Crossing over from ballroom to Tango

#22
Music:
However, I think the difference that I've noticed (in myself for sure) is that since they are at a lower level of ballroom, they are still in the "counting the rhythm" stage.
Anyway, that means that they want "the rhythm" that they're supposed to dance to AT and the idea that they can play with it is sorta a shock. It almost gives them too little parameter. The idea that they can pick their quicks and slows leaves them too many options in some ways as beginners and they end up often not dancing with the music at all.
Originally psoted by Peaches Speaking purely as a follower, BR guys seem to think in terms of/dance to just the beats in the music. It's like they don't think of the smaller elements in terms of things to dance to. Steps seem to come in blocks, which correspond to blocks of beats and not necessarily musical phrases. Things tend to come out as glide-glide-glide-glide-STOP and do a giro or some other stationary figure. It's like there is a lack of understanding that a step can be, in and of itself, an expression of the music.
I can understand where you are both coming from with the above but,

We are talking about a person new to AT crossing over from BR.

I would suggest that the nuances of AT music would not be an issue at this stage.

It may become a problem as they progress if they want to hold on to their musical training in BR. On the other hand their musical training in BR also gives them an ear for individual beats and may counter and may even be more of an advantage in the long run.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#23
Eh. We will just have to agree to disagree on this point: I don't think it's ever to early to start thinking about the nuances of the music.

As an aside, though, I realize what the original point of the thread is...but I was responding to a specific question asked of me. Shrug.
 
#25
Eh. We will just have to agree to disagree on this point: I don't think it's ever to early to start thinking about the nuances of the music.
I agree but I would suggest that it takes time and learning to get to the sort of level of understanding of the music you are suggesting.

As an aside, though, I realize what the original point of the thread is...but I was responding to a specific question asked of me. Shrug
The question was asked within the context of the OP.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#27
Yes. It doesn't take musical or dance training to listen to music and say what it sounds like--happy, sad, sharp, soft, romantic, angry. It doesn't take training to hear the music, think of how it makes you feel, and think of how you would change your body to project that.

I'm not saying that it could be executed by a beginner, just that I don't think it's ever too early (OK, almost never too early) to start bringing up those ideas, and to get a beginner to start thinking about those sorts of things.

As an aside, I'm years in--with some ballroom before that, and both formal and informal musical training since birth--and I don't ever even hear the beat when I dance AT. It's just not one of those things I listen to. Ever. I actually have to stop and revert to counting if I'm going to pay attention to the beat.
 

Ampster

Active Member
#28
Code:
A lot of the ballroom dancers I know aren't comfortable with music that changes. They want a strong beat with a strict tempo that never varies, and they don't generally get the concept of playing with the music. One of the things I LOVE about AT is that we get so much fun, interesting music...and the leads dance to it! And, like, when the music changes, we change how we dance! What a concept. :D
My meanderings through tango music

It was for me, one of the biggest hurdles in my transition.
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
#29
I'm sorry to go back to an earlier post, but it is pertinent to what followed:

My ballroom experience is much more limited than my AT experience, but I have had ballroom students in our tango classes. Typically the ballroom dancers I have worked with or talked to about AT are NOT at the most advanced levels. They are casual social dancers in ballroom, not people who compete or do testing level.
This is a very important point. Many perceptions of BR held by tango dancers are based on experience of inexperienced, casual or unskilled dancers who happen to be BR dancers. They are making the error (lets be generous and say innocently), that the fault/deficiency lies in the 'competing' genre. Generally, it doesn't, in my view.

I haven't noticed any advanced ballroom dancers here spending more than just a little bit of time at AT. Their schedules don't allow for it. The one or two that I've ever seen try to take up AT get frustrated at being newbies again after investing so much time in becoming advanced dancers. I won't speculate on whether they think they know more or whether they just find it difficult to struggle so much at this point in their dance life. Typically they quit tango before getting very far.
This is fair comment. It is frustrating to start with, and it is difficult to find time to put in the work that anyone would need to become more than basically competent in a dance such as AT. If they quit early, it's not necessarily because their background means that they are so compromised that they cannot master the dance, but simply that the reward is too small for the required effort, if they can make it at all. I teach five evenings a week. It is hard work to make time to do more, given that I have to practise, train and prepare for my own classes and instruction. I may give up AT in the end, just because I know that something has to give, and that AT doesn't pay the rent.

So that means that the people I see have some ideas that they have to put aside about posture and such, but it's not so ingrained that they can't do it. The ones who are very good ballroom dancers do have more trouble with the "falling backward" issue.
What 'falling backward' issue? Any competent BR dancer knows perfectly well that a forward balance is required at all times (leader & follower). Just about the only exception is the BR heel turn action, but then only for a fraction of a moment, and the turn starts on the BoF, and ends on the T. Perhaps it is the same issue of them being not very good dancers: perhaps they don't know, don't care, or have been badly taught, that they have crap posture. It's nothing to do with BR technique, but it gets trotted out again and again. If anyone would dispute this point, please cite the published text of any reputable dance organisation in support of their contention: after all, BR technique is standardised and there for all to see. We don't stand on our heels. Ever.

Music:

If they had ballroom tango, the difference in the rhythm might throw some people off, because they'll want to think of the ballroom tango music being analogous, and actually Fox Trot music would work better.

However, I think the difference that I've noticed (in myself for sure) is that since they are at a lower level of ballroom, they are still in the "counting the rhythm" stage. Even if they don't have to count it anymore for their various ballroom dances, they still are in the habit of dancing strict rhythm patterns. (Advanced ballroom dancers don't seem to adhere to them in the same way? Just what I've observed... maybe I'm wrong.)
Advanced dancers in any genre don't dance the same way as beginners, and that is as true in AT as any other genre. BR music is characterised by strict tempo and often fairly fixed phrasing, and often with a very clear percussive beat. This suits the structure of the dances, where standardisation leads to knowing, in advance, just how many beats a particular figure or amalgamation requires. It wouldn't work, otherwise.

Lots of experienced dancers can bring a real degree of flexibility and musicality to their interpretation of the rhythm, though, but in ways that are appropriate to what they are dancing. There's no reason to think that they would be the same ways that we bring musicality to AT. Many casual social dancers, though, can barely hear a beat when it is being banged out on a snare drum, but that is their shortcoming, it isn't ingrained through their experience of BR.

Anyway, that means that they want "the rhythm" that they're supposed to dance to AT and the idea that they can play with it is sorta a shock. It almost gives them too little parameter. The idea that they can pick their quicks and slows leaves them too many options in some ways as beginners and they end up often not dancing with the music at all.
Most beginners feel most comfortable with simple rhythmic music: Di Sarli or D'Arienzo, and who would blame them? Learning that they can choose their own 'quicks' and 'slows', within the constraints of what is playing may come as a surprise, and the ability to do it with any real musicality doesn't necessarily come easily, but this is true for everyone, coming to AT for the first time. I don't think existing exposure to BR music is in any way counterproductive. If nothing else, it teaches you to discern the pulse of the music, and most 'vanilla' BR dancers never progress much beyond that, and dance the sequences they were taught. That's their loss, but it's not their fault.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#30
Uh...what you're describing is (I think, based on the description) a linear back boleo. IMO, if you're being taught that already...find another teacher.
Yeah, I'm with Peaches on this one.. I don't know if you have a choice of other teachers, but back linear boleos are dangerous on the dance floor. They could be a good exercise for knowing that you need to relax more, but they have limited use out social dancing. I've been doing AT for quite awhile now and I actually stiffen up when I feel someone lead these because there are only a couple of people I trust to lead them when it is safe for me to let my leg fly. There are SO many other things you can do in AT, that these should be almost completely eliminated from your social dance and saved for demos or times when you are pretty much alone on the floor.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#31
Yeah, I'm with Peaches on this one.. I don't know if you have a choice of other teachers, but back linear boleos are dangerous on the dance floor. They could be a good exercise for knowing that you need to relax more, but they have limited use out social dancing. I've been doing AT for quite awhile now and I actually stiffen up when I feel someone lead these because there are only a couple of people I trust to lead them when it is safe for me to let my leg fly. There are SO many other things you can do in AT, that these should be almost completely eliminated from your social dance and saved for demos or times when you are pretty much alone on the floor.
Once again: this is when I'm being led. Not in class.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#32
I'm not. It's when I'm being led at a practica/milonga.
Oh... that's too bad... I hope the people leading you in them are advanced enough to be able to judge the amount of space you have to execute them given that their view is foreshortened. They also need to be able to gauge whether someone will be stepping INTO the space you need for your leg.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#33
Eureka! I just remembered the other point I had wanted to make (pages and pages ago) but had forgotten.

Based on conversations with various people, it would seem that what is "signal" versus what is "noise" between AT and BR are, in some respects, completely opposite. The biggest thing that comes to mind, for me as a follower, is the man's weight changes. As regards AT...I don't care. I don't feel his weight changes, and I ignore whatever it is that he his doing with his feet. He could be dancing a jig or a polka for all I care and it wouldn't matter; all that matters to me is what weight change he leads me to do. Similarly, when it came to dancing (*cough*) ballroom, I couldn't ever feel the man's weight change...because I'd been so trained to ignore them. To me, his weight changes were "noise" and not "signal."

I have, likewise, heard the opposite is true for various BR dancers who have tried AT--that they couldn't/had a hard time wrapping their mind/body around the idea of ignoring the man's weight changes. It made being on separate feet a bit...er...tricky.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#34
Oh... that's too bad... I hope the people leading you in them are advanced enough to be able to judge the amount of space you have to execute them given that their view is foreshortened. They also need to be able to gauge whether someone will be stepping INTO the space you need for your leg.
In the times that I've been led in it and when I've seen it led, I've never seen anyone get kicked. In fact, one studio I go to does a lot of kicks and very acrobatic/athletic movements on the dance floor that some people don't approve of. I'm sure there have been accidents, but I haven't seen anyone get kicked yet. Granted, my experience is limited.

But, in any case, I can't control what the leader does. I can only trust him not to crash me into anyone and to do my best with what he leads me into. The point of my post was supposed to be about relaxing my legs, not the merits (or lack thereof) of that particular movement.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#35
What 'falling backward' issue? Any competent BR dancer knows perfectly well that a forward balance is required at all times (leader & follower). Just about the only exception is the BR heel turn action, but then only for a fraction of a moment, and the turn starts on the BoF, and ends on the T. Perhaps it is the same issue of them being not very good dancers: perhaps they don't know, don't care, or have been badly taught, that they have crap posture. It's nothing to do with BR technique, but it gets trotted out again and again. If anyone would dispute this point, please cite the published text of any reputable dance organisation in support of their contention: after all, BR technique is standardised and there for all to see. We don't stand on our heels. Ever.
I could be wrong (Zoo, please correct me if I'm putting incorrect words in your mouth.), but I don't think that's what Zoo meant when she used the phrase "falling backward" or some such.

From what I gather (have been told, repeatedly, from BR dancers trying/dabbling with AT, and AT dancers dancing with said dabblers), BR dancers don't dance "toward" or "into" their partner the same way that AT dancers do. I'm speaking specifically about followers here. I've heard/read a lot that in BR a large emphasis is on the follower moving "away" from the leader to create space for him to move into. That sort of thing, in AT, I have been told creates the sensation of the follower "falling away from" or "falling backward" from the leader. It breaks connection.

Is that what you were getting at, Zoo?
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#36
Eureka! I just remembered the other point I had wanted to make (pages and pages ago) but had forgotten.

Based on conversations with various people, it would seem that what is "signal" versus what is "noise" between AT and BR are, in some respects, completely opposite. The biggest thing that comes to mind, for me as a follower, is the man's weight changes. As regards AT...I don't care. I don't feel his weight changes, and I ignore whatever it is that he his doing with his feet. He could be dancing a jig or a polka for all I care and it wouldn't matter; all that matters to me is what weight change he leads me to do. Similarly, when it came to dancing (*cough*) ballroom, I couldn't ever feel the man's weight change...because I'd been so trained to ignore them. To me, his weight changes were "noise" and not "signal."

I have, likewise, heard the opposite is true for various BR dancers who have tried AT--that they couldn't/had a hard time wrapping their mind/body around the idea of ignoring the man's weight changes. It made being on separate feet a bit...er...tricky.
Ah--very good point. I sometimes wonder if I'm doing what the man wants, when I feel him doing something different or syncopating when I'm not.
 

Subliminal

Well-Known Member
#38
To the OP:

I pretty much will dance with anyone, including BR people dipping their feet into AT. There are a couple things I've noticed:

1. BR followers can have trouble recognizing that it's ok to be in cross system, and will sometimes switch their feet on their own. AT followers learn early on what it feels like to be on the same foot as the leader, and will ignore it.
2. BR followers will often feel the need to keep going once started, building up more momentum than is needed. You can avoid this by making each step deliberate, and understanding that changes of direction happen often in tango.

That's all I can think of right now. You might not notice these things happening because a good leader can correct for them. Or you might not have these problems at all, I am generalizing from experience. :)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#39
I can understand where you are both coming from with the above but,
We are talking about a person new to AT crossing over from BR.
I would suggest that the nuances of AT music would not be an issue at this stage..
If you think I am talking about the nuances of the music, then you aren't understanding where I'm coming from.

I'm talking about the basic concept (and it is VERY basic and something that comes up pretty early on) that there is NO set rhythm pattern to dance continuously in the vein of "Slow,Slow,Quick,Quick" (like Fox Trot) or "step,step,chachacha", or "Slow,Slow,TangGoClose" or "Slow,Quick,Quick" (rhumba) etc.

(forgive if my writing of these rhythms is incorrect... as I said, my BR experience is limited)

This entire concept of a set rhythm pattern to be danced for the whole piece is simply non-existent in AT. It's not unusual for BR dancers (especially those who are at the beginner-intermediate stage) to ASK for the rhythm pattern.

A separate issue is that often people, regardless of their specific background in other dances, have trouble finding the beat in some of the Argentine music. If they've never heard it before, the unfamiliar instruments combined with the fact that the rhythm isn't played by a percussion or bass instrument often leaves them unable to find a rhythm at all.

I have had more than one student who simply COULD NOT find the beat. I thought it was related to their ability to hear beats in music until I put on other types of music to test them and they clapped out the beat just fine, (but got lost again when I switched back to the Argentine music.) This problem was usually improved when they bought some CD's and started listening to them outside of class to become more comfortable with the sound.

I would not consider the beat to be a "nuance" of music.
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#40
What 'falling backward' issue? Any competent BR dancer knows perfectly well that a forward balance is required at all times (leader & follower). Just about the only exception is the BR heel turn action, but then only for a fraction of a moment, and the turn starts on the BoF, and ends on the T. Perhaps it is the same issue of them being not very good dancers: perhaps they don't know, don't care, or have been badly taught, that they have crap posture. It's nothing to do with BR technique, but it gets trotted out again and again. If anyone would dispute this point, please cite the published text of any reputable dance organisation in support of their contention: after all, BR technique is standardised and there for all to see. We don't stand on our heels. Ever.
It's not about what they are doing with their feet, but more about what they are doing with their head and upper body. The first time I experienced a follower with this type of "embrace", it made me feel like she didn't want to be dancing with me (and I kept thinking, she should have just said no if she didn't want to dance with me).

The really strange thing (for me) was that at the end of the tanda, she was very complimentary and said she'd like to dance another tanda. That led me to asking about her embrace, and that's how I learned she had a BR background. Since then, whenever I've felt a follower leaning away (sort of like their back and head curves away from me), I've asked if they did BR, and the answer has always been yes.

I don't have a link or document or anything like what you appear to be asking for, but it's my personal experience (which granted may not have much value to anyone else).
 

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