Tango Argentino > Torso angle

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Tango Distance, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. rain_dog

    rain_dog Active Member

    'Pulling the hips back' and being on the balls of your feet have nothing to do with each other. I can 'pull my hips back' and be either on my heels or on the balls of my feet, and conversely I can push my hips forward and be on the balls of my feet.

    I prefer to stand straight and plank myself foward onto the balls of my feet. This gives room for figures, doesn't strain my lower back, and avoids the 'hunched over' look you see with people who 'pull the hips back'. But like everything else in tango, opinions vary...
  2. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    The videos (thanks TomTango!), the plumb bob, and the suggestions all validate that I have been leaning back too far. Here are some additional random thoughts:
    • If I lean back as far as I can vs. as far forward far as I can, it seems the 1/2 way point would be a good compromise. It is certainly further forward than I am now.
    • My Blues dance instructor said to jump in the air, and how you land is about the right posture for Blues -- that's food for thought for part of setting up a good posture for Tango, it does seem to get you forward on your feet a bit
    • As I'm fairly tall I do have to watch I don't bend over the follower -- it seems bending at the hips might make this worse? Maybe hip bending is better for shorter men and "planking" better for taller men?
    Thanks for all the suggestions! I should take TT's advice and video myself.
    What's the phrase? Something like "Beginners want to take intermediate classes, intermediates want to take expert classes, and experts want to take beginner classes" or something like that. I short circuited that triangle by going straight from beginner back to beginner! Seeing my interest in getting the basics perfect my female instructor said I should consider learning to follow to really understand things. I have mixed feeling on that, on one hand it seems it would help to really understand things but on the other hand it seems it would slow my learning to lead better -- or would it speed it up?
  3. rain_dog

    rain_dog Active Member

    I think it would probably speed it up. You can't really lead anything without understanding what the follower is doing, and seeing things from the other side of the embrace can be very instructive.

    Plus, you'll look great in a sparkly pair of Comme Il Fauts...
    twnkltoz likes this.
  4. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    It won't help you very much. If you can lead well, it's easy to follow. The only aspect that may be difficult is overcoming the eagerness to anticipate. Notice how the mens' following technique is (arguably) superior to the ladies' leading technique:

    The only difference between a beginner dancer and an advance dancer is not the steps or patterns he can do, it's the precision in the way he moves. We can argue all day, but here is the way two undeniably "advance" dancers taught it:

    Bonus tip: find mental cues that work for you. When someone says "bring your chest forward," it's not really helpful. However, when you hear "lift your tits," there is a psychological effect that makes you start the movement from your core.
  5. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Running on the spot also gets your weight into a natural position. Alex Krebs (who is tall) always says dance your own height: not your partners - so if you are tall, never stoop. If you stand with good erect posture, your chest projects naturally, and there's no need to do anything else to make upper chest contact with most partners.
  6. Evidently, it is perfectly possible to have the chest fully in contact with the partner's chest, and yet still be leaning back too far. I am told all the time that I am doing this. But I don't know how to lean further forward, as where exactly would my chest go, given that it's already pressed up against the partner's one?
  7. Juniper Ivy

    Juniper Ivy Member

    That is similar to how I felt for a long time. I could see other couples dancing in the tango embrace where they leaned into each other but I just couldn't make it happen for myself. I started out dancing ballroom where in closed position you are more like flanking your partner. Contacting with the side/front of your mid-lower torso.

    Now I think of AT close embrace as literally an embrace. Where you are kind of like clutching your partner and holding them close to your heart. It does involve a certain almost emotional intimacy.

    And since I am a follow this may not apply to leads at all. But it is kind of like my leg is counterbalancing the forward lean of my torso. Like if I am stepping backwards, I am reaching out behind me with my foot and waiting for the moment when I transfer my weight to my other foot. Allowing my partner to guide my step.

    And the energy of the lead comes from my partner through my chest and down my leg. So I am pressed against him in order to feel the lead. It feels like a solid connection in the upper torso. Almost like a fusion.

    All Sales, when you are leading what part of your body are you using? Arms? Torso?
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016
  8. My arms are in the "default" position of left hand raised to the side clutching the woman's hand, and right arm slipped around her waist.

    As for my torso it is pressed up against the woman's one, with the connection point running approximately from the point of the breastbone up through the upper chest.

    In spite of this, teachers frequently say I am "back on my heels" (in contrast to everyday life without a partner connected to me, where I am correctly on the ball of my foot).

    The problem is, with a partner right in front of me pressed up so close, it's difficult to come any further forward.
  9. Xenophon

    Xenophon Member

    In my opinion. you really shouldn't have your right arm around the woman's waist. That's too low, and it will restrict her ability to dissociate (i.e. twist her body between the shoulders and the hips for ochos, giros, etc). Better to have it approximately along where her bra line is.

    As far as not being able to come further forward goes, the answer is easy. Keep your chest where it is, but move your feet a little further back. At first, you'll need to correct your posture often during the dance, but slowly it will become embedded in the muscle memory.

    Juniper Ivy likes this.
  10. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Assuming actual contact in the upper torsos, the issue is really the pitch of the body from the feet on the floor. So you move your feet back: as you say, you can't bring your body further forward.
  11. Oh yes, UK and Xenophon, thank you, I certainly stop and shuffle my feet backward periodically to fix the angle when I am told it is wrong.

    Only problem is, as soon as I then start stepping, assuming I am moving with the line of dance, the feet come forward again, and soon enough I am told I have a backward lean. To walk forward necessarily involves moving the feet forward! All the while, the woman's chest remains pressed firmly against mine so again there is nothing for it but to stop once more and shuffle the feet backward.

    Not a very efficient way of moving, which is why I generally end up just dancing with the alleged backward lean and never minding about it. But teachers don't like it.

    Of course, if the woman's chest didn't have to be pressed so close up against my own, I could easily fix it on the move by simply leaning more forward. But rules are rules I guess.
  12. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

  13. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    There are a lot of preferences masquerading as rules. If your way works for you (and your partners), I'd consider finding something else to improve.
  14. D,

    Great advice. If the "chests-pressed-together" thing is decorative and optional, that's a big relief... it's hard to distinguish preferences/rules when you're less experienced.

    It certainly looks cute and intimate to onlookers, but for the people actually having to do it, I find it's a feeling of "oh boy, she's right up against me and I can hardly move without bumping into her"!

    "Close embrace" is an interesting term: the passionate, full-body contact works beautifully for lovers in a romantic moment, but when it comes to a physical activity that requires freedom of movement, it's hard to actually get anything done when there's someone occupying the space that you need to move. An inch or two of daylight between our torsos would make a world of difference to me.

    It's the forward progression of the line of dance that makes it so difficult. Sideways ochos and the like are probably fine; but if you need to step in the direction you're facing, and there's someone right in your way, it's a bit difficult to say the least. You can of course move your feet forward (what I usually end up doing) but that results in a backward lean as correctly pointed out earlier (fine I guess if the forward lean is just a "preference" too). The part of the body from the waist up, that doesn't have any gaps in it as there are between the legs, simply has nowhere to go if there's a girl right in your face.

    I never dance so-called "open embrace" because my partner doesn't use it. I've tried it occasionally in group classes but usually leave utterly confused as it feels so different to what I'm used to. However, within the "close embrace", a little separation at the upper-body end would leave me feeling so much less crowded. That way I would know that I could progress a little with the line of dance when floorcraft so requires, without slamming right into the lady or at least giving her a chance to back off a bit before that happens.

  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "Close embrace" of the weight sharing kind is totally about two people moving as one.
    It is not about moving independently.

    If you are truly right up against her, you can't bump her; but the two of you can move simultaneously.

    How does that old saw go? One body four legs?

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who, after experiencing this style and the way it is supposed to work, realized that I had new skills to learn, and started taking beginner level classes after having had 1 year of classes in the more open style.

    Keep in mind too, the caveat that "close embrace" sometimes means exactly what you are describing. Someone "close" but not "close enough" (no weight sharing) to enable that other set of skills. When I find myself in that situation, I look for an excuse to switch to open, or resign myself to a very limited dance (or three or four!).
    Juniper Ivy likes this.
  16. rain_dog

    rain_dog Active Member

    Your problem is that you don't know how to lead, what it entails, and why you even need to do it at all.

    Once you get your head around this, these other problems won't be problems anymore.
    UKDancer likes this.
  17. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I don't know that I'd call close embrace decorative, as much as I'd call it a style preference. Not everyone likes/does close embrace. I love it, but I know it's not the only way that tango can be done, (as I don't always dance that way, but I usually do). One thing I would disagree with, is that it's mostly for lovers.

    If it's something that does interest you, possibly different teachers might be more effective. One drill I would recommend (again, only if close embrace really does interest you), is to put your arms down straight (or even hands behind your back), and than have the woman put her chest (and her forearms) on your chest. Then try walking. Once you can do that, try some ochos, and molinetes (giros, turns). For this drill, the follower needs to know that she is responsible for maintaining the embrace as it was when you started, (no opening up, thus no bumping). The leader needs to understand that he needs to lead in a way that allows her to maintain the embrace.

    One thing I will add is that some people will use close embrace only for walking, and then open up when doing figures. For me, with someone that has a really good embrace, I'll try to stay close for the entire song.

    The bottom line though, is that if you have a way that works for you, and your partners, you're doing fine, (as long as you're also not causing problems for other dancers (i.e. floorcraft issues)). One of the goals is for you and your partners to enjoy the dance. If you're accomplishing that, don't worry too much. It's always good to improve, though.

    (It's just that different people will have different ideas for what improvement actually means.)

  18. I have heard about that, yes. Luckily I was never really taught that way... sometimes my teachers will break out of the embrace into a "practice hold" (hands on each other's shoulders, almost perfectly symmetrical) if they want to demonstrate new techniques that I haven't tried yet, just because when in the full embrace I can't see a thing and have no idea when it's time to move. But I never really did the "open embrace" thing that is a sort of bastardization between the practice hold and full embrace, of the sort that I sometimes see stragglers demonstrating at milongas as the night wears on and space opens up on the dance floor when most people have gone home. Sounds like it's a good thing I didn't. I've noticed people in group classes attempting it though.

    I have indeed done that drill many times in individual lessons, and fully expect that I shall do it many times more! (Arms down straight version, not behind the back.) In many ways it's easier as your arms aren't locked up in that unnatural embrace position.

    One thing I have trouble with though is that when it comes to doing the actual embrace, the woman is standing so close that her chest actually touches my chest... almost as if she were still doing the drill you mentioned. I have no idea why they do that. I guess maybe it feels good, but when I'm in the middle of a physical activity and need to get stuff done, it's a bit impractical to say the least. Maybe I'm unimaginative, but I can only find two ways of backing off a bit:

    (1) Step backwards, i.e. move against the line of dance
    (2) Pull away the upper body and end up leaning back

    Clearly, (1) is a no-no from the point of view of social courtesy and common sense. The trouble with (2) is that the more I lean away, the more the woman seems to lean in toward me, defeating the purpose of what I am doing and exacerbating the situation. However, since it is the only possibility, (2) is almost always what happens and it goes into an adverse feedback loop until I'm leaning so far back that the teacher starts saying my posture is off.

    Any suggestions very much welcomed.
  19. Juniper Ivy

    Juniper Ivy Member

    Hmm.. Are you saying you can't do anything in close embrace or are you just wanting to break apart occasionally for certain moves?

    I agree with what dchester said here
    You can do a lot in close embrace.

    I also like what Steve Pastor said here:
    So even though she is pressed against you, you can still move "into her space" and she should follow and move out of the way. When you want to step forward make sure she steps backwards first. So you can still have a lot of movement it is just that the two of you are moving together and this is the unique beauty of tango.

    So I think you shouldn't have to back up to get away from the lady, you should be able to move into her and she will react by moving out of your way.

    But I also think there is nothing wrong with having an inch or two of space between you if you are more comfortable this way. Maybe you are not ready for close embrace at this time. I think if you have a strong frame in your arms you should be able to hold the woman at a distance from you.
  20. Juniper Ivy

    Juniper Ivy Member


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