Tango Argentino > Watching Yourself Dance to Improve

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

  1. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    No need to sugar coat it guys; tell me how you really feel :p

    You know how teachers say dancing in close embrace amplifies any problems you have in open, such as balance? Performing has the same amplification affect for some things. For me, like I said, it's like dancing with 50% of your brain. Improvisation is reduced, and it's much harder to get into the feeling of the music with so many people watching. I do think my previous videos were better in that regard, since I was just dancing in front of a small group of friends. Also, dancing in front of a crowd is nerve wracking and makes you tense, so that gets amplified in my partner. The only solution is to get more experience performing.

    The floor was pretty fast. We had a good chuckle at that slip @ 0:14 :) Thankfully, it didn't happen again. Also, it should be noted that this was a salsa/ballroom event, where cheering is very much encouraged. In fact, we were being really bold by dancing a classic tango. All of the other performances were modern songs. I just wanted to try to convey what tango was about to people who had mostly never danced it before, whose only exposure is ballroom tango/movies.

    Boise's my home tango scene. Secret's out!
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I chalked it up to the 'let your booty stick out' trend that seems popular in Europe.
  3. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Wow... You guys are HARSH! Remind me to NEVER post a video of myself here.

    I object to people posting criticism of Tom's partner. Unless she is on DF and wanting comments, I think it's unnecessary to post about her, especially suggestions to ditch her. Seriously? I can't imagine being her and reading this stuff. No wonder so few people want to stick with tango long enough to get past the advanced beginner/ intermediate stage. They're AMATEURS taking a huge risk. Cut them some slack or at least offer useful feedback; don't just slam him or especially her. She's not the one who posted a video of herself.

    Tom, it takes guts to perform and then post a video to an international forum of skilled (and opinionated) tango dancers for feedback. I commend you.

    If your partner wants feedback, I'd be happy to provide something useful (in a PM)

    I'll post my comments about your side of it in another post.
    Angel HI, TomTango and raindance like this.
  4. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Things I noticed to consider:

    1) At some points, your left elbow rises up and out in places where you don't need to do that to indicate a lead. This may result in lifting your partner's arm and shoulder. That can make it harder for her to maintain her axis, especially in rotating moves. It also can affect how (where) she connects to you. For instance, around 2:35, your raised elbow allowed her not only to drift far into a pronounced offset, but she is also tipping over trying to step back on her right.

    There are a number of other times that I see your left arm high enough in her armpit that it lifts her shoulder.

    2) In the parada/pasada bits, she does quite a bit of embellishing, but it also looks somewhat like your position is blocking her from stepping over. While you may be relaxed enough for her to do the pasada, typically the leader gives a little more space there so the follower doesn't feel she needs to push into him to do it. Perhaps the intention is that you are waiting for her to finish her taps and such, but it looks like she is trying to fill time waiting for you to move out of her way more by opening up a little. Sometimes your whole chest is still blocking her, sometimes it looks more like your chest has opened but your arm and hand are still firmly held against her line of travel to step over.

    There are 2 schools of thought for the parada/pasada combination: one is "the leader leads the pasada" and the other is "the leader opens the space and the follower goes when she wants". If you are in the "leader determines when" camp, you are holding her there too long, I think. If you are in the "follower goes when she's ready", then I think you are making it hard for her.

    3) When you walk outside on her left, you get quite a bit of upper body rotation, but when you are doing moves that would be facilitated by upper body rotation the other way, you tend to either be straight or have your left shoulder pulling back a little even as you are trying to rotate your chest to your right. (I'll have to watch again to find a time stamp to illustrate what I mean). This creates both a confusing lead and an awkward position for the follower.

    4) The walking around 2:15 looks ill-timed with the music. I think one of the reasons (aside from just being off the beat sometimes) is that you are often using your heel strike to mark the beat rather than moving your body to the beat. If I were teaching you, I'd be trying to get you further into the weight transfer on the beat. Some people like having the beat occur exactly mid-stride. It's not my preference, but in this walk sequence you aren't even mid-stride; you are still primarily on your standing leg with little weight on your reaching leg.

    I'd prefer (as an observer, a teacher, and as a follower) if your body had arrived over your new leg on the beat. Otherwise I feel like I am behind the music with my own step. Even if you choose to mark the beat midstride, if you spend some time practicing arriving fully onto the new leg, with your body clearly over it and the weight transfer complete on the beat, it will add life and energy to even the slower walking and steps. In fact, adding life to slower, smoother steps/walking is vital because otherwise it looks lethargic (and feels lethargic to the follower)

    4) On the rotating sequence around 2:30, you tilt significantly to your left. My guess is that if I looked for it, I'd find this to be true other times as well.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
    RiseNFall likes this.
  5. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    Zoopsia, thank you for the defense of my partner. Y'all suggesting I just ditch a dance partner are a cold-hearted bunch.

    You touched on a lot of things I've been working on since my last performance, which I didn't post: consistent left arm positioning, maintaining a straight axis in turns, and having a smooth walk. They're noticeably better this video, but not quite satisfactory yet. You also didn't mention one of my primary issues I had with the performance: my sacadas are causing my turns to be choppy.

    Actually, in regards to the walk, that part around 2:15 was what we addressed first in our practice. Being slightly off beat was a side effect of not having a soft arriving knee, which was a side effect of trying to be tall while walking. Often times one can go overboard trying to fix one issue and create another. Luckily, I can't remember the last time we improved an issue so fast.

    The only part I'm puzzled by is the perceived parada/pasada issue. I'm of a 3rd camp of thought: we decide when to end the parada together. I might suggest an end, but it's never so strong that it isn't easily resisted. I'm never blocking you preventing you from stepping over if you have a certain timing in mind. I also like to do them opening up the embrace as little as possible. My chest is in front of hers but moves with her. I'm always open to the possibility that I can improve it, but I've done these in private lessons with instructors and they've never mentioned them, and it never feels like a follow pushes me out of the way to get around.
  6. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    @TomTango I haven't noticed that someone recommended to ditch the partner.
    Since she is so stubborn and crazy to stick with you and do all that performance so you can improve I think she is a keeper. ;)

    Also I know how difficult is for followers to perfect technique without a proper teacher.
    Even those who have one, take years to learn details and to be adaptive to the partner and the floor.

    I don't remember if I asked you before what her point in recording and posting the videos?
    And also it's important how much she is ambitious comparing to you.
  7. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    I don't think that booty out is so important here. And when women have high heels booty stick out a bit naturally. ;)
  8. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    mistake.. can't exit window for some reason. Ignore me...
  9. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Tom Tango, I would like to dance with you very much! :)
    The only criticism I have, more of a suggestion, actually -- pick up a song that touches you emotionally a lot; really be psyched about the musical piece you are performing to, and don't hide it from anyone --- from your partner or the audience. I know you are nervous performing, and your partner is nervous, and it sounds hard to do what I just said, but it is the only way. Let it all out, dance from your heart.
    Zoopsia59 and RiseNFall like this.
  10. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    That's a good question. It started out purely as a way to get feedback on my dancing (years ago). Now it's turned more into a blog thread, similar to TangoDistance's "Not Touchy Feely" thread. My goal is not so much as to get a critique on how good/bad a particular video is (I'm not posting them thinking I'm dancing perfectly), but more to gather data on improvements over last video. Maybe even inspire those working on their own dance, showing them lots of improvement can be had over time.

    That's my goal! To dance in front of people the same way I dance socially, when I'm unashamedly passionate :). Gricel is one of my favorite tango songs, I feel very deeply for it. You know when the DJ drops a song and you just have to dance, 'cause that's your jam? Gricel is that song for me.
  11. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Since this is a partner dance I cannot exclude her from a performance.
    And you didn't answer what she thinks about videos being posted in a thread.

    What about her? Is Gricel her favourite song?
    When performing it is really important that a couple feels the song not only dancer.
  12. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Tom Tango, don't get me wrong, it does show that you like the song a lot. It is just, at times when we are trying to hide our nervousness, it may work, but some other emotions get hidden as well. I believe, as performers, we need to aim to channel all the emotions into dancing rather than suppressing them... easier said than done, surely. :) Good luck!
  13. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Here it is... cold-hearted reply.
    Completely unnecessary
  14. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    THIS deserves reposting!!! I cannot believe what happened on this thread. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

    Tom, ignore these posts with the exceptions of dChester and Zoops (and, perhaps, Steve). Some suggestions are worthwhile, but this is supposed to be a 'helping' / 'encouraging' / 'uplifting' / and, yes, 'teaching' forum, but not a "You should... you need to... because if you don't, you will forever stink" forum from everyone who thinks that their idea of what's good is great. Several things in the vid could have been danced differently, and/or perhaps even better, however, many things were great.... such as 'Your Getting Out There and Doing It'. From, as you put it, someone who does this all the time, I thought you did fine. Have you been better... perhaps. Will you be better... definitely. These are 2 things are said/heard from every professional performer after every performance.

    I, like many here, can probably help. Like Zoops, should you desire, PM me, and I will be glad to offer what I may. I will not post it here unless you wish to share it. If not, I will not be offended. Keep up the good work.

    PS. Your 'musicality' was fine.
    TomTango likes this.
  15. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    And that's putting it mildly.
    TomTango, what do you think the reason is? Did you train on your own? Or a series of privates that you attended alone?
    Mladenac likes this.
  16. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    After 5 years of dancing I expect more.
    Waiting for segments of a song is not musicality for 5 year tango dancer.
    It shows that the person is struggling with a song.

    I used his lingo
  17. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    I would add that you dance at salsa event do you think that choosing a song of opposite energy would help you.
    I find the way they were supporting you and cheering were counter productive.
    Maybe some earlier Troilo would help, or D'Arienzo or Biagi.
  18. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Overdramatizing at its finest.

    He asked for a feedback we gave them. And it was done in a good spirit.
    Feedback was generally formulated except to ditch the partner.
    It was pointed what was wrong and how to improve.

    People come from different cultures and have a different way of giving feedback.

    I don't think people who have dancing for 5 years need sugar coated feedback, beginners surely.
    Angel HI likes this.
  19. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    OK, that changes a few things. To me, the social dance and a performance are somewhat different breeds.

    The way I've mostly looked at it (not that my opinion is the only or correct way), is that the social dance is mostly about the couple (including how the dance feels, and how much you both enjoy the experience). The performance is more about entertaining, and that basically comes down to how the dance looks. I've even heard a great performer once say that there's some acting involved in performing.

    Sometimes a comfortable embrace is not necessarily the best looking one, although when you can make changes that both feel better as well as look better, you know you're on the right track. Of course, then there's always that annoying problem of different people liking difference looks (or styles).

    One last thought, I still remember what a teacher told me long ago, "No matter how good you get, there will always be someone who won't like you".
  20. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    The answer is in the riddle... the reply. 'You' expect more. Waiting for segments shows that the person is struggling with a song... to 'you'.
    Musicality is built on a very, very, very few basic concepts. After that, it is purely, entirely, completely individually felt, created, interpreted. No one's musicality is wrong because musicality by definition is how one feels and interprets the music. We may certainly say that someone is walking incorrectly, but after applying the basic concepts of standing up and putting one foot afront of the other, why would we chastise the person who wears their shoes out on the outsides of the heels rather than the insides, or swings the legs more, or falls onto the foot with more weight, or takes small/large steps. These are all individual interpretations of the basic concept. Such it is with musicality. Perhaps what is struggling with a song to you is a feeling pregnant pause to someone else. Waiting for segments might mean that a particular dancer enjoys accenting the beats/moments that he/she is waiting for. You nor I nor anyone can say, outside of the very, very, very few basic concepts that someone's musicality is wrong. We can only say that it is different than ______ would have done it.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.

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