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

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

  1. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Just for completeness, I would add that when I write of using the toes to remain within my balance, having the chest well ahead of my toes, I am talking about standing, solo, and relying on my own balance. If I am in an embrace with a like-mined follower, and we share the same basic posture, then we apply an exactly matching force towards each other, that acts horizontaly, and therefore is no effort to maintain, and the toes are no longer actually needed. If she were to suddenly step away, I could reestablish my own balance, instantly, and therefore this forward inclination is something significantly less than that normal in an axis-sharing embrace.
  2. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Right. I think that's key, if you're just standing practicing close embrace (weight sharing) by yourself, you're missing half the picture. My first teacher often told me to practice leaning with a wall if no one was around, to experiment with shifting myself forward and backward over my feet to find the right balance point.

    To clarify what I meant, if you are just standing or in a static position, there is no reason to tense your toes. But I think while moving (dynamic balance) it would be natural to engage them at some point while passing through your step.
  3. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Er, not really.

    I'm not talking about an axis-sharing embrace, and not even necessarily any type of close embrace - open will do fine. At all times, I'm within the limits of my own balance, and if my partner just disappeared, I would be perfectly stable.

    What is distinctive (I guess) is that my aim is not to stick something out behind me (my bum) to counterbalance something forward (my chest). When I do that, I feel as though I am just hunched over my partner, and the only way I have created space between our toes at all, is by breaking the body line at the hips. Taken to the extreme, we could stand about two feet apart, like that, but I don't think I'd want to dance that way.

    Defining axis can be quite a minefield. Alberto Paz in his rather eccentric book Gotta Tango suggests that the axis is
    To my way of thinking, you need to have broken your neck before your head and either shoulder can be aligned as part of an axis, so I prefer to think of it as an invisible straight line that runs from the crown of the head to the weight bearing foot (and specifically to the part of the foot over which the weight is centered). I favour a posture that has that line running through my torso. It emerges from the front of the legs a few inches below my hips; but with a bum-out posture, it can run directly from the centre of the chest, through thin air, until it reenters the feet. I don't think that looks good, and I don't actually see it very often. What creates balance is the fact that there is broadly as much body mass on both sides of that line (in any direction), and where there is an imbalance, it can be compensated for (up to a point) by muscle effort (from the toes, say).

    As I said before, I am engaging the toes when at rest, and if I stand against a wall, so as to make gentle contact, while simultaneously standing on a set of scales, my weight drops as soon as I start to lean on the wall. However, if a partner takes the place of the wall, my weight doesn't change, as I'm not leaning on her; and neither does my weight increase, as she's not leaning on me. The forces are in balance, and operate horizontally. That force largely removes the need for me to continue to engage the toes in maintaining a posture that has the body sections in alignment, but with a forward inclination. I initiate any forward movement with a forward intention of the chest, so there's plenty of scope to come further forward without moving out of my balance, and having to step, rather than choosing to step.

    For me, the analogy would be with a Latin American (say, Rumba) walk: the foot moves just before the point of imbalance has been reached, and not just after.

    I'm not aiming for a forward inclination that appears to defy gravity, I'm just trying to avoid sticking my bum out. It's no big deal.
  4. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Let's see if I can make this simple enough for even those with beer bellies to understand:


    Ballroom on the left, tango on the right. As you can see, the ballroom point of contact is convex at the center. The tango POC is convex at the top.
  5. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    You've just got to be kidding! If anyone, ever, presented themselves at one of my BR classes making that sort of shape, we'd just have to start again, from scratch. And as for the tango posture, if you can stand like that, and NOT engage your toes, I'd be rather surprised. Can't you just stand up? You know: upright?
  6. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I'm making an assumption that you are aware that the drawings are a crude approximation. In any case I knew what he was trying to say. Based on your response, then several of us seem to have experiences with (by your standard) bad BR dancers, as the sketch shows what it sort of feels like.

    Depending on your body type/shape, the hips or butt may be sticking out some, but I definitely can lean forward in a tango embrace without engaging my toes. Obviously, the lighter person (typically the woman), will lean more than the heavier person (me), in a "weight sharing" embrace.
  7. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    ftfy. ;)
  8. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Re: ukdancer

    Erm. I'm still not sure about the toe thing, but maybe it's getting lost in translation over text. Unfortunately a problem with the medium.

    Axis... axis is really just a learning term anyway. There isn't a real line connection from head to toe... we are complex curvy critters composed of structural bones and muscle groups. When a teacher says "find your axis" these days, I just translate it to mean balance. Maybe there is an imaginary line you could draw in a person that defines their balance point, but it would change the moment they started moving.

    As for sticking one's bum out this should not happen. If you are dancing with someone shorter, you should be projecting forward more with your lower torso (belly lead). If you are dancing with someone taller there can be more of a chest connection, and you should be more upright.
  9. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I agree axis = balance (and therefore off-axis = out of balance). But the theoretical line can be found and it will always be straight: gravity pulls us down. The bullet fired horizontally from a gun hits the ground at exactly the same moment as the one just dropped from the same height at the same moment (all other things being equal).

    And of course, as soon as we start to move, things get much more complicated, but that's no reason to think that the basic principle doesn't apply. Unless being off-axis (out of balance) is an intrinsic characteristic of our movement, we always aim to move from one position of balance to another - it is what enables us (particularly followers) to make rapid changes of direction. If I ever have to take another step, in any direction, because I would fall over if I didn't, then I haven't got very far with tango.

    I'm quite happy with my basic posture. I'm comfortable with it, and no one has ever passed any comment about it. I've no plans to change.
  10. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    I suppose... but I don't find this concept very useful. imo the social tango embrace is almost entirely functional. You define it in terms of comfort, support, etc. Not sure how envisioning a line helps that, but if it does, more power to ya. ;)

    That is (mostly) correct for open and close embrace with no weight sharing. Incorrect for weight sharing. The point is a shared balance.

    ok... just thought you were asking for advice with previous comments. Not just musing.
  11. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    If you are talking about performances, then I agree. If you are talking about social dancing, then I would say, it depends.
  12. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    To elaborate on my prior post, here is some video from Lo de Celia in BsAs, where you can see various types of posture. While we each can certainly say what we feel looks the best to us, their are other things that can't be so easily seen, like how the embrace feels to the people dancing.

    While some people have a very straight posture, you will also see some leaders in (what I refer to as) the milonguero hunch.

    [yt]<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/pso1hLNsSqw&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;start=59&amp;"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/pso1hLNsSqw&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;start=59&amp;" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></object>[/yt]
  13. Itachi

    Itachi New Member

    I switched from AT to BR and the most important thing I've noticed so far is that AT dancers lack of power. Speed is ok for quite a few really advanced dancers but accels are not good at all. That results in their dance being disconnected with the music.

    Thanks to my BR techniques, I can add accels according to strong staccato tangos and no one else without BR background is capable of that. That's the major difference between AT and BR. Then posture has everything to do with that fact. You can't have power using the milonguero embrace.

    So you have to choose. Using the AT style you'll get a warmful but ephemeral moment with your partner. No one will look at you because you will be out of the music to them. You will only be a partner by default when no one else is available. Using the BR style you'll catch the eye of others who will want you as a regular partner.

    However, don't try BR style with bad BR techniques. You'd better use bad AT techniques than BR ones. I know some that tried to copy my style without success.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "Street dance" or "studio dance"?
    I'm willing to bet $10,000... er, make that $10, that very few milongueros learned to dance in tango classes.

    milonguero hunch? very similar to the cowboy slouch, I'd say.

    Wonder if this is the video that made me think I would fit in at Lo de Celia?

    Is that JohnEm over there by the door?
  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Hi, Itachi, and wlcome to DF.

    And, well right off the bat, I have to disagree with you on part of your post.

    I this mean what I think it means, you most certainly can do this in a "milonguero embrace", and, I might add, without a ballroom background.

    ??? probably because people aren't very good at listening the music and/or don't really know the music.

    I wonder where you find this to be try?
  16. Itachi

    Itachi New Member

    Hi Steve, thank you.

    I agree that you can have speed using milonguero embrace but not accels. Although you may perform well syncopated "quick-a-quick", it's impossible to simulate a strong "a-quick-hold" in that case (don't get confused by a "slow-quick-hold" that doesn't look like the same).

    Many dancers can't dance to Piazolla or they look very weird. I would add that open embrace is necessary to perform well to that kind of tango.
  17. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Hey, just jump right in and tell us what you think. Welcome to DF AT.

    Would you explain what an accel is?

    Oh, yes, and some of us don't care what we look like, on that level. A dancer with a good eye can see what they like on the dance floor.
  18. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Why do I suddenly feel like Shaka is back? ;)
  19. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    While I'm sure those people are having fun, I don't find the video a convincing argument for bad posture. :p
  20. leee

    leee Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone, this thread continues to be enlightening, if at times abstruse. (BTW, Simone de Beauvoir is a much better Existentialist than Camus, imho.)

    To address some another point that was brought up over the course of the various discussions here:

    Between this thread and the workshop I attended, I'm definitely considering dropping AT from my program at the BR-centric studio. Although I'm not excited about signing up for *another* lessons package elsewhere for AT instruction, I realize now that although I like the pattern-based syllabus for BR styles, the way they're teaching AT seems horribly inauthentic (I probably shouldn't use that word to avoid opening a Pandora's box of arguments) or at the least more focused on showiness as opposed to dancing for dancing's sake.

    I vaguely recall another issue I wanted to address or point out, but I've forgotten already, and scanning through this thread, like breaking into the scene itself for a beginner, is a little intimidating.

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