Help! Newby lost in tango

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#61
And of course if I mess up following, I end up on the wrong foot.
The "wrong foot" in AT is nothing like the "wrong foot" in other dances. It really doesn't matter all that much. Sure, you could say that you're not on the foot he'd originally intended, but if the leader is decent and other bits of your technique are in place, it's as others have said--there are plenty of ways for the lead to adjust what he was doing and continue on. Really, don't worry so much about it.

2) Waits - yes, I've learned to do this.

4) Doesn't try to fix mistakes - well, nope, I admit I try to fix it. In most other dances you're responsible for getting back into the correct position on your own if you screw up, so I'm used to doing that and it's hard to get out of the habit. Sometimes I don't recognize my mistake but the leader does, and then he adjusts, as you said.
A bit out of order, but they go together with what I want to say... If you're still trying to fix mistakes, you haven't really learned to wait. You're still responsible for getting back to "the correct position" in AT (IMHO), but in AT that correct position can be thought of as standing and waiting with your weight clearly over one foot. When in doubt, just stand there and look pretty and let the guy figure things out. Especially since you're a beginner. You might want to work on pretty things to do with your feet while standing still, so it looks like you meant to do that! (Which is, admittedly, a perfectly hypocritical thing for me to say, since I resist adornos.)

3) Torsos parallel - I try to maintain a consistent distance from my partner, but on the other hand certain teachers said the embrace is supposed to be a V-shape (one side more open than the other), so technically that wouldn't be parallel.
This makes me scratch my head a bit. The V-embrace is fine for close embrace, but I've never heard of it being used in an open embrace. (Which, IIRC, is what you're mainly doing right now)

That aside... I started out (in close embrace) being taught to keep my shoulders parallel to the man's. After a bit, I was introduced to the V-embrace. It doesn't much matter. Both are legitimate styles and embraces, and you'll find as you progress that the shape of your embrace will change with the leader. With some guys, I dance with a relatively open V; with other guys, I tend to dance more parallel. The guy's height relative to mine tends to be the deciding factor (as in, is he tall enough that my nose will go underneath his chin, instead of into the side of his face).

About the following with shoulders parallel versus following with a V-embrace, even if it is in open embrace... Try not to get so hung up on the shape that it's supposed to be. Find a comfortable and workable position, and think of that as "neutral" position. Regardless of how that "neutral" is established, aim to maintain that. If you're in a V, stay in a V; if you're parallel, stay parallel. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that you maintain the position of your body relative to his, whatever that relative position actually is.

Understanding how to follow a cross - I know what you mean about the twisty thing, my teacher did that in the beginning class which did indeed make the ladies cross. Now if there isn't that "forced cross", then how does the lady know to cross? Sometimes I do it because I recognize that the leader is taking the steps that lead up to the cross. Sometimes I'm just following well enough that the cross seems like the most logical thing to do, given my relative body position. And honestly, sometimes I just guess.
At the risk of being patronizing, that will partly come in time. There seem to be as many different theories about the cross--if it's lead, how it's lead, etc.--as there are dancers. Go figure. Find yourself a good teacher (which seems to be something of an issue for you) and take a couple of private lessons. It is, absolutely, a leadable move. A good teacher should be able to demonstrate that. And after a while, you'll find that some combination of recognizing a lead and intuition will take over and you'll understand when you're supposed to cross versus not.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#62
The way i see the technique is like this:
From the followers side a cross is in essence a mini-volcada: the leader uses counterbody movement and impulse to move her left foot beyond the point where she has a chance to collect. This is clearly leadable. But then a "real lead" would require a some kind of second lead to get her to collect tightly crossed. The way i lead - and this might very well be a lack of skill - requires the follower to activly put her left foot close to her right foot - there is nothing in the lead that makes that neccessary. She could as well let her feet naturally cross, which would result in her feet being about 4 or 5 inches apart, and the left foot in front of the right foot, the lead weighshift results then in a relatively big, jerky, move of her center, and a ocho like effect. If there is less counterbody motion - we just need to chenge the trajectory of ther foot by 2" or so - it is too subtle to be picked up by a beginner.
The "collection" at the end of the cross seems to be a adorment - i.e. the follower does it because she wants to, not because it is inherent in the lead.
For me the basic element of tango is the walk, and the collection as the endpoints of each step, and becasue of this the cross vexes me - it needs to be explained, and it requires a pretty elaborate setup.

Even many intermediate followers don't naturally get into a cross footed position.
To be honest, that doesn't sound anything like the crosses I know. At all. There is no way in blazes I'd every equate a basic cross to a mini-volcada. It just isn't.

As I understand it, the free foot is the leader's to play with. If he leads the lady to take a step back on her right foot, then by moving his center forward and to the left, he should be leading the lady's free left foot to move in front of her body. Voila, cross. I've felt this with several variations. Either the guy can stay in sort of a CBM-ish position (and I refuse to get into a discussion on what CBM actually is, or how to define it, or how to accomplish it, or what it's purpose is ;)) and bring the foot across, in which case you'll both end up not quite facing the line of dance. Or the guy, having gone outside partner, can lead a rotational movement to bring the lady back in line with him. Or the guy can put some pressure with his right arm on a diagonal inward (I've heard it described as sliding a drawer close) to bring the lady back in front of him. All work, all feel fine, and IMO all are valid.

About the feet closing tightly together... It's not that it's an adornment that the lady does because she wants to, irrespective of the lead. It's a combination of basic good technique on the lady's part, and how the cross is led. She should know, generally, that she should be keeping her feet close together. So she should know to collect them next to each other. If she happens to be led in such a way that her feet end up collecting in crossed position (i.e., the guy led a cross), then they should still be close together. If, however, the guy leads the cross in such a way that to cross with feet together will throw their balance, she shouldn't do it. I find this tends to happen with the very rotational way of leading the cross.

Fundamentally, though, the lead should be controlling his center and hers (because she should be following his, obviously), and in controlling her center he controls her free--crossing--foot. If you set it down close to her standing leg, she should be using good technique and crossing tightly together. If, however, you set it down further away, she should still be following that...and if that means her feet don't cross tightly together, then that's just the way it is.
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#63
The "wrong foot" in AT is nothing like the "wrong foot" in other dances.
2. When in doubt, just stand there and look pretty and let the guy figure things out.
3. About the following with shoulders parallel versus following with a V-embrace, even if it is in open embrace... Try not to get so hung up on the shape that it's supposed to be. Find a comfortable and workable position, and think of that as "neutral" position. Regardless of how that "neutral" is established, aim to maintain that.
1. Peaches, and others, are correct...you are never on the wrong foot.
2. correct, again.
3. correct, again. Stay over your center and face your partner. It's the lead's job to posiiton you...not yours to have to find.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#64
It's the lead's job to posiiton you...not yours to have to find.
*slight hijack*

You know, it's interesting you say that. I've heard so many times that it's the woman who determines the embrace. (Which is nice and I'm flattered, but I've always found it more to be a mutual understanding sort of deal. I might set it, but I'm reading the guy as I do so, so that I can pick a style that's comfortable for both of us. Anyway.) Then, this past fall, there were two teacher at DCTX who were saying, repeatedly, that the gent is the one to determine the type/shape/style of the embrace, and by extension the basic character of the dance. For the lady to determine the embrace is to intrude on the guy's prerogative, so to speak, and is a way of not following.

It was interesting. I'd never heard that sentiment expressed before. And here you seem to say something similar.

Huh.

(I still like my mutual understanding method. ;-) Which, really, I think is closer to what generally tends to happen anyway. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)
 
#65
I know I'm going to catch flack for this. I've been reading with much interest, and feel the time to chime in...hesitantly...because....

We hear lots for the follower to always be on one foot or the other. This is just not true. ...

If a follow assumes a step, and commits her weight to it, she takes away the options of the lead to alter that movement. ...

On step 4 of the basic (including the questionable back step), the lead will step either inside (close to the follow's left foot), or he will step slightly outward, thus creating space for the next movement. The follow, having focused her weight in the middle of steps 3 and 4, will feel herself to be slightly off balance, and will naturally feel the need to correct herself by moving across her right foot. .... her weight is not commited to the foot, but focused in the middle, which is what allows the lead to move her 'center'.
I know I'm going to catch it over this....bring it. :rolleyes:
Actually that makes perfect sense, Angel HI. For the first time I understand this idea. :idea:

So if I get this correctly:

Yes, the lady should collect and have her weight on one foot when she reaches the end of the step. But during the step, she should allow her weight to go through the middle, to give the leader the chance to intercept and change the step or her position if he wishes. Otherwise, his options are limited, he can't lead certain moves, and the dance is less creative.

Your explanation is the first time I've understood how the cross actually works. I tried it, by myself, just walking back, allowing my weight to move through the middle from step 3 to step 4, and imagining that someone is holding me and moving to my right precisely during that point. I saw how I started to become off-balance and would need to cross. The concept immediately became clear. Thank you! You did what five months of classes did not do for me! :notworth:
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#66
As I understand it, the free foot is the leader's to play with. If he leads the lady to take a step back on her right foot, then by moving his center forward and to the left, he should be leading the lady's free left foot to move in front of her body. Voila, cross.
I believe you to be correct. To clarify, what I said to Gssh was that I understood his analogy of a mini-volcada.

*slight hijack* I've heard so many times that it's the woman who determines the embrace.
....this past fall, there were two teacher at DCTX who were saying, repeatedly, that the gent is the one to determine the type/shape/style of the embrace, and by extension the basic character of the dance. For the lady to determine the embrace is to intrude on the guy's prerogative, so to speak, and is a way of not following.

And here you seem to say something similar.
Perhaps, there is a small, ok...infintessimal difference between embrace and position. I believe that when we speak to the woman's right to choose...pardon the pun...we are being gallant in saying that we defer the closeness of the space to the woman from a gentleman's POV. Having allowed her that, the couple was correct in all that follows.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#68
I know I'm going to catch flack for this. I've been reading with much interest, and feel the time to chime in...hesitantly...because....

We hear lots for the follower to always be on one foot or the other. This is just not true. The focus is in the middle. I am not saying to stop on both feet; rather to focus on the point when you are on both feet. Hopefully, the following paragraph will help to explain this. The Argentines teach this (one foot...) also, then, in the same breath, say, "Move and take the body with you". This is impossible w/o being in the middle.

If a follow assumes a step, and commits her weight to it, she takes away the options of the lead to alter that movement. For example, if, in the step to the right of the salida, she weights the right foot before waiting for an indication from the lead to continue, she might make impossible a cortado, or even an attempt of a sanguichito (if she further closes). "Wait before weight" was the clever attempt a cliche by one Argentine maestro not long ago.
Perhaps it's a semantic argument, but I'm going to be an uppity beginner and disagree. I mean no disrespect to your experience, Angel.

Yes, if the follow commits her weight right away, she cuts off options. But when the leader leads a change of weight onto the next foot, she needs to commit. I tend to think of leads coming in two separate parts--the intention, which sends my foot, and the lead to change weight, which is when I commit. Sure, if the follow doesn't separate out those two different parts of the lead in how she follows, she's eliminating options. But once he asks for that weight change, it needs to happen. (Unless, of course, he's asking for only a partial weight change, or a point, or is asking her to be split-weighted. But that's another story altogether.)

Like I said, it could be a semantic argument. It could be something that just doesn't translate well to me via the written word, but would make sense if demonstrated in person. And, like I said, I know I'm being uppity.

Then again, your "dancing from the middle to the middle of each step" doesn't make sense to me, yet. I know you've mentioned it many times before, but it just doesn't click with me. Probably something else better seen/felt demonstrated than read about. (When are you coming to somewhere near DC to teach a workshop? ;):D)
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#70
Perhaps it's a semantic argument, ...I mean no disrespect to your experience, Angel.

Yes, if the follow commits her weight right away, she cuts off options.
I tend to think of leads coming in two separate parts--the intention, which sends my foot, and the lead to change weight, which is when I commit. Sure, if the follow doesn't separate out those two different parts of the lead in how she follows, she's eliminating options.
Then again, your "dancing from the middle to the middle of each step" doesn't make sense to me, yet. I know you've mentioned it many times before, but it just doesn't click with me.
(When are you coming to somewhere near DC to teach a workshop? ;):D)
*my bold*
See, you understand quite well. It is the mid-to-mid thing, and I know that it is a difficult concept. But, it is what makes tango in general different from other dances. Don't feel badly, the BR dancers don't readily understand it either. :)

I'll be in TN next month. No plans yet for DC, though. :(

And, I do not feel disrespected by you at all, though thanks for the sentiment.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#71
Don't feel badly, the BR dancers don't readily understand it either. :)
LOL. You know, the funny thing is that in the context of BR dances is where it actually makes sense to me. (Which probably means that I've got no clue and "understand" it all wrong, lol.)

I'll be in TN next month. No plans yet for DC, though.
Hmmm...so what'll it take to get you here, I wonder... ;-) :) *plotting and scheming, scheming and plotting*
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#72
:uplaugh:

You are great. Of course you understand that it only applies to BR tango...not BR dances like all smooth/standard....:confused:
Hmmm...so what'll it take to get you here, I wonder... ;-) *plotting and scheming, scheming and plotting*
Just an invite. :)

...and a million and a half in secured bearer bonds.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#73
Of course you understand that it only applies to BR tango...not BR dances like all smooth/standard....:confused:
OMG, LOL!!! See...now, what did I tell you about "understanding" it all wrong? To me, it makes sense for the other Standard dances. (Never really "got" standard tango. What's the point??? Blech.) Lol. Figures.

Just an invite. :)

...and a million and a half in secured bearer bonds.
An invite I could probably arrange. ...I'll get back to you on the bearer bonds.
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#74
Have we completely hi-jacked this thread?

OK...just this, then I'll go away. Peaches, re the middle thing in BR, because of float, rise/lower, etc., you would not want to focus in the middle, but roll from foot to foot (of course, keeping center). Tango, BR and AT require something different, and it is this which gives it/them the staccato/natural feeling respectively.
 

bastet

Active Member
#75
1. Peaches, and others, are correct...you are never on the wrong foot.
2. correct, again.
3. correct, again. Stay over your center and face your partner. It's the lead's job to posiiton you...not yours to have to find.

I agree completely. I'm a follwer who also leads, and I would much rather a follow let me fix what goes wrong than to have them shifting weight and trying to divine what went wrong. We just end up with me waiting til they settle down so I can figure where they are and fix it anyway....patience..is a virtue (on both parts). :D
 

Gssh

Well-Known Member
#76
On step 4 of the basic (including the questionable back step), the lead will step either inside (close to the follow's left foot), or he will step slightly outward, thus creating space for the next movement. The follow, having focused her weight in the middle of steps 3 and 4, will feel herself to be slightly off balance, and will naturally feel the need to correct herself by moving across her right foot. Of course, all other things; embrace, body position, balance between the partnership, etc. should be correct as well. This feeling of needing to correct herself is the mini-volcada of which you spoke.


is, again, noting that her weight is not commited to the foot, but focused in the middle, which is what allows the lead to move her 'center'.
I know I'm going to catch it over this....bring it. :rolleyes:
Not from me :)
I think your explanation is much better than mine!!!
Gssh
 
#77
So, an update if anyone cares :p

Armed with the fabulous insight from all of you, I headed out to my local milonga last evening.

I had a great time! I did before, too, but now I longer feel so clueless about what I am supposed to do. I had a much easier time following. I could follow the cross and ochos quite well. The lesson before the dance was partly on ganchos, which are fairly new for me, so I still have a few challenges there, but at least I have a good understanding of it.

Overall, although I still am not following at 100 percent, I do feel like it's easier. Now if I can only get some dances with the better leaders! They are still not asking me because they only ask the advanced ladies. So nearly all my dances are with beginning leaders, which adds to my following challenges. One guy last night kept twisting my hand and wrist around painfully - it was unintentional, but I had to tell him to stop because it hurt.

Anyway, while I realize most AT teachers have their hands full with teaching the leaders, I wish they would not assume the followers can "just follow" as if there are no skills involved and nothing to teach them. I know you know this, Angel, I'm talking about some of my own instructors. So thank you, guys for all your help. :D
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#78
So, an update if anyone cares :p

Armed with the fabulous insight from all of you, I headed out to my local milonga last evening.

I had a great time! I did before, too, but now I longer feel so clueless about what I am supposed to do. I had a much easier time following. I could follow the cross and ochos quite well. The lesson before the dance was partly on ganchos, which are fairly new for me, so I still have a few challenges there, but at least I have a good understanding of it.

Overall, although I still am not following at 100 percent, I do feel like it's easier. Now if I can only get some dances with the better leaders! They are still not asking me because they only ask the advanced ladies. So nearly all my dances are with beginning leaders, which adds to my following challenges. One guy last night kept twisting my hand and wrist around painfully - it was unintentional, but I had to tell him to stop because it hurt.

Anyway, while I realize most AT teachers have their hands full with teaching the leaders, I wish they would not assume the followers can "just follow" as if there are no skills involved and nothing to teach them. I know you know this, Angel, I'm talking about some of my own instructors. So thank you, guys for all your help. :D
So glad to hear things went better for you! Keep at it, it's definitely worth it.

And don't worry about the better leaders not asking you...it takes time, but you will "move up." ;-) Hell, I still don't get asked by the top leaders most of the time. One of these days!
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#79
Now if I can only get some dances with the better leaders! They are still not asking me because they only ask the advanced ladies. I wish [AT teachers] would not assume the followers can "just follow" as if there are no skills involved and nothing to teach them.
This is very unfortunate, for both you and them. Yet, as Peaches wrote, worry not...it will pass. Bonne chance, tanguera.
 
#80
So, an update if anyone cares :p
Overall, although I still am not following at 100 percent, I do feel like it's easier. Now if I can only get some dances with the better leaders! They are still not asking me because they only ask the advanced ladies. So nearly all my dances are with beginning leaders, which adds to my following challenges.

Anyway, while I realize most AT teachers have their hands full with teaching the leaders, I wish they would not assume the followers can "just follow" as if there are no skills involved and nothing to teach them. I know you know this, Angel, I'm talking about some of my own instructors. So thank you, guys for all your help. :D
Many classes tend to be about "patterns", "patterns" and yet more "patterns" and leader-based. Maybe worth investing in a short programme designed for followers technique only or even better, a class where a couple are teaching in which they tend to separate the class with "men over there and women over here" (but NOT travelling teachers, however, as their focus too tend to be leader-based). Also (as I advised a recent beginning follower at the weekend) ask your teacher for a dance come the milonga and also target a (good) female lead if you happen to spot one. What I do is lead a follower who has been sitting for too long mainly to show her off to the guys that have been ignoring her. That way they get to see her dance and eventually ask her (several cases in point at a milonga last Sunday).
 

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