Keeping track of partner's free leg

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#23
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 ...
Another thing to learn is that you can switch to cross (or parallel) system anytime by doing a weight change (or step) that you don't lead her to do, (also by having her do a weight change or step that you don't do). It doesn't have to be after a side step (although that's the easiest one to learn).

Some examples:
  • When paused, you can do a "quiet" weight change, (or you can lead her to change weight while you do not).
  • When walking, you could do 2 quick steps while she does one slow step.
  • Similarly, you could have the follower do 2 quick steps while you do one slow step, (like what happens when you walk a woman to the cross, when going from cross system to parallel system).
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#24
And what's important is that every follower has different way how she expresses the weight. Your tasks is to study how each follower follows generally and odd cases when they don't do it as you expected it.
Firstly, bienvenue (welcome) to the DF. Secondly, I thought that Mlad's initial response was a bit too technical/advanced for where you are in your dancing at the moment, but this one (above) is more spot on than one might realize. Also, dChester's posts are way good.

To stop stepping on your partner, certainly there are proper embrace issues, proper position issues, proper stepping issues, blah, blah, blah. The hidden, but most important culprit is proper timing issues. To do this you must learn to lead by following (Mladenac's post). Be centered yourself; properly on both feet. Center your partner... properly on both feet. Learn that a step is not from foot to foot, but from the center of both feet to the center of both feet. Think of the time when the feet and legs brush together as a balancing/transitioning/controlling point from step to step or movement to movement. It is then that you are moving 'with' the partner, and not into or against the partner.

This is the secret to the AT walk. As you better understand it, you will become more and more able to feel how every follower expresses the movement (Mlac's post), and be able to; move with it, place it where you wish, and place it 'when' you wish. Obviously, if you are doing these 3 things, you will never step on the partner. Bonne chance.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#25
As a quick fix, if you aren't sure which foot she's on, do balanceos (SP?) AKA weight changes to get her on the parallel foot to yours, like you say you do at the beginning of the dance. Or walk in outside partner to the cross-if you're in cross system, you won't step on her. Then you can leave out a step while she crosses to get back in parallel.

This is definitely one of the challenging aspects of leading AT.
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
#26
I thought that Mlad's initial response was a bit too technical/advanced for where you are in your dancing at the moment,
If students practice non-verbal communication in tango it is not advance practice.
Some things over time become more complex, but basics are basics and teach those things.
They should be taught before first class.
 
#27
As I already said, my key takeaway from this thread is that we are constantly switching between parallel and crossed system. The fact that I didn't realise this before was probably the cause of many errors on my side. Now I have a clear path forward for my practices.
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
#28
As I already said, my key takeaway from this thread is that we are constantly switching between parallel and crossed system. The fact that I didn't realise this before was probably the cause of many errors on my side. Now I have a clear path forward for my practices.
When you practice new things try to do them 1/2 the speed, or occasionally lead 1/2 speed.
That should bring movement awareness and solve a lot of problems in the future.
Because it will train your mind what is lead and what is followed. :)
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
#30
Yes, I have been thinking about that myself. But then I wonder a bit whether my partner is not going to get bored.
Do it occasionally on milonga and more often at practica.
She will also gain more insight, lose balance easier so no.
Some things might be more challenging for her. ;)
 

rain_dog

Active Member
#32
Yes, I have been thinking about that myself. But then I wonder a bit whether my partner is not going to get bored.
Changing up the speed of your dance is a very good way to not be boring, especially if you do it in the context of the musical phrases. I once took a very good musicality class (with Carlos Moreno from Boston, I think) who talked about the 5 tango 'gears', akin to gears in a car. In 1st gear you step every 4th beat, 2nd every 2nd beat, 3rd gear (which most people are dancing in most of the time) you step on every beat, 4th gear twice per beat (double time), and finally 5th gear you are stepping on the 16th-notes.

If during a dance you can use all 5 gears your followers will not find you boring, even if all you're doing is walking and weight changes. It's all about the music, not how many volcadas and ganchos you can do.

So do not be afraid at all to do some 'slow' dancing from time to time, and if you have a good embrace your followers will love it.
 
#33
François,

I find that what makes tango quite difficult and even counter-intuitive for absolute beginners is that, generally speaking, you and your partner have to move in opposite directions; if you move in the same direction, then depending on the exact situation, you may drift apart from one another, which is against the "togetherness" spirit of the dance; or worse, you may collide.

At different times and in different places I have heard both Alex Krebs and Alicia Pons make this very fundamental point. It's easy to forget how hard that was for intermediates once it becomes mechanized into your system, but the skill of a very advanced practitioner of any art or technique lies in his/her ability to empathize with the struggle of the absolute beginner. In fact, reducing to first principles in this way actually enhances one's skill, though it is a discomforting process!

If your partner moves to his/her left, you have to move right; if he/she moves right, you must move left. Now enthusiastic learners sometimes jump to the wrong conclusion here and think of the "mirror image" analogy, but it is lacking. For when you take a step toward mirror, what does your own reflection do? It steps toward you. And yet if you and your partner did this, in embrace, simultaneously, then you would get trodden on, or you would yourself do the treading, depending on whose foot was higher up to start off with, or upon the exact moment when each person's foot hit the ground.

So from my perspective as a woman, if my partner moves forward, I must move back; if I move forward, he must move back. That's always assuming you know what your partner is actually doing; still less, what he/she is going to do, which is a whole problem in itself.

Sure, you can change weight (or your partner can), and switch systems, but in cross the same fundamental principle applies; it doesn't suddenly change just because you are walking on the same leg as your partner. If you both go back, you'll drift apart; both forward, and it could be quite painful. Both to the left, or both to the right, and you won't be dancing with each other any more.

There are a few moves which you'll meet soon enough, such as the colgada where the intention of both is backward, if not expressed in actual motion; or the so-called ocho cortado or "cut" ocho (very different from an ordinary one, if you've done that) where you momentarily move toward each other (starting far enough apart here is, needless to say, crucial). In some instances the setup for a sacada involves both parties moving in the same lateral direction, usually left; but the momentary distance created is soon closed again.

Remembering and internalizing the above served me well in my learning, I can tell you!

GE
 

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