Tango Argentino > Feeling the Man's Steps?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Steve Pastor, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I've been reading comments in the past few months that read in effect, the man should step in such a way that the woman can feel his steps.

    I was taught that the man leads with his body, and that the woman follows the man's body; or more exactly his "center".
    We were given exercises to practice just this; the man moving his feet in different ways while the woman takes her own steps.
    He practices moving his center in a steady fashion, while varying his footwork. She concentrates on ignoring what he is doing with his feet, while responding to the lead from his center.

    The earliest example of this in my lessons was when we were taught how to go into "crossed system" by taking an extra step. The man does this smoothly so that the woman either doesn't feel it, or knows she is supposed to ignore it.

    All of this was consistent over a number of teachers here in Portland, and numerous visiting notables.

    What have you all been taught in this regard?
  2. mkjohnson

    mkjohnson Member

    "She concentrates on ignoring what he is doing with his feet, while responding to the lead from his center."

    That's essentially what I've been taught by all the teachers I've studied with. Granted that's only a handful, but it's been fairly consistent in my instruction.
  3. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I suspect the same as you. The follower follows his lead (from his chest, body, etc.), not his feet or steps. The leader however, does need to be aware of the followers steps.
  4. ant

    ant Member

    I agree that the woman follows the intention of the leaders body but I have also been taught that intention from the body is generated by the leaders connection to the floor.
  5. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I'm with you on this one... I don't need to feel his steps. I don't care about his steps. I need to feel where he wants ME to step. (and he needs to feel where I have stepped, even if it wasn't where he intended) I prefer to feel this from his body, not from his arms or from realizing he meant for me to step only after he steps on me.

    Basically, what he's leading matters; what he's doing doesn't unless it becomes part of his lead.
  6. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    that may be true, but the follower still doesn't feel his intention as coming from his feet, therefore where they are doesn't matter to her unless they're on top of hers. :D (or unless they are somewhere that doesn't work for what he's leading her to do)

    His feet only matter to her when they are a problem, and if she's doing what he led, then it's HIS problem to fix, not the follower's problem because she didn't know what he was doing with them or something
  7. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    This is consistent with my idea of how it works, assuming you are not talking about OE.
  8. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    If the lady can pay attention to his feet, either she is looking down (bad) or the connection is a bit low. ;-)

    In standard, at syllabus level I have a number of figures where the lady takes more steps than I do.

    So, based on just those two points, I would agree with OP.

    That being said, I was talking the other day to a high level standard dancer who says she sucks at Argentine Tango because she keeps reacting to the weight changes she feels the man makes.

    So the real challenge in my mind is how well the man can lead something different with his center than he is doing with his feet.
  9. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Yes, that is a challenge for leaders in AT. But it is intrinsic to advancing in the dance.
  10. Nathan

    Nathan Member

    I suppose it depends on what she's planning on doing! If she's just following the lead, she doesn't need to know anything about his feet because he is taking care of everything. If, on the other hand, she decides that she wants to do a lot of creative embellishments, then she does need to know where his feet/legs are in order to avoid injuring him.
  11. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Don't agree, and I've never hit a leader yet with an embellishment. A follower's embellishments typically don't extend in front of her. She's usually in more danger of kicking someone else on the floor around them than her own leader. If a follower is injuring her partner with her embellishments (or anyone else for that matter) then there's a bigger problem than her not knowing where the leader's feet are!
  12. Nathan

    Nathan Member

    Different followers have different ways of dancing, and some involve more "active participation" than others. Without question, if a follower is injuring her partner or anyone else, she is not dancing properly. I wasn't talking about that. All I was saying is that there are things a follower can do which require her to be especially aware of her partner's body if she wants to do them without causing harm. This is not so far from what leaders have to do with every step we take. ;)
  13. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    As a BR dancer, this is probably my biggest cross-over challenge: tuning out the "noise" he makes with his feet and having confidence that what I'm feeling from his body is what he wants. One leader I dance with occasionally does this thing where he steps back, does two quick weight changes and then steps forward again. I wasn't sure before if I was supposed to try to do the weight changes too, but I just couldn't seem to keep up and do them. Now I feel more comfortable that I was right in not doing them!
  14. gyb

    gyb Member

    The claim that "the man should step in such a way that the woman can feel his steps" and the claim that the lead should come from the chest only are not in contradiction.

    I don't know about the referred discussions, but one reason why a close embrace leader might not want to step so smoothly as to not let the follower feel his steps is to let her enjoy how he plays with the rhythm with his steps.

    Now undoubtedly _most_ leaders have a problem of not stepping smoothly enough to make the close embrace comfortable and/or have a problem with leading with the chest (ahem, with the entire upper connection) exclusively. And so the best advice for most leaders is to try to disassociate more and to try to take smoother steps. But when someone becomes so smooth as to not let any information about the step get through, this can come as a loss for the follower in understanding the leaders musical interpretation.
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I think I know what you are trying to say, but since you used the term "embellishment" I was responding to that alone.

    If the pair are dancing a "give and take" sort of dance where hijacking the lead or deliberately doing something that changes the leader's intention, then yes, maybe she needs to know a lot more than the usual amount about where the leader is. However, by definition, an embellishment is supposed to avoid altering the lead or getting in the way of the lead. In fact, it's ok if the leader doesn't even notice them.

    So although certain ways of relating to one another in the dance (such as styles where the follower has a great deal more say in what steps occur) may require that the follower have the awareness you speak of, I stick to my view that it should not be necessary for embellishments.
  16. Nathan

    Nathan Member

    Sort of... what I was referring to is the grey area between those two concepts: unled movements that are big enough to be felt and possibly dangerous if not done with care, but that don't interfere with the lead either. Does that make sense?
  17. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I agree with your use of dissassociate here. In a fluid walk, there is no dissassociation unless you're outside partner.

    Telling a leader to take smoother steps can also be a little misleading. Some people might take that to mean step lighter, which is the opposite of what you want.

    I do agree completely about the musicality though. With a good walk, you can communicate a lot of the feeling of the music. It's not just about the follower feeling your feet, but how you interpret the length of a note, starting from the floor, up through your feet and legs, then through the spiral motion of your entire body.
  18. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Think that is the rule, it should be this way. The woman must not care about crossed or parallel system. It is the leaderĀ“s task. So if something does not work, the leader is to blame (as with almost everything in TA), may be there was not enough body dissociation, or a mistake in choosing the outside stepping track.

    We were talking about crossed system. But in parallel system there is really a clear signal. It is called step projecting. So I can send the follower the information of the step size. This avoids the clashing of the knees.

    Sometimes leaders do some adornos and tapping on the spot, weight changes and some other stepping. The follower may also do some fancy stuff during this moments.
  19. ant

    ant Member

    I would have thought that you may be feeling the amount of energy being created from the floor by the leader as giving a guide to the amount of energy you need to put in your equivalent movement. Anyway thats what I have been taught.
  20. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    At the risk of hijacking this thread into a continuation of the recent 'Cross-Over' one, I would say that there arre two things here to consider.

    The first is that a BR leader may be relatively unaware of the extend to which his upper body is not 'still' (particularly laterally) during step movements, and is actually generating too much step-based noise, which then becomes hard to tune out of.

    The other is that while a decent BR dancer already leads by intention: the body moves first; the different degree of forward balance, and the stress on upper body movement for AT leading means that a beginning AT leader may be getting the balance of these elements wrong while sincerely believing that he is doing what the instructor suggested. A BR analogy [BR technique alert: do not read next sentence if you want to read exclusively about AT!] might be a beginners attempt at CBM & sway. They think they are doing both, indeed they feel that they are doing both to a huge extent, but no one else can see or feel a thing. The opposite can be true: we can believe that we have eradicated something which is not helpful in AT, but it's still there really...

    Of course this only applies if the leader is a beginning AT dancer from the BR world. If the issue is that a beginning follower can't tune out an experienced leaders steps, then either the leader has got lazy and into bad habits and is allowing his body to create the wrong noise, or possibly, that the follower is so used to tuning into step patters, that the body has (possibly subconsciously) actually gone looking for them. That the result is confusing is inevitable, given the relationship between lead and steps in the dance.

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