Tango Argentino > How to know if partner will step with "other" foot

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by All Sales Are Final, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. Hola peeps,

    I have recently been taught a figure that commences with a sidestep to the right for the woman, which I match with a sidestep to the left in mirror-image (it’s quite a simple figure, but that is not the point).

    About 50% of the time, this first step occurs as expected. But equally often, instead of doing the sidestep to the right with her right leg, the woman moves with her left leg, swiveling around behind her to step to the right.

    When this happens my teacher recommends treating it as a back ocho and proceeding from there, for example doing another back ocho on the other side, or going into any other crossfoot-system move (and abandoning the initially intended figure).

    But I am not really quick-thinking enough to do this if I don’t know it’s coming. Is there a way to know in advance whether she will do a “normal” right sidestep or swivel round with the other foot and do a back ocho, giving me time to plan my response? Or do I just have to develop my ability to react quicker?

    Thank you!
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
  2. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Quick reactions are not what are required, rather you must develop an awareness of where your partner's balance is (ie which foot she is standing on) all the time. 50% success is no better than having guessed - aim for 100%, but be satisfied with 95%.

    PS Serendipitous back ochos are one of your best get-out-of-jail-free cards. Just pretend that's what you meant to do. ;)
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Knowing which of your partner's feet has weight, and which doesn't, is essential to doing Argentine Tango well.

    Both partner's play a role in making this happen.
    Your instructor hasn't taught how this happens?
  4. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    What you need to do is shift her weight onto the foot you want her on instead of guessing and reacting.
  5. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    As many have already said: your partner does not shift her weight from one side to another on her own. At least she is not supposed to. :)
    You lead all her weight changes, and keep track of which of her feet has the weight at the moment.
    The instructor is supposed to teach you how to lead the weight change, and take you through all the possibilities and the outcomes.
  6. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    So the situation you describe looks like this:

    1) You are both standing collected,
    2) You lead a sidestep to your left.
    3) At this point the followers sometimes does a sidestep to their right, and other times a back ocho.
    4) you do something (dependent on the followers action)

    And you are asking about how to figure out what is happening at 3 so you are in time time to do something that fits at 4. In general i would say that this is a question of how well the connection works, and that a leader should be as aware (or probably more aware) of the followers feet and body, and her movement options than their own, and that this is a skill that comes with time.

    But i think here the key is that you need to understand what you are actually leading - based on your description you it seems you are leading two completely different figures:

    Figure 1:

    1) The follower is standing on their right leg, the left leg is the free leg
    2) The follower is moving to the right, and because the right leg is stationary they have to do a back ocho


    Figure 2:

    1) The follower is standing on their left left leg, the right leg is the free leg
    2) the follower is moving to the right, and because the left leg is stationary they have to do a sidestep

    (there is also figure 3: the follower is standing on their right leg, and tries to move the right leg, stumbles, almost looses their balance, shifts weigh, and does a sidestep, but that is a consequence of being led right through the base, and being kept from doing an ocho due to the geometry - best to avoid this :) )

    While developing the sensitivity to what the couple as a whole is doing is essential it is also important to have a good idea what the geometry of the couple is like. TBH, i am a bit disturbed by this question - there are a lot of places where a follower has options, and i firmly believe that a great dance requires the follower to use them, but this is (imho) not one of them. In this case here i think it would be a good idea to focus on the first part (i.e. differentiation between which figure is being lead) over the second part (i.e. how to deal when the figure that i actually lead is different from what i intended to lead)
  7. Thanks all!

    50% might not be quite right... I noticed it more when things went wrong than when they went right.

    A lot of times, I was pretty sure which leg she had last stepped with in the previous step: I don't know if it's a fair assumption that this will be the same one that is weighted or that she is standing on?

    The thing is though, even if that is correct I had no idea that she would step next with the opposite one, rather than say just using the opposite one for balance momentarily and stepping again with the same leg. That would seem equally intuitive, if not actually easier in the case where stepping with the opposite foot would necessitate swiveling around whilst the obvious thing to do would be to switch and use the same foot again to go to the side that it is already on.

    Hence yes I did often know which leg she had just used but it wasn't at all obvious to me that the next step would be to use the opposite one especially where that would actually seem less natural.
  8. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    So you need to get used to telling her which foot to stand on, then she'll step with the other foot. If you step to your left and want to then step off on your left foot, you have to change your weight to your right foot, yes? So change her weight at the same time. Or not, if you want to get into cross system.

    Learning how to put her on the foot you want her to stand on so she steps with the foot you want her to step with is essential to tango. That's why we talked about it so much in your first thread.
  9. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    There are two types of teachers, those that teach figures and those who teach concepts. Yours seems to be the first. I see many unhelpful responses here. To change the woman's weight, you must be on the same axis as her. If you're outside of her and try to change weight, she will not feel it. Once you get comfortable with weight changes, see if you can change her weight without changing your weight :)
    Two things come to mind.
    1)You don't start on the same axis (your left foot is probably outside of her right foot)
    2)You are pivoting her/allowing her to pivot. That's the only way she could do a back cross. Even if she started on her right foot, she would have no choice but to change weight and step to her right if you don't allow her to pivot because she's going to follow your center. That's how the chassé step works.
    Angel HI likes this.
  10. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Of course, you know by now that the answer to the question is "Yes". Many have mentioned shifting the lady's weight to the apropos foot so that she may begin with the one which you desire, and this is exactly correct. Here's how.

    Many beginning students make the error of using the exercise of 'rocking' or 'swaying' the partner or partnership from side to side, thus changing the lady's weight from foot to foot. The Argentines originally taught this as an exercise never really intending it to become a part of the dance or dance preparation. The more correct way to move the lady from right/left foot is by slightly and gently rotating the embrace from right/left. If you have to shift weight as well, then your rotation is too much. You should be able to change her weight without altering yours at all. Bonne chance!
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Everything I've learned makes me say that the answer to this is, Yes.
    There have been a few times in my AT days that I stepped on someone because, after clearly stepping on one foot, which meant the other foot was free, they managed to change weight without "letting me feel it."
    We can talk about the follower's role in this whenever. It's not all on the man.

    That little skip step is an intuitive thing that people bring to the dance, and a bad habit that should be eliminated, at least until someone becomes very good at AT.
    You can help, though, by using slight rotation of your torso to indicate whether you want your partner to go behind or in front of the weighted foot when you are signaling movement "against" the weighted foot. ( A somewhat different situation, but a confidence in your leading thing.)

    Following up on Angel's comment, I'd say, knowing both methods for signaling a weight change in place for your partner are good skills to have in crowded conditions.
    Likewise, women should learn how to facilitate the man's ability to feel where her weight, "axis," and momentum are.
  12. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Yeah...there is definitely the problem of followers changing feet when they weren't told!
  13. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    The leader should still feel it!
  14. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Ideally, yes, but the OP is a beginner and some followers are quick and sneaky.
    RiseNFall likes this.
  15. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    The worse problem is followers changing feet when they were told - by a teacher. Strange ideas like "when you collect you always have to stand on your right and have the left free" seem to percolate in some communities, allowing a very specific vocabulary to be lead very easily (no need for sneaky weight shifts! no need to worry which foot she is on - it is ALWAYS the right!), followers doing really smooth and fast hidden weight shifts (because they know there has to be a weight shift there!), and complete incompatibility with the "tango mainstream".
    Angel HI and twnkltoz like this.
  16. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    That's terrible!
    Angel HI likes this.
  17. rain_dog

    rain_dog Active Member

    My tango community has more than a few teachers who teach based on the 8 count basic, and consequently there are some followers who have internalized the 'back/side/weight shift' sequence of steps 6, 7 and 8. So there are times when I coincidentally lead a back and side step, and presto, the follower switches feet in anticipation of a forward step with her left. So I've ended up in the situation the OP is describing surprisingly often.

    It doesn't help that a lot of our leaders lead that sequence a lot, and that it's part of a very common milonga box step.
  18. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Yes, in order to learn how to lead a beginner leader needs a follower who follows. Duh.
    Angel HI and twnkltoz like this.
  19. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    To crossover from the other thread ;) : i think this is not just true for beginners (both followers and leaders - having leaders that don't actually lead is equally bad for followers) - it is true for everybody, and it is the main value of practicas/practicing with a partner. The unspoken agreement at a milonga is that we work hard on making each other feel and look good, and while experienced dancers usually know how to lead/follow there is still a fair amount of smoothing out jagged edges and compensating for slight misalignments involved. In practicas we can work on things without needing to do this, and i find it often surprising how different a lot of stuff looks once we take off the polish and look at the cracks underneath.
  20. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    In my experience, with an experienced dancer one has pretty much no choice but to dance: listen to music and lead/follow, to the best of one's ability. Sometimes said ability may be not enough to make it work, but in many cases, it works. :)
    twnkltoz likes this.

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