Tango Argentino > Improvising the Dance

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

  1. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    An exercise my teacher had us do: do the 8CB in a circle. Then use pauses or double-time steps to change the count, so it is no longer an 8CB. And vary the step lengths. So although we all knew what the next step would be, the timing, amount of pivot, and length were highly variable. It was possible eventually to have a nice dance just doing an nCB without covering much ground.
  2. LoveTango

    LoveTango Member

    I think the element can be as small as a single step, a turn, a weight change, or a pause, or even a change of tension in the body.
  3. LoveTango

    LoveTango Member

    Followers don't need to recognize the sequence. We don't need guess what is coming. If leading is right, she will dance with the leader.
  4. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Yes and no; followers rely on recognition of movement;

    one early problem is auto-ocho-ing;
    another is hesitancy/avoidance if being lead into the man's space
    not recognising an alteration eg from a back to forward ocho
    knowing when a step is lead before the free foot collects

    but as I said earlier, exit-ing from a giro into a walking turn is met with hesitancy by a lot of follwers becuase they dont recognise it; it seems to be a geographical problem; some areas ladies do it with ease, other areas its like you tried to change from fourth to first gear; there is a metaphoric crunching.
  5. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    and not of steps or sequences. When I am led, it feels like a hydraulic drifting to the only possible direction.
  6. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    a nice description....

    but sometimes I want a follower who will move to a breath-light touch...
  7. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    me too, but is there anything more difficult to lead a guy?
  8. LoveTango

    LoveTango Member

    Don't you think the problem of hesitancy/avoidance are caused of pattern recognizing? If the follower assumes that the leader would dance with a pattern and she tries to recognize the pattern, then when there is a conflict between what being expected and being danced, problem, she would hesitate, trying to "re-calculate" (I borrowed this term from GPS).
    However, if the follower doesn't concern about pattern, hesitation should be less of a problem. Just follow what is natural at each moment.
  9. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    It is not a geographical problem, the problem is that they recognize the giro (molinete) and don't recognize the walking turn. But if they just follow and the leader leads, they don't need to recognize anything.

    If I give a breath-light touch is only beacause I want a breath-light movement. If I give an incomplete lead is beacuse I want an incomplete movement. If I want to lead an ocho I will lead every single movement of the ocho, and every movement will have the specific nuance that I want to give to it. I don't think there is any kind of recognition in this process.
  10. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    i think thats a nice hypothesis but omits the fact that human brain is geared to recognise patterns, after all thats what music is, we are anticipating that the next beat is coming at the same interval as the last ( except in Chinese and Japanese music)

    so saying "if the follower doesnt concern about pattern" is about as hopeful as telling her not to listen to the music...or shouting RELAX YOUR LEGS at her....

    Comparing a woman to GPS software is ........:rolleyes: trouble
  11. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    But it can be taught to recognise single actions (or positions) instead of N steps as the patterns to "match".

    It's not that hard to kinesthetically remember "this is where I am, this is where the weight transfers to, this is where the other partner is in relation to me, this is where his/her weight transfers to" and to know what can branch out from there from some snippets that you've been 'taught' as examples, rather than to merely remember the exact sequences.

    We all learn other languages by imitation. But that doesn't mean that, in the end, we form conversations made out of sentences that are entirely copied. We learn to improvise the sentences by combining the bits and pieces we have learned through imitation and changing them (applying certain rules that make up the grammar of the language).

    It's all a matter of how long the atomic unit is. If it's one step, then you can improvise pretty much anything and you can even form your own neologisms (that's the basic tenet of Gustavo Naveiro et al. 'nuevo' tango). If it's two, then there's less freedom (you're going to form your own conversation, but in a language whose constraints are set more tightly). If it's 8 , there's almost none, and if it's even longer, you're just parroting someone else's conversation.

    I'd also dispute that our brain is wired to learn long sequences well as patterns. I've seen workshops in which only the dancers who were smart enough to know exactly where to splice a long sequence into digestible bits were able to actually work on each short component and then assemble them again.

    I would agree that not everything can be led unless you have at least a common alphabet; it's hard to lead e.g. a subtle colgada followed by a volcada to a follower not familiar with at least the concept, as she's likely to cheat to make ends meet rather than apply the Occam's razor, and launch into things that she more or less knows but prevent what you're trying to lead (if she e.g. accelerates, does switch steps, or commits to a forward linear kick and boleo-like bounce that isn't being led).
  12. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    You should probably add Pugliese to the list of exceptions.
    Anyway, there is always a certain degree of predictability in the music, but it is never enough to allow you to anticipate it. You can never say "ok, I recognized it, I can stop listening to it for the next n seconds."
    For example, if the music suddently stops, you must stop, if it slows down you must slow down.
    The point is that the follower doesn't have to relay on the recognition of the pattern.
    If, after the first half of an ocho, the follower thinks "this is the first half of an ocho, so I can't exclude the possibility that now there will be the second half" it is pefectly natural and it is not a problem. If she is thinks "I have no idea of what I am doing, but it's ok" it should be almost the same thing.
  13. Temza

    Temza Member

    Absolutely right, human brain is geared to recognise patterns, and this is the greatest challenge in following: to switch off the pattern-recognition function of the brain and just move in any direction suggested by the leader at any given moment. To reach a state of mind akin to meditation.

    And that's why learning patterns (of figures, or amalgamations) is so wrong, wrong, wrong.

    I think the hypothesis is spot on. It has nothing to do with listening to music. The follower might anticipate the timing of her next step but not the direction.
  14. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    I don't think learning sequences is wrong. After all, you don't learn a natural language by reading a book about grammar and a dictionary either, but by imitation, and we do listen to whole sentences when we do (and these are undoubtedly non-atomic sequences).

    Sticking to predefined sequences is wrong, as is any religious deference to them, but a teacher who uses patterns can actively shred them and recombine the bits and pieces so that his students know better than to stick with the predefined ones.
  15. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    i think comparing a following state of mind to meditation is BS, and is not useful analogy....
    and I think the pros and cons of learning figures has been thrashed to death; figures. have their place.....
  16. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    Actually I find both temza's and lovetango's analogies very adecuate. I'm not a follower but they represent well the behaviours that I look for (and I don't look for) in a follower.
    The point of this thread shouldn't be to examinate pros and cons of figures and patterns from a didactical point of view, but their role in the actual dance.
    Moreover, there is no doubt that the follower can possibily recognize some pattern or that she can do something of her own will (for example an adorno). The question is: does she need to recognize patterns? Is she ever expected to do something?

    It seems there are two schools of thought: if the answer to those questions is no, then we can say that tango is really an improvisational dance. If the answer is yes, then ukdancer is right and tango is only partially an improvisational dance.
  17. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    It seems there are two schools of thought: if the answer to those questions is no, then we can say that tango is really an improvisational dance. For the leader only..If the answer is yes, then ukdancer is right and tango is only partially an improvisational dance for the leader and partly for the follower...
  18. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    If it's a song you have never heard before, then I agree with you about Pugliese (or at least some of the songs). However, once you are familiar with the song, it then becomes predictable. That's why I sometimes claim that it's not too difficult to dance musically to songs you've been dancing to for 30 years (or more). Dancing musically to a song you're not familiar with, is quite a different challenge (and can be quite fun in it's own right).

    I also agree that followers don't have to rely on pattern recognition, but that doesn't equate to that a follower won't rely on that. Some followers will only do "moves" (walking, ochos, mollinettes, etc) that they have been taught, and any lead, they will try to guess what move is the closest to that lead. It's much easier (at least for the leader), if a follower can think/operate at the "micro" level (as I call it). For the most part, any move/step can be broken down into combinations of foot moves, weight changes and pivots. If a follower allows herself to be lead at that level, many moves can then be led, whether she's aware of the named step or not (assuming the leader's lead is clear enough).
  19. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    It is true. And I must say I don't like dancing with that kind of followers. Fortunatley they are a minority...

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