Tango Argentino > Projecting steps

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by opendoor, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    I agree. There are professionals who make tango into a difficult dance and get everyone bogged down in technique when all most people want to do is enjoy dancing socially. They are analyzing tango to death.

    I prefer seeing the untrained milongueros viejos any day who dance a feeling over all the trained dancers who work at being technically perfect without feeling.
  2. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    My thoughts on the original post:

    Yeah, the basic projection/extension, find your axis, etc, sounds right. I am reminded of something Carina Losano told me once... it went something like this. "If someone tells you something about tango and it helps you directly with your balance or your relationship with your partner, then it is probably a foundation element. Otherwise consider it a stylistic preference of the teacher." I've found this advice very useful in taking lessons from different people. So I would say that the original post is a mix of foundation and stylistic preferences. Anything that talks about the visual appeal is usually a clue. Now, I'm actually not disapproving of those that want to look good when dancing, but it has to be recognized when something is an element of style.

    Re: Gssh's statements on Chicho, etc:

    I'm not sure I'd qualify the statements in the original post as nuevo only. imo, from the follower's point of view there's been some merge over what's traditional and what's modern. I think the biggest difference is the giro; traditionally the back-side-front-side is taught as an ingrained pattern, and when the follower is giroing in a circle she is supposed to drive the movement. The more modern approach is to make each step more independent from any other, allowing any step to turn into any other step. I agree Chicho and Juana's style is more like a bridge between eras... many of his complicated movements are just giros turned sideways, backwards, disconnected, etc, lead by implication of the giro pattern.

    As far as followers moving with confidence, I don't think that's a nuevo/traditional difference. That's more an experience thing. It takes a lot of practice to move with authority when you don't know where you're going. ;)
  3. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Much better expression than mine - while i don't think the giro is an ingrained pattern i very much think that the follower driving the movement in a giro is key for a more traditional tango - i would even expand that and say that the follower drives ALL movement of traditional tango. That is what i wanted to express with "moving with confidence" - you are right, it has nothing to do with confidence/experience, it is about taking control over the couples movement by driving the couples movement. The leader marks, the follower drives the movement, the leader follows her. Which creates the paradoxical situation that a "traditional" follower who looks like she is not doing anything controls much more of the dance than a "modern" follower whose ideal is to let the leader place her feet.

    I am actually not sure if this melding of "modern" and "traditional" techniques is achievable for most people - my experience has in general been that a lot of people use "modern" technique even when in situations when they dance very traditional vocabulary and embrace, and a lot of "modern" vocabulary pretty much does not work when the follower drives the movement. Usually when i see the claim of a blend of modern and traditional approaches i see using a modern approach and an outward appearance of the traditional approach. That is one of the aspects of chichos dancing that is becoming more and more impressive to me. He seamlessly melds these things. I can do either one of them badly, but i am not really able to switch between them. If a follower really advocates for one of these approaches in her style it is easier to get from one to the other, but usually i have to sit out a tanda or two to realign myself.

  4. I apologize, because I explained poorly, but if the follow takes the step herself based on led compression alone, how would she know whether to take a back, forward (especially if we are out of line), or side step. That is why I feel there has to be an intention from the leader and compression alone cannot lead a step.

    The method that you talk about is a very different way than I dance personally, because when I dance, I don't actively use compression, but let the compression come from the natural balancing of my steps, because I don't usually want the exaggerated steps that come from leading actively with compression. I may throw some active compression in during a pause or rarely use compression for styling, and I definitely use it often for cortes, but usually, for my most common stepping style, I prefer a more natural walking step where I don't have to think about compression.
  5. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Agreed. This is why I often say that there are a lot of preferences masquerading as rules.
  6. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    And yet there are professional who explain complicated things so everybody can understand.
    Those old milongueros have been dancing for years and perfected technique suitable for them.
    Have you been with them as long as they have been dancing?

    I also dance by the feeling, but tremendous work on tango technique with previous activities is applied,
    and it looks very easy and natural when I do it.
    Maybe I could have done by myself but it would take me much longer.

    I have different experience than yours. ;)
  7. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    And there is the opposite, that there are a lot of rules masquerading as preferences. I realized that when i took my first workshop with el pulpo years ago
    (that reminds me - in case anybody hasn't heard of this yet: http://www.facebook.com/liver4pulpo) - some of the base movements that he taught were completely incompatible with the style i was dancing back then.

    If i had to make up numbers then i would guess that tango is about 2/3 shared fundamentals, and 1/3 lineage/personal technique/preferencecs that might very well not work with anybody who has different preferences/uses different rules.

    The big secret of social dancing is how to navigate these 1/3 gracefully :)

  8. jfm

    jfm Active Member

    I think based on Gsssh's posts over the last few years that you two are doing the same thing-just phrasing it differently.
  9. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Not do I: I try to avoid porteñas and local female dancers from BsAs. They used to cling to you like sacks of flour.
  10. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    You say that like it's a bad thing.


  11. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Training is just a method. It doesn't create or destroy anyone's dance. It can be used well or poorly.

    We have some untrained dancers around here, and they are proud of it, but their dance is not great.
  12. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Ok, I´m going to find an equinox or any other muscle factory near by.

  13. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think this is not true - training does potentially "destroy" ones dance. I am afraid i am getting repetetive, but one of the things that i think we as tango dancers need to be honest about is that tango is a whole set of more or less similar dances, with sometimes incompatible techniques. Honing one set of techinques/concepts to a high polish can "destroy" competing sets of techniques for the same/similar situations.

    I actually had this discussion in BA's with a (really excellent) follower - she was complaining that a lot of the portenos had such a tight and constrictive embrace.
    I had danced with her and i knew what was happening - it was a basically technique-mismatch that amplified itself in a vicious circle:
    One of the styles that is dances quite frequently in BA is a pretty aggressivly "pushing" style - i.e. the lean/weight sharing is the core element of the embrace (i really don't like either of these expressions - they all sound like the follower and leader are not both active - the follower is not "leaning" on the leader - she is counterbalancing the leaders energy, similar how in swing you wouldn't say the follower is "hanging" on the leader - she is counterbalancing the push/pull and this counterbalance creates the part of the "latent energy" within the couple that allows the dynamics of the dance to unfold). Followers (and i assume by inference leaders) look for this counterbalance where both he and she have energized their connection to the ground, and counterbalance this strong grounding downwards into the ground by counterbalancing their partner. What this feels like is like a strong push/lean in the chest -(though i think visualizing how the energy flows as a lean is completely misleading).
    The style she was dancing was a relatively pronounced V-embrace, connecting along the right side of the leader and also leaning into the right arm of the follower. In that framework the embrace creates a dynamic cricle, and one of the advices follower always get is "fill out the embrace", "imagine the leader as in the center of a wheel, and the followers back is constinously in contact with the rim".

    So what i saw happening was basically this: the couple sets up the embrace. The leader is looking for the followers grounding and asks her to counterbalance his grounding. So he looks for the forward connection through the chest. The follower is looking for the "rim" of his embrace. So she looks for the connection throught her back. Neither finds what they are looking for.

    With two "good" dancers they both shrug, play with the range of technique they have seen/experienced and (hopefully) create a nice dance
    If only one of them is "good" the good one shrugs, and dances (more or less gudingly) the others style.
    If both of them are "bad" they continue looking for their preferred connection, and the leader is going to end up squeezing the living daylights out of the follower because that is the only way the degree of forward pressure he is looking for is going to happen when the follower is oriented towards the outside of the embrace.

    Note that "good" in this context can mean "knows a wide range of techiques" "doesn't know any technique properly", "has taken a lot of workshops with different people without finding "their" style" or "dabbles haplessly in a lot of things"
    and "bad" can mean "doesn't know any technique properly", "does know only one technique", or "has danced for their whole life and decided that this approach is the most enjoyable for them, and become a world class expert in it"

    I used to be a big fan of being able to accomodate everybodies style, but in the long run i have ended up having a stylistic preference, and the people i dance with most are the ones that dance a matching style, and the things i work on are things in that style. So while i can do some range of different stuff, i am getting progressivly better at the things i like doing, and to almost the same extent the things i don't like doing are decaying. Like for example my V-embrace vocabulary is basically non-existent anymore - i don't use the advantages of it, and just dance things that would work as well (or better) in parallel embrace.

    So yes, from the perspective of a follower who loves dancing in the V and using its dynamics and options my training has destroyed my dance.

  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I think Jantango will tell you that this is what the women who dance in the milongas in the center of Buenos Aires expect from the the milongueros who dance there. I wonder what this woman had learned about Argentine Tango, and the culture surrounding it, before she went to BA. Did she really think these men would change to accomodate her?

    Now, when I find myself with someone who has different expectations than I do, I do my best to dance well with them. Unless they indicate that they are still in the learning/adapting/open mode, I rarely go there again. When they "suggest" that I should be "on my own axis" because that is what so and so taught them, it is almost always game over once the tanda ends.

    Although I agree with nearly all of what you write, Gsssh, I have to add that I now believe that, with women who have arrived at the right place, dancing simply but with lots of musicality (or "feeling" if you wish, albeit a feeling for the music) means you only need simple moves.
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    One of the best things I think I've ever read here on the AT forum!

    Also applies to fellow dancers trying to "teach" you in a proactica or milonga.

    Although in the case of someone teaching you on the dance floor, I would say the bit about "helping you with your partner" is also potentially just a stylistic preference of that person.
  16. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    This was useful for me because I think I have the same thing happening in reverse more and more frequently... I am looking for the forward connection through the leader's chest, and the leaders are looking for the V connection through my left arm and want me to do that filling out you are talking about.

    I totally suck at V-embrace.

    But after reading this, at least I understand a little bit more of why I can't follow some leaders that other followers seem to love... I need to figure out how to adapt to not getting info from their chest even though they seem to be aiming for "close embrace".

  17. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Connection at V-embrace is through the chest and not by arm.
    Follower is always in front of the leader. Some put follower aside but for me it's not good.
    If the follower is front of the leader either in V or close embrace I believe it's the same for the follower.
    The difference is that the leader is limited by the moves, but leading is lot alike.
  18. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    No... not really. If it were, I wouldn't be having so much trouble with it.
  19. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think this is a stlistic preference (that leads to in some cases incompatible techique) - lets as a simplified image imagine the leader as the hub of a wheel, and the space around him outlined by his embrace as the rim of this wheel.

    The embrace/right arm, chest, left arm give the follower a lot of points of reference to where the leader is, and there are (at least) 3 different ideas that i have seen both danced and taught

    1) The follower "fills out the embrace" - she looks for the rim of the wheel, feeling the leader through her back (sometimes they also matchingly look for the leaders back by having their hand on his ribs below his right shoulderblade)
    2) The follower dances "apilado" - she looks for the hub of the wheel, feeling the leader through his chest (this also works in open embrace - then the follower uses her left arm and they create the embrace as a dymanic circle where both contribute energy)
    3) (i don't have a good name for that, and i have seen this idea taught by teachers of all kinds of different labels) The follower in some sense doesn't touch either the hub or the rim - the embrace gives her information where the hub and rim are, and she moves freely in the space between them, using the information about the shape and location of this space to decide where to move.

    This is pretty independent of how close people dance, and while i feel that most people have in the end one approach they also tend to have one or two tricks that use a different one. These three approaches all work equally well, and all can create great tango, but they create different dynamics. Every tango move can be lead and followed using any of these three approaches, but i think a lot of problems between leaders and followers are due to the them not agreeing how information is exchanged.

    A 1) follower will feel that a 2) leader does not offer any clear lead at all, a 2) follower will feel that a 3) leader is not counterbalancing and supporting her enough, and a 3) follower will feel that a 1) leader keeps trying to squeeze her.
    Or in reverse - the 2) leader will feel like tha 1) follower is running away from him, the 3) leader will feel like the 2) follower is unreasonably heavy and doesn't follow any lead, and the 1) leader feels like the 3) follower is not dancing with him because she keeps trying to twist out of the embrace

    (and i could probably make up all the other combinations, too)

    It has helpes me as a leader a lot to consciously try to remember that when the dance is not coming together i have probably failed in offering her the kind of information/energy she is looking for. And then i can try to accomodate her.

  20. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Yes. Not being a follower, here's my theory anyway. The lead leads from somewhere: chest, arm, shoulder, gesture, whatever. The follower needs to discover where the lead comes from for that leader, and follow from that direction. Discover where his connection is, and return the connection to that location.
    opendoor likes this.

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