Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Ampster, May 1, 2007.
Ooo! This looks interesting. Should I open it I wonder?
thank you- when I think of the times I've heard that old wheeze from the guys about musicality... "I've following my own rhythm" I just want to go nuts. I've never understood why some guys seem to think musicality isn't something that needs to be practiced just like ochos and other things need to be practiced.
Agreed- if you can make effort to maintain good dancing habits despite a bad leader (or follower), I think that has a better possibility of being noticed. And it does take extra effort, no doubt about it because you are most likely to also be struggling against being taken out of balance, with leg leads (or premature weight changes), and bad connection and posture, when you are dancing with someone who is a bad lead or follow.
I know some ladies who go to milongas, who haven't really learned to make these basic ideas (especially posture and working the standing leg) part of their muscle memory, even though they KNOW what good posture is, and are slumping all over the place (which is one thing that makes you feel heavy to a leader), and then wonder why they don't get asked to dance, even though they can follow alright. And they keep waiting for good leader to ask them to dance and it doesn't happen and they won't dance with the beginners either because they are not in control of themselves enough yet to maintain themselves without letting someone else's problem's interfere too much (even though they will interfere).
So even though they complain that they don't like dancing with beginners because they have a hard time staying balanced (or even upright), they'd probably actually become better dancers if they had classes where they had to struggle to excersize good form despite the leaders problems.
Leaders probably need a similar class.
No argument there.
I would say that I fall into that category at times (or do the steps poorly in one way or another), when first learning a new pattern. For me (when at a class learning a new pattern), my focus is on two things (at least at first). I want to learn my steps, and then I want to learn the followers steps (not be able to do the followers steps, but understand them well enough so I know what I'm supposed to lead).
I'll ignore things like timing and polish (in a workshop) until I reach some level of comfort with what I'm supposed to be doing (and leading). I'll admit that sometimes it takes a few cycles through it, before I reach the level of comfort I need. Then I can shift my focus in the class from figuring out and understanding the pattern, over to actually trying to dance the pattern. It may be slow, but it's what seems to work for me.
I agree that when you are first learning something new, putting it smoothly to the music might be one too many things to deal with. But a teacher ought to be able to tell when someone is struggling with the move, and when they have gotten the mechanics of the move and are simply not bothering to listen to the music. There are always people in classes who are doing moves where they are done figuring it all out, and they still aren't doing anything to the rhythm.
What burns me to practically immediate impatience is when a student "feels" that they understand the steps, rather than seekign musicality or polish, they go off on some series of 'it's impressive to dance off-task' moves.
Well- I can say I have seen a lot of guys who just seem to have a big wall go up when you talk about musicality. More than just a few of them seem to think once they have the steps, that's all they need to know and don't seem to seek any further, most likely for fear that this is something they wouldn't be "good" at or would mark them out as "girly" perhaps. Musicality often comes accross as a more nebulous concept and more emotional, and guys more often have a problem connecting with that.
Admittedly, I haven't seen too many teachers do even the basic concept of musicality justice, and it doesn't have to be so wrapped up in mysticism. There are perfectly logical ways of introducing people to at least the basics of musciality, like finding beginning and end of phrase, without resorting to something overly emotional and then they would be ahead of about half the leaders out there if they could just do that much (!). One of our first teachers only explaination was it was something you just had to "feel" and that seemed to turn most guys in class right off and focus on steps.
Your post is correct. One of the biggest problems is the BR insistence of teaching in slows and quicks. This kills musicality quicker (evey pun intended) than most everything else. In AT, we, at one time, didn't hear that...ever. It has been only since AT's popularity in the U.S., that the argentitnes adopted the method believing it to be more understandable by the amers.
Sounds as though he/she didn't understand it much, either. Or, perhaps, so...one of the greatest argentine masters of all was one of the worst teachers I ever had.
Now, if women were more particular about how they dance.... The guys would increasingly "get with the program". But, my experience indicates that most women don't care much for the music either. The young ones stand out as wanting to do all of the flashy moves. Hmm, this definately overlaps with Ampster's newly started thread on polarization.
It does seem that more women than men are conscious of the music. But, again in my experience, the percentage is low. I used to think that given the chance, I would find that, yes, it was the guys they were dancing with who made them dance arhythmically, ignore pauses and breaks in the music, etc. Once I got to the point that I COULD really express what I hear in how I moved, I noticed more and more that it was a struggle to keep my partners in time, let alone go for the more sophisticated stuff. (The "in time" stuff is fairly straightforward in walking, etc. With AT you notice the "missing the music" moments in molinetes, etc, that we wrote about earlier. It's the other partner dances, like WCS and NC2S that you get the rushing of steps, getting behind the beat, etc.)
So, again, in general women are more concious of it, but there are many, many women who are not. I'd say well over half, and probably over 3/4.
Shall I duck?
No - don't duck...but more women may be conscious of it than say anything about it. I've often been surprised when I started talking musicality with ladies while listening to songs (not expecting much of an opinion) and boom- out they come with it and it surprises me.
I'm sure there's plenty out there who aren't paying attention, just like there's plenty of leaders out there who don't.
Part of it may stem from the feeling that they may not feel they have much say in it, as they are following rahter than leading, and that is also the fault of teachers not involving the lady in the musical concepts in a musicality class where most of the focus goes to the leader.
When I would watch this teacher dance, the musicality is decent enough, the problem was the language barrier and possibly that no real structure for teaching was present for their teaching (possibly not even when they learned AT) so I'm sure the lack of ability to explain and expect the students to just get it by "osmosis" filtered right on down in addition to the language issue. I'm sure I've said before that many of the older teaching styles seem to be visual only, and that doesn'f often lead to great understanding, escpecially when you have something which requires as much nuance as musicality.
I suspect there are a lot of ladies out there who feel the music and would love to express that in their dance, but have found themselves in a minefield dealing with inexperienced leaders who perhaps can't handle what they see as a loss of control. I expect it would be pretty discouraging to be shoved any time you chose to slow the tempo while executing an ocho for example.
I would think the same also applies to "playing" with the lead just that little bit. From talking to ladies I know, they can get very bad reactions to this from a lot of leaders so they just won't try for this level of involvement unless they really know the leader.
In my (rather limited) experience, this involvement and shared musical interpretation is something that I get with only the most experienced, most confident followers once they know me fairly well. Now I've felt it, this is something I see as a key building block of an exceptional dance.
Perhaps the following are necessary (on the followers side):
a) Musical follower (as many as there are musical leaders I suggest)
b) Follower who wants to be "involved" in the shaping of the dance (probably many)
c) Follower with the skill to "play" with the lead appropriately (I guess this is an advanced skill as it must require a fair bit of understanding of the lead and the leader's body dynamics, weight positioning etc to know when it's viable to "tweak")
d) Confidence that this leader will welcome and understand the shared musicality and followers "shaping" involvement (and I bet this is the rarity, due to bad experiences with leaders)
What do the ladies say?
I've certainly been in situations like you describe, and will avoid attempts to add anything "extra" should I dance with certain leaders. But I also have been lucky enough to have a few leaders in my area who enjoy my input to the dance without viewing it as "taking over" or usurping their plans. Much of this has been with leaders who actually slow down their movements at times instead of blowing right through them and actively enoucraging me to embellish instead of me having to decide I have time to squeeze something in between what he is doing that goes with the music. I certainly appreciate it and make sure they know I appreciate it so I hopefully encouage more of the same.
I think you're dead-on correct.
I'd just like to quibble with this little bit here.
Perhaps it's a difference of experience, but I've found that people seem to like the older stuff because it has a steady beat and they don't get lost. So many of the leads I've run across profess to hate the more "amorphous" stuff, because they can't find the beat and don't know what to do with it.
I also disagree that rhythm is inconsequential with the neo stuff. It's still music with (mostly) regular beats and pulses. It can still be counted, and the beat still (generally) has a very strong connection to the rest of the music. I'd argue that a guy who can't find the beat in the traditional stuff is going to be even more lost with neo stuff, and it's going to look and feel even worse, because the relationship between the beat and the rest of the music becomes more complex. I don't seem to find as much (musical--not dancing) syncopation, and hemiolas, and other musical oddness in traditional music. But that stuff comes up in modern music, and without a clear understanding (or at least feeling) of musical beats and pulses, it just all seems to go to hell in a hand basket.
Quibble away.. I was speaking of the dancers around here and the music that gets played here. There is some music that the rhythm is fairly hidden and even the melodies aren't all that distinct. (as someone who has a ballet and skating background, I typically am very aware of melody and phrasing. I can pretty much dance to anything, and if it doesn't seem danceable to me, its often skate'able)
Since I'm not a DJ and don't really get into all that, I can't tell you the names of specific pieces. But maybe they are played around here and nowhere else because they're some strange thing that one influencial person dug out of somewhere and now it gets played at every milonga
Yes, music still has a time signature even if the beat is barely discernable, but around here, the people who can't ever dance to the beat in, say, a D'Arienzo piece, seem to prefer neo-tango to traditional and they also prefer open embrace and they all overuse their arms. The 3 seem to go together with many people here... No ability to use the music or even stay on beat to heavily rhythmic music (to the point where you could turn off the music and it wouldn't make ANY difference to them), only dancing open embrace, and alot of manipulating the follower with the arms without much happening in the body or any other connection.
There are a few people around here who dance quite well to neo-tango music and a neo or nuevo tango style. They are also the ones who can vary the embrace, will also dance the classics, and lead properly. I love dancing with them!
But the ones who can't dance to the music seem to all PREFER the neotango music that I describe over anything traditional, and they are also the same ones who don't lead properly and NEVER dance close embrace. One area DJ prefers the more traditional music and when there are complaints that not enough neo is played, they are not coming from the people who dance neo WELL. Those people seem to also dance traditional well and they dance to pretty much anyting thats playing.
Oddly enough (or maybe this is also predictable) the people that I'm talking about (no music, too much arms, always very open) actually don't dance a nuevo style. They are usually dancing fairly traditional style when it comes to how sweeping or loose it is, but they dance it very open with too much arms and off the music. In other words, they like dancing traditional tango badly to neo music.
So my judgment is not about different embraces/ connections or types of music. I am merely noticing that a specific type of dancer (around here) has a fairly predictable preference in these things.
And when I say the rhythm is inconsequential in neo, I mean that if the music is amorphous enough, dancing OFF the beat is less awkward for the follower since the beat can be more easily ignored even by those of us who hear it. It is also less obvious to the observer than a strong rhythm that the dancer is quite clearly ignoring.
Here's my two cents on how ladies can get more dances. As an experienced leader I know how frustrating it can be. Note that there's only 6 dances per hour. If I dance for 3 hours, that's 18 dances, and sometimes they are taken before I arrive. Nonetheless, I always try to dance with beginners and new people for the first half-hour to hour.
1. GET THERE EARLY. Earlier in the night many of my friends haven't arrived yet.
2. DANCE WITH BEGINNERS. It takes patience, but beginners become good dancers! When I started I could never catch the eye of some ladies because I was a beginner. It hurt, especially when it took all kinds of courage to even ask in the first place. Ten years later I'm an excellent dancer, and I just don't look at those ladies. Furthermore, it is also a good opportunity to work on your technique, and those beginners need you to work with them.
3. STAND UP. I disagree with the whole post about "sitting correctly" because a lady who wants to dance shouldn't be sitting at all! After a set ends, I often find my next partner without leaving the floor--she's the lady that was dancing with the guy behind me. If you're waiting at a table you've cut your chances way down. Similar to salsa shines--get to the floor.
4. EYE-GLANCE. (Beginner comment) In tango men invite with their eyes, not their voice. If a man looks you in the eye they're probably asking you to dance. If you look away it is a refusal. You may be turning away dances without realizing it.
6. GO TO THE GROUP CLASSES. If there's a group class before the milonga then attend. You'll meet some of the new guys, and often dance with them following the lesson. It's a great way to start the evening.
I believe a better statement would be...unless they have the skills. Your statements that I highlighted in blue support this. You should only get profound musicality and shared lead ops from the most experienced. Most persons whould be working on connection; to the music...with the movement...then with the partner...in that order. If one does this, even if they don't know music, a sense/feel for musicality will develop.
You are absolutely right, IMO. Many people erroneously believe that nuevo is easier than traditional b/c their inexperience tells them that it is a looser, more floating and forgiving form of the dance. Of course, they prefer it...they aren't held to standards that they haven't mastered yet. If someone says that something isn't right, they just say, "Oh, it's nuevo; not traditional tango".
What they learn, eventually, is that this form of dance requires much discipline, and, in a sense, is much more difficult than traditional. It is then that they will have, or will be able to master that which they need for real [good] tango.
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