Salsa > salsa dancers perceptions of tango

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

  1. noobster

    noobster Member

    Thanks for the input everyone. That was really helpful.

    Interesting. Presumably this is the kind of thing you can only develop a feel for by just doing it a whole lot (not like I expected otherwise), but I'll keep this in mind. I hadn't thought about there being separate leads for legs and body.

    Well, I was trying to move exactly with the leader by staying square to him. But then the teacher came over and danced with me, and said that this was considered anticipating and I should wait until he physically moved me there, rather than following him under my own steam. Or at least that's what I understood her to be saying. Maybe I'm wrong.

    What part are you pushing with? I was kind of pushing with my right arm, but was told that that made the hold too stiff. I don't really see how to push with my left arm as it's behind his shoulder, and I can't push with my chest as we're dancing in open position (not that I want to do closed).

    Interesting. I guess what I am doing is moving my body and legs together at the first sign of a lead; but you're saying what I should be doing is just positioning my leg to take the weight, and waiting for the lead to develop more before I move my torso? That would make sense then that moving everything together is considered anticipating.

    I am definitely going to take private lessons. But I am taking one month of groups first, both to feel out the teachers and to meet some other tanguer@s. I learned salsa exclusively from privates and going out, and while it is the most efficient way to improve IMHO (and I think produces the best final results), it makes the social aspect rather difficult. It took me a long time to make salsa friends, and that made the whole going-out part more stressful than it needed to be.

    And tango seems like a much flatter learning curve too. I don't want to be the lame beginner sitting by myself at milongas for the next two years.
  2. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    It is (I think) possible to transfer some concepts from AT to salsa - heck I think it's possible to transfer some concepts from AT into most any dance - but not the other way round. My experience of salsa was almost useless in learning AT - in fact, in some areas (e.g. hip wiggling) it was worse than useless.

    As a general point, I believe it is very possible to fuse dance forms - I've seen it happen. However, it's very very hard work, and it's actually harder to effectively learn the fused form than either individual form, in my experience.

    AT has a steeper learning curve than salsa (and again, I think I could substitute "any dance" for "salsa" in that sentence). That doesn't make it a "better" or "worse" dance of course.

    As for leading with your centre - yes, that's good technique, but in practice, in social salsa dancing you pretty much need to lead with your hands as well, as those are the signals followers are taught in that dance form.
  3. noobster

    noobster Member


    omg Peaches, I just wanted to reiterate how helpful this was. I tried to concentrate on the leg-then-body thing in class today (also what you said about keeping the leg straight so knees are out of the way, and also on that little ankle pronation that seems to make it easier to lead with the heel), and it was miles better. I could really follow, enter the flow of the dance and feel the transfers of energy, where before I felt like I was pushing and floundering and just being all kinds of wrong.

    Teacher said I was right on, a bunch of leaders were like,"You've been practicing!" (I hadn't at all since last week), and I was dancing with a guy at the practica later who flat out thought I was lying when I said I'd only had 4 classes.

    It feels great when the energy transfer works right. It is like having the leader's intention just swirl effortlessly through your body and out your feet. This is an amazing dance.
  4. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    :oops: You're welcome. I'm glad that something I wrote was truly helpful, instead of just me running off at the fingers about AT like I usually do.
  5. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Yep. Practice, and exposure to different leads will help you develop this. But more importantly, guided instruction with a good teacher.

    Oh yeah! If there weren't separate leads for legs and body, there would be no way of doing half the things in AT. It's how leg-flick-y things are done while the woman never takes a step.

    You should always be providing your own power, that much remains the same. But as you seem to be starting to discover, there's a difference between reacting right away to move your leg, and reacting right away to move your center. You need to wait until he "takes you" where he wants you to go--which is to say, you have to wait until he "invites" you to move your center. But you still need to do it on your own power.

    My fault. I was thinking you were dancing in closed, in which case you'd be "pushing" with your center. In open, don't push. In open, you won't have much of a frame, in the usual sense, either. This is where salsa will probably come in handy. You want tone in your arms (no noodle arms!), but no stiffness.


    The AT scene can be kinda hard. Keep up with the group classes, and go to practicas, if for no other reason than to get to know other people so you feel more comfortable. But kudos for realizing the benefit of private lessons.

    I'm sure you won't be. Go out and make friends, talk with people, and dance as much as you can. It's the best way to improve.
  6. SnowDancer

    SnowDancer New Member

    I'm replying to the original post.

    There's a tango practice ("practica"?) just before my Sunday salsa class, so I often watch the dancers for about 10 minutes. Sorry to say, and I don't want to be close-minded, but it sometimes seems like hours.:evil: The repetitive orchestral music is on the other end of the spectrum from salsa, which I love and listen to all the time. Sometimes the dance looks interesting and graceful, but it also appears extremely technical. The dancers themselves seem to be a fairly intense group, and they sound a little cultish when talking about the dance.

    But... I'll probably give it a try sometime, maybe become addicted, and eat my above statement.:)
  7. SnowDancer,

    I can relate to you and I think many of us can. This is how tango appeared to me for a long time and I could not see the beauty of the dance as I could in salsa from the first time I saw it danced. Salsa was love at first sight for me, which I cannot say of tango.

    Salsa is a very extroverted, happy and showy dance that excites many outsiders when they see it danced and draws them right in.

    Tango on the other hand is a very introverted dance, at first it looks very technical (and boring), all you see is people walk and do some very technical looking things, nothing flowing like in salsa.

    I think one has to experience tango a bit and get into it to discover the beauty of it and the beauty is often hidden from outsiders, contrary to salsa. You have to discover it from within, I guess.

    As I said before, it took me a long time (over a decade) to get excited about tango. As the Bible says: There is a time for everything...
  8. noobster

    noobster Member

    Ah well. I didn't become interested in salsa because it looked good, but because it seemed as if it felt good, if that makes sense.

    I suspect tango is going to feel even better once I get there. It already feels pretty good.

    But then I am kind of an introvert. And I do like tango music.
  9. mambochino

    mambochino New Member

    AT is a beautiful dance. But the music is just not as lively and exciting as salsa. I took 3 classes this past month and I stopped for the reason mentioned above.
  10. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Try different music.

    You usually hear the old stuff played, which can get boring after a while. But there's lots of new stuff out there. There are new instrumental arrangements of the old stuff, new electronic versions of the old stuff, and flat-out new electronic stuff. Plus, you can dance AT to pretty much anything.

    Last weekend I danced AT to salsa music.
  11. SnowDancer

    SnowDancer New Member

    Very true. My first view of it was a couple that appeared to be wandering aimlessly around the room. Every now and then the woman would trip over the guys feet and almost fall. I thought I was watching a martial art.:) It wasn't clear at all to me whose fault this was, either.

    Despite my negative comments, it is something I'll try someday (and probably get addicted to, just like salsa).
  12. Beto

    Beto Active Member

    Gotan Project comes to mind. I went to a milonga once where the tango music was very modern (I heard a lot of synth). Sounded cool.

    I saw a couple do this once a few weeks ago. Was interesting to watch.
  13. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Gotan is probably the most well known. There's Bajofondo, Otros Aires, Tanghetto, Debayres.

    It's interesting to dance, too!
  14. noobster

    noobster Member

    I like that stuff! Something about that scratchy-old-record sound makes me happy.

    There are several salseros in my beginning AT class. (Nobody there is as beginner as I am though; most of them have been doing AT at least a few months.) Sometimes you get a salsa in the next room over and we run in there for a break. The guys will meld quite a bit of tango into the salsa since it's still in their bloodstream. It's pretty fun.

    I'm not sure I'd want to dance a whole tango to salsa music though. I think it would feel constricting since the salsa music is very energetic and the tango moves are more sober and weighted.

    I danced salsa to hustle music Tuesday also (b/c my leader didn't know hustle) and that was kind of annoying, it was very fast and I would rather have just hustled even though I much prefer salsa to hustle overall.
  15. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Traditional tango music does sound all the same if you're not familiar with it - but then, people say exactly the same about salsa music :) - it's what you're used to, basically. After 18 months, I'm only now starting to appreciate the traditional AT music.

    Nuevo tango music (e.g. Gotan Project) is more accessible, I think.

    Yep, that sounds about right.

    Definitely :)

    AT has a long and steep learning curve, compared to salsa (or, I suspect, almost any other dance); it takes a lot of effort to get started with it.
  16. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    When I first saw AT, it seemed to me that the guy was just standing there, and the woman was just making up moves and walking around him at random.

    I couldn't believe that each step was being led - because I was so used to salsa which is largely hand-led, and his hands weren't moving. :rolleyes:
  17. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I like it, too. But after a while I want a change.

    We danced it as a milonga.
  18. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    I can relate. Coming from other partner dancing background, I was struggling with the same thing (I still am, though :) ). I guess at some beginning point I was like a polo pony, trying to read my leader's signals frenetically -- where are we going? Are we stopping now? Are we running forward? Sideway? Huh? Huh? it was hard....
    While I was dancing with a partner at class or practica, oh, I 've heard our teachers countless times yelling at me "slow down!" They would explain, "He could be as fast as he wants, but you, you have to go slow. Do not jump the lead. Make him really ask for it!".

    Just hang in there, noobster, you will figure it out little by little. It takes time. You are doing great, wonderful, in fact.

    One day I had an insight. I was watching Osvaldo and Coca Cartery videos. And suddenly, I was like--- That's it! I got it!

    Look how it works: Osvaldo can go ape crazy with his feet, Coca remains grounded, serene, calm and elegant at all time, and just reacts to his lead.

    You may not believe it, but after I saw that videos, it's become so much more clear for me what I was supposed to do as a follow in AT, and my following has improved a lot.


    Hope it helps.
  19. noobster

    noobster Member

    Hey Lilly, thanks for the vids!

    Jumpy is definitely a problem of mine; I can feel how much better things work when I keep myself chilled out but I have to keep reminding myself every second to s-l-o-w down, otherwise I forget.

    It is partly the salsa and partly that I am just a bit of a hyper follower, even for salsa. Actually I think tango is going to be good for my other dancing because it will force me to slow down.

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