Tango Argentino > Improvising the Dance

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by UKDancer, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    I agree. She is a trained professional dancer - not AT, as far as I know - but that doesn't matter, she knows what's what and how to teach it. And she's been dancing AT for 20 some years.

    Taught in such a manner I see no problem using simple patterns, but not mutli-component sequences. KISS works for me. And I'd prefer the patterns come after adequate time spent walking in an embrace and learning proper lead follow technique.

    Now that is funny :-D
  2. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Perhaps she is a perfect example of what I would advocate: properly trained teachers, who know what they are doing, both in terms of what and how.

    Of course, membership of any of the respectable teaching societies doesn't guarantee good teaching or best practice, but the foundations have been there, in other styles, for a long time. No one agonizes over whether the technique for a standardised BR figure is right or wrong, we just get on with it. Technique develops, too, and at the highest levels (particularly in dancesport) the connection with advanced figures and the standardised ones seems tenuous - but it isn't.

    I don't see any fundamental obstacle to the same work being done, by respected teachers and acknowledged technicians in the field of AT. I'd buy a copy of the resulting text. But one other thing: formal techniques are not really intended, directly, for the use by dancers. They are written in very stylised language, where one word can represent a whole body of assumed knowledge, and frequently the words do not mean what someone not properly tutored in the context would expect. I've seen nothing, yet, that comes close to being adequate for the requirements of tango. I'd like to see the DVDIA written manual - I don't know, for example, whether it contains anything besides the figure charts (of which I've seen a couple of examples). The charts are OK (as far as they go), but it is the setting out of the fundamental principles (or not) that would determine the usefulness of the whole text.
  3. Temza

    Temza Member

    Originally Posted by UKDancer
    ...if we all built the same dance from the same common elements, it would all be very dull.

    I am "any" follower. Totally agree with AndaBien.
    What is dull is when the leader does the same sequence of steps for the second time. When he starts doing it third time, my heart sinks.
  4. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    When I'm in the mood for/or being incouraged to dance the simplest possible dance (really just walking) I sometimes ask followers whether they find it rather dull, and they say not. But I suppose that I don't mean just walking, but just walking. I am still trying to interpret the music, but using the very simplest elements, but I vary the quality of the steps in variations of timing, energy, direction.

    If I did the same with a dance consisting entirely of repeated 8CBs I think that I would expect the dance to have the possibility of being satisfying, and not to have my partner's heart sink. But I suppose I don't mean repeated 8CBs in the sense that they would each be the same - that would be dull.
  5. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Anyone doing one 8CB on the social dance floor should be shot.

    OK, OK, that's too harsh. Flogged, maybe.

  6. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Well flogged, and shot - but only if they use the backstep. ;)
  7. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    As long as a pattern is illustrative, there's nothing wrong with it.

    In fact, even the teacher I spend most time in classes now uses patterns to teach things, but it's usually a pattern selected to be non-obvious, i.e. to tell you how to dance a couple of unexpected things.

    In other words, it's usually a pattern designed to be different from the patterns we know, just to allow us to recognise that they're not inevitable and that there are possibilities we wouldn't normally know.

    Or how a pattern can teach you something about not sticking to patterns...
  8. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Actually, I did teach a variation this week for my evening students, with step 1 being a sidestep to the right rather than a backstep. This change removes the line-of-dance problem and also makes the lane-change issues less problematic.

    It's a fairly obvious variation, so if you want an 8-count, I'm surprised that version is not used as standard...
  9. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Dare I mention again the IDTA syllabus version ...

    It suggests the variation on beat 1 of leader pointing LF to side without weight and then closing again to RF (in double time (QQ)), before continuing with beat 2 LF to side (as normal), with follower doing the natural opposite. I guess this is a simple form of a lapiz type decoration, and is very commonly danced. I wrote the other day (only slightly tongue-in-cheek) that just about every big-name demonstration dance on YouTube in the VU style starts just like that. The inspirational muse in that barrio must be very strongly focussed ...
  10. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    sounds like me....oh this is not the syllabus thread as i was going to say;

    my syllabus is pretty much like herding cats, but not quite; its based on the assumption that if I make a suggestion to the people I'm teaching to move in a certain way. i will get a dozen different interpretations, and my syllabus is to find out how each of them needs the message conveyed in order to understand it. For some they need to learn body awareness :rolleyes:
  11. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Oh, go on, I dare you.

    Well it's better than a backstep. But so is almost anything.

    However, it still means you're out of the line of dance - people get further and further away from the outside of the room. In a class, after a couple of these sequences, you'll find yourself being squashed by your students... :D

    It's a nice movement (I call it "pulse", but there's probably a fancy Spanish name), and it's a good way of freeing up the free leg. I'm not sure it's great for a sequence however, as it requires good lead technique right from the get-go.
  12. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    Think quantitatively. I always tell people they're allowed to do a back step ("back" relative to the line of dance). It's just forbidden for it to be longer than 0.5mm unless they want to be flogged, and longer than 1mm unless they want to be shot.

    What I also find puzzling is the insistence of some people in facing the line of dancing with their nose 100% exactly in the line of dance when they start to dance, even with a sequence that is immediately going outside left of the follower (like the D8CB), and their insistence on keeping said nose in the exact same direction throughout the sequence. Surely it makes more sense to have the nose pointing outwards when you start, if only not to cross lanes, and to curve things so as to end up where you're supposed to go?

    Yeah, you have to watch out not to bump into walls and tables (and legs of both tables and humans) but:

    a) walls and tables are inanimate objects and don't gossip behind your back (and have no knives and no axes to grind),
    b) tables are usually rigid and sometimes have enough mass to educate you quite rapidly in avoiding contact with them (they're also harder to blame for the encounter),
    b) the edge of the dance floor isn't fluid, so it's easier to hug it without colliding it.

    Direction matters. I frequently see leaders who eschew 'back' steps but have no problems with looooong forward steps after molinetes that have put them against the line of dance. I think they missed a point there...
  13. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    I was in a neat class last year on milonguero style and dancing in close spaces. As an exercise, the instructor made us do an 8ct basic, but the steps could not go backward down LOD... basically, the only way to do it was to keep the steps tiny, and angle it such that the 8cb was aimed at an angle toward the outside wall and down LOD. The backstep becomes a small step inward, the sidestep becomes a long step down LOD. At that point you can cross toward wall, or angle more toward LOD if there's space. The close of the step can either be more toward wall, or a small in place weight change, or an ocho cortado if you hit a corner and need to turn 270 degrees.
  14. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Heh, we crossed posts! Yes, changing the angle of the 8cb makes it more palatable.
  15. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Actually, I don't think it does. Assume that you're going to repeat the pattern, and you're already at the cross (5). Leader takes 6 fwd, 7 to the right, 8 is a close. 1 is back & 2 is to the left. You've just danced a square, and will now move forward again to cross. You're not actually working your way across the floor. FWIW, does the 8CB come with strict instructions about direction?
  16. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    i'VE had similar experiences;ladies who now only do small steps..

    on learning improv; my music teacher would sometimes work with only two notes; four if you included the upper octave or an arpeggio. so if someone wants to improv rhythm inside a pattern/ sequence I think its fine; you dont want too many variables.
  17. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Two main problems:
    1. The initial sidestep to the left is an extra-large one on the part of the leader (and the follower will also get in line with the leader on the cross). Whereas step 7 is a smaller step; and is in fact often a turn (as we discussed earlier), so there's no "return"
    2. There are 3 forward steps in the seqence (two up to the cross and one after) andat most 1 backstep. So you're covering a lot of ground.

    God knows - up until a few days ago I never really thought about it...
  18. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    You're just making it up, now!

    The leader's sidestep doesn't need to be wide, it just needs to be wider than the follower's. I like to think of it more of a step around my partner (introducing the body turn that will allow me to bring her into line to cross). I know that there is a school of thought that says you don't cross like that, but I frequently do ;).

    Equally, step 7 (side to right) doesn't need to be smaller. I'd only turn it at a corner (unless the new position was required for the figure on the following page). I don't see the problem with the forward steps. Everyone else is just walking, anyway, and we need to keep up.
  19. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    The D8CBWBS is a construction. If you advise people to even dance it once, though, it should come with instructions about direction. But then, everything should...

    People should be taught simple tricks on how to return to the line of dance when they exit anything (later they can use more complicated tricks or bolt on another sequence, but they should only attempt to do so once they have a life vest under the seat of their pants).

    Many teachers spend zero effort on this (and zero effort to convince people to eschew other antisocial behaviour on the social dance floor, e.g. acting like a windshield wiper, not making much forward progress but sweeping through all the lanes).

    I think that people should be taught to "improvise" to navigate before they even think to improvise to match the music...
  20. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    i Think we need to apply a bit of Bistro-Maths to this;

    firstly on the 8CB; instead of the wide/r sidestep we can lead a small pivot so we are efecttivley walking alongside her (V1) as we do this ( with no extra time) we could go into the cross system for the forward steps to the cross(X1) and by not making a leaders weight change at the cross we return to the parallel system (X2) for the exit step from the cross; we step forward leaders's L foot and turn while we step so now we have our back to the centre of the room; from here we can take take a legal back step, lop off the salida and continue into the next 8CB

    (footnote Kasporov used this opening against Deep Thought and gained check mate on move 38; Deep Thought subsequently started singing Daisy Daisy..give me your answer do...)

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