Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Peaches, Jul 24, 2009.
Not me at all...always seeking to learn, from everyone I meet.
pretty feet - dead legs
I'm not quite following how the reaching creates the feeling of dead legs to the leader or what he means by saying they feel "dead"... Unresponsive? Slow? Not under her? I watched him demonstrate reaching back and he definitely extended his leg straight, although its important to note that he did so with his heel on the floor.
I'm not disputing it, I just don't understand the mechanics of it or even what he's saying is the problem. I had several workshops with Omar over the years and I don't remember this "dead legs" thing coming up, but its possible that he just didn't get to that with us or that I didn't understand him (language barrier)
I did notice that few people he danced with when he came to town could dance fast enough to keep up with him, and that he sat more than he danced. They were simply not used to something that lively and energetic
I only got to dance with him once outside of a workshop (I was thrilled that he actually asked me to dance at a milonga!) I hope he didn't feel I had dead legs, because for me, it was a peak moment! I felt I kept up with him really well, but I'll also admit that we danced a tanda of tango, not milonga. I was really looking forward to his next visit because I felt certain he would dance with me again, but he died very shortly afterwards.
I'm not sure I understand--reaching back with a stretched leg and pointed toe is considered a "dead leg?"
I wonder, then, what creates a not dead leg? Or creates a not dead leg? Completely different and aside from the pretty feet bit...
I think perhaps the thing to pick up on here is the word "reach". If you stretch and reach your legs out behind you, as opposed to letting your leg go ahead of your motion, the reaching leg is quite a cumbersome thing.
Legs are heavy and muscular. A reaching leg has most of its muscles engaged, and actively pointing toes enhances this. You reach, you stick an inflexible counterweight out the back that is largely unable to react accurately to leads and movement adjustments. This can be good for big exciting moves, but in normal walky dance, too much muscular tension and reaching makes the leg feel like it's not part of the body I lead.
I bring this up because it sounds awfully similar to a common failing where I am: Women react to the start of the lead, but then decide how the step is going to finish immediately and reach for it with only the leg. This stops them taking different length steps and generally tends to take them off balance. See other threads on walking, regarding pushing off the standing leg.
If all you do is focus on your feet, the rest of the dance will suffer (haha, back on topic!). Pretty feet reflexively do the right thing (after hundreds of hours of practice) and the rest of the dance should not be sacrificed for the sake of it.
Thanks for responding. *scratching head* I'll have to think on this and process it...
this is becasue as soon as they reach they are putting weight on it.
"Reaching" or "extending" doesn't/shouldn't imply a change in torso (or axis) and that is where your problem lies.
Not so. The problem I see is one of reaching legs without weight. Their feet float around just above the ground, waiting for the transfer. They have completely anticipated step length, and anticipated the leader's leg movements. Once extended, the leg is an unleadable dead weight, only useful for boleos and posing, completing an anticipated step, or returning to a standing position.
If I had seen the dead leg demonstration above with my own eyes, I might know for sure if I am describing the same problem in different terms. Sadly I must guess.
if they've anticipated your step length, and their torso has remained with you and the axis hasn't changed, then it seems they have stiffened up the leg rather than letting it relax out to where it needs to go (short or long) and it doesn't seem to be to be useful for boleos (at least off the floor) because you need a relaxed free leg for those. Ideally even the ones on the floor have controllable sweep size (for lack of better terms) and you'd still need a relaxed leg, but I can see how you could sit and rotate a lady who has her leg stuck out there on the floor like a stiff stick. It's certainly doable...but it isn't good technique and if I was leading and that's what I got, I'd stop leading it.
I think my head is going to explode!
Can we break this down into simply trying to explain how the lady should move her leg back in a walk?
As far as I understand, what you are saying (when the woman's doing it the 'dead leg' way) she is tensing her leg muscles and 'making an effort' to move her leg, rather than it being, what, more of a relaxed motion of the hip?
It's difficult to know what we actually do ourselves, even when one starts to think about it. I'm starting to think about it now. I'd like to think I'm not 'reaching' but I'm not sure. 'Reaching' instinctively sounds wrong for tango but I can't really articulate why. I associate it with the way some of the stage ballroom performers really seem to tense their whole leg out and it looks quite stiff and very straight and tensed.
How do they float their foot - I don't get it, why do they hover and not put weight onto that foot?
This is another of the things that i can't articulate properly - i usually know when it is happening, and i can feel it as a leader, but i have utterly failed trying to communicate it reliable in practicas and classes - this is the metaphor/framework i am using (and that usually doesn't work, but some followers though it was helpful)
The movement of the leg in tango is like most things in tango an illusion - like the followers foot being moved in a barrida, like the follower being levered out of the way in a saccada. The leg does not move, it is moved by opening the body. The leg starts conceptually roughly where the ribs end, and it is moved by opening the hip while keeping the leg muscles relaxed and the pelvis engaged and stretching/engaging/opening the side of the torso. This completely eliminates reaction time and for me as a leader it makes the followers leg as intuitive and reactive and present as my own (it is not leader moves body, follwer notices and extends the appropriate leg to step, but leader moves body and the follower amplifies the movement internally in her body, and the leg like a pendulum reacts to the change in the geometry of the body) (this is btw why i really, really dislike the current fashion of followers posing with an extended leg in ganchos and at the high point of boleos and so on (like a ballet attitude) - i think it breaks the internal movement logic of tango and makes the connection much much weaker - as a leader i can no longer feel her legs because the muscles used to control the movement are not part of what i can experience through the embrace - it breaks the contract that movement is a consequence of structure and exchange of energy, and makes the lead become a signal that can be interpreted correctly or incorrectly)
Edit: i think this is independent of the weightshift/hovering - it only appears to be related because at the weigthshift a follower has to "fix" her geometry to have her body balanced over the leg, and at that moment it automatically becomes alive for the leader again - i know where it is because i know where her body is, and her body is balanced over the foot ( i like the idea of alive/dead - i usually think of it more in terms of submarine war movies - as a leader i am constantly looking for the pings that tell us where the followers feet are, and the body transmits these pings - that is the reason why saccadas are cool - they are easy to fake by knowing a reliable sequence to get the geometry right, but at their core they say "look at me, i know exactly where her feet are!"
Then I think what you are really talking about is related more to timing and weight transfer than the reach itself.
Maybe I'm wrong (I'll have to ask some leaders I dance with if they've had a problem with my reach) but I believe a follower using her torso and hips properly can reach her leg back without the leader even knowing she moved it as long as she hasn't changed her posture, weight, or connection to do so.
The whole theory behind embellishing is that the follower should be able to move her free leg without disrupting the lead or the leader even being aware of what she is doing with her free leg when he can't see it
However, the pointed toe thing creates a whole set of problems of its own as I think I already mentioned in this thread (have to go back and look now)
Ooops... you beat me to it.. should have read ahead before posting.
But that's wrong too. The followers foot shouldn't be off the floor.
Can you give me an example when you would do that? The way i understand it this (moving legs without letting it be visible in the connection) is almost exclusivly a leaders trick - for a follower it is part of doing embellishments, but plain reaching back sounds to me like a recipe for being overrun by a leader who starts a fast tight move based on the assumption that the feet are still collected?
Blech! I hate this too. The whole point of boleos and ganchos is a natural reaction to torque, interrupted momentum, or whatever. If you're going to hold it in the air, at what point would one engage the muscles to do that? How can this sudden muscle tension NOT create other problems? Obviously that muscle rigidity can't be there too SOON. The only way it can work is if its choreographed so that the boleo or gancho is anticipated and not led in the first place, I would think.
We can try, but as I recall, we've been down this road before without reaching (giggle) a consensus.
They should do neither... the foot should have contact with the floor without being weighted.
Well you should know where her feet are.. after all, YOU put them there
Well, I wouldn't be reaching (lets call it extending since "reaching" seems to carrying a negative connotation in this thread) I wouldn't be extending if the leader hasn't yet initiated the movement to lead the next step. I extend as a reaction to (and in the direction of) a lead I get from him. In this case, he shouldn't expect me to still be collected.
If he does have me "static" (ie: I've not gotten a lead to do anything post my collection from the previous step) anything I do with my free leg is an embellishment and as such, I better be prepared to get out of it PDQ when he leads something. If I can't respond that quickly, I shouldn't be doing embellishments.
However, I wouldn't do an extension behind me as an embellishment because I can't see back there. (and I certainly wouldn't FULLY extend behind me!) For all I know, the reason he hasn't led the next step is because there's no room for me to go there.
Does that answer your question, or not quite?
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