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. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    He's had over 40 private lessons.
  2. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member


    OP, you need to confront the leading head on and it will likely not be pretty for a while. You need to dance with somebody who is very good at teaching lead/follow and who will show you exactly what you are leading them to do, or not leading them to do. I am purposefully being gender neutral--taking privates with a male instructor and leading him might be the best way to go, depending on the teachers in your community.
  3. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think we might not want to talk about his teachers - i actually am starting to believe that this has very little to do with the teaching. Whenever we get down to itty gritty details on how to dance something ASAF is more than competent and knowledgable - and the teachers suggestions on how to debug things if a follower is doing unexpected things and we are in a social situation where the flow of the dance is much more important than if the follower does exactly what the leader lead / the leader lead exactly what they thought they were leading are pretty much spot on.

    Really, i think ASAF is conceptualizing and organizing his training and experiences in a way that different from how most people conceptualize tango

    A few things to think about:

    1) When you are describing advanced followers as "chess grandmasters that know what to do" and are willing to be instructed on what move you should have been doing you are using the wrong image - a chess grandmaster does not think ahead 10 moves in a linear fashion, he is aware of the whole tree of options that branch from the current situation. You are describing things as if the game had to follow a specific branch that is predetermined by the first move. That is not a chess grandmaster, but somebody who learned one chapter of opening theory by heart, and tries to recreate the example. And worse, if you are opening with Na3 and they respond with developing the center you feel that you have done something wrong, take the knight back, and now you are 2 moves behind.

    2) a follower can not know what is coming. I know thousands of ways to get into the cross and out of it, and if we look at any of the 1), 2), 3) , 4) descriptions i can branch off into dozends different sequences - instead of 1,2,3,4 i can go 1,5,6,7 , or 1,2, 9, 10, 11, or 1,2,3, 2,1, or whatever - the prior step does not define what is following, (well, the geometry makes some things more difficult - i.e. if i have put a followwer on their left leg i can not ask them to move that leg (but i can do a doubletime weightshift that will allow me to proceed exactly as if i had put them on the right leg) (well, maybe not thousands, more like 4 off the top off my head, and i am pretty sure that i could get to at least a dozen if i worked on it)

    3) figures in tango as they are usually taught are amalgations. E.g. the sequence you describe above is not really "the cross" - it is one of the many, many amalgations that have a cross. It is one of the more common ones, and one that works well, but there are lots of other things that get you into a cross, and out of it, and lots of things that start the same, but don't get you to a cross. The purpose of practicing these amalgations is like practicing basic chord progressions - they give you the skill, and some chord changes are going to be really useful for playing songs because they happen reasonably often, but what is happening here is that you play A and now you are asking "should i follow this up with D E E or with A D E or with D A D?" and yes, if you hesitate enough the rest of the band will become desperate and choose on of these options, just so the song goes on, but the solution is not to get better at waiting till somebody gives up on listening to you and fills in the blank to prevent the audience from noticing that you lost the melody.

    As a exercise i would suggest going all old school nuevo playing with variations in chaining, without pivots or moving independently or anything:

    i.e. starting from a collection
    1) sidestep to the right and collect
    2) sidestep to the left and collect
    3) walk forward with the right and collect
    4) walk forward with the left and collect
    5) walk backwards with the left and collect
    6) walk backwards with the right and collect

    and then chain them 2 deep, i.e. 11 12 13 14 15 16 21 22 23 24 25 26 31 32 33 34 35 36 41 42 43 44 45 46 51 52 53 54 55 56 61 62 63 64 65 66
    (some of them will be easier, some of them will be more difficult)
    and then chain them 3 deep, i.e. 111 112 113 114 115 121 122 123 124 125 126 and so on
    and if you are not bored with combinatorics yet you can then chain then 4 deep :)

    and then bring some dice. roll them and dance the sequence that you created there, without letting the follower see the dice.

    This way you unequivocally know that the follower can not be ahead of you - the sequence did not even exist before the dice were rolled, and even a chess grandmaster can not predict what a random dice roll will look like.

    (and then you can toss in pivots and ochos and play with that, but that won't work with dice - you could write moves on index cards and draw sequences, or assign values to playing cards (court cards: switch from cross system to parallel or vice versa, hearts: step to the left, diamonds: step to the right, clubs: ocho to the left, spades: ocho to the right maybe?)
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
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  4. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Clearly his thinking about the dance is off, but it's hard to tell why. Because that's how he was taught, or do his teachers talk and lead and follow but he ignores it? Surely after a year and over 40 privates, someone would have corrected his thinking. Plus it sounds like the followers in his community go on auto pilot. Because that's how they were taught? Or have they just given up on waiting for a lead?

    ASAF, the problem is we can't help you with your problems because you're looking at symptoms. The surface. We have to correct your philosophy of the dance so you look at it, and therefore our suggestions, through the correct lens.
  5. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    "I think ASAF is conceptualizing and organizing his training and experiences in a way that different from how most people conceptualize tango" That is probably so. I thought a suitable instructor shall be able to detect and overcome that in a student, at least during private lessons, but perhaps I was mistaken.
  6. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Reorganizing ones dance is always hard. For me the least favourite phases of working on new ideas is when everything stops working (including walking), and i have to relearn it. Especially when things that i was perfectly able to do under one framework become suddenly fiendishly difficult and i am not longer able to do them. It requires a lot of discipline to not cheat and do things the way that they actually work....
    RiseNFall and twnkltoz like this.
  7. This has never happened.

    That sounds very cool. I like the music of the Portuguese colonial footprint in general, e.g. samba and especially bossanova.

    UK, this is actually a big problem I have... I'm not always able to learn both halves of a move in the time available, especially since spatial awareness is not exactly my greatest strength. I was always afraid that I would learn something new in class and not be able to replicate it when I brought it home, as I would not be able to explain the woman's steps, particularly since they are seen from the opposite perspective and it's kind of hard to "turn it around in your brain". It's not so much of an issue for a cross, as all women know how to do that pretty early on; but with other moves, my girl may have learned it years ago, but not be able to tell from my inexpert explanation or demonstration what exactly I am talking about anyway. I hit on the solution of asking her to come with me to some of my lessons and observe and thankfully this has mitigated the problem. She knows it all already of course, but it may be several years since she learned it and my inability to explain what I've learned makes it difficult to put the parts together.

    Mostly private lessons. I've had I think 41 with my first teacher since I started a year ago, and like her very much. I continue to learn with her. I tried some lessons with a second teacher in the winter, but after 11 sessions, I politely explained I didn't want to continue as she had me doing some stuff that was not at all interesting. I started with a third teacher in the spring and she is pretty good and has helped me a lot in the 13 or so lessons we've had. I didn't really enjoy my last couple lessons but I think I'll give it a few more chances as I improved so much with her at the start. So now I am progressing with the first and third.

    Classes yes I do those too. Very helpful but I am sometimes a bit slow about picking up the material and have to review it in my lessons. Also what I find tricky is that in class you have to do the exact thing that is taught, there is no room for improvisation and correction, e.g. one time they had the woman sidestep and me NOT sidestep to copy her, I didn't really see why I wasn't allowed to sidestep too, especially since one of my teachers had said that I should step as or slightly after the woman steps in general, and I'd internalized it, so why of a sudden did they switch the rules on me? But I kept being criticized for stepping with or slightly after her, as I had learned, as for some puzzling reason they didn't want me to step at all.

    As it happens one of my instructors has hosted events with Homer and Cristina Ladas; that among other reasons is why I am somewhat skeptical of those here who, though kindly trying to help me, insist on critiquing my instructors.

    Gssh, excellent and very relatable analogy, thank you!

    Another terrific analogy.

    See, this is where I start to come unstuck.

    Senza dice or playing cards, I have indeed tried to experiment and innovate during my practice time in a similar way to what you described. Even at social occasions... I'm in general one for taking a risk and learning from it, and being unafraid to look silly.


    When I try to do, for instance, what you have put as "22", it goes utterly wrong. What should happen is I take a sidestep to the left and collect while (or slightly after) the girl takes a sidestep to the right and collects, then the same again, I take a sidestep to the left and collect while the girl takes a sidestep to the right and collects.

    What actually happens is this:

    1. I take a sidestep to the left and collect while the girl takes a sidestep to the right and collects.
    2. I take a sidestep to the left and collect while the girl takes a pivoting step to her right, with her left foot, behind her.
    To coin a phrase, WTF?

    I don't know whether it's really a matter of detecting and overcoming it, though if you say so, you may be correct.

    I think part of the issue is that I am explaining what I am physically doing in a language that is incorrect for highly trained dancers like you. Most of the physical activity I have done has easy feedback, in the sense that if you do it wrong, you know immediately because...
    • You fall over (skiing, cycling)
    • The clock beats you (running)
    • You start losing according to the objectives (tennis)

    Dancing is a new and tricky one for me, and I don't have a command of the special vocabulary like "axis", "free", "block", "lead", "intention" and so forth which (like any expert terminology to a novice) seems like black magic until you get the hang of it.

    So I do stuff more or less okay according to my teachers and the feedback I get at milongas is good. But once I run into a problem (which is all the time, like in the early years of any activity), I struggle to get across my point not only to you here, but to teachers and other dancers in my community who are willing to help.
  8. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    So, you maintain that in a year of regular tango classes, you have not heard the words like "lead" or "axis" at least a couple of dozens times? :)
  9. Krys

    Krys New Member

    I think that in "How do your teachers answer this question? "this question" means "
    How to know if partner will step with "other" foot

    So you did not really answer...

    The first answer (treat what happens like a back ocho ) looks like a way too keep the flow in the dance after a misunderstand (the follower maked a step with the foot you did not expect because you misleaded it or she did not listen your lead). I understand that your teacher want to avoid a leader who, in a milonga, just stop to dance and say to the follower "hey you were supposed to start with your weight on other step".

    The second one is to the question "how to know the direction of the step".
    English is not y first language so maybe I am wrong, but, I think that the question of a beginner leader should be "how should I lead the direction of the next step". The way you ask it, is the way
    a follower should ask... (how do I know the direction of the next step ?) YOU are suppose to decide the direction of the next step, not the follower.
    Same idea, YOU (as a leader) are supposed to decide with which foot the follower will make the step.

    Hope this will help you to understand why some of us are saying that the issue of your last thread is not resolved.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  10. There is a difference between hearing a word and knowing how to use it correctly.

    As Gssh says, I have memorized quite a lot of the nitty-gritty detail, but I don't have the proper words to explain what I am doing, trying to get right, and the problems I am facing, to professionals like you.

    Imagine if you were trying to describe to a seasoned astronomer a pattern of stars you had seen in the sky. "There's this big one, then another one a little down and on the left from it, then a third one that makes a sort of nose shape with the other two..." You'd be met by a blank stare. You get the idea.
  11. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Your approach is backward. Axis, free, lead... All the terms you cited as "advanced" are not. They are basic. Fundamental. Beginning. Things all beginners must know. Yet, you're doing sacadas and ocho cortadas, which are advanced.

    An analogy:

    You're solving quadratic equations, but you never learned how to add. Therefore, you can't multiply or divide...so quadratic equations are not what you should be doing right now. Yet you persist, claiming, "what? Add? That's too advanced for a beginner like me!"
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  12. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Very well. You opened a thread on this very board a while ago to ask what "leading" means in the context of social tango, and got exhaustive explanations. And yet, in the present thread you act as if it never existed, and you have no idea what "leading" actually means. You talk about ego, lack of experience, ability to take corrections, etc, whereas it has been repeatedly pointed out by many participants that leading has zero to do with your personality, level of dancing and all that.
    What happened here?
  13. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    And by the way, not everyone on this board is a "professional". Many, in fact, have less experience, counted in hours of instruction, than you.
    And yet, we somehow manage to understand each other.
  14. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I don't really think this is the issue. We are not professionals (at least i am not), and the vocabulary is not really that advanced. There are a lot of tiny nuances that are not easily conveyed, but "axis" "free leg" "weighted leg" are as basic to tango as "up hill ski" and "down hill ski" (or even up hill and down hill are for skiing). Your question "how do i know which foot my partner is going to step on" is basically " i have the problem that when i put all my weigh on inside edge of my left leg sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't - how can i tell which foot i should use, and sometimes my teacher says i should use the inside edge of the the left foot, and sometimes the outside edge, and that is all very confusing. When i ski directly behind my teacher and use the same feet he is using it works, but when i ski alone it is confusing?" and when we say that there is a difference with doing this with the downhill ski and the up hill ski you you say "oh, these are so precise technical terms, i don't know them yet". sure, we can do long discussions about the perfect angle of the ski and the hill, and the foot and the shin, and so on, and so on, but the basic concept is really important to do anything. (i haven't skied in ages - i should take it up again)

    Perfect! Now the question is why?

    One of the basic principles is that humans have two legs. To simplify things tango dancers tend to pretend that we are in general only standing on one leg (making this the "standing leg") and because of that we can move that other leg around freely (making that the "free leg").

    Taking a step is basically taking the free leg, putting it somewhere, and then turning it into the standing leg.

    If we want to make a sidestep to the left it is easy if the left leg is free - if the right leg is free it is impossible. So we either need to turn the standing leg into the free leg by doing a weightshift, or we need to cheat by twisting, and crossing the free leg behind (or in front) of the standing leg. If we just want to do left side step - left sidestep we need a weightshift, or else we lock our partner up.
    Krys and Lilly_of_the_valley like this.
  15. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Much less - as i said the last thread (it is all coming back..) you would be among the most extensively formally trained dancers in my community with that number of privates.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  16. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    This tells me something fundamental about your approach (and by extension, that of your teachers). You learn a move (tango isn't about moves, but is about movement); but having imperfectly learned the follower's part, you can't feel it (the follower should not move unless you lead the movement).

    You don't need to know what the follower should be doing to be able to feel, in the embrace, what she is doing. The latter, of course, should be the direct result of your own intention or movement - it should only come as a surprise when things are going wrong - and even then, you should feel what she is doing, and change your own plans to carry on dancing without a stumble.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but you have the wrong teacher(s) and you're wasting your own time and money. Perhaps you have no aptitude for this dance, and no one could help you; but everything you write suggests that you have entirely the wrong mindset, and that can be corrected, although you've gone a long way down the wrong path (a dead end, unfortunately) and it may be hard to turn around.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2015
  17. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    He says he's had 65!

    Finding the axis of your partner is the first thing that I ever teach in tango. If the student can go no further, then we go no further.
  18. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    ASAF, the teacher who had you doing stuff that was not at all interesting... What did she have you doing?
  19. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I just took the time to re-read the old thread, and i think we have gone over all this almost verbatim once before.

    ASAF, as i said in that thread, and have repeated here is that it feels to me that you don't have a problem of ability, technique, or knowledge, but that you have to think about the "why" of all the things you know. There are reasons for every single of the many details of the things you have learned, and maybe one approach that would help you to figure these reasons out, and get a better understanding of the framework would be to take a pattern that works predictably for you and start changing details, like "what happens if the first step is longer than the followers? what happens if the first step is shorter than the followers? what happens if i pivot more? what happens if i pivot less?" and see what the effects of you varying your lead are on what the follower does/can do.

    Basically to continue the chess analogy you talk about tango like somebody who has studied a manual on opening theory, and plays very successful as long as your opponents use the standard responses to the standard openings, but as soon as you reach the midgame you start asking "i have not seen this situation before - where should the rook move?" and when people reply "well, that depends, what does the board look like?" you say "that is too complicated, i just want to know what place the rook is supposed to go - i know sometimes some people also move a knight, or a pawn, but i am asking about moving the rook here. Why are you giving me some vague and complicated theory where you say that i can move the rook anywhere along straight lines, but stopping at some places is better than others, and other times the same place is worse, and sometimes i should take another figure, and sometimes not, and i even saw a rook jumping over a king - this is all very advanced and fancy, but i am just a beginner, i just want to know where the rook goes"
    Krys likes this.
  20. Gssh you are the best! You make me laugh at myself so hard :joyful: love the skiing and chess analogies!

    It was okay at the start but then she had me learn a single song and dance the exact same pattern at specific measures in the music. I didn't mean to be rude but I thought it was supposed to be an improvisational dance.

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