Tango Argentino > Watching Yourself Dance to Improve

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by TomTango, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    Her upper body is moving faster than her lower body. Hold her torso firmly against yours with your connecting arm and you'll notice a significant difference. She will, too.

    Just like you're adapting to her body, she's adapting to yours. Any habits will be reinforced by each other so that if anyone tries to improve his or her form/technique, it will be compromised by the other's faults. You'll wonder why it's not working and think it's your fault. But in reality, it takes two to tango. <--- This is a really apt aphorism in this context. ;)
  2. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    Then the embrace isn't working or there is something wrong with her way of connecting with you (or vice-versa) or walking. What's usually lacking is a forward intention on both your parts, i.e. the desire to put the centre of gravity over the ball of the foot rather than the heel before a step, and/or a high centre of gravity (see above: if you have two straight collected legs then the only way to step is to topple), but I see little evidence of the latter.

    If you both have that, then any forward motion of your part will not topple her over: her forward intention will offer some resistance, and your motion will be sent directly into the ground into a step, not topple her, at least if you don't hunch (see above).

    Or (more likely) you simply have an irrational fear.
  3. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    no straighten your knees generally. if you are not dancing apilado you need to sort out your posture generally and get the hunchedness out. It needs to feel expansive, outwards sideways in the shoulders. its about getting your body to work all together from the floor up to the places that you connect to your partner and feeling that you have a strong axis that is under your control.

    Don't push your chest forward like a sergeant major (which seems to be what is happening from your description above.)
  4. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    You adjust your walk first to the floor and then to the music. :cool:
    Try to walk as natural as you could, and as little effort.
    Dancing tango should be natural and thinkless. Some call it walking mediation in couple. ;)

    It seems that you are learning the "beauty" of close embrace .Everything counts. :joyful:
    Try to do everything witout physical contact, that in open embrace, and then in close.
    Every action must have reaction. And then you will learn how to communicate non verbally. ;)

    Look for dedication in walking at the beginning of the video.
  5. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I had a teacher tell me that, and then after watching me walk naturally, he said my walk wasn't natural.

    Mladenac likes this.
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

  7. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    This has been a really nice, constructively given discussion! (Really, it has...some of the stuff I've seen in the past on other tango lists were absolutely brutal.) And for someone who's only been dancing a year all I can say is man, keep it up! You're going to be fab!

    OP- so many people hit all the main points for you already that I didn't respond when I first saw this because I'd just be repeating their very astute observations and suggestions. But with the further information you gave on the feeling of falling in to steps and her "getting away" from you, I do have something to contribute.

    It is possible that she is not using her standing leg as well as she could, because that can make leaders feel like a follower is "getting away" from them because their leg and body are moving together. I don't know where she is in her training. It could also as some people say be something both of you are doing or a result of y'alls compensation for other things. However, I do NOT recommend with your current posture that you "hold the lady firmly" against your chest as a means to keep her "with" you. That will only give her a backache. If you are wanting to connect at the chest then from what I can see you'll both need a little more forward presence there.

    One other thing I see that is posture related is that your left hand is holding hers in such a way (pressing forward) as to allow/require her elbow to get behind her body. This can also end up being a strain on a follower's arm over the long run. (Or it could just be a pet peeve of mine...)
  8. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    Course not. He needs to be over the ball of his feet and so does she, and if they move close there will be no need to 'hold the lady firmly', they'll make contact where they should (if they don't hunch).

    In fact, in close embrace with a chest connection you could dance with your hands in your two pockets (and Tete often did just to illustrate the point).
    Mladenac likes this.
  9. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Hey! Welcome to DF. Very brave of you putting yourself out there like this. First off, you are doing amazing for only one year!

    A few tips:
    1. Noticed the left arm thing, like Bastet said. Only because my teacher has been beating on me for this recently. ;) One thing that helped me with keeping my left arm from pushing forward is to focus on keeping my armpit stable. As bizarre as this sounds, it will engage the muscles in the back and upper arm, and keep you from pushing too much.
    2. Lots of split weight work, like others have said. That's not forbidden... as long as you can consistently put your full weight on a foot, with good balance and control. Same thing with bringing the feet together. I would focus hard on bringing the feet evenly together and stepping with full weight from foot to foot, rocksteps the exception. Step, transfer weight, collect, step. This will get you the crispness you are looking for. When you get that down, you can go back to split-weight shenanigans. ;)
    3. As much as people have focused on the walk, remember our primary goal as leaders is to lead the steps. This comes from above the waist; a confident posture and a stable and directed core. The positioning of our feet should supplement this, not supplant it.
  10. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    It wasn't exactly clear to me from the suggestion if that was the case.

    Also, just moving closer until your chests are touching doesn't necessarily make for good close embrace and to me is beyond the scope of forum feedback and in to the realm of lessons. Dancing with the kind of connection people saw Tete using is definitely a learned skill that goes beyond mere touching of chests.
  11. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    I suggested holding the woman firmly to the chest from my own experience having danced with women with poor upper body tone and the resultant poor connection. Once I held the women firmly to my chest, the connection was there and dancing was significantly easier for both me and them. I've tried a number of different things to get that connection but that was the only thing that worked and worked so easily. I also got really genuine compliments from them as a result.
  12. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I can only give you a followers perspective on this idea of holding tightly as I interpret it. Unfortunately, we don't know what your posture is like compared to the video (it may be fantastic!) and my comments were based on the posture I see in the video. People vary, but generally I do not suggest what I would view as a forced embrace as a nice way to start out your close embrace dancing. I have had people with that kind of posture attempt to do close embrace by "holding tight" and I ended up at the chiropractor and massage therapist....FWIW I do dance *close* (very close) embrace and IMO arms are not for holding a partner to you. The are to embrace each other (comfort) and complete the circle (comfort). YMMV.

    OP- if you are still reading this and want to work on your posture, first, I'd suggest working with someone who does the kind of embrace you want to do or whose dancing you like. If you look at the 2 videos posted again compared to you guys y'all are attempting to do a straight on parallel embrace but with no chest contact. Probably if you want to do straight on, you both need to work on how to project and connect at the chest without hurting each other or yourselves. If, however, you like the armpit connection you are using have a look again at the second video of the younger couple. They are connected circularly at the armpit, whereas you guys are attempting flat on. Essentially, you are partially combining both ideas but not really getting a specific embrace that seems to be working very well.
    sixela likes this.
  13. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    I said firmly, not a bear hug. I never said a bear hug.
  14. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, you said firmly, and other people gave reasons why they didn't think it was a good idea (and none of them said anything about a bear hug). While some women do like a firm embrace, there are others who absolutely hate it.

    FWIW, my opinion for this couple (based on the video), is closer to bastets opinion than yours. I would recommend that they practice dancing chest to chest, but without the leader using his arms at all to hold her (have them behind his back). The follower needs to take some responsibility for maintaining the embrace, as well.
    Mladenac likes this.
  15. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Well, we need more info. If their chosen embrace does not involve weight-sharing/shared-axis/apilado whateva you want to call it, then perhaps they'd be better served practicing projecting from the center to the arms.
  16. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    That is one of the problems I have when trying to talk about peoples dancing - I am never sure how the people in question want to dance - if he feels she is falling away from him the next question is what she is feeling at the same moment: Does she feel that she does not have a reliable surface to work against, or does she feel that there is not enough support for her in the embrace, or does she feel perfectly content and happy, or any of the thousands of other things she might be feeling. The vocabulary in the video covers a wide range of approaches and energies, so that it is at least to me not clear what their chosen default technique is, and where they actively change the framework they are using to play a bit (and i probably would not be able to tell this from watching no matter what the vocabulary was - i am wrong in these things more often than not).

    It would probably help if the OP could tell us who they want to dance like in the end (hopefully somebody who travels at least a bit so that there is a good chance that somebody here has taken enough classes with them to have an idea what their underlying technical framework is like).

    I have come to somewhat dread being asked for advice, as i become more and more aware of how much my personal preferences have shaped my understanding of the dance, and how little of that is applicable to somebody else who is searching for their dance and whose dance dance might be quite different from mine - anything that might be good advice for me might be quite misleading for them, potentially steering them away from where they would be at home.
    Mladenac likes this.
  17. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    That's just it: I don't think they have a 'chosen embrace' yet, they've just got an embrace they ended up with at this point, not something they chose consciously (which is perfectly normal after a year).

    To me it looks like a close embrace that's not quite close yet, so the easiest way to make it into an embrace that works is to make it a close embrace (but bastet's alternative choice will also work). It will also work well with the style of dancing they seem to enjoy (unless, of course, the video is atypical or they dance very differently to more lyrical music).
  18. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    Y'all are both right! :)

    There's only so much one can do based on a video. I think quite a lot of very contructive progress was made and I think if anything, this topic should give them plenty of direction as for what to ask their instructors.

    I didn't say anything about the follower since mainly it was the leader of the pair asking about the dancing. But one thing I would say is (to me) it's harder (or takes longer) to assess what a folllower is doing because by the nature of following, we tend to reflect whatever is coming from the leader we dance with. To know more about her, I'd have to see her dance with more people to see what is influence of a certian leader versus what habits may just getting carried along.

    One thing I would say about the follower is I get a nice sense of calm from her, which to me is one of hallmarks of either a potentially really good or really good follower. She carries out the things he's leading without tension or panic, especially in her lower body and just as we've given plenty of kudos to him, I think she's got a lot going for her as well if she keeps up with tango!
  19. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member


    When I look back at my tango journey over the last two years, I really think this forum discussion was the seed of a lot of my improvement. I was so nervous to post a video of me dancing, but I received so much useful and kind criticism of my dance. Needed criticism! It accelerated my growth so much, and made tango that much less murky.

    Here's an update video to compare to the old one. It's interesting going over the comments to see what I've improved (that embrace gap...that horrible collection...that hunch...that "scooping under the follower" walk) and what new problems have cropped up. I'm by no means perfect, but I can finally post a video of myself without breaking into a cold sweat. :)

    Same venue, same partner, same orquestra (well...practically) two years later.

  20. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    It's brave to post videos of your own dancing for others to comment, so good for you.

    I didn't see/notice this thread the first time around, so I've just taken a look at the before (and after) and skimmed through the previous comments. I can see a much better embrace - the gap has gone - and I can see clear musicality. Your knees, though! If you land your weight onto such a flexed knee, you will either dip or bounce. I'm seeing too much vertical movement in the upper body, step by step, so that it looks as though you are landing your weight a little awkwardly or heavily. I can see a definite 'push off' into steps, but the trajectory seems to be on an upward incline, rather that across the floor, or even towards your partner's centre. The result is that you have to come down again, and it would be with a thud if the legs were straight. Instead, your legs are absorbing the impact with knee flexion, and the result can be a bit lumpy.

    Your preference is to walk with heel leads (me too). Have you tried walking with a similar body action but landing the ball of foot first. By articulating the ankle joint a little, and then using your feet differently, you can absorb the small height change generated in the walk, and settle your weight with more finesse. Landing the foot on the heel but with a straighter leg will have a similar effect, but not be as 'soft'. I'd say that your chosen style of movement puts the greatest energy into pushing off into the step, so for me, the landing wants to be smoother, the better to mark the push.

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