Tango Argentino > Teaching syllabus for AT - good idea?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Dave Bailey, May 22, 2008.

  1. dancinrina

    dancinrina New Member

    This makes a lot of sense to me. Personally I learned things a little bit differently than this "syllabus" suggests but overall I think it's a great way to get someone who's never danced to do Argentine Tango and not get scared away. (I believe that as humans we require some form of structure)
  2. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Bumping this one...

    I've just finished an 8-week Tango course - the first time I've actually done a proper course for a couple of years. It's been very helpful, and I've written up each week.

    Overview's here:

    (with links to pages for each week)

    What do people think of that structure?
  3. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    After a quick overview and modest read....I like it. I might have amended the order a bit toward the end, but it seems reasonable. I'll revisit it at a better hour. [​IMG]
  4. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    (week #2)
    Amir described the motion of preparing - pre-leading - a step, in an "over-and-under" sort of way. That is, if you're going to lead a lady backwards, you need to first make a small pre-lead forwards, to get her onto her toes in preparation. If you're leading a sidestep to the left, you need to first make a small pre-lead to the right, and so on.

    I stopped reading once I saw this. And not because it was time for bed. Now I'd like to see a molinete with this kind of pre-lead. Hmmm no, actually I would not like to.
  5. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    What's wrong with that? As I understood it, it's about preparing to start moving, not about the continuous motion once you're actually dancing. Is that wrong, then? Or have I misunderstood? :confused:
  6. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Seems perfectly reasonable. I have been told off in the past for forgetting to pre lead when launching a step ...

    (but yes once you are in motion it would be wrong)
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    ALL motion in dance is prepped.. sometimes, the assumption that a foot and or leg is always the determining factor, is completely ignoring the "bodies " role in the preparation for the impending action .
  8. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Well of course I agree every step needs to be led. But a pre lead when starting from a standing position seems crucial.

    A related question : lets say you are dancing with a beginner or someone you dont know. And you want to take a forward step to begin. How can you guarantee not to step on the lady's foot? I have been dancing a lot with beginners recently and find myself doing this more times than I would like! And this is regardless of how short a step I take ... (ie What's the right "prelead"?)
  9. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Yes, there's a clear difference between starting prep and "in motion" prep.

    I thnk the above comment about "up and over" applies to starting only, but I'm seeing Amir tomorrow so I'll ask him then.

    I think this is one of those weird ones - if you hesitate before stepping, in fear of stepping on her toes, then you communicate that hesitation to your partner, so causing her to step back even less confidently than she would have.

    I don't have an answer to that though, as I encounter it a lot also.
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Much can depend upon the " style " you are about to dance and possibly the direction.. even so, the body still initiates the direction ( lead , if you will ), and if the frame is in good order ,then a decent result should follow ( no pun, but tempting ! ) also, are you commencing with a " driving " or a "reaching" step ? and, are you over extending ?.

    We know, as coaches , its difficult to be precise without any visual help.
  11. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    This is the part I missed in the report.
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    This is a favorite topic of mine. I love it almost as much as "no push no pull" in dancing.

    You don't step on your partner's foot if she fulfills her responsibility to keep her weight on the foot that you "put her on", and she helps you feel where she is with good posture and "connection".
    There's more to it, of course, but the woman has an equal responsibility to make the dance work. Your instructor should be teaching the women this. Many don't.

    You can facilitate not stepping on her by moving your upper body/torso/chest forward BEFORE you begin moving your foot forward. When we "just walk" we move our feet forward, then our body moves along following the outstretched foot/leg. Your "tango walk" differs from that in a manner of degrees, depending on your style.

    This is way easier to do (move your upper body forward first) if you keep your weight as far forward over the balls of your feet as you can, which is how I was taught.

    In partner dances where you use your hands/arms to lead, it is common to "prep", but I don't think anyone has taught me to "prep" for a step in AT (although I can think of at least one situation where you could think of there being one).

    Your partner reads any "intent" when your body moves. You "show intent" to move forward when your chest/torso/upper body moves forward. If you want to consider a flexing of the knees while preparing to step as a "prep", OK. But again, when you do that your body has moved. If you want to think of the simple tensing of your muscles
    as a prep, go right ahead. (I'll think of it as a movement of the muscles.)

    Your instructor will hopefully have you do exercises so that you can "feel" what he means by the words he/she uses.

    I have, from the library, a wonderful book "Creative Rhythmic Movement - Boys and Girls Dancing". The author passes along that "Efficient and effective movement "depends upon the effective application of the physical laws of the unverse and the relaationship of time, force and space."" At every turn, however, children learn about things by doing them and feeling them in their bodies. (yes, pushing and pulling are involved.)
    My favorite instructor, I realized, had taught me (an others in his classes) in exactly that manner. It works for adults as well as for children.
    Few people teach this way, and that is WAY unfortunate.
  13. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

  14. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

  15. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    pre-leading is bad technique

    [FONT=&quot]Someone wrote ------> You can facilitate not stepping on her by moving your upper body/torso/chest forward BEFORE you begin moving your foot forward. When we "just walk" we move our feet forward, then our body moves along following the outstretched foot/leg.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Yes on the first, the really important point. But no on the second statement. Studies in body dynamics were among the first scientifically done psychology studies. They first used time-lapse photographs of people standing, walking, hopping, jogging, and running (and bending, sitting, and so on). Later studies also attached motion sensors to different parts of the bodies of subjects, and later still sensors monitoring the electrical activities of nerves.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]When we walk, the first step or later ones, the process is the same. We relax foot muscles in the direction we want to go and our body tilts in that direction. Then we move a foot to catch ourselves, center out bodies over that foot, and collect our trailing foot to near the supporting foot. The process is so automatic that we normally think that we do both upper-body tilt and the out-stretching of the leg at the same time. Or even that the leg goes first.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The only time one does that latter in the first stages in some forms of dance where students are taught to move the foot first. Advanced students later discard the foot-first technique, although they may continue to believe otherwise. You also do foot-first walking in stealth mode, when the outstretched feet (especially toes) are used as sensors to avoid stepping on noisy or dangerous surfaces or to sense a trip-wire attached to explosives.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The short of it is that the upper body always moves first. Followers feel this - if their embrace is good - and (after practice) prepare for each step without thinking about their bodies at all, leaving them free to enjoy the music and the intimacy of the embrace.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Tango is unique of all the social dances in that each individual step is lead, not just the first step of complex figures. This can be hard at first to adjust to if you come from a figure-based dance. But it pays off later by helping to make tango dancing almost a Zen meditation.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]And to get back to an earlier part of this thread. You should never pre-lead, if that means doing something different than you lead succeeding steps, because that would interfere with learning to lead and follow each step.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Larry de Los Angeles[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
  16. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    getting acquainted - the first dances

    So if you don't "pre-lead" the first step what do you do at the beginning of a dance with someone?

    There are several actions I take as part of getting acquainted with my partner. They are the same whether they are a total stranger who I have not even seen dance or someone I know well and have danced with earlier. I will abbreviate the getting-acquainted with someone I've recently danced with, but I never do away with it entirely. Even a friend may change during an evening. Maybe they have grown tired, or exhilarated.

    Dancing actually begins before we even embrace, when we first look at each other and consent to dance and walk to meet. I sometimes say something that helps to further rapport. It may or may not be complimentary, though if the latter I usually stick to hair or clothing and avoid something on the line of "Hi, Gorgeous." (I REALLY avoid "Nice tits" and "Great knat.")

    Next I will likely do a zarandeo. Literally a shake I think of it as a cuddle. It is a gentle left-right twist of our upper bodies, maybe repeated. This lets me test the embrace of my partner (and she mine) and adjust it according to our needs.

    Likely I will next do a cadencia (stepping in place) or a cunita (rock step, which some mistakenly call a cadencia). This tests and adjusts the way we move together.

    These actions not only serve to let us get acquainted. It is also dancing.

    Next I will walk along the line of dance with them. If they seem to have at least fair body control I will start facing back along the line of dance (making sure I know who is behind me and doing what). Within a few steps I will bring them around so they walk backward along the line of dance. This lets me feel how they do the pivoting movements that together make a half turn.

    As the first dance of a tanda proceeds I try ever more advanced, or at least different, actions. This is still more of the getting acquainted process. But that is only part of what I do, and after almost twenty years dancing tango (and thirty years before that other dances) it is near automatic. Mostly I (to my mind) just dance, caught up in the moment and my partner and the music, and don't think at all.

    Larry de Los Angeles
  17. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    I have a protocol too, so yes my dance is not 100% improvized (/me hides in shame) but it's only for the first two steps.

    beat #1 to #10, abrazo
    beat #11 to #13, putting the lady on her right foot with a pre-lead to prevent her from stepping.
    beat #14 backward step (first step of the 8CB)
    beat #15 side step (2nd step of the 8CB)
    Then anything can happen, depends on the space and the music. Also between step #1 and step #2 there can be a pause, whose duration depends on the music too.
  18. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    Syllabi neither good nor bad

    To get back to the original subject of this thread, most of you seem to be saying that a tango syllabus is good or bad depending on how it is used, and what is in it.

    It is bad when it is used by one organization (or cabal of them) to enforce a single view of tango. But a general guide that is recognized as simply one teacher's plan for a course or a series of courses is good.

    It is bad when the contents are just a compendium of complex "steps." But if it contains short sequences that can be combined to create complex steps it is OK. But it should also contain other elements, including posture, embrace, and leading and following. It should also contain information about the musical and emotional and social aspects of tango dancing.

    The three links people have given all seem to fulfill the requirements to be a good syllabus. I'll add a fourth syllabus, which like the others begins with the walk. It's my online book (Tango Corazon), which is intended to be a short introduction to tango for those who may not have easy access to a town large enough to have even one milonga. It has the brevity of poetry but enough detail to let someone learn to dance in a simple way. It includes a web page with links to complete pieces of tango music on the wonderful web site todotango. com and includes another web page with links to videos of show and social tango dancing in a variety of styles.

    Larry de Los Angeles
  19. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Heh! Watch out - you'll get people telling you never to take a back step against the line of dance :)

    Its been interesting finding out how other people approach the pre lead - thanks.

    I would be interested though in a follower's take on the issue ... (if this subject has been raised a thousand times before my apologies)
  20. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    This info. was was the answer given by an 8 times world champion, when asked which part of his body moved first when commencing fwd on a " body " led action.. his reply.."The knee".

    The "pitch " of most people is consistently in a slightly fwd poise ( guardsmen, military, etc, exceptions, somewhat ).

    This " signal " , " knee flex + body poise" if you wish, is the advantage that leads have over follows, and sharing that info. at the correct moment is paramount to all partnership dance .

Share This Page