Keeping track of partner's free leg

#1
Hi everybody,

I started learning Tango in January. After two Milonga's, I find myself still stepping way too often on my partner's toes. That almost never happened during the weekly lessons. Obviously a consequence of the more chaotic environment of a Milonga.

In some cases, I believe that I did the following error: for example RF forward, collect because no space ahead, change weight (but not that of my partner), then RF forward again. OK, that I should be able to solve myself. I guess that it is also possible that my partners (also beginners) changed weight without lead. But of course, the more frequent cause is probably that I forgot to keep track of my partner's free leg. My question is thus: how do you keep track of your partner's free leg without looking to the ground? Any tips welcome.

Thanks in advance,

François
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
#2
Unconciously :bookworm:

Try to play with weight change and try to guess on which leg is your partner.
Or try to lead ochos or some other element where you need to be in cross system.

It seems that it is more problematic for you to notice in which system is partner not hitting her toes.

If you had problems with hitting her toes in correct system you would need to go under her (hips first) to hit her.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#5
Your question reminds me how hard this dance can be to learn

I would advocate concentrating on the weighted leg, rather than the free leg. You can develop a sense of where her foot is on the floor. And here I have to add that a good partner will make it clear which foot her weight is on, both when she steps, and by not putting any weight on the "free" leg.

What ever you do next, you know not to step on that weighted foot. It's very likely isn't going anywhere.

If you are moving forward, make sure your upper body moves first. While your partner's weighted leg won't move, her free leg should move first.
If your foot goes first, you are going to have a problem.

I'm guessing you haven't learned about "crossed system" yet, but there you have a slightly different approach. Again, I think it's best to know where the weighted foot is.
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#7
My question is thus: how do you keep track of your partner's free leg without looking to the ground? Any tips welcome.

Thanks in advance,

François
It is by the feel (from the embrace/contact). Unfortunately, it takes time to develop the sensitivity to be able to detect these things.

Another problem in classes, is that often the follower is aware of what you are trying to do (what is being taught), and often she will do it, without waiting to be led by you to do it. While that might seem nice, it doesn't give the leader a true sense of whether he is leading anything properly. Then at a milonga (where the follower doesn't know what's coming next), you find out that your lead isn't as clear as it seemed, and/or the followers haven't learned how to wait for and feel the lead.
 
#9
I would advocate concentrating on the weighted leg, rather than the free leg.
Does it matter? If I know which leg is free, I should also know which one is weighted. I have not yet danced with aliens with more than two legs! ;-)

You can develop a sense of where her foot is on the floor. And here I have to add that a good partner will make it clear which foot her weight is on, both when she steps, and by not putting any weight on the "free" leg.

What ever you do next, you know not to step on that weighted foot. It's very likely isn't going anywhere.
I usually start a dance by leading a weight change, so that I am sure which leg she is on to start my first step. The problem is more in the flow of the dance that I sometimes lose track.

If you are moving forward, make sure your upper body moves first. While your partner's weighted leg won't move, her free leg should move first.
If your foot goes first, you are going to have a problem.
That is not the kind of issues I have. I think I 'got' the concept of leading with the chest. I am now starting to work on the implementation. To lead a back ocho to the left, do I need to rotate my chest to the left with a hinge in my neck? In my left shoulder? In my right shoulder? And how strong do I need to make that rotation? That is the kind of questions I am dealing with now.

I'm guessing you haven't learned about "crossed system" yet, but there you have a slightly different approach. Again, I think it's best to know where the weighted foot is.
I know what crossed system is, but not really used it so far.
 
#10
Another problem in classes, is that often the follower is aware of what you are trying to do (what is being taught), and often she will do it, without waiting to be led by you to do it. While that might seem nice, it doesn't give the leader a true sense of whether he is leading anything properly. Then at a milonga (where the follower doesn't know what's coming next), you find out that your lead isn't as clear as it seemed, and/or the followers haven't learned how to wait for and feel the lead.
Yes, I have already discovered that loooool. I tried several times to step to the left of my partner and then stop to get a cruzada, followed by a sanguchito. Except that the cruzadas never came. Meanwhile, I found out on this forum that I should have given a lead to get a cruzada. Lead which I didn't know about ...

On the positive side, my partners didn't do something that was not led.
 
#11
One error I am probably doing is that, typically after an ocho started in parallel system, we end up in crossed system. And that I need to do a weight change myself to get back into parallel system

Or change the weight of my partner, or continue in crossed system, but let's keep things simple!
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#12
Does it matter?
Well, in my book, it matters a lot more than learning some of things you are already leading.

Let's take that back ocho to the left that you mentioned as an example.
What is happening there is that you are asking your partner to rotate around an perpendicular axis that goes through her weighted foot and her torso.

do I need to rotate my chest to the left with a hinge in my neck? In my left shoulder? In my right shoulder?
You will be "twisting" to your left throughout your entire upper body aka torso. Your left should will be moving back and your right shoulder forward.

And how strong do I need to make that rotation?
Two part answer: only strong enough to get the movement you want in your partner, and, for me at least as importantly, as an expression of the music.
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
#13
One error I am probably doing is that, typically after an ocho started in parallel system, we end up in crossed system. And that I need to do a weight change myself to get back into parallel system

Or change the weight of my partner, or continue in crossed system, but let's keep things simple!
I wonder how do you do that.
 
#14
I needed to scratch my head a bit to understand your comment. But I get your point: somehow we have to be in cross system to lead an ocho. Certainly didn't think about it during the Milongas.
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
#15
I needed to scratch my head a bit to understand your comment. But I get your point: somehow we have to be in cross system to lead an ocho. Certainly didn't think about it during the Milongas.
There are some things that are impossible to lead in parallel system and there are some things that are easier to lead in cross system.

Ocho belongs to a category that is impossible to lead it.
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#17
There are some things that are impossible to lead in parallel system and there are some things that are easier to lead in cross system.

Ocho belongs to a category that is impossible to lead it.
A common way to lead back ochos while staying in parallel system, is for the leader to do front ochos.
 
#19
Well, this discussion has already enlightened me in several respects. I had in fact not realised that we are constantly switching between cross and parallel system. Thanks.
 
#20
That probably explains why I was stepping way too often on my partner's shoes.

Coming from a step in parallel system, I would typically initiate an ocho while doing a side step myself. I would intuitively do a weight change that would both allow me to do my side step and put us in cross system. But then I would forget to do the weight change after the side step. Sooner or later, that would result in me stepping on her toes.

I also understand how I can address that by doing a front ocho together with my partner's back ocho, or a back ocho together with partner's front ocho. These are in fact quite natural and easy moves, and also faster than side steps plus weight changes. I had indeed noticed that I was a bit slow to follow my partner's ochos.

Nice ...
 

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