Salsa > salsa dancers perceptions of tango

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by merci beaucoup, Apr 17, 2006.

  1. noobster

    noobster Member

    (Well. I think a lot of the better salsa leaders are also leading with their torsos.)

    Re my impressions of AT:

    I've been interested in starting AT for a long time. I do like the music (about as much as I like salsa music actually, which is to say much much more than I like hustle or swing music). I am also very very interested in developing the degree of connection and lead/follow that the dance requires. I hear people talking about the "tango trance" and based on my experiences with salsa I am pretty sure that is something to which I could really get addicted. The close embrace is a roadblock but before I started salsa I felt the same way about touching strangers, and I actually got over it quite quickly and came to enjoy the contact.

    I think my personality may potentially be more of an AT-type than a salsa-type actually. I am rather serious and introspective; and though I take on more of a flirty party-girl personality when I am dancing salsa, I think that is more my assuming the character of the dance than the dance expressing my true character.

    I agree with yippee1999 that AT is a lot harder to pick up than some of the other partner dances. Hustle in particular was cake with salsa as a background; it only took a few lessons to get out on the social floor. I haven't gotten much into swing (read: no lessons) but the few times I've been led by a swing leader I was able to keep time and follow most of what he was doing.

    AT, nothing. I'm just awful at it, so very far from being able to show my face at a social event. I've had a few stabs at classes but due to an irregular work schedule I've been unable to take a series or to devote to it the time it would require. I'm hoping to change that starting next week. I will need privates to get to the point of being able to social dance but I am going to use a series of groups to test-drive the teacher.
  2. thespina13

    thespina13 New Member

    noob, it's interesting when you say that you take on the personality of the dance in salsa, rather than it reflecting who you really are. Frequently I feel the same way. I'm sometimes fierce, often melancholic or poetic, intense, organic and earthy person. I'm very eager to try AT. We have a lot of respect for it here... the veterans are amazing to watch and we have some salsa instructors who are completely addicted. It's a pretty cross-disciplinary crowd here.
  3. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The comparisons, from a technical point, cannot realy be compared.

    one is a "rhythm " dance , the other , a smooth / b/room dance .

    By their very nature, one stationary and one travelling, then different techniques come into play .
    As teachers, we build up a reportoire ( I mean if we are not one trick ponies ) of several different, and some similar, dance styles.
    I actually dance three different styles of Tango ( some better than others ) . The differences, in some respects, are like nite and day ( even the music ) The same can be said when I dance salsa on 2 and or 1 / 3 , a different feling .

    The common mistake when taking on a new dance, is too start making comparisons . Most people are attracted to a particular dance because of the music . The disappointment generally comes, when they
    apply movement to the attraction.
    Salsa basics, even if done poorly, can translate into dance fairly quickly.

    Most people do not want to put in the time or effort, into developing something that is an art form-- as I have said in the past-- instant dancing is the order of the day . Just look around you at your next salsa gig !!

    Remember admire the Art-- if not the artist .
  5. noobster

    noobster Member

    As an update I am finding that, far from helping with tango, I think my salsa experience is actually working against me.

    Salsa is a fast dance and you need to react to the lead in real time. Ideally (IMHO) the follow (while not anticipating) follows the lead as soon as she feels it, thus keeping a constant, even, light pressure in the connection.

    (Anyway this is what I tend to do and I've gotten lots of compliments on my following, which I think is the major strength of my dancing - what I'm missing is a lot of other technique-y stuff.)

    If I understand correctly what I'm being told to do in tango, it's like being the epitome of a bad, heavy salsa follower. You are supposed to keep your weight toward your leader (so he can feel which foot you're on), and furthermore (as I've been told) you need to actually delay your follow so that there is an elastic-band effect, where there's a little buildup of pressure before you actually move. Exactly what you *don't* want in salsa.

    I am constantly being told that I don't apply enough pressure to my connection and I react too quickly to leads - even when I am trying my darndest to react like m-o-l-a-s-s-e-s.

    This stuff totally confuses me. When I watch more advanced tango dancers, it looks like the follower is moving right with the leader, not delayed from him. Also I am supposed to keep my chest/hips squared to my leader; but I can't do that if I have to wait until he drags me into the move to follow him.

    I'm partially just venting, but if any tangueras here have advice that would help de-confuse me it would be much appreciated. In particular:

    - How do I keep my own axis and also let the leader feel my weight? Don't those two things preclude each other?

    - How do I keep square to the leader and also wait to move until he pushes me into it? Don't those two things also preclude each other?

    - I've been told to let the leader move my torso and only then follow with my legs. How do I do that without falling over/losing my axis? Don't my legs have to move under me at the same time as my torso moves in order for me to stay balanced?
  6. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    I don't know about all that delayed business. If anything I think the follower needs to be on her balance even more. I'm not a salsa expert, but it doesn't seem to me that you really lead through the body the way you do in tango.
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I think first-- we need to establish which style of T / A are you learning ?
  8. naturallove

    naturallove New Member

    Oh lordy--TT--how many styles of AT are there? (I guess I'm really ignorant because I didn't know there were lots of different styles of AT!) I'm moving to a place where the salsa scene is not as developed and have been thinking of taking up another dance. I love to watch advanced AT dancers-amazing! Someone disagreed with me on another thread awhile back, but I'll stand by what I said before. Unlike intermediate or even advanced beginner salsa dancers, int/adv beginner tango dancing does not look good to me. It looks like walking--and boring walking at that. I think that's what really keeps me from throwing myself into it--that learning curve seems awfully steep. Plus I wonder how many social dancing opportunities there will be for AT, you know?
  9. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Yes. By comparison, AT tends to have a relatively "heavy" connection. The thing is that you'll discover, it actually (IMO) makes you more sensitive, because you can sense the slightest little change in the leader's body and react to it.

    That said, I still dance with a very light connection most times, and am now working on making it "heavier" and learning a different style to do it.

    Eh...I'd say yes and no. (I know, I'm just so helpful.) Unless I'm dancing apilado (what I'm learning now)--where we're actually relying on each other for balance--I keep my weight just a bit in front of center (of my foot). The difference is, I push into my leader. So, I'm on my own axis, but still connected.

    As for the delay...I don't like thinking of it in those terms. Before the lead ever really moves, you should feel his "intention" to move. In response to that, send your leg in the direction of his intention. You might feel a bit of increased pressure, but generally not's more like extremely slight movement together, or a tensing. Then, what you're waiting for his request to shift weight. That's where the 'delay' is happening. It's not that you delay your movement after you feel the lead, it's almost that there are multiple parts to the lead. You have to wait to move when you feel the lead to move your weight, not when you feel the lead to get your leg out of the way. (And a word on that...step back and contract with your butt and the back of your leg, almost like you want to touch down with that heel first. It's how you get your knees out of the way for the leader to have room to move.)

    The delay isn't enough to be perceptible. And, as you get better, you'll be able to perceive it more quickly, and be able to perceive even slighter leads.

    If you're being told to keep your chest/hips squared, that's what you should be doing right now. The leader shouldn't be dragging you, and I don't quite understand how it seems like a contradiction to you. Could you elaborate a bit more?

    I find the key to be in actively "pushing" against the leader. Hard to describe.

    See above. He shouldn't be pushing or dragging you anywhere, and they absolutely don't preclude each other.

    I'd say the reverse, actually. At least for starting out (there are variations, but I won't get into them). Send your leg first, as soon as you feel the intention to move in a given direction. Extend your leg, keep your weight fully on the supporting leg, and then transfer when he asks you to transfer weight.

    Are you able to take private lessons? Because, really, it's the way to go. If you're definitely interested, I say to spend your $$ on private lessons and milongas or practicas. I'm not a fan of group lessons, except to get people interested and be able to wet their feet if they're not sure.

    If you want, pm me.
  10. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Yes and no. The principles are the same. Some mechanics are different.
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Would approach the 2 dominant styles slightly differently. My feeling is that the poster is not refering to Salon .
    Personal choice, which I feel is more compatible to beginners ,particularly if they have been introduced to b/room , would be Salon . I find that ladies are not as comfortable, in a too close hold position . I show both styles , and invariably, salon wins out. Could be the age group I keep getting .
  12. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    True. But salon describes the style of the dance, not open v. close embrace. Whereas milonguero is only done in close embrace, salon can be done in either.

    Besides, regardless of how the definition is used, and regardless of if there's milonguero or salon being danced, the principles are still the same. Different feel, though.
  13. Ron Obvious

    Ron Obvious New Member

    I don't know so much about Tango, but I know it takes 2 to do it.

    Just my 2 c...
  14. tj

    tj New Member

    :doh: :rolleyes: :mrgreen:

    I've taken a beginner/intro to tango and that's about it. It was fun, but I'm more likely to pick up WCS if I decide to try another dance style.
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

  16. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I suspect the body contact aversion applies not just to salsa dancers (and not just to AT), but to most dancers. I know working tango (not AT, american I guess? at fred astaire studio), slowly bringing to closer contact as I continue to progress, and honestly, intimidates me a bit. Not that I have any aversion to getting closer to my teacher ;) but itis a bit intimidating to a shy guy like me. Also makes me a LOT more self-concsious about any possible mistake, not that she'd notice it, always seems to catch all my mistakes, but worry that with the clsoer hold that mistake is much more likely to knee her, or have me stepping on her feet, etc. And I'm definitely not a salsa dancer, or rather wasn't before I started ballroom, learning them all together (didn't dance at all before I started at this studio, now learning all ballroom/swing/latin i can fit into schedule and budget).
  17. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    etp, it's not just even the body contact issue, it's the emotional closeness issue. I also came to AT after knowing salsa, hustle, west coast swing and some other dances including American style tango.

    In American (ballroom style) tango the physical contact helps facilitate the lead/follow and the style of the dance. This is the case in AT as well, but in AT, the physical closeness is also combined with sharing yourself emotionally with your partner. That is a very intense and unusual experience for most us Americans (and probably some other non-Latin cultures).

    I know for me, the connection of tango is beautiful but hard to get used to. It brings all your deep emotions to the surface. IMO that's why it's so sexy as well. I've heard salsa and West Coast Swing called sexy because of the slinky hip action or rhythmic music, but honestly compared to AT they are merely flirtatious dances whereas AT is like having a full blown love affair with someone you just met.
  18. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I can certainly see that, jenny. I've only been dancing for a few months, and only did one AT class, but watched a lot more of it and talked it over with friend who's teacher. That actually is one of things that's always been in back of my mind about my dancing in general, trying to get the emotional connection behind the physical connection for best performance at the comps (not near the connection of AT, but still have to have a conneection for best look and nonverbal communication, least to my mind). but AT is in a completely different league on that as you said. And that certainly doesn't fit in with mindset of most salseros I know, or their attitude when out dancing. Almost, to my mind at least, like difference between marriage and a weekend fling. I'll stick with ballroom and salsa/bachata/etc for now. :) AT sometime later.
  19. SalsaTO

    SalsaTO New Member

    Argine Tango & Salsa

    I've been dancing salsa since around 1999 and I took about one year's worth of Argentine Tango lessons from two instructors. And I've been to a few milongas. And we learned very quickly that tango is a sensual dance meant to be danced very closely. One cannot forget where tango came from. If you don't like to be touched or if you like to be at arms length from your partner, then tango is not for you. A number of people dropped out almost before the first class was over. Then we got down to business

    Tango is not like salsa, a demanding mistress for timing and staying on beat. Tango uses the music in a very elastic way. Two couples can dance to the same piece in radically different ways. There doesn't appear to be a set beat. A repetoire of common moves yes, timing for these moves is variable. That variability makes tango almost a life calling in comparison to salsa.

    Lead and follow are different in tango than in salsa. Tango leads with the chest. The close close hold demands it. The fun is with the interplay of the legs, the man's and the woman's foot and toe flicks, the woman's ochos, the woman flirting with her toe or her heel on the man's calf and if she is flexible, higher. The chase across the floor with the feet while the two bodies are in embrace. Its a very different expression of dance and movement. The swing crowd and the arms length partner crowd are not comfortable in this envelope.

    Tango is in the little details, not in broad movement. Tango is about being one with your partner and looking inward. Just look at photographs or videos of tango dancers and salsa dancers social dancing or show dancing.

    I use elements of tango in my salsa. I was originally taught salsa in 'latin hold.' The long time salsa instructors can describe that. Most people would know that as 'closed,' with the follower's right hand, not the side or the back of the hand, but the palm of the hand on the back of leader's right shoulder blade or if familiar, around to the left shoulder. Bodies were offset by about 6 inches so the knees would knock. And the body weight was slightly forward, not back on the heels as in jazz. That brought out salsa's sensual side in a hurry. Instructors worked on developing leader and follower's cubano hips. Turn patterns came from diagonal breaks, or back stepping - no cross body lead then. Everything started from closed.

    Perhaps this is why some people can connect with tango in ways the ON2 or the Mambo or the open position salsa dancers cannot.

    Some of tango's partner work comes into play when dancing salsa close and sensually. Some of Tango's showy elements are easily done in salsa, especially from closed. And the woman can 'shine' from closed by using tango ochos, the toe and foot flicks and some of the other leg work. My partner does most of her shines from closed. No 'Tee" position with her back to me.

    While they are two very different dances coming from two very different places, a little knowledge, passion and imagination can work elements of both together. "Reach in and touch" vs "Reach Out and Touch...."
  20. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    My salsa is awful, so i apologize for butchering it, but i'll try anyway - i think these are essentially language problems, not dance problems.

    The building of pressure is a pre-lead. In theory the couple could step in any direction from being collected. And of course to step on the beat the step has to be lead before the beat, so tango dancers cheat and use the time between the beats to communicate what they are planning to do next - it is not really delaying the step, but it is setting up the step that is going to happen some time in the future. This is similar to what i remember from my beginning salsa: The lead for the cross body did not start with guiding the follower accross, but it started with preparing her for the crossbody by sending her out a little bit farther on her backstep. Or when leading a right turn - the leader lifts his hands not on the beat she starts turning, but beforehand. A salsa follower does not react immediatly to leads - she waits for the beat to actually do the move. In tango this feels different, because the leader might change the instrument he is dancing to, or to twice as fast, or half as fast anytime, so he can not rely on the follower to just move on the beat, but has to both activly prelead every step, and then lead it. I think it is also different because tango dancers lead with their whole bodies as essentially a brick, and have less options than salsa dancers who can play with their hands, the rythm of the music, and have much more options of moving their bodies independent of each other.

    re: own axis/feeling the weight -> this is essentially the tango equivalent of "don't have sphagetti arms" in salsa. The follower has to have a presence. I think the phrase "feeling the weight" is a bit misleading - leaders don't want to carry the follower, but they want to feel where the follower is, and how she reacts to the lead. I think this is the same as the even, light pressure in salsa, but with the whole body - and thats just because in tango everything is with the whole body.

    re: stay square/ wait to be pushed into it. I don't really know what you are asking - almost all leading works by the leader moving his chest, and the follower moving becasue she wants to stay square - and that is also how the "pushing" works - the chest moves forward, and the follower steps to stay ahead of it. In a way standing collected, weight on one foot, the followers and the leaders shoulders parallel is the tango basic step. Its much less exciting than the 123 567 salsa basic, but it has the same function.

    re: moving body then feet: Of course your feet have to move when your body is moved. But the body is the leading surface - if your legs move without your body your leader has not actually lead you. It is not really a delay as much as being aware of the lead. In tango people pretend that arms are just extensions of the body, they don't do anything besides transmitting the movement of the body. Any lead has to be leaders body moves-> arms move->followers body moves. It is impossible to move the legs before the body becasue if the body has not moved there is no lead/no reason to move.

    Basically walking 2 steps works like this:

    1) Standing collected.
    2) the leader starts moving a bit before the beat, the pressure builds
    3) in reaction to the leader the follower comitts to step deep and decisevly, l
    4) the leader steps, too, following the follower,
    5)the leader catches up about between the beats, continues to move forward
    6)the follower feels the continuing impulse, lands on the beat and continues to the next step
    7) the leader follows this - also landing on the beat and continuing to move forward
    8) the leader catches up before the beat, and stops movign forward before the beat to give the follower time to stop.
    9) the follower feels that the body stops, stops moving, and both collect on the beat.

    Note that the whole timing and what moves before what is in terms of minute increments - from the outside it would just seem that they take two steps perfectly in synch with each other. The whole pre-leading this is just dancers cheating - we can't really communicate fast enough to decide on the beat where we want to go from there, so we need to negotiate what we are going to do before we actually do it.


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