Tango Argentino > Videos > Heel or ball ?

Discussion in 'Videos' started by opendoor, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Mladenac, what´s that for an unusual video file format. I haven´t any plugin or driver to get it on the screen? Is it from Microsoft?

    My new TA teacher, Karin Solana, is a former ballet dancer (out of the famous John Neumeier Company). And, she teaches natural walking in TA. Before, I landed with the ball (toe step) first, now I have to learn anew, and that is a bit difficult for me.

    So what do all of you think, is the walking technique a question of style, traditionalism, or orthopaedics?

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2017
  2. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

  3. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2017
  4. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I'm going with that too, until I can figure out otherwise. Heel first (with relaxed ankle? maybe AngelHI or someone can chime in on that?) seems to be the more common method for that.

    I've seen leaders bounce going both toe or heel first. It's in how they are using their knees and/or possibly ankles, my guess.

    I don't consider using controlled body dynamics to do some movements "up" or "down" or "down to up" to be bouncing. I consider those "level changes" (sorry, couldn't think of another term- belly dancing uses changes of level in a dance- perfectly valid use of dynamics) and they are done on purpose.
  5. hbboogie1

    hbboogie1 New Member

    Read this post again. There are exceptions to the rule. Tonight at your local milonga watch the leaders on the floor and if you spot someone dancing very smooth chances are he’s leading with the ball of his foot.
    I consider it style also.

    Incompetent individuals fail to recognize their own inadequacy because they tend to overestimate their own level of skill and fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
  6. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    by "jumping" in to the step, are you referring to arriving "on top of" the beat, rather than "behind" (ie- foot arrives first)? Not really the same thing as "bouncing", IMO. That's a timing thing of body arrival with foot versus not.

    Like I said, I have seen leads who arrived ball first bouncing around quite happily...and heel leaders also...same goes for smoothness of step (but it's not a result of their arrival time on the step but a technical issue in another part of the body). Arrival on top of the beat (which you may consider bouncing), to me is a timing difference. Forgive the cliche, but I tend to see a lot of "Nuevo" style dancers tend to arrive on top of the beat- giving their steps a choppy look.

    Arrival on top of the beat, to me, is a dynamic element. I wouldn't want to dance my whole dance that way, but it does adda dynamic.
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Style, mostly.
    Me thinks, however, that when taking short steps - stepping quickly to something fast in the music, crowded conditions, etc - that you move more towards a "toe lead" as the result of how the foot moves when "walking".
    Since the heel comes up from the ground as the step is initiated, and the toe remains down; with a (very) short, quick step, the toe doesn't have time to rise higher than the heel. When the foot then comes down, the toe is already there. More or less. This then looks like a "toe lead".
  8. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think it is mostly style, too. I personally prefer more "jerky" movement, and especially when taking shorter steps i consciously try to do _more_ heel lead (but then i find milonga to be more aestethically pleasing and technically interesting than tango - e.g. while i can appreciate that the walking in the OP is technically very nice it is a bit too smooth for my taste).

    Staying with the animals: I have been told that the walk has three phases, and that each phase is a different animal: Starting a step should be smooth like a cat, the middle is soaring like an eagle, and when the foot comes down it is grounded like an elephant. I think it is possible for different people to emphasize different parts of this, but for a technically competent walk all three elements have to be present.


    "But do not reject these teaching as false because I am crazy. The reason that I am crazy is because they are true."
    Malaclypse the Younger
  9. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    agreed- toe or ball of foot does seem to be more helpful in smaller, quicker steps, at least for me.
  10. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Classically trained dancers always place the toe first. That seems to have carried over somewhat to performance tango where long strides are taken in choreographies. That's not to say there aren't some steps taken with heel first.

    In the milongas of Buenos Aires, the milongueros and other dancers generally walk heel first with short steps.

    Watch the finals of the World Tango Championship for salon tango on Saturday, August 29 at 19 hs. live from Buenos Aires.

  11. Dance-expert

    Dance-expert New Member

    Heel or Toe?

    The old masters taught to step with the ball first. In fact, Pulpo had once said that it is next to impossible to do a good balanced enrosque without stepping with the legs bend and stepping with the ball first bringing the weight over it.

    The correct method to walk is: a slight bend of the knees with the toes turned out, brushing the ankle against the other ankle, and land on the outside edge of the ball and rolling in as you project your weight over the foot. And your weight stays over that foot to keep your balance, then take the next step, etc.

    In fact this method was taught by an American ballroom dance instructor (non-Spanish), who is a master of AT, in a routine to an American couple (non-Spanish) that placed 3rd in the World Championship in Argentina.

    The best Argentine performers, instructors and dancers use this walking technique. By watching them you will be able to sort out who is good and who is excellent. It is the same when watching the female dancers by watching their adornments and how many they use in a routine. This sorts the real pros from the average pro. Remember in Argentina they say, "First you learn a tango routine and then later you learn how to tango."

    Also when you look for a dance instructor- remember he or she can be the greatest dancer but a lousy instructor, or a lousy dancer but a great instructor. If the person gives you great techniques with the dance pattern then you have a great instructor and in order to find out asked them to show you how to walk in the tango...then you will know!:D
  12. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Sorry, gotta disagree.

    Heel or ball makes little-to-no difference, ultimately, so long as it is done well. There is excellent technique to be had either way. Everyone has their preferences, and so long as they make it work it doesn't much matter...and even then I'd wager that there is still variation in how they walk or step depending on what step they are actually doing. There are times when one technique could work better than the other.

    Furthermore, I'd say that judging a woman by her adornments is not the way to go. Excellent technique and mastery will stand out in the most simple and basic of movements--like her walking.
  13. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    What Peach said. :)

    It makes little difference to an advanced dancer. Toe first can create a more aestetic look, so I could see why performers would prefer it. But I have heard many many times from several master teachers that the tango walk originated from a natural street walk, to music. And the natural movement is heel first. I happen to like both, though I am mostly a heel-first dancer. I have been experimenting with toe first, and I think it is easier to get the smooth gliding feeling with toe first, but that feeling is not always appropriate for all songs.
  14. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    This is only the "correct way" to people who consider it the correct way. There are other teachers who say the exact opposite.. make your tracings on the floor with the inside of your foot.

    I have heard both, however, the only time I heard it strongly emphasized to use the outside of your foot was when a female teacher was instructing followers in walking forward in a high heel shoe. The technique would be employed to get the shoe heel out of the way while still making floor contact with the front of the foot. Then of course, it becomes necessary to roll the foot as weight is transferred. Personally, I think a better way to deal with the shoe heel problem is to not wear heels so high that you have a lot of problems walking in the first place, and there are other ways to deal with the heel issue that don't put the woman at such risk of twisting her ankle if she doesn't get rolled quite right to get over her foot properly. To me, putting a high heel shoe down heel first not squarely is asking for trouble. One little slip of that spike along the floor surface, and you're spending the rest of the milonga at the ER.

    I have never heard a male teacher tell this to leaders, although I have heard them tell leaders the opposite... trace the floor with the inside of the ball just as followers do for most of their steps except the forward step in a stilletto. Of course, I'm not present for many private lessons that leaders get, so who knows what they get told.

    I also prefer to think of it as brushing the thighs and the knees. It's easy for people to end up with a bow legged thing happening when you tell them to bend their knees, turn out their feet and walk brushing the ankles.

    In the long run, what works best depends great deal on the way someone's body is constructed and natural pronation of the feet or bowing of the legs.

    I have seen followers walk backwards with the outside of the foot making contact first and then rolling down flat, and my personal taste is that it is quite strange looking. But the women I've seen do it are naturally pigeon toed with a certain amount of sickling in their ankles, so this is how they are stable. Changing it would decrease their stability.

    And stability is far more important than how it looks.
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I'm curious who you consider the "best". Since you are offering praise, I don't think it would violate any rules for you to drop some names and I'd be interested to know if any of the teachers I've met are among them.
  16. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I think I'd rather just learn how to dance, and leave the 'routines' to these pros you keep posting about. Are we talking about the same dance? ;)
  17. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    curing pigeon toedness, bow leggedeness etc is going to take a long time and a physiotherapist training; but any correction in the leg foot alignment is going to be a good thing as it will reduce strain on the knee and the ankle..

    I am told the big toe is a proprieceptive trigger for our balance. it says;to our brains; there is something solid under our foot we can balance with..

    but its still a question of style...

    watch any pre-walking baby; its toe down first....
  18. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Who is this "they" you are referring to??? The only one I've ever heard saying this is you.

  19. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I agree with you in theory about fixing alignment problems. However, our brains are flexible in the synapses and pathways they form. I imagine that a middle aged adult who has spent a lifetime walking pigeon-toed with the ankles rolled to the outside of the foot before full placement, also has had a lifetime for their brain to learn to "trigger" information from another part of the foot than the big toe.

    It is a question of style, but the style an individual ends up with is born from how their own body works best to be stable and connected to the partner.... well, that is once they get past the stage of trying to mimic someone else's style because that's the only correct way.

    My personal view is that teachers working with adults (especially older ones) should expect to mold the dance to the individual's body to some extent rather than act like like ballet teachers working with 6 years olds (where the reverse - molding the body to the dance - is expected)

    And doesn't a pre-walking baby put their knee down first? Now that would make an interesting tango style... and a candidate for the ministry of silly walks. ;)
  20. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

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