Tango Argentino > Distinguishing between types of hyper-active following

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by gyb, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. ant

    ant Member

    When I started learning we were not told about inviting the follower and then waiting for her. We just led a move and expected the follower to go with it. Maybe the flip side of that was I was sometimes to quick to lead the next step and got complaints that I did not wait for the follower to finish her step.

    The times I do remember hesitating were when I we started a new sequence in class and the whole situation was overwhelming and unexpected until I figured it out and sometimes when my mind went blank and I did not know what to do next.
  2. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    For me, I have found that one of the subtle things about leading is that there is usually actually plenty of time to invite/initiate the movement, and register the follower's response, before the moment comes to actually make the movement. I don't really need 'wait' for it (in the sense that it holds things up), just as long as I time it right. The movement can take place, by mutual consent, at the time I intended in the first place.

    It took a while, but I have a ballroom background, where the leader 'following the follower' is the norm anyway (once you have reached a certain level of proficiency), so adapting that knack to a new dance style came relatively easily.

    I've just got in, from teaching a class in Ballroom Tango, and we were talking about the leader taking charge, dancing with strong movement. We went further still, and I suggested that he should present her with no alternatives to choose between: the lead is definite, decisive and unambiguous. Dare I suggest that a similar approach is not out of place here, but style differences will require adaptations of the practical side of things (that is, that those features of ballroom tango which the AT community usually dismiss as silly mannerisms, like the head flicks and the sharp body turns and lines, can be exchanged, without guilt or irony, for a different set of silly mannerisms, but they're OK, because they're adornments..... ;))
  3. ant

    ant Member

    It seems almost more difficult to do what you have described that to finish the step.

    Personally I can understand this.

    If this is happening on every step I wonder if this is due to a deficiency in technique whereby the leader feels he must do a definite collect as the feet pass and that this is the end of the step or before finishing the step so there is no energy left after the collect. Alternatively if this happening accasionally, maybe the leader intends to stop the legs moving but wants to continue the movement but he does not allow the body to carry on moving to indicate this.

    I have only recently come across the concept of follow the follower but expalined in a slightly different way. It is concept I find quite helpful in theory. Basically the leader gives the direction and the follower then decides on the timing. I suppose this translates into direction=intention and timing=follow the follower. To be honest I find this to be almost as abstract as the folower the follower idea.

    The only times that I now focus on being led by the follower is in a giro or Molinette where I found I got to far in front of the follower so now I direct my chest according to her speed and other time is when we come together again after a forward ocho or giro. Other than that I don't think of the the follow the follower concept at all really.
  4. ant

    ant Member

    Maybe I don't do subtle very well. I don't think about what movement I am making, I move and my partner moves I am not even sure who moves first (except at the start of a track or a very definite stop). My partner may not always move in the way I expect but so long as she moves in a manner that is consistant with her feelings I can adjust accordingly. Really all I want is for the follower to go with her feelings and then I can fill in around her. Just to sound a bit more confused (which I am not though) I am not even sure what these feelings are or where they come from. I have a suspicion they come from the music and our interreaction but how it all works I have no idea.

    I appreciate that BR is your turf so to speak but I feel that there is far less room for follower options in BR than in AT. I don't think we should stray to far into this area though otherwise the mods will be onto us.
  5. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I suppose the common ground between us would be that we would hope to make our movements unconscious, as our skill developed. If I'm going to step forward, I don't lead the step by moving my foot. The actual movements are difficult to describe, because some of them are subtle, and much depends on the context; but it almost amounts to the body 'breathing in' and gathering its forces (which might include a slight lift in the torso, forwards and upwards from the standing foot). This 'gathering' movement is hopefully communicated to the follower through the connection, and she responds, by initiating a matching movement.

    If I was walking to music with a clear, definite beat, on the beats (so a series of 'slow' counts - not that I'm counting), then the movement's origin is roughly on the mid-point of the preceding beat, so that my whole movement could be counted &1 &2 &3... This corresponds nicely with the idea of collecting between steps, so that we are 'in neutral' at the point that I 'gather myself' to start the next movement, which may be in a different direction, or otherwise be not completely obvious.

    If the action required is to lead a pivot, to achieve a change of direction, then I'm even earlier, because I want the follower to feel my torso rotation as she collects from the preceding step, so that if I intend the next step on the next beat, she has time to pivot and still step on time. Always, I strive to be clear, and to try and cut out other body 'noise' so that the signal I communicate is the signal I want to have received. Often, of course, I fail, or am tired, or have to change my mind at the last moment because of a floorcraft issue. But for the most part, I feel that there is plenty of time for this process, and that having to actually hold back a movement, for the sake of more time to lead it is not on the adgenda. As other have said, the lead has just died then, and I wouldn't be happy, as follower, with that sort of lead.

    As for the BR point, I don't want to persue it (it was only an aside), but you would be suprised, perhaps, just how wide are the options, once a certain level of proficiency has been reached. The lead process is very transferrable.
  6. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    That phase is called "our entire lives" :)

    Let's face it, we're men and therefore easily impressed with a gratuitous flash of ankle ;)

    This is true. However, whilst we may be attracted by the display, we'll only return if the dance was actually good.
  7. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Ankle isn't enough for me. I want thigh.


    Seriously, flash only works for one tanda with me. A good embrace is what keeps me coming back.

  8. LoveTango

    LoveTango Member

    Now the question is how to define a good embrace.
  9. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    yes, there does seem to be quite a bit of variation in what leaders prefer. I think the trick is to be able to adapt to make a wide variety of partners comfortable in your embrace.

    I also think that's an advanced skill I haven't quite mastered yet... :(
  10. LoveTango

    LoveTango Member

    I think so.

    I found comfortable embrace from different leaders. They are all different from each other. I am yet to figure out what is the key.

    Could be: firm yet gentle, with confidence and respect.

    Some leaders seem not being able to decide what they want. In such case, I would stay with open.

    How do a leader feel from the embrace of the follower? What would be good embrace from followers?
  11. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    You'd think so wouldn't you? It's certainly easier for ME for him to finish the step!

    Theoretically, if he is at the point of collect, and we are dancing well together, I would be collected too. In my mind, there's no awkwardness in stopping at collect. After all, we do that all the time. The step IS complete at collect because collect means your weight transfer is complete and you are solid over a standing leg.

    Now if he collects before I do and then stops, that would be awkward if I can't get the rest of the way there (and he wants me there). That would imply a whole lot of possible issues with either one or both of us.

    I think you are right in that sometimes he might have collected at a point where I cannot. And I'm thinking that the reason that this becomes a problem is that he projects his weight and intention forward (correctly) when he initiates a move, but then his balance shifts backwards soon after and he finishes somewhat back on his heels.

    That would account for some of the times. However, there were also occasions where I don't think he reached collect either. He just stopped putting any energy into his forward movement at a point very awkward for me to stop, resulting in me pulling him the rest of the way to BOTH of our weight transfers.

    The feeling I always had was never of an actual definitive stop. It was more that his energy just... disappears. Completely.

    There is more than one person I've experienced this with, but they don't dance in my area anymore, so I'm relying on my memory of how it felt to analyze what it might mean.

    I have never been encouraged as a follower to pace the step in my own timing instead of that set by the leader except in a molinete or a pasada.
  12. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I've found that leaders vary quite a bit in how much resistance they want or how light they prefer a follower to be. Some leaders really appreciate someone who is very lightly physically connected. Some prefer more solid pressure. Some want little pressure on their body, but want to feel resistance to their movements, some want to feel constant pressure but still have you move easily without resistance to their movement.

    Some people use the method of backing off themselves when they want more pressure from you, others increase their pressure when they want more in an effort to get you to match it. The same goes for when they want less pressure and or resistance from you. So other than verbal feedback, I have not yet learned how to gauge this so that I can adapt.

    The natural combination for me is that I give firm consistent forward pressure, but that I am quite light and easy to move (ie, my resistance and pressure doesn't feel to have changed when the leader tries to move me) The leaders who prefer me have complimented me on how light I am and/or how connected I feel.

    The leaders who seem to be avoiding me are the ones that I think prefer a light connection, ie:not as much (or no) chest contact, but not open either (a slight V connected along the arm on one side) and want to feel increased resistance from the follower to their movement.

    Personally, I would think a disconnected and hard to move follower would be the worst to lead, but maybe because of the light connection, the resistance to movement is required. I can't seem to adapt to these leaders.
  13. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member


    I actually had to learn this as a follower too. There is a tendency for some beginner followers (and I was one) to execute a step quickly when they figure it out. It's almost like a panic response. "OH!, It's an ocho!" and they quickly do an oho (maybe subconsciously thinking that if they get there quickly it will give them extra time to figure out the step that comes after it?)

    It was a real breakthrough to realize that I had plenty of time for each step. Even if I want to embellish, I have plenty of time. No need to rush to "obey" the lead. Just because you got a lead (and figured it out) doesn't mean it's URGENT or that you have to do it as quickly as you can.

    Relax... you have time.

    This seems so obvious, doesn't it? But it took awhile to sink in for me.
  14. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    In general, I want the embrace to feel comfortable and committed.

    I prefer a firm apilado embrace, with my partners arm around my neck. I can't tolerate having my R arm pinned to my side by my partners L. Nor do I like hers' pressing down on my deltoid. I use my shoulders a lot when I dance, and that just becomes a burden on me.

    However, I know lots of other guys don't seem to mind at all.

    I also don't want my partner pressing on my L hand with her R, in order to do Fwd ochos to her own R. For me, the lead comes from my chest, not from my arms.

    I always tell my student followers, in any type of dance, to dance the way their partner does. And, there's no definition for that.
  15. LoveTango

    LoveTango Member

    The V-connection is usually harder for me. Particularly if the leader tried to pull me in at the waist level while pushing me out at my right arm.

    However, if their right arm stays at the near shoulder level - like providing a frame, so that all the connection is more or less stay at the shoulder level, then it feels fine.
  16. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I began realizing this point a while back, and the more time I looked for, the more time there was. It was as though the music slowed down.

    When you think about it, dancing is movement, and the movement comes in between the beats, not on them. A beat from a metronome is only a thin slice of time. Sometimes I think followers think they must be finished with the step quickly, as ordered. By completing a step too quickly, they rob the leader of much potential subtlety. It's like swallowing a bite of food, without actually savoring it.

    I think it was Martha Graham who said, "Transition, not position".
  17. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I used that position all the time until I realized that it is more awkward to adjust from there if the leader wants to open the embrace for certain moves. I think the tendency for followers to place their arm around the leaders arm (paralle to the floor) is because that is the easiest placement for adapting to a variable embrace, while giving the follower a sense of consistent information from that part of their connection.

    I know leaders who don't like it, and I have yet to find anything else that works in it's place if the leader wants the embrace to be flexible. I have tried placing my left hand on his arm and having my elbow and arm down, but that position starts to feel odd if he moves into a firm flat on CE. However, if I adjust to have my arm around his neck at that point, opening up again becomes problematic... so where do I put it in that case?

    Of course, opening from apilado is awkward to begin with if you are sharing weight at all, so maybe none of this applies to your situation. But my advice to leaders (in general.. not specifically to you) is that if you like having the follower's arm around your neck, don't dance a style that requires a flexible embrace. It's awkward to open on the side of that arm from there.
  18. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Since I was better at Ballet than Modern, that explains a lot to me (the phrase really sums up quite a lot about the two dances). That might be why in the beginning, I was anxious to get to "position" in tango.
  19. LoveTango

    LoveTango Member

    Do you prefer that follower apply pressure from their arm around/behind your neck/or under neck?
  20. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I didn't quite get the question. I prefer the followers L arm to simply go for a ride. It doesn't need to do anything, since, for me, all the doing comes from the chest area.

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