    When you say "do walks curve?", do you mean solitary practice walks or actual dance walks? I assume you mean during a dance and the curve depends on the leader. I know one guy who walks up and down and up and down all night _ nothing more. He never so much as steps into the floor or goes around and around with the masses, who are generally curving "around" the dancefloor. I know during practice though we do a lot of curved walks. Is that what you mean?

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