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

    OK. So you recognize that it is supposed to be an improvisational dance. So how is it supposed to be improvisational if you aren't learning how to lead?
  2. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    "Lead? what do you mean by that?" :)
    twnkltoz likes this.
  3. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Forgive me for speaking for Lilly, but I'm sure that she means that it often becomes easier to learn what the lead has to do if he understands what the follower has to do.

    Having said this, I applaud your reply, All Sales. Though I agree with her completely, this only works after the man has a fundamental knowledge and control over some very important requisites. IMHO, too many leads jump to follow wwwaaayyy too soon.
  4. Angel, I think she suggested it because as she wrote earlier, she believed that I was "following women around". But this reveals a misunderstanding of how something physical is actually learned.

    As Gssh pointed out a lot of the theory is like knowing which is the uphill ski and which the downhill one, in skiing. But when I first became a good skier as a child I was happily going down the mountain at high speed doing parallel turns, not caring which ski was the uphill one or for that matter really knowing what that even meant. (Neither do any of the kids you see skiing with great courage and ability, I would guess.) I just copied the teacher, got a feel for it and worked out for myself how to make it elegant and efficient without falling over.

    Of course, later in life I refined my skiing technique to a much higher standard, understanding weight distribution on the inside edge, forward/back weight shift at certain points in the turn, upper body stillness through separated lower-body rotation and knee absorption, and so forth, but this all made sense to me because I knew what it felt like to ski well already.

    When Lilly says I'm "following women around", really what I am doing is learning by feel in the same way. Once I have the feel for it I shall delve into the formal theory of the technique again and see what I can do to improve it.

    Naturally, my teachers are women too and of course I copy their steps. But when I copy them, they are doing the man's steps. And when they dance with me, in the lesson or the milonga, they are doing the women's steps. Because they are teachers, they are able to do both sexes. I can assure you that the man's steps is what they are doing when I imitate them, because they say so. So I'm not "following them around" so much as learning from them.

    And as far as the "wrong mindset" is concerned, I am absolutely certain that it is the wrong mindset to blame the teacher and suggest I need another, or to give up on account of having "no aptitude". That is entirely the wrong mindset. The correct mindset is to persist, taking pleasure in my advancement and seeing any roadblocks as a challenge to be overcome.

    Trying to push in the theory too soon would be like trying to teach your toddler to talk by explaining adjectives and nouns and verbs and sentence structure and syntax. No one learns to speak in that way. A person who is already fluent can improve his or her verbal agility and command of writing skills by studying grammar, but some basic ability to communicate is a prerequisite. By the time "good English" is taught in schools, all the pupils are already fluently using it to listen and respond to the teacher!

    I have no intention of giving up and learning the woman's one instead. Apart from the obvious logistical impossibility of then being able to dance with the people I wish, it is significantly more difficult. For example, even in a simple back ocho the man's steps are mostly in a line or slightly diagonal, whilst the woman's ones are curvy and twirling. It would be like giving up the piano as too difficult, and learning instead the harp!

    I shall happily stick to the basic, fundamental moves that I am learning so well, and leave the fancy stuff to the women :)
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
  5. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think this is a dangerous approach - as a leader you cannot learn how to lead from learning by feel from a teacher who is following you. You can learn to lead from imitating a teacher who is leading you (which is why a lot of leaders follow at least sometimes when they are practicing, to feel and be able to imitate what the leader does) . To (probably over-) extend the skiing metaphor as a leader you are not the skiier, but the mountain. Sure, the skier goes downhill because they follow the slope, but the mountain is not sloped that direction because the skier goes that way. Now it is possible for a skier to move under their own power even when it is flat, and followers can do moves without having a lead, but you will not learn how to be a mountain by offering a follower a flat surface and say "just move however you want, and i'll try to guess how this should be sloped from that". If there is no explicit lead the follower has nothing to work with. I think the strong reaction you are getting here is partially because what you seem to consider to be fancy/difficult and easy does not seem to map on what I would consider easy/difficult. E.g. the fact that the mens steps in the ocho are in-line or slightly diagonal while the womans are curvy does not mean that the men has easier footwork - it means that that the man has to manage his own feet while at the same time providing the "slope" that makes the woman take this curved course downhill. The woman just has to go "downhill", while the man has to not only move around, but also constantly has to provide the impulse that makes a direction "downhill" for the follower. Leading is being the mountain, the wave that the follower can ride.
  6. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    If the woman automatically takes a step back, say after an ocho or molinete, and you did not expressly lead that step but step forward to keep up with her, you are following her.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  7. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    Through the years i have come across three ways to get bodily information about leading. For some reason the option where i am taking the follower role has been totally worthless. It seems that I am not good at translating the follower information to leader info.

    I prefer to have the teacher in the follower role showing the most important positions in the movement and asking me to find a lead which creates these positions in the followers body.

    Another way which seems to be used in Finland the teacher is taking the leader position and the student is glued on the leader teachers back - they are forming a sandwich where the teacher is in the middle. In this way a sensitive student can get a lot of information which would never been verbalised.
  8. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I wish you luck, but will refrain from further comment here. There are none so deaf as those who won't hear - but if you could apply that principle to the dance you would make progress.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  9. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I've had pretty good luck in teaching leaders, by having them lead me, and then stopping at an issue. I will then explain what they did, vs what I think they should have done. Sometimes I will also lead them (both in what I felt they did, and then what I think they should have done).

    A lot of the time, issues are more about the "when", rather than the "what".
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  10. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Showing how the element is supposed to feel to the leader by back leading it is used by instructors at times, in a lesson. In a milonga back leading is a big no-no.
    As for learning a "theory before the details", the similar approach is used sometimes when they start to teach ballroom to children from a very very young age, in order to prepare them for a professional career. The instructors just teach them to execute steps together in sync, and don't introduce the actual lead and follow till much later, when the kids are in their teens.
    Some of these former ballroom kids were astonished when they came to a tango class and found out the concept of lead and follow is introduced in the first lesson. :) For no one teaches Argentine tango (or any social dance for that matter) to grown ups like that nowadays. At least, not supposed to. :)
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  11. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Anyhow, All Sales Are Final, from your replies it is clear that our attempts to explain how the lead and follow works, what it means, and how the social dance happens are failed miserably. :)
    Krys likes this.
  12. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Obviously, we're all wrong even though we're all saying the same thing. Never mind that we come from all over the world and could easily dance with each other. What do we know? Since ASAF has it all figured out, in not sure why he's even asking us questions.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  13. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    One more time, to summarize:
    In social improvisational dance (that Argentine tango is) one partner (traditionally, a man), is leading, or dancing in a leader's role, and the other partner (traditionally, a woman) is following, or dancing in a follower's role.
    If you initiate a movement, you are leading, and your partner is following your lead. If your partner initiates the movement (aka decides to go where she chooses, with whichever foot she chooses), your partner is leading, and you (if you decided to keep connected with her) are following.
    In that instance your partner, as a leader, is supposed to become responsible for navigation and the safety of the couple overall, because whoever is leading, has that responsibility.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Let me just add a thought that I had probably right after my last post in this thread.
    After only one year of lessons, I don't think I had any where near the knowledge about this dance that I have now.
    I DID come to the dance with lots of partner dance experience, though, and knew how to lead things in pretty much all the country western dances.
    In the beginning of AT, I too, had women doing things I didn't lead, but I also learned that while I lead the woman's body, I don't always lead all of her steps. It's similar to what happens in swing, but different.
    And, I learned to appreciate to skilled partners who could "make you do things" that maybe you hadn't intended. (Did you do that on purpose? Do what?)

    ASAF, I think you should start telling your partners that they need to make you work for it.

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