Tango Argentino > Milonguera to me: "You have a ballroom frame"

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by leee, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. leee

    leee Well-Known Member

    ... for which I thanked her, before realizing that she may not have meant it as a compliment. How should I have taken her comment?
  2. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    I would probably take it as a sign you were using BR technique instead of AT technique during the dance. Just curious, but what it's your dancing background?

    And yeah, in most AT circles I've found that's not a compliment. :p
  3. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    a) Find an opportunity to chat to her at the bar, and ask her about her own competitive experience, and whether she prefers BR tango to the other sort.

    b) Deny it flat, and say "No, no, I dance Lindy."

    c) Remember the face: avoid her in future - especially once you are the best leader in the room.

    d) Smile and walk away, and then ask a teacher you feel able to trust to assess the way you embrace a partner, to make sure that you are not using the technique proper to one dance in a way that is unhelpful in another.
  4. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    "At least I have a frame"
    "How can you know?"
    "Are you the teacher?"

    But your reply "Oh thank you" was probably the best.

    I used to simply ignore such remarks, now I reply that I will ignore them. "You're supposed to look at me all the time during the dance", "you"re supposed to push me during the turnrs", "I am not supposed to know the structure [side-forwards-side-backwards] of a turn" are sample comments I got from various followers. The three of them continued with "Are you listening to what I say?" and were answered "Sure but I'm going to keep leading exactly the same way."
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    This comment was made while you were dancing? Wow. If, as I suspect, the comment was meant to be less than flattering, that was very, very rude, IMHO. She's somehow an authority with the right to critique your dancing? Yeesh.

    I actually like your response, leee. Without realizing it, you deflected her negativity. That works for me.
  6. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    ..sheepish question: "what is a BR frame"? I did not dance prior to TA, so I completely lack that phase of experience. Does it mean to be fixed to one another at the lower abdomen and so on?
  7. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    It is what results from the man adopting a particular way of holding his own arms, and establishing the usual points of contact with his lady partner, according to the standardised technique proper to the dance style in question. The swing dances: Foxtrot, Quickstep & Waltz share a common hold, and tango has a distinctly different set up. The family of Latin American holds are different, again. There is, therefore no single BR frame to which anyone can refer, unless they are merely using the term perjoratively and are parading their ignorance. ;)

    One feature of the combination of the way in which we hold a partner and the posture of the dancers is that it creates what amounts to a frame, where the points of contact and the position of the arms are fixed and predictable, and do not vary (other than for a legitimate difference when moving between close hold and promenade position). It is a fundamental error to consider that this requires anything to be stiff or inflexible, and a good frame feels every bit as comfortable, and relaxed as a good AT embrace can be (but frequently isn't). A key difference would be that any competent teacher can demonstrate good BR frames, and can cite authoritative reference sources to settle any points of disagreement, whereas, the absence of standardisation in AT means that while anyone can demonstrate the sort of embrace that they favour, or which is favoured by their own peer group, no one can say what is actually right or wrong (not that it stops them).

    There is a practical issue, that goes beyond any question of style or preference, in relation to the position of the handclasp between the couple. Typically, in a BR setup, there is some space between the man and lady at chest height (resulting from the lady having a backward poise from the waist upwards), and someone not accustomed to an AT close embrace will probably not immediately recognise the need to bring the handclasp back to a point where the lady's arm is not being forced, uncomfortably, behind her back. There has been very recent discussion of this issue, elsewhere in this forum. My experience has been that quite a few followers will happily expect or try and force the man to have his arm behind his own shoulder, regardless of the discomfort to him, but that is another issue. Perhaps such women are actually closet BR dancers, themselves, but are keeping very quiet about their secret.

    Many people choose to dance AT in a more open embrace (at least some of the time, and with certain partners), and there, something really quite like the concept of a frame can be useful. If the whole embrace is too relaxed and flexible, rotational leads become very difficult to communicate.
  8. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Even in open, a BR frame feels significantly different from and AT open embrace. Less soft, more forceful, more rigid, angles tend to be off...
  9. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    It's the mismatch that feels odd: two BR tango dancers could dance AT perfectly happily in open embrace. If you're looking for a slightly different setup from a partner, and your partner is offering a 'standard' frame, there's going to be a mismatch, because he's not expecting to adjust it: as far as he's concerned it's either right, or wrong.

    But if it feels forceful or rigid, then the probability is that it just isn't a very good frame, because it needn't, and shouldn't.
  10. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Yes, well, if a partner has the opinion that his "standard," BR frame is right...and is going to keep said frame, because it's "right"...then it's going to feel rigid. If he's going to keep his arms up, BR-style, it's going to feel rigid. If he's not skilled enough at AT to understand the differences in how things are led, and to really understand the technique--regardless of how good or not he is at BR, just that difference can translate to feeling forceful.

    And if you have to BR dancers dancing AT with a nice BR frame and everything feeling good: news flash...they're missing a big point of AT, namely, the embrace. I can dance standard steps with another AT dancer, with an AT embrace, with AT technique...but i'd get laughed off a competition floor. Same deal
  11. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Once a girl tried to show me the BR frame (which I found horrible), but in retrospect, there was kind of a colgadized feeling in it. True?
  12. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    She was definitely rude, but she may have been right, also.

    A BR frame would not be considered appropriate for AT. I suggest you ask an AT teacher for advice.
  13. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    No, I'm not intending to suggest that it would be appropriate to bring a BR hold to AT, but if someone did, not understanding the differences, then he wouldn't expect to be adjusting anything - that would probably be the source of the rigidity. A good frame shouldn't be rigid. [If you were seeking an embrace of softness and flexibility, then perhaps, you might have found it quite comfortable to adjust to his frame shape, and maintain it, without further tension. It almost sounds as though you were struggling to have a 'relaxed' embrace in physically different place, and forgot to be relaxed, with a resulting tussle?]

    As for keeping the arms up, around here, the VU clone style is to hold the handclasp so high, that the joined hands are well above the heads of both dancers. It looks daft, and I very much doubt that it is comfortable. I wouldn't want to dance Paso Doble like that, but they all copy the local teachers, because it's authentic, and straight from BsAs ...

    A BR hold really is either right or wrong (for the BR style it is intended for), and not, of course, for other dances. AT isn't like that, is it?

    But this newsflash? What's the point of the embrace, and how is the dance led differently? Just in a few words? I've yet to discover any real fundamental difference, but it is very easy to compare and contrast good dancing with bad dancing (and frequently, very bad dancing).
  14. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I'm not at all sure what you mean by colgadized: could you expand, a little?
  15. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I cannot! But if you dance Colgadas there is a special feeling. The mass centre is between you, you are kind of flying but you are still fixed somewhere below your knees...
  16. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Put it this way: a solo BR dancer can adopt the physical position of half of a BR dance frame (either gender), and execute almost any figure or action without the assistance (and certainly without the support of) a partner. We are completely responsible for the carriage of our own weight, which is one of the reasons why the frame can be so light and flexible without its integrity ever being at risk. Bad dancers flail about, learning on each other*, and heaving each other about, but that is just bad dancing - nothing to do with BR.

    *I'm not, of course, talking about AT actions where that is exactly what is required, sometimes.
  17. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I think I know the sort of hold you're thinking of. There's one guy I know who had a hold like that and it can be incredibly uncomfortable. I haven't seen that in any "authentic, straight from BsAs" (don't get me started on that issue! :rolleyes:) gents. Makes me wonder where it's coming from...or how anyone manages to dance like that for an extended period of time without their arm getting tired and/or falling asleep. May wonders never cease...

    Heh...have you seen some of the debates around here? ;) I'd argue that no, there really isn't an absolutely right AT embrace...although I'd say that there are definitely wrong ones. (How's that for having my cake and eating it too? LOL.)

    I guess I'm not understanding this. To me, it's a contradiction. If a guy (and I say "guy" here only because I'm a girl, so what I tend to feel is frame from guys) comes to AT using a BR frame without expecting to adjust anything...you say that's the source of the rigidity...and also that the good frame should be rigid? I'm honestly not being snarky, but I don't understand how that isn't a contradiction.

    Speaking only from my own personal experience, with guys who I could very reasonably expect to have a good ballroom frame (not based on my knowledge of what would be a good BR frame, because I have no clue, but because of what they have achieved in a competitive/professional setting)... If a BR frame is used, and kept throughout the dance...the very fact of how the frame seems to be kept makes it feel rigid. I don't mean stiff-arming, or having tension instead of tone, it's the fact that it doesn't seem to move or allow me to move the way I need to in order to dance AT. It's like it's more...static. Perhaps not static at all, in reality, but compared to how I'm used to an AT hold feeling...well, it feels very static, very rigid.

    Heh... On a certain level, there is no point to the embrace (aside from the fact that you have to put your arms somewhere, and it can help stabilize each other). For a lot of things, it's entirely possible to dance without the embrace at all. Either not touching at all in OE, or with your hands behind your back in closed. Obviously, if you're doing some things like colgadas that's not going to work. (Oh, the mental images I've got going through my head right now, LOL.) But they do provide security, and it is pleasant. :) But they can also help transmit the lead, of course. It's certainly easier to follow in OE when there is a frame involved--the lead can be felt, instead of having to rely on visual cues.

    As for how the dance is led differently...I couldn't tell you. I don't know enough about BR...er, anything about BR...to be able to compare/contrast them. But I do know that it feels incredibly different. The point of connection is different. The movement feels different. The balance is different. The way the lead seems to think about fitting the movements together is different, never mind fitting it to the music. The embrace feels all kinds of bizarre--it feels like a BR frame or something, instead of a gentle embrace. The understanding of what good following feels like seems to be different (seems that what is desireable in a follower's connection, that we work and strive for, can be very uncomfortable and annoying to BR leaders). The understanding of how we need to be able to use our bodies is different. Put all of it together...BR leaders just feel very, very strange. I can't tell you the technical reasons for that.

    Again...this is based on my experience with a handful of BR leads doing AT, who I have faith are good enough BR dancers that that isn't the issue.
  18. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    If nothing else when it comes to switching from BR to AT...point your elbows down and bring them in closer to your body (no taking up lots of space), and slide your right arm around in CE so that your bicep is against her side.
  19. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I'm suggesting, I think, that the tension is not a product of his frame, but of his desire to maintain it when you would rather be in a different place. If both of you happily shared the BR frame, it might look a bit odd, but it could be much more comfortable/relaxed. (But see below).

    You've got it: it's not meant to move around and doesn't need to - it provides a frame for everything to work within. So we seek tone, but not stiffness or rigidity (is AT resistance so different?). You have to dance at a reasonable level too before what externally appears to be very static actually turns out to be rather dynamic in reality. Many lead signals, generated from the body, are communicated through the arms, and so the feeling is changing all the time. I know this is a Latin American example, but try leading an open hip twist without tone - nothing happens - but there was never anything for anyone to see, but we both felt it.

    Well as far as I'm concerned you could be talking about BR and not AT - I see no difference.

    They're different dances. I don't expect them to feel the same, but equally, I don't find any need to use a completely different set of techniques to dance one or the other. There are huge style differences, and I would say that the biggest single difference is the character of the music, and that the improvisatory potential for movement in AT is in much smaller units. As a leader I invite, and really do have to wait and see what the follower makes of my invitation, and we not infrequently end up dancing something I didn't expect. If that happened in a standardised dance, I would just put that down to a skill issue between us: if I lead a double reverse spin, I expect to get one, and I don't have to lead anything else until we're done with it.

    So yes, differences all the way - but not with many of the fundamentals of posture or the mechanics of using body language to communicate with my partner. We are joined up in different places, so there are practical differences, but I'm speaking the same language, but with a different accent. I honestly find more differences between two successive partners at an AT Milonga, than I do, broadly, between BR dancing and dancing AT. That might just be because I'm no good at the latter, and am completely missing the point: who knows?
  20. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    You know, that's a pretty good summary of the differences between a swing dance BR frame and a tango one. AT goes one stage further, but allows wider latitude to find a comfort zone, perhaps?

    After all, the physical differences between an axis-sharing apilado embrace and a nuevo-style open one are probably bigger than those between a 'typical' social dancers AT close embrace and a BR tango one?

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