Tango Argentino > The rules of a practica

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Lois Donnay, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I think you communicate very clearly in your posts, even if I have different opinions on some things.

    As you both lead and follow, you're probably more qualified than I am, to comment on the leader/follower relationship. However, I think the gender imbalance is what creates a bigger problem for followers than the leader/follower setup.

    Leaders also monitor their connection skill, as well as question themselves on things such as, was the lead clear enough, did I goof up her axis, is my floorcraft good enough, etc. IMO, both the leader and the follower are dependent on each other.

    Of course, my opinions & observations are based on where I dance, and things could be quite different other places.
    I think a big part of what defines the relationship is the assertiveness of the two people involved. Also the gender imbalance factors in, as well.

    I've danced a few tandas where it seemed like the follower was the manager. I'll admit that it was a long time before I ever asked her to dance again, although maybe that's what she wanted.

    Loosely related to this, I'm curious in your community, who do you think does a better job of nurturing new people. Do the men do a better job of nurturing and dancing with new followers, or do the followers do a better job of nurturing and dancing with new leaders?
  2. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    IMO the difference is bigger! Your way of reasoning is quite matter-of-fact. On the follower side even the emotions and feelings are activated creating a different situation. I didn't just think that a pivot went wrong and i need to work with it but it was more like this: How hopeless I am, I should have known better and ....and ... and. ... and I wonder if he will ever ask me again. If a clumsy leader made a comment on that pivot then I was totally devastated.

    I fully agree with you about the similarities in these two roles; anyhow that is the goal. Today my partners and my own experience is enough to maitain a quite balanced abrazo. But I still remember how hard it was during the first follower years and I can hear that it is still so for the new followers. These matters should be addressed in the follower training.

    (There was a leader, who was easygoing, experienced dancer with one or two tricks. He talked through the songs and he always made me feel ok. So after a few terribly tandas I asked for a tanda with him and after that I was a normal me again! I called him for my Tango Doctor :) )
  3. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Perhaps it is a language thing, but I need to quibble with the description of these 2 mindsets as the follower being "tough" or "gentle", or that these are the 2 options.

    When a "mistake" of lead-follow communication occurs, it is the leader's job to fix it. I don't really even like to describe these things as mistakes... The follower didn't do what the leader intended/expected. Happens even to the top dancers. THEY don't view it as a mistake. They use it and keep going. However, the LEADER adapts to what the follower actually did. It can't be corrected by both at the same time, and if the follower tries to "fix" it, then the leader has yet another thing the follower is doing that needs adapting to just as s/he was probably adapting to the previous issue.

    So if I am interpreting the situation you are talking about correctly, neither attitude you describe is the right one. It is not necessarily that the leader made a mistake and the follower is being "tough" to wait for him to fix it, but the follower who blames herself does still need to wait for him to fix it. However, blaming herself doesn't make her "gentle".

    The truth is in the middle ground: the follower shouldn't be constantly worrying about whether she is getting it right. You can't follow with your brain. Anyone worrying about whether they are "getting it right" in following the lead, needs to get out of their head. Followers need to just do what their 1st instinct is when they feel the lead, and COMMIT to it, "right" or "wrong". If it turns out to be "wrong", they need to let the leader adapt and deal with it.

    I think this is one of the hardest things for followers to learn... getting out of their head, stopping the worry & constant self-evaluation/criticism, and giving themselves over to letting their body do what feels right instinctively. I think many of us start out doing a quick shuffle or rapidly changing weight/position when we realize a moment too late what was expected... or hesitating to take the step at all because we aren't sure.

    Feel a lead
    Do whatever the initial reflex reaction tells you without hesitation
    Complete it even if you realize as you are moving that it wasn't the "correct" response
    Wait for the next lead

    It's not about being tough or gentle, or about thinking the leader messed up or blaming oneself as the follower. Neither of these extremes are useful. Its just tango. It will always happen to some extent and the great dancers don't give it a second thought when social dancing.
  4. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    I suspect the main problem in the diaspora that people who go to milongas are not ready. Not only they are still not strong enough as dancers, they are not instructed in the right behavior, and often have a completely incorrect attitude. A lot of tango communities outside Buenos Aires are relatively new, so milolngas don't have enough "elders" to set example and guide newcomers. And even among people who teach there are not enough milongeros, so the right mind set (that is much more important than knowing steps to attend a milonga and safely and ecologically interact with potential and actual partners) is not taught.
    Angel HI likes this.
  5. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    In the community where I have danced for the most is quite big with 80-120 visitors on Wednesday nights and I cannot tell what kind of informal initiatives are going on during the ordinary practica. In autum there will be a project guided by an experienced follower who will organize a tutoring program for new leaders.

    By now I am more worried about our seasoned members. For several years the community has offered just beginner courses leaving the other members without options. Many have stopped to learn or do it privately at homes with youtube/internet material. We are planning some initiatives to activate that group too.
  6. Sunsetdancer

    Sunsetdancer Member

    In the light of everything said here, I think I'm just going learn to take every comment as a positive.... and see each tanda as a special adventure.
  7. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    I SO love this post.
    Sunsetdancer likes this.
  8. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    You are maybe putting a 5th grade exam on a 2nd grade dancer! . . . Not fair . . .

    I agree that it is a leader job to fix it but my skill was not there at the beginning.
    Mistakes could be seen as misinterpretations of lead/follower position or violations of fundamental tango principles.

    If the follower did misinterpret my lead during the first few years the dance was broken. We stopped and started again. It felt more like a mistake - mine or the followers.

    That time was followed by a period when I could cope better and better with these situations so the dance could continue without a break.

    Today it is true fun when an experienced follower surprices me by an unexpected responce!
    But if an unexperienced follower repeatedly violates the fundamental tango rules it is not fun. I can today keep her axis up and the steps flowing but it is not dance for me. I go for it if she is a fun person!

    When I apologize for something I mean that I did something wrong that I am guilty/responcible for something. It still happens that an experienced follower apologizes when something happens on a pista and I wonder why do followers feel guilty for the incidents?

    These apologies are coming even when I am the reason for this something. Why?
    Tango Distance likes this.
  9. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Sometimes people don't are focused on other things that you want to help.
    Or they are not just in the mood for advice although being at the practica.

    What if someone is trying to practice unexpected situations in dancing. :cool:

    There are so many reasons why it is rude.
  10. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    FWIW beginner ladies will often apologize to me when I made a mistake -- I try to be sure to say a quick "my mistake" when that happens. Even so the newbies are often mystified and ask me to explain what went wrong. Sometime even experts will say "Sorry I didn't follow that flying catenary volcadaleo spin leg wrap lead fast enough" and I'll say "No, my mistake, I got off the count because my brain got behind my feet!"

    So some of it could be newbie follows honestly fear it was their fault.

    Another thought is the leader is proactive and the follow is reactive, so it is harder for the follow to know what was intended and therefore easier to assume they are at fault.
    LadyLeader likes this.
  11. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Following does not mean guessing/knowing what was intended and executing it. It does not work that way.
    No need to apologize unless we inadvertenly hurt a partner.
    There are no mistakes in tango, only possibilities. :)
  12. Sunsetdancer

    Sunsetdancer Member

    Thanks. I appreciate this.
  13. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    As Al Pacino in the movie "Scent of a woman," "There are no mistakes in tango, Donna. Not like life. If we get tangled up, we just tango on."
  14. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Well, come think of it, in life we do just about the same. :)
    Sunsetdancer likes this.
  15. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    IMO, it's always viewed as rude, by people who don't want it. Thus, you are taking a risk by offering it, unless you know that it is welcome.
  16. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Who wants to take advice from a stranger? That's one reason I don't miss group classes. There's too much tango drama. "How long have your been taking lessons? Who was your teacher?" You can imagine the other questions.

    I listen to what the follower says and if there's an opening, I might make a suggestion. My usual suggestion is "B-R-E-A-T-H-E and just feel. There's NO reason to guess. Take your time."
    Purr likes this.
  17. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Yeah, if you absolutely must say something, d̶o̶n̶'̶t̶. keep it short, sweet, and neutral. :)
  18. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    Some of the themes presented here have stirred up lots of thoughts and forced me to think about the possibilities from different angles. It takes time and therefore my responses come slowly.

    I think my postings have been slightly misleading because I didn't wrote that those unhappy contacts happened many years ago - I have made progress after that!

    I stopped all comments for a quite long time and when I started again and wanted to say something positive I just made some sounds like Mmmmm! Oooooooh!
    They were delivered without any problem! :)

    In an earlier posting I mentioned that in . . .practica . . I can on some occasions show a movement in two variations. I don't talk about it so much but we dance those two variations and I ask if she can feel the difference. This happens after a follower comment: What was it? I didn't understood! This is just a short dance comment on tiny detail on her request.

    Today I am very reluctant to give any deeper advice on follower technique because I don't know so much about it. I just know how it feels but not how it is created!

    When I placed my incidents on a timeline I started to wonder if this unsolicited feedback thing could be a phenomenon at certain development stage.

    Kind of tango-teenager stage

    You have been dancing for some time and you start to have experience of different movements, situations and so on. You know your stuff and your selfconfidence is growing but you are totally unaware of the universe of other variations and areas in this dance.

    If You know just ONE variation for back ocho and you don't get it when you lead it - it is a mistake; but you know how it is done in a correct way and you tell the follower how to do it.

    That was also a period when I was curious about how my dance was experienced by followers and other leaders. I think this feedback was needed to build a more realistic view about my dancing. When someone said: Your dance is great! I wanted to know and said: Really? WHAT is great in my DANCE?

    I stopped even with those questions partly for social reasons (people couldn't answer/looked unhappy) partly because I got a clear enough idea how my dance was.

    With other words I wonder if this unsolicited feedback thing is a tango-teenager phenomenon or is it going on at advanced/experienced level too? What happens in your community?
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
  19. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Interesting question... I don't know. I have been dancing tango for 10 years now, and have not been on a receiving end of unsolicited advice for ... ages. It probably stopped happening to me since my second year or so.
    Nor do I volunteer advice myself. If someone asks for my help in a class or a practica, I try to keep it as short and as positive as possible.
    Milongas to me are not for that at all. I am not in an evaluating and formulating feedback mode there.
  20. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I SO want to do this move now!

    I can't wait to use the term Volcadaleo in conversation, instruction, wherever!
    Tango Distance likes this.

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