Tango Argentino > Why is Tango danced like Viennese Waltz?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by tangomaniac, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I'm pretty sure there won't be.

  2. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    That may be the ONLY thing there is universal agreement.
  3. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Don´t you know how cumbersome it is to talk to guys like me in german?
  4. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    But what happens if you don't want to look elegant? I want to look grounded - we joke here about some tango being like moving fridges, but that is to some extent exactly what i want - i don't want a sportscar, i want an 18 wheeler, all power and chrome and flames painted on the side :)

    I try to avoid these discussions about what are opinions/what are facts as much as possible, because over time i have come to the conclusions that there is no single AT - there are half a dozen different AT's with vastly different underlying mechanical principles, and everybody moves through a more or less wide range of this spectrum - and anytime I say "this is the correct way of doing this" it should really be "If your dance is mostly based around X, then this will work based on that technical framework, if you dance something else this might not work for you".

    Similarly Opendoors question if one should think of tango as a latin or european dance is i think impossible to answer - it is somewhere inbetween, and depending on the how the person dancing it expresses it is on different points of the scale. My favourite example for this is simply walking - the two end points of the scale are suspiciously similar to graham/modern dance technique (stabilize the core, spiral the thighs) and cuban motion (opening and closing the pelvis, "legs start at the lower edge of the ribcage and the hips are a hinge for the step just like the knee"). Everybody seems to agree that we want to keep the torso quiet (though that seems to be changing somewhat - i feel like i am seeing a lot of shoulder/upper body things cropping up lately), but the ways to achieve this are very divergent, and have consequences for everything we do afterwards - the ocho cortado for example is a whole set of vastly different figures based on how the dancers power and lead/follow this sequence of movements. And some variations are going to be simply impossible for any given couple because they are outside the space that their technique offers them.
    So i disagree that techniques are tools to achive effects - the effects are a consequence of the technique. And it is one of the things that i really dislike about how "tricks" are taught and approached in tango - usually these tricks show off the mastery of a specific technical point, a boleo shows off a leaders timing, and understanding of the axis, the quality of the connection, just like an embellishment is the follower showing off their timing, and understanding of the geometry of the couple, and what options the leader has to move from there, and the followers confidence that she will get there in time. Basically every trick makes sense as demonstrating the mastery of a specific concept of a specific style, but they are often danced by people using different underlying techinque, where they make little sense.

    BTW, my philosophy is basically exactly the opposite of Luis ;) - i think that basic movement is defined to an inch by the follower - the leader navigates and indicates where there is space for the couple to move into, and the follower moves the couple into these openings - all technique is about the leader not being in the followers way.
    bordertangoman likes this.
  5. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I want both stability and elegance.



    No argument here.

    To me, saying "techniques are tools to achieve effects", isn't that different from saying "the effects are a consequence of the technique".
    bordertangoman and opendoor like this.
  6. Lui

    Lui Active Member


    Not too strangely I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said - in a sense even with the last paragraph. In my philosophy the whole lead, and thus the dance, from a leaders point of view, is about the follower. She has to be entertained, surprised and sensible moved to the music. Therefore the leader has to think and navigate completely in the followers steps. As long as he doesn’t stumble, his own steps are only secondary. Forgive me for twisting your idea around!:p
    bordertangoman likes this.
  7. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Since I don't know how to speak German, I guess you have a point.

  8. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think it is very different, mainly because i have the impression that there is a lot of reverse engineering going on in tango where people try to achive a specific effect often without using the technique that generated the effect "originally" - i.e. the gancho as "leader messing with the followers step/geometry and her just flowing with it unfazedly" is a very different technique than "leader offering a "scripted" opportunity for the follower to do an embellishment by doing a kick" but it is (arguably) the same effect. One of the reasons that it is sometimes more difficult/less rewarding to dance with a intermediate dancer than a beginner is that the intermediate dancer has a specific effect in mind, which sometimes will make it more difficult to actually achieve this effect that it is for a relaxed beginner. And sometimes you meet (even very) advanced dancers whose whole dance feels "effect based", and these are for me the most frustrating experiences. saccadas for example flow naturally from (a specific subset of) technique, but studying and perfecting saccadas does not neccesarily lead to the integration of that technique into the rest of ones dance.

    Re: Lui: I know - i am aware that i was twisting your idea, too ;)

    Re: German: Can't be that bad - they have tangos...
    opendoor likes this.
  9. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    I would first question whether there _is_ a problem (or at least a problem the leader is responsible for fixing). If the follower takes a step and it's a natural response to the lead and the leader and follower then move in such a way that the embrace and balance of both partners isn't compromised, then there is no "problem". Just to give an example, if a follower insists on doing an ocho milonguero when I was expecting a dissociated and ample one, it's her call. The same holds for step length: unless we both agree a step is going to be long, then it's not going to be.

    If the follower moves in an ungainly way as a result, then it really is _her_ problem, because she's responsible for making her steps comfortable to her (and staying with me, if I'm actually standing on two feet and don't have a free foot to move myself in accordance with how she interprets the movement).

    The only alternative is for the leader to _force_ the follower to move in another way, and while he can certainly give impulses that make it _easier_ for the follower to move in a certain way (i.e. to communicate a desire for her to take a larger step, he can't force her if she doesn't seem to agree.

    The only instance in which I'd apply (a lot of) force are when we're _learning_ a certain step (not pattern, but movement from A to B that is unfamiliar), to make her understand what I _expect_ the step to be. But we haven't both grokked it as long as any real force is necessary.

    But from your response to Gssh, I think we're all in violent agreement.
  10. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    " i.e. the gancho as "leader messing with the followers step/geometry and her just flowing with it unfazedly" is a very different technique than "leader offering a "scripted" opportunity for the follower to do an embellishment by doing a kick" but it is (arguably) the same effect."

    I don't really think so - it's easy too see the difference, really, and I tend to call the former enganches (although "leg wrap" is really even more descriptive) and the latter ganchos.
  11. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think there is somewhat of a sliding scale there, but i strongly feel that ganchos, boleos, and enganches are all part of a broad family that is mostly about the followers free leg and relaxation, and the leaders timing and understanding of geometry , and differ mainly in the direction of the initial impulse/movement, and what breaks it - though of course a lot of it depends on how and how much a follower embellishes things.

    Let me try this again: There is a difference in technique between "the "kick" part of a gancho is a consequence of geometry and momentum, and can happen without any effort on the followers part (though usually the follower will add some to make it look prettier and get a bit of extra snap" and "the "kick" part of a gancho is a intentional action of the follower" - another idea would be what the failure mode of this would be if the leader yielded - a momentum based move would change into a followers saccada , while a embellishment-like one would lead to the follower kicking into empty space (i think mixing up a series of followers saccadas and ganchos is a great exercise for thinking about the lead and follow of this)

    I agree that it is quite easy to distinguish between them, but what i am trying to think about is the question that one of the most interesting aspects of tango is that it uses a whole range of different technical frameworks, but some moves (like e.g. the gancho) are danced in all/most of them. So what technical framework started it? What frameworks do a more or less creaky adaptation of it? In which frameworks does it not seem to work at all, and people switch into different frameworks (often without acknowledging it) just for that move (because it it impossible in their native framework? because it is much more difficult in their native framework?

    I personally believe that the momentum based gancho is the "original one" - just because it is such a cool and snappy feeling thing ;) - and the embellishment one an adaptation by people using a different framework - it looks similar, but i personally feel that it is a somewhat unfun as an embellishment taking that much space (including the setup at least 3 or 4 beats), and if it wasn't a classical tango move i don't think anybody would do it - there is very little space in it for the follower to put her musicality in (she can vary the amount of snap and/or squeeze, but as it has to be on the beat she can at most half or double time it, she can freeze in the middle of the kick and grab herself a beat or two there , but that is about it) - and the leader is similarly constrained.

    There are other moves that are fun for different reasons, in different frameworks, like e.g. crossed ochos and dissocated ochos, but i think ganchos are not on of those. I just can't imagine quite anybody playing with their partner and saying - "hey, i'll stand still, and you kick between my legs - i bet the guys at the club will be impressed by our skill as dancers when seeing that one". (but then this is mostly my personal opinion, maybe other leader experience the gancho as a very satisfying move - for me it has slowly wandered out of my vocabulary over time)
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Oh, my... That last paragraph...
    Maybe things are different where you are, but I see that way more than a "real" / "organic" momentum based gancho.
    It usually makes me think of the kicks and flicks of jive, which I only know of from watching dance shows like DWTS and SYTYCD.

    Can't say for sure, although Thompson's conjecture that it is an "invasion of space" seems reasonable. But really it has to do with "Doing something that is a cool move" for those looking for that sort of thing.

    Paz / Hart say, in part in Gotta Tango, this about the gancho. "Another way to interrupt the motion of the woman for the purpose of changing her direction is the leg hook, commonly known as gancho."
    I was surprised to see, and the boleo, in their book since it seems to come from outside of the social AT aesthetic.

    I am currently interested in this because I have a way to incorporate this movement into West Coast Swing. But you get the same thing there that you get in untrained AT dancers, "Oh, it's a dip so I'll just lean back."

Share This Page