Tango Argentino > Low/high heels - differences in technique

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by blue, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. blue

    blue New Member

    One of my tango friends has one inspiration more important to her than others: Lucia Mazer. According to her, Mazer says woman should learn to dance in all heel heights, for optimal repertoire. As I understood it, technique is different in low and hight heels. My friend danced in heels only for like five or ten years, then worked for a while on dancing in low heels and stepping on the entire foot i.e. not leaving the heel hanging in the air, imitating dance in high heels. She said that actually, some kind of variations like rhythmic accents were easier to perform in low heels - that it was very different, not better or worse, but very different. She is a much more advanced dancer than I am, and so I do not really understand what she is talking about but one thing during a group class/mini seminar some time ago made me think about the difference between dancing in low and high heels.

    From another thread:

    Nowadays I have to wear low heels only, due to a foot condition. When in heels, I have tried to keep contact with the floor with the side of the shoe both heel and front part, during the step. I danced a bit with the teacher in class, wearing flats, and having felt what it felt like he advised me to do it differenty in low heels - just rolling from heel to front part of the foot, not dragging them along. He said it made the steps more distinct for him to feel. I guess the slim heel gives a very direct signal, when it grabs the floor - but the heels of my almost flat black shoes that I originally bought for lindy, looking pretty much like men's shoes, did not.

    Maybe for tango, if wearing low heels, a low but slim heel would be more optimal?

    Does anyone else have experiences of differences in technique, in different heel heights?
  2. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Well, for one thing, your balance is entirely different in high heels vs. low heels. (Also in slim heels vs. blocky heels.) Good leaders can feel the difference in balance. It's purely a function of what high heels do to a woman--elongates the legs, pushes the butt out, pushes the chest forward. The higher the heels, the greater the effects. As far as blocky heels go, the easier it is to balance on the heel, the less work the muscles in the ball of your foot have to do to maintain balance. Changing to slim heels will require more work from the ball to balance, and if those muscles aren't used to it, balance is more...precarious.

    I wouldn't say you need different technique, but you may need to adjust your existing technique to account for the different balance point(s).
  3. blue

    blue New Member

    Pushes the butt out? Really? In AT context, that sounds like something really bad.
  4. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Actually, it doesn't sound so bad to me. It's not as if it's a really exaggerated effect, which wouldn't be good. To me, it feels more like a "shortcut" of sorts to the tango stance.

    Besides, most women dance AT in heels, a lot of which are very high. So it can't be all that bad.
  5. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I love a guy who can talk about shoes! ;-)
  6. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    Given that I spend half of every lesson being told to keep my butt in, I am wondering if going with 1/2" higher (up to 3") is wise for me. I keep rebutting (pun intended - hoo ha!) that that is just my butt; it sticks out because it's big, but I lose the argument every time.

    In any event, I assume (hopefully correctly) that this discussion would apply to all ballroom/latin dances. I just switched teachers and now dance with someone who would be more conducive to me going with the 3" heels. And when you have size 8.5 shoes, the extra heel height looks much better.

    I'm just wondering if it's going to wreak havoc on me. Who has made this adjustment without any problems. Or if there were problems, what were they?
  7. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I don't know about "optimal repertoire," but I'm not about to argue with someone who is (presumably--don't know the person) a master. But, I can see where dancing in low heels would let you focus on other aspects of technique which could be obscured when you're trying to maintain balance in high heels. It makes sense that some things are easier--balance, in general, is easier to maintain in low heels or flat shoes.

    I obviously haven't danced with you, and I'm a beginner, so take this with a grain of salt. But I can see where your steps would feel non-distinct if you're just sliding them along from one step to another. My teacher insists on "dragging" through the inside edge of the ball of the foot, but then taking the actual step on the heel, and rolling through to the ball of the foot. I don't think it's necessarily the size and shape of the heel that make for the different feel. I'd guess that it's more a function of how you use your feet differently (and how you HAVE TO walk differently) in the different heels that's making the difference.

    I don't think the shape of the heel would make a difference. While it's true what Joe says about different heels requiring more work to balance, one is not really better compared to another. A slim heel isn't going to make your walk better. I say, focus on improving your walk and your technique...period...regardless of what shoes you decide on.

    I've got some, but not a lot of experience with different heights. I started learning in a 2.5 inch heel. Now, I dance almost exclusively in a 3.5 inch heel. My technique isn't any different, really, except for the fact that I've gotten better in general. I did have to learn the feel of the new shoe, and get used to finding my balance with the higher heel, and I'm working on really improving my balance with them. But the basics didn't change. Now, I'm working on dancing in 4 inch heels. Again, the technique isn't different, but I have balance problems. It's a matter of really finding my axis (which I've yet to do) and working with it.

    One thing I have found, at least as it pertains to balance, is that making sure your heels are in good condition helps a lot. Mine had gotten very worn down, and were no longer flat on the bottom, really. I've just gotten them repaired, and I'm amazed at the difference.
  8. chachachacat

    chachachacat Well-Known Member

    MQ, I have tried 3" heels (slim) and they just hurt so much that I could only wear them for competition with tall students. Of course, this wasn't AT, and I am of a certain age where the natural padding on the foot thins out. I used to wear higher heels when I was younger with no problem.
  9. Novice

    Novice New Member

    My experience in going down from 3" to 1.5" to flats is that in each of the lower heights, I was forced to use my heel more, or at least made more concious of how little weight I had been putting on it in each of the higher heels. Also, I was very conscious about how much more space my foot would take up, and was forced to place my feet more carefully in lower heels. None of this is probably bad, and perhaps good for me.

    The part that really altered my dance most, however, at least in close embrace, was the fact that I was having to connect with familiar partners in a new, unfamiliar part of the torso. There was enough of a difference that I went back to my regular 1.5" dancing shoes instead of flats in classes just so that I could concentrate on what was being taught and not be distracted by having to find the connection all over again with some leads.

    I think, when I'm able to buy another pair of dance shoes (a future life), that I want to go 3" or above. This is partly because I'm short, and partly because the 3" shoes feel better to me (I'd wear them more, but they're street shoes and hurt after a short time), and I've at least heard of high heels that are comfortable and stable.

    There's also a great deal that I'm sure I have yet to discover from different shoes, since I've only been dancing AT for a little under a year.
  10. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Suggestion for comfortable and stable shoes: Comme il Faut.

    There isn't any padding in them, which does kind of suck, but that's their only fault. Other than that, they're absolutely wonderful. So so so comfortable! Oh my god comfortable. And gorgeous--I get compliments just about every time I wear them. And I wear mine A LOT--as AT shoes, as street shoes, and also ballroom shoes.

    The only down-side to them is that they don't have a web page, and they won't allow pics of their shoes to be posted online. Jennifer Bratt of closeembrace.com is a dealer for them.
  11. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Can I help it if I love women in heels? :raisebro:

    Can't you put something in the Comme il Faut shoes to help out, padding-wise? There's gotta be something like Pump Pals that you can use.
  12. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    But the "push the chest forward" part can only help, since that's where you should be connecting anyway.
  13. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Never heard of Pump Pals, but they'd probably work if I had them stretched to fit. But for my lower heels it's not really much of a problem unless I'm on my feet continuously for hours. And even then, it's because I'm dancing and in that case I won't notice it.

    For my higher heels, though...might be worth looking into. Or, I can just try wearing them more often and seeing if I get used to the height.
  14. chachachacat

    chachachacat Well-Known Member

    So, Peaches, where do you get Comme il Faut shoes?
  15. Novice

    Novice New Member

    You can try Googling "Comme il Faut Shoes" to find a variety of sites of dealers who sell them. The ones I know of are Jennifer Bratt on the east coast, (close-embrace.com) and Carrie Whipple from the Northwest (carriechelsea.com/tangoshoes.html). Every once in a while, she brings shoes to our practicas, and I ogle from a distance. Women's feet in our community have gotten notably prettier, and I have yet to hear complaints from anyone. Sigh. Someday...
  16. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I got mine from their shop in Buenos Aires. Much cheaper that way. Well, except for the trip itself! ;-)

    Aside from Jennifer Bratt and the other US dealer that Novice mentioned, I believe that you can email and/or call them and order a pair directly from them, but I don't know that for certain. (I heard that secondhand.)
  17. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    I order my wife's high heeled tango shoes (3.5") from "Traspie" directly from Argentina. I do the measuring, then do the emailing, and of course, the paying.

    It's fun, and I have never been dissapointed yet. Luv her shoes too.
  18. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Satisfying your shoe habit vicariously thru your wife, eh Ampster? ;)
  19. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Joe, ABSOLUTELY NOT! :cool: I have MY OWN shoe collection! :raisebro: :D
  20. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    This thread has become quite an interest for me as of late . . . and I hate to "butt" in on the TA forum, although it does apply to my particular issue.

    This past Tuesday, while working with my Pro for an upcoming comp, she noticed that I was having a balance problem, especially since we have added Tango moves to our WCS routine. Actually, I've had this problem since learning the Tango stuff, but she figured it out the other day. I didn't have a balance problemn in WCS, but since adding the Tango stuff . . . I did!

    She wanted to look at the heels of my dance shoes, which are Latin (Tango) shoes with a 1 1/4 inch heel . . . she suggested I get a pair with as little as 1/4 inch less height in the heel . . . so I bought a new pair of shoes . . . even though I already had at least 12 pair of dance shoes (I have a shoe fetish, and am worse than most women!).

    Anyway, as soon as I put them on, I noticed I walked quite differently. So, I went to our dancefloor in the house, and knocked out a few moves . . . dang, I have balance . . . tons more balance than I had last Tuesday!

    Shorter heels work for men too!

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