Tango Argentino > Determining skill by watching

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by twnkltoz, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    This is a tangent from the thread about asking people to dance, but I thought it might be an interesting discussion.

    When you watch them dance, what do you look for to tell you they're a good dancer? Indicate male or female.
  2. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Can I see the song being expressed in the dancing when looking at the couple. At follower how well he/she expresses himself/herself when given freedom to do so. At leader is he leading follower at his/her level.
  3. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    While I look at men dancing, I notice the following:
    What does his posture/embrace look like.
    How he moves to music.
    How he navigates the floor.

    Huge red flags:
    The guy is talking during the dancing.
    Starts dancing the very second the music starts playing.
    Uses his arms and hands to lead.
    Has trouble navigating: cannot stay in the ronda, jumps from one line to another, dances in the middle of the floor, cuts others off, bumps into people/furniture.
    Makes noise with his feet.
    Holds his partner far away from him.

    There are other things that happen before/in between dancing that also play their part.
  4. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Interesting question.

    When I see a woman looking around the room while she's dancing, I automatically dismiss her as a partner: she is not paying enough attention to the dance. Granted, her partner may not be giving her much to pay attention too, but that does not give her a reason to merely do a dry run with him. If she can't be totally involved in a dance with him, she should decline to dance with him. (Even if she feels inclined to give him a charity dance).

    If I see a woman dancing and her facial expression looks like she is trying to solve a problem (left brain), I do not feel inclined to dance with her. The dance I want to give her has no answers; it's just an experience.

    When I see a woman dancing and she has an expression on her face like she is tasting something savory, searching for flavor, I want to dance with her.

    When I see a woman dancing and she seems to enjoy every quarter inch of a movement, rather than trying to achieve the end result, I want to dance with her.
  5. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I like to watch people as a couple, rather than just watching the individual doing their part. I watch to see how well the couple moves as one. It's actually rather rare to see 2 people dancing tango and truly looking like a single unit rather than someone who is sending signals and someone who is trying to catch them and respond. I had been thinking that typically I see this only in close embrace, however, I watched a couple at a milonga last weekend who were dancing open nuevo and they embodied this principle even though they were being playful and "fancy".

    BOTH people need to be good dancers to pull this off, so it doesn't tell you much about the people who are good that are dancing with someone who can't pull it off. But when you see a couple moving so perfectly as one dancer, it's a safe bet that they are probably both great partners. (unless of course, they only ever dance with each other and that's how they developed this ability together... but then, if that's the case, they aren't going to dance with you anyway, so it doesn't matter)

    However, some very good dancers can end up simply not meshing well with another good dancer. Also a good dancer may be dancing with someone who hasn't attained the skill of "becoming one". So in the cases where I don't have the "perfect sync" to clue me in, I look at leaders for things like Lily states in her post and in this order:

    Does he look like he is safe for the rest of the dancers out there.
    Does he overuse his arms or look to be "forcing" rather than leading.
    Does he dance with the music or is he just moving around independently of the music.

    If he passes those basic tests, I'll probably dance with him if he asks. Usually when there's someone I REALLY want to dance with, and will feel sad that I didn't dance with, I formed that desire by having danced with him, not from watching him. Until I actually dance with him, I can't be sure whether he's someone that I REALLY, REALLY don't want to miss out on (unless he's famous, and even then...). Even the leaders that other followers rave about may not turn out to be someone that makes me tango-swoon. The only way to find out for sure is to dance with someone.

    When watching followers (not to dance with) I watch to see how cleanly, elegantly and precisely they execute the simplest things like walking. I don't get distracted by the number or height of embellishments. Or actually, to be more specific, if I'm noticing the embellishments that much, they probably ARE distracting... which means they don't fit the dance that well. I look at the posture and connection she seems to have, and how stable and responsive she seems to be. I find that many leaders are impressed by the wrong things when they watch followers, but actually many followers are too... they see the higher boleos and fancy wraps and think "Oh wow! She's SO good!"...

    yeah... maybe she is.. or maybe she throws all that stuff in regardless of what the leader is trying to do and has no ability to alter her styling.
  6. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    (As a male leader) When a new and unkown female follower appears at a milonga:

    when sitting: body languages, shoe style
    when dancing: facial expression, left hand attitude, ability of projecting the feet
  7. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Looking at the leader's face tells me about the follower's skills. Or lack of.
  8. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Generally I find it's easier to tell if they're a bad dancer - i.e. by spotting if they're making mistakes.

    For a leader, that would involve floorcraft, musicality and obviously balance.

    For a follower, that would involve posture, footwork, placement and so on.

    Triage system - eliminate the rubbish ones first :)
  9. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    An Argentine woman told me that other women would look at the faces of women as they danced, and if they saw a beautiful look, they would want to dance with that guy.
  10. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    This ^

    IMO, looking at the face of a dancer often tells you more about their partner.
  11. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I disagree... a follower here used to look like she was in pain no matter who she danced with, including the leaders who were everyone's favorites. She was fairly new to tango (although had done other partner dances) and was uncomfortable with the difference from what she was used to, even though she looked like an experienced dancer.

    If I based my judgment of leaders on her facial expression while dancing with them, I would be avoiding some of the best leaders here. Over a short time (because she had so much previous dance experience and natural talent) she became more comfortable and skilled. Her expression changed... not the leaders' abilities.

    I know another follower who looks like she's in heaven almost all the time when dancing, yet quite a few leaders find her awkward to lead.

    I don't think a person's expression can be attributed to their partner as easily as people think. You certainly can't dismiss the person's OWN dancing or mindset (or anatomical facial structure) as a contributor to their facial expression.
  12. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    yeah, I agree with this..its easy enough to have a mona lisa expression and still be thinking about the times crossword rather than the bum dance you're having...
  13. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I think there is a clear difference between the facial expressions of a woman who is totally focused on the dance and one who is thinking about other things.
  14. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member


    I hate to break it to you, but sometimes women pretend to be having a better time than they are actually having. Ahem. ;)

    (Is there a Tango equivalent to "Lie back and think of England?" )
  15. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Exactly. Particularly with beginners who are trying really hard, I try to smile and act like I'm having a good time to encourage them.
  16. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

  17. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Ja: "...ever done a volcada?"
  18. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I think that is pretty much universal..hence the success of Facebook; its prime function is to let other people know that you are having a better time than them.....;)

    having said that one of my class was laughing so hard last night he couldnt speak and tell me what had tickled his funny bone..
  19. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    And someone who is totally focused on the dance may not be smiling because they are concentrating... so if you base your assessment of their partner on the lack of smiling on the part of the one focused and concentrating, you might miss a great partner.
  20. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I haven't mentioned smiling, and that is not what I'm talking about. It's more a look of bliss that I'm thinking about. And yes, I know, the guy she's dancing with might have something to do with it.

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