Understanding Tango by understanding Ballet

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
#21
I know that. But BOTH require the dancer to be on axis.
So what if they are done on axis.

When I was practicing for enrosque Federico Naveira told me not to go up because we are not professionals (ballet dancers).
Some elements may look alike, but are completely different.
So you also know that fouettes are done in one way, and boleo is an effect of interrupted and actually counter movement.
I have seen guys who are excellent dancers when they show off alone, but when I see them with others they suck.

Surely ballet dancers bring movement management, as any other dancer or former sport person.
Effect might be the same but what's happening in their heads is different.
 

Gssh

Well-Known Member
#22
I know that. But BOTH require the dancer to be on axis.
I think i am having a contrarian day, but i think of a boleo as loosing ones axis, and reestablishing it - the follower gives up their axis and attempts to move to a new axis, the leader interrupts them before they have a chance to get to/ establish that new axis, their body returns to the old axis while the foot that was supposed to be the foundation of the new axis carries the momentum of trying to establish a new axis.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#23
I don't think that the fact that a lot of tango dancers have a ballet background speaks particularly to the question if it is advantageous for their technique -
I think that touring tango companies have shifted their technique more towards ballet-like because that is what their dancers have ingrained in them, and not the other way around.
I agree. As tango shows become more and more "showy" and acrobatic (and popular), the dancers who perform them are thinner, more limber, and look more like ballerinas than the golden age tangueras. (If you haven't seen "Our Last Tango", it's has an interesting view of the early tango shows. Maria Nieves certainly didn't look like the show dancers of today.)

http://widehouse.org/film/our-last-tango/

Whether the shows have sought out women who look like (or dance like) ballerinas, or ballet trained dancers have moved over to Tango shows, I don't know. But the rise of ballet-looking dancers and styles in the shows has definitely changed Tango as a social dance. Very good followers with impeccable technique can be overlooked by leaders because they don't have a "dancer body", highly arched feet that allow the woman to dance on her tiptoes, the ability to touch her foot to her head in a boleo, or long legs with almost straight knees.

Yes, ballet can be a great tool, both as past experience and current cross-training. So can martial arts, skating, ballroom, and a variety of other physical disciplines. Each comes with valuable lessons and pitfalls when it comes to tango. Different people make better use of different experiences.

But the prevalence of ballet dancers performing tango isn't evidence that it is the "best" outside discipline to improve tango... it's just evidence that people really like the way ballet dancers LOOK when dancing. If you doubt that, read the criticisms of great dancers on So You Think You Can Dance based on their body shape. Or the backlash when one of the great pro's on Dancing with the Stars gained weight. Culturally, (at least int he US) we expect "dancers" to look a certain way, and that way is "Ballerina" even when the dance isn't Ballet.
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#24
I think i am having a contrarian day, but i think of a boleo as loosing ones axis, and reestablishing it - the follower gives up their axis and attempts to move to a new axis, the leader interrupts them before they have a chance to get to/ establish that new axis, their body returns to the old axis while the foot that was supposed to be the foundation of the new axis carries the momentum of trying to establish a new axis.
I would think slightly differently. I usually see ganchos and boleos to be the same action/movement; one being a leg swing that is interrupted by the partner's leg/action, and the other being a leg swing that is interrupted by one's own action/movement. The action (hooking) or movement (swing) of the leg is danced the same regardless. now, what I believe you to be saying is that 'here' is where the difference is. When dancing a gancho, the partner executing the gancho is usually in a moving action (which naturally will change axes). Yet, when dancing a boleo, the executing partner might or might not change (or, give up...) their axis, depending.
But the prevalence of ballet dancers performing tango isn't evidence that it is the "best" outside discipline to improve tango... it's just evidence that people really like the way ballet dancers LOOK when dancing.
AMEN! I typically cringe when a student says to me, "Oh, I got it; I've had ballet". :( :confused: o_O :meh:
 
#25
I think i am having a contrarian day, but i think of a boleo as loosing ones axis, and reestablishing it - the follower gives up their axis and attempts to move to a new axis, the leader interrupts them before they have a chance to get to/ establish that new axis, their body returns to the old axis while the foot that was supposed to be the foundation of the new axis carries the momentum of trying to establish a new axis.
I'm confused about "losing one's axis." The weight is on one foot. "Losing one's axis" implies the weight is no longer on one foot. For a boleo, the woman is one foot. The woman reaches for a back ocho but before she commits to standing on the free foot, the man reverses direction causing her free leg to whip and come in the forward direction. She remains on one foot for the duration of the back step, boleo, and pivoting forward.
 

newbie

Well-Known Member
#26
A follower of mines has ballet background. I greatly like how well-controlled and defined and timed her moves are, how she never ever loses her balance. On the other hand her tango is too neutral for my taste. She follows, follows all and nothing but follows. All in all she's not my favourite follower.
 

Gssh

Well-Known Member
#27
.... The woman reaches for a back ocho but before she commits to standing on the free foot, the man reverses direction causing her free leg to whip and come in the forward direction. She remains on one foot for the duration of the back step, boleo, and pivoting forward....
When dancing a gancho, the partner executing the gancho is usually in a moving action (which naturally will change axes). Yet, when dancing a boleo, the executing partner might or might not change (or, give up...) their axis, depending.
I tend to think of this moving action - and basically all followers actions - as a consequence of the leader influencing the followers axis. A follower does not reach for the back ocho while completely balanced - they reach because the lead implies that they are soon going to be imbalanced/they are about to do a moving action. There is no direction to reverse if the follower has not started to shift their point of balance into that step. So we are in a continuous game of establishing and giving up bases, and the essence of ganchos and boleos is that the leader interrupts the followers attempt at establishing a new base/move onto a different axis.
 
#28
I returned to the New York City Ballet to see Dances at a Gathering and the Firebird. There's a Balanchine quote in the program.
"There are no new steps, only new combinations."

For some reason, it sounds like a struggle between traditional and Nuevo tangos.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#29
I tend to think of this moving action - and basically all followers actions - as a consequence of the leader influencing the followers axis. A follower does not reach for the back ocho while completely balanced - they reach because the lead implies that they are soon going to be imbalanced/they are about to do a moving action. There is no direction to reverse if the follower has not started to shift their point of balance into that step. So we are in a continuous game of establishing and giving up bases, and the essence of ganchos and boleos is that the leader interrupts the followers attempt at establishing a new base/move onto a different axis.
For once, I disagree with you. A boleo can be led without any attempt to move into a step. A leader can pivot a follower on her axis and then suddenly reverse the pivot without any sideways movement to a new leg. In fact, once the lead to take a step is felt, it's often too late for the boleo.

It sorta depends on the boleo one is going for of course... a back in-line boleo for instance requires a certain amount of movement off the axis of the standing leg.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#30
I returned to the New York City Ballet to see Dances at a Gathering and the Firebird. There's a Balanchine quote in the program.
"There are no new steps, only new combinations."

For some reason, it sounds like a struggle between traditional and Nuevo tangos.
And for Balanchine, new positions to be in while doing the steps.
 

sixela

Well-Known Member
#32
A boleo can be led without any attempt to move into a step. A leader can pivot a follower on her axis and then suddenly reverse the pivot without any sideways movement to a new leg.
Quite, but such a boleo and a real "contra" boleo (which is led by invading the space the follower would go to when stepping) are really very different boleos. There's not just one kind of boleos, and there's even some sort of continuum between the two most extreme forms (very smooth pivot-reversing ones vs. real contra boleos with _a lot_ of energy injection).
 

tangobro

Active Member
#33
"El Chino" Marcelo Gutierrez teaches stability in the standing leg by using exercises & concepts that he says he learned from ballet.


 
#34
Quite, but such a boleo and a real "contra" boleo (which is led by invading the space the follower would go to when stepping) are really very different boleos. There's not just one kind of boleos, and there's even some sort of continuum between the two most extreme forms (very smooth pivot-reversing ones vs. real contra boleos with _a lot_ of energy injection).
I don't think you went far enough with your continuum. A boleo en favor, which is not created by a pivot reversal or even a pivot stop, but rather by just a very gentle slowing down of the pivot, is still further away from contra-boleos.
 
#35
I don't think you went far enough with your continuum. A boleo en favor, which is not created by a pivot reversal or even a pivot stop, but rather by just a very gentle slowing down of the pivot, is still further away from contra-boleos.
Can you explain "boleo en favor"? Google gives zero hits.
 
#36
I'll try. I too find no "boleo en favor" when I google, although I frequently lead them. So let's first start with a gancho en favor, where there is a you-tube video, and perhaps by analogy the boleo en favor will be clear. A gancho is often taught as a follower's back or side step interrupted by the leaders leg. When the "impact" of the interruption occurs, the follower hooks the leaders leg. However, a much softer and more languid version of the gancho can be seen beginning at roughly the 16 second mark of this video. Notice that there is no "impact". Rather the leader "twists" in the same direction (en favor) as the follows leg. The gancho is slow and smooth and happens as the leader twists his body, not when he stops her rotation.

For a boleo en favor, the leader begins much as he would for a contra-boleo, but much more slowly. As the follow rotates, the leader "twists" to rotate with the follow. I start split weight and, as I "twist", transfer most of my weight in the direction of the twist. z.B., if the boleo is with the follow's right standing leg, I pivot her (sorry for the gender reference, but it makes life easier) ccw and transfer my weight to my right foot. As the lead slows her rotation, but prior to any stopping of the rotation, the woman executes her boleo. One might (correctly) argue that this is really an invitation, leaving things entirely up to the woman; more of an adorno than the usual contra-boleo which even the least experienced follow can't miss. It allows the woman to execute a smooth, languid, and very graceful boleo if she chooses. She can also simply ignore the invitation and glare at you, believing that you are totally clueless about a "proper" boleo lead. Oh well.

BTW. I viewed the video a second time and at roughly 2:23 there is almost a front boleo en favor. Note that Michelle executed the front boleo with no contra motion by Joachim. Now imagine that he had twisted with her pivot. Then it would have been a boleo en favor.

While on the subject, another boleo, which I also frequently lead, is created by pivoting the woman so that her hips are at, say 90 degrees to the lead. The leader lowers her slightly so she is ready to execute a planeo, then pivots her back so her hips face the leader. Done very slowly, this is a planeo. Done a bit more rapidly, it invites, but doesn't demand, a smooth and elegant boleo. Again, with an inexperienced follow, it may elicit a look of distain and a reluctance to ever dance with you again. Oh well.

I'll try to find videos of both of these - both en favor as well as whatever the heck the last boleo might be called. I've never seen the last one taught, but it certainly does work with a follow who understands the physics of tango.
 
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Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#37
I'll try. I too find no "boleo en favor" when I google, although I frequently lead them. So let's first start with a gancho en favor, where there is a you-tube video...... A gancho is often taught as a follower's back or side step interrupted by the leaders leg.
Allow me to play Devil's advocate for a moment, please. Though, I have encountered these terms "__?__ en favor", I have mostly disregarded them as attempts to over-define not something new, but a variation of something old. I believe that this often makes movements unnecessarily complicated to understand (if not to do). A gancho is correctly described in OTG's post (above). I teach it not as a step interrupted, but a movement interrupted by the partner. A boleo.... a movement interrupted by one's self (not to mean unled). Whether a backward movement is interrupted by the partner because of a step, placement, or quick/slow rotation is irrelevant; it is still a back/side step/movement interrupted. In the mentioned video, Michelle's leg is moving in a backward direction which is natural to the movement being danced, and the gancho occurs. To me, "en favor" is more of a cutsie name rather than a step description. :) Sorry, I'm really not trying to be contentious or obtuse. :shy:
 
#38
...In the mentioned video, Michelle's leg is moving in a backward direction which is natural to the movement being danced, and the gancho occurs. To me, "en favor" is more of a cutsie name rather than a step description. :) Sorry, I'm really not trying to be contentious or obtuse. :shy:
I take no issue with what you have said. I simply wanted to point out that, irrespective of the name, the boleo (en favor) is not driven by a counter rotation, or even a stopage of rotation, which is the "usual" expectation for a boleo. Rather it occurs through the follow's decision to execute it. Not that it is unled, but it is much more of an invitation, or possibly a suggestion of an invitation, than a contra-boleo or one generated by stopping the follow's rotation. It, by whatever name one calls it, extends the spectrum of boleos beyond that presented by sixela. That was all.
 

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