Argentine Tango - Want To Learn...

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
The same way that a followers left arm can (and imo should) rest on me - if she doesn't put pressure on my spine or limits the range of movement of my chest or adds a vector of force that is not aligned with my body.

Gssh
Its in the left arm (the leaders right) that most of the problem "lifting" seems to occur in some people I dance with. I'm not even that short (5'5 w/o heels), but many men have their right arm so high in my left armpit, that I am literally "lifted". I can't keep my shoulder down, I can't stay off my toes, etc. No matter where I try to place my arm, on his back or shoulders, its a problem. The only way around it is to take my arm away completely so that its more behind me, but even that doesn't always work.

Sometimes its because he has his arm too much "out" like ballroom instead of close to his body, but sometimes, even when its close to his bady, if he has wrapped his arm around my back too high, it still happens.

On the other hand, if he gets enough sweat on his sleeve, maybe he won't do it next time.....:rolleyes:
 

bastet

Active Member
Its in the left arm (the leaders right) that most of the problem "lifting" seems to occur in some people I dance with. I'm not even that short (5'5 w/o heels), but many men have their right arm so high in my left armpit, that I am literally "lifted". I can't keep my shoulder down, I can't stay off my toes, etc. No matter where I try to place my arm, on his back or shoulders, its a problem. The only way around it is to take my arm away completely so that its more behind me, but even that doesn't always work.

Sometimes its because he has his arm too much "out" like ballroom instead of close to his body, but sometimes, even when its close to his bady, if he has wrapped his arm around my back too high, it still happens.

On the other hand, if he gets enough sweat on his sleeve, maybe he won't do it next time.....:rolleyes:

hmm...interesting...I'm still trying to digest what might be going on...

Dancing with very tall people was troublesome for me for awhile (my other half is just about 6')...til I had some lessons with Alex Krebs (since he's something like 6'3" or there abouts....and I'm under 5'4") I've since worked on ways to release the left shoulder and keep myself towards the leader (granted, I tend to prefer flat chest on chest style, and so that is where my experience for this comes and I don't know what embrace you tend to work from). Now I don't think anything of it. My first tendancy is to release the left shoulder and put the arm around the neck when I dance with most anyone, regardless of height.

I guess what I am saying is I don't think it is a very instinctive action and it took lessons with someone tall enough to understand my problem with dancing with tall people to get it worked through. And to be honest, no one I ever had lessons with who wasn't tall really wasn't able to help me becasue they didn't really have a frame of reference for it....
 
And then the hamstrings. Have never seen Sylvie Guillen but yeah, that whole ankle behind head thing is easier than it looks. Believe.

Okay: ballet lines. A good start is working (note: not building) on the quadricips as well hamstrings. Stand at a counter/table etc. at hip level. Extend one heel atop it, leaving roughly half a metre space between you and the table. Point and flex toes of elevated heel a few times to warm up the calf area. Next, lift arms (crucifix-stylie) and then high over your head, palms facing away from and leading from the hips NOT the head, start to fold forward. (When I say hips I mean feel yourself growing up, up, up from the hips as opposed to rounding off the back and merely flopping forward). If you feel tightness anywhere - STOP and never FORCE. Your aim is to lie your chest stomach ALONG the leg, chin on shin. DON'T FORCE. (Yep, the capital letters: this is Heather barking yet again at her students in class..ha, ha, ha). Next: Swap legs. In time - DON'T RUSH - you're aiming for a higher worktop until you can extend so that your foot is the same height your shoulders (or higher). DON'T RUSH. DON'T FORCE. .
Thanks for the exercise!

Being a complete wuzz, don't need any encouragement to stop if something feels forced!

Okay, tried this and the furthest I can move my upper body forward is about 10 degrees - no joke. I don't think this will alter with practice - n'est ce pas? I do similar in an exercise on my vid, I sit on floor with legs apart and am supposed to lean forward and touch the toes. 'Don't force it, just lean as much as you can, the important thing is to keep your back straight' she says - all I can manage is to touch my shins!
 
This is one of the reasons skating was so much better prep for tango than ballet for me.

I think this "upness" that is a hindrance happens in the lower body. There is nothing contradictory about tango and upness in the upper body.

Although ballet requires "soft" knees, especially in jumping to avoid injury, there is still a straightness (sometimes even hyper-extended) to the standing leg knee that you don't need for tango. I've seen some tango followers who are SO up on their tippy toes with their knees locked while pivoting, stepping, or standing collected in an embrace, that it somehow lacks the earthiness and sensuality you'd expect to see.

I have a tendency to step to a straight knee sometimes, and its made worse by tall partners who "lift" me. When I practice alone, I let my (straight) extended knee bend as I transfer my weight to it, because its harder to balance otherwise (and I'm thinking about these little details). But when I have a tall partner who is holding me up when in close embrace, balance is less an issue, and I'd have to somehow resist him to avoid it (plus, I'm using a lot of my focus just to follow, there's not much left for every little detail).

Hmmmm... I'm going to have to think about this and how to work on it. The best tangueras (especially the salon dancers) all seem to have very soft, quiet knees. You don't even notice whether their knee is straight or bent or too much of this or that, because it flows right through the entire leg.

Other dancers look like they have 2 rigid sticks with a hinge (sometimes a sticky hinge). That's pretty much what your leg is, but with some people, their leg takes on an entirely different look of a single flexible unit rather than the contrast between bone and joint being so obvious.

I'm not explaining it well... maybe someone can help me out?
Yes, of course, the up-ness is not a problem in the upper body. I always have to straighten my chest and shoulders up before I get into tango posture.

I hate being lifted up by taller partners too. I feel like a ballerina on tippy toe - which might be nice were it not for the fact I am wanting to dance tango. Plus my feet, esp one of them is rather weak so I need the flexy knees thing going on to make up for that.

Locked straight legs are a sure recipe for hurting your knees. I know! My first teacher never even taught you're supposed to have relaxed knees. I think I looked like one of those ballerina's in a jewellery box when I was first starting! Anyway - maybe some people's knees can cope with being straight all the time.. I know mine can't.

Do you think relaxed hips is also a factor in 'quiet knees'?
 

bastet

Active Member
Yes, of course, the up-ness is not a problem in the upper body. I always have to straighten my chest and shoulders up before I get into tango posture.

I hate being lifted up by taller partners too. I feel like a ballerina on tippy toe - which might be nice were it not for the fact I am wanting to dance tango. Plus my feet, esp one of them is rather weak so I need the flexy knees thing going on to make up for that.

Locked straight legs are a sure recipe for hurting your knees. I know! My first teacher never even taught you're supposed to have relaxed knees. I think I looked like one of those ballerina's in a jewellery box when I was first starting! Anyway - maybe some people's knees can cope with being straight all the time.. I know mine can't.

Do you think relaxed hips is also a factor in 'quiet knees'?

I think some people may have trouble visualizing a relaxed hip...relaxed knees, that's pretty easy to see and visualize...relaxed hip....you'd probably end up having to do a lot of explaination in exactly what you mean and be able to clearly show what relaxed and not relaxed looks like so you don't get people going all loosey-goosey and doing salsa hips in tango....One master I know did explain some of the walking mechanics with a little "absorption" through the hip area while walking, and it made sense to me....but I don't know if that's what you mean by relaxed...?
 
One master I know did explain some of the walking mechanics with a little "absorption" through the hip area while walking, and it made sense to me....but I don't know if that's what you mean by relaxed...?
I think that's what I meant - absorbtion - so that does happen in the hips too? TBH Don't really know what I was going on about! I know that sometimes when I'm walking along the street (and I like to walk fast) if I consciously relax my hip somehow - or stride more consciously from the hip, I can make more progress.

With regard to dancing, most of the time when I make adjustments to improve things, I do it subconsiously and am not really sure what i have done - which has some disadvantages. Really need to learn how to focus.
 

bordertangoman

Well-Known Member

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
Do you think relaxed hips is also a factor in 'quiet knees'?
Its quite possible. I have a lot of trouble with my hips. They are usually stiff, crampy and resisting. That's in addition to hiking up or twisting forward on one side. Pretty much every good teacher I've had a private with has tried to work with me on loosening up and relaxing in the hip. Sometimes the pain in my "bad" hip (not that the other one is all that good) is bad enough that just everyday life with walking and stairs hurts. So tango can be quite a challenge. (and no boleos are going to happen)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
I think some people may have trouble visualizing a relaxed hip...relaxed knees, that's pretty easy to see and visualize...relaxed hip....you'd probably end up having to do a lot of explaination in exactly what you mean and be able to clearly show what relaxed and not relaxed looks like so you don't get people going all loosey-goosey and doing salsa hips in tango....
To me (not that I've had a lot of salsa training) salsa hips have more to do with some bending at the waist and dropping one hip below the other than with flexibility and relaxation of the hip joint itself. (although flexibility and relaxation is a part of doing salsa hips, you can have a relaxed hip without the tilt)

In tango, the relaxed hip is nessesary for proper execution of boleos. Its not so much about dropping one hip by bending, but letting the leg flow freely from the hip joint at the top of the thigh bone.

As someone who has chronic hip pain and trouble keeping the hips from being stiff (I have to put conscious effort into this hip thing all the time), I know the feeling of relaxed hip vs tight hip and it has little to do with the horizontal orientation of the hips. You can do a relaxed boleo with the hips parallel just as you can do a nice boleo by dropping the free leg hip and feeling stretching at the waist.

Of course, you are right in that explaining and demonstrating the relaxed hip is problematic if you are trying to avoid the tilt but stay relaxed.
 

Gssh

Well-Known Member
Its in the left arm (the leaders right) that most of the problem "lifting" seems to occur in some people I dance with. The only way around it is to take my arm away completely so that its more behind me, but even that doesn't always work.
Ok, this is from the perspective of a tall, close embrace dancer:

I think the best way for a follower to deal with a tall leader is not think about the embrace as having an arm around the leader, but as having the arm in front of the leader. To get a feel of what i mean get a tall guy (or a wall :) ), stand in front of him with both arms vertically up. then just lean forward till you lean against him with your chest, and your arms are goign to be in front of his chest, pointing straight up. when you relax your shoulders the left arm will drape around his neck naturally.
For this to be comfortable you will have to keep your right arm relatively high, too, or else your shoulders are not going to be horizontal.

One of the consequences of this is that it becomes impossible to hold onto the leader, so it requires more balance, but using this embrace i have danced very comfortably for both of us with women more than a foot shorter than me.

Gssh
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
Of course, we have come to understand that we are talking of 2 different things here...perhaps 3. 1. The bending and straightening of the legs (as dsicussed well in posts 140/44). 2. The positioning of the ladies' arms in the embrace with a taller partner (thank goodness for the requisite of a flexible hold). 3. The skill of the lead to adjust the embrace accordingly (something often overlooked by leads who insist upon conforming the partner to their preferences rather than accommodating hers).
 

bastet

Active Member
Ok, this is from the perspective of a tall, close embrace dancer:

I think the best way for a follower to deal with a tall leader is not think about the embrace as having an arm around the leader, but as having the arm in front of the leader. To get a feel of what i mean get a tall guy (or a wall :) ), stand in front of him with both arms vertically up. then just lean forward till you lean against him with your chest, and your arms are goign to be in front of his chest, pointing straight up. when you relax your shoulders the left arm will drape around his neck naturally.
For this to be comfortable you will have to keep your right arm relatively high, too, or else your shoulders are not going to be horizontal.

One of the consequences of this is that it becomes impossible to hold onto the leader, so it requires more balance, but using this embrace i have danced very comfortably for both of us with women more than a foot shorter than me.

Gssh
right- this is more or less what I mean when I talked about relaxing the left shoulder.

I'm not tall and I think I used to try the reaching around thing when I first learned close embrace, but there were no tall teachers here to tell me what what going wrong and so it felt bad a lot to me. This in turn probably meant I was reaching up around him, but then simultaneously trying to relax from the waist down and so the top half probably felt pulled on...not really the fault of my leader, IMO, and unless they realized what was going on and made further adjustments, then the dance most likely continued on in that way. Now I just basically relax at the should joint and don't attempt to reach anywhere, just put my arm vertical and let it wrap where it goes to and though it took a little practice to get comfortable, I use this with almost any tall leader now...

Honestly, you should have seen the looks we woud get from the Argentine teachers (not to put too fine a point on it, but many Argentine leaders are not overly tall, and they don't often have serious height discrepancies with their dance partners from what I can tell, and so they questions we had about it just didn't process...)
 

bastet

Active Member
To me (not that I've had a lot of salsa training) salsa hips have more to do with some bending at the waist and dropping one hip below the other than with flexibility and relaxation of the hip joint itself. (although flexibility and relaxation is a part of doing salsa hips, you can have a relaxed hip without the tilt)

In tango, the relaxed hip is nessesary for proper execution of boleos. Its not so much about dropping one hip by bending, but letting the leg flow freely from the hip joint at the top of the thigh bone.

As someone who has chronic hip pain and trouble keeping the hips from being stiff (I have to put conscious effort into this hip thing all the time), I know the feeling of relaxed hip vs tight hip and it has little to do with the horizontal orientation of the hips. You can do a relaxed boleo with the hips parallel just as you can do a nice boleo by dropping the free leg hip and feeling stretching at the waist.

Of course, you are right in that explaining and demonstrating the relaxed hip is problematic if you are trying to avoid the tilt but stay relaxed.
I guess the main point I was going for on that is the "if is ain't broke, don't fix it" motto. A lot of people probably need work on relaxing the knees when they learn Tango, grounding and all that aother fun stuff...and it's very easy to see and demonstrate...

I'd probably only mention relaxing the hip thing if I could see that it looked like someone wasn't. My logic running along the lines that as soon as you tell someone about something they aren't having a problem with, it breaks and then they have a problem with it. Too much info is really too much info unless it truly needs saying, escpecially about a topic that probably is only going to be an issue for a small percentage of people.
 
Its quite possible. I have a lot of trouble with my hips. They are usually stiff, crampy and resisting. That's in addition to hiking up or twisting forward on one side. Pretty much every good teacher I've had a private with has tried to work with me on loosening up and relaxing in the hip. Sometimes the pain in my "bad" hip (not that the other one is all that good) is bad enough that just everyday life with walking and stairs hurts. So tango can be quite a challenge. (and no boleos are going to happen)
Pretty much ditto. Have to loosen up one of my hips with stretching exercises a few times a week. I can do boleos but I was trying one move this week as a leader and there was lots of contra body going on with my mostly-un-weighted leg really extended - could really feel the pull.. it's not so much that per se that's the trouble, it's just that it leads you to do things unconsciously at times - as you say, inadvertently hiking yourself up - this can happen if i'm trying to lead.
 
3. The skill of the lead to adjust the embrace accordingly (something often overlooked by leads who insist upon conforming the partner to their preferences rather than accommodating hers).

"leads who insist upon conforming the partner to their preferences rather than accommodating hers"

I've come across this personified! Oh boy - what is it with these guys!!!???

Still fresh in my mind are a couple of dances a month ago with a chap who was a foot taller than me - he had obviously thought a lot about how to adjust his technique when dancing with me - how lovely :D - just that fact in itself is enough to give you a great experience on the dancefloor!
 
To me (not that I've had a lot of salsa training) salsa hips have more to do with some bending at the waist and dropping one hip below the other than with flexibility and relaxation of the hip joint itself. (although flexibility and relaxation is a part of doing salsa hips, you can have a relaxed hip without the tilt)

In tango, the relaxed hip is nessesary for proper execution of boleos. Its not so much about dropping one hip by bending, but letting the leg flow freely from the hip joint at the top of the thigh bone.
Sounds spot on re salsa. If you just flex your knees you can pretty much get the salsa action without consciously moving your hips.

Have you noticed that at times Eugenia Parrilla tilts her hips a little? I think it looks good, I'm guessing it's part of her style but was also her adjusting to dancing with the slightly shorter Chicho.
 

Dance Ads