Watching Yourself Dance to Improve


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I don't know what you mean with the recording comment though. What should I be careful about?
About not leaving distracting objects in the foreground of the shots. But then, you were obviously not the person holding the camera and responsible for the framing ;-).


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She'll be glad to hear it! Yeah, she generally wears flats when teaching the class unless the subject really requires heels. She switches to heels during the practica to save her feet.
I like to give compliement, with appropriate inspiration. :cool:
Something tells me that she might do the inverse actions with the shoes. ;)

Some clarification on a few things:
-We were the sole teachers for the class, which was a class on rhythmic tango musicality.
In my experience there is connection between the embrace and musicality.
And I don't mean about close vs open embrace here.

Musicality give us energy and timing and if we don't adjust some unclear situations might happen. ;)
There are many things I've learned and problems I've identified only by watching myself dance. Maybe I've heard the info in a group lesson, maybe a teacher has pointed it out to me in a private lesson...but it's only really sunk in on video. There is such a disconnect in tango between what it feels like we're doing and what we're actually doing. Video helps to build a bridge between the two. I can honestly say I am a much better dancer now than I would've been if I hadn't used video early and often on my dance journey.
Hey Tommy, your friendly runner up here.
I am studying Alexander's technique right now and your observation is acutely correct. In his book "The Use of Self", he wrote:
"The belief is very generally held that if only we are told what to do in order to correct a wrong way of doing something, we can do it, and that if we feel we are doing it, all is well. All my
experience, however, goes to show that this belief is a delusion.
This thread shows me my personal development.
A year ago I thought that reviewing videos of myself is essential to get better - striving to dance well at a milonga.
Nowadays I do not care much about that - I'm quite happy that I'm not obligated by teaching or performances to dance "correctly".

It's nice to learn new stuff from time to time, but I'm not a hurry, not under pressure.
Practicing proper posture and walk is daily routine while waiting, walking, shopping - it gets only applied while dancing.
Feedback of teachers how it works and partners how it feels is always welcome, but at the end I will dance how I like to do...


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The constant drive to improve one's tango never lets up, so that means it's time to evaluate myself again! I've been keeping up the trend of practicing 2 hours a week, socially dancing at practicas 4 hours a week, and working on lessons/teaching 7 hours a week. Also, I get to go to a festival maybe every other month.

To review the goals from last video:
1) Stay grounded in double-time sequences
2) Smoother boleos
3) Head back, shoulders relaxed
4) Foot turnout

Improvement video - another Di Sarli by request: "Esta Noche de Luna" (Di Sarli/Rufino)

Some relevant notes:
  • This was not an after class demo; it was done right before packing up for the night. Hence the few people still left look a little tired
  • You get to see another angle at our nice little dance venue
  • Apologies for the loud restaurant/interruptions
Here are my notes:
1) Firstly, goals from last video seem to be mostly met. Double time sequences looked good, no obvious posture or foot turnout issues. We did have one lazy boleo in there.
2) My partner had been dancing in flats all night and switched to heels for the video. This caused some balance issues for her @00:24 and 02:50. Moral of the story: wear the shoes you warm up in for the real thing!
3) Developed a bit of torso tilt for turns @00:50. Gotta keep an eye on that.
4) My lapiz @02:24 could be more expansive and less lazy
5) My partner's free leg shaping has gotten a lot better! I think her shaping of the back ocho @02:40 is really, really nice.
6) @02:43 we switch to open where I don't intend. Since the video was filmed we've had a private lesson on this and it's getting a lot better.
7) Overall, I think I've gotten too rhythmic. Just throwing in a lot of pausing doesn't make dancing melodic on it's own, I need to work on my fundamental movement energy. Less explosive energy, more smooth. I was told to help with this, transfer weight on the beat for rhythmic energy, place your foot on the beat for melodic energy.

Agree? Disagree? Constructive comments/criticism is welcome.
I am sorry, did not pay attention to your partner, just looked at you. I believe nearly every detail you mentioned would improve if you, in two simple words, get more grounded, and stand more straight.
It is hard to explain in words over the internet what I mean, but will try. For example, the pauses. It is not like there are not enough of them, but they are kinda mushy and up in the air. It has to be more... puesto (put down?) Some movements too, they kinda lack start (it is when you push off the floor) and finish (when you land). I am not saying you are not doing all this, but in my opinion it would use more accuracy and definition. I guess it what you called movement dynamics.
The lack of "groundness" also probably causes you to be a but top heavy at times and tilt to the open side of the embrace. At times that arm gets so heavy it takes attention away from the feet and torso, like the main leading force is there. Again, it is not entirely wrong, that point has to work, especially when you turn, etc. It just has to be more subtle methinks.
Hope it helps or at least does not offend or confuse. It is of course nit picking, and only because you asked. :) I like the dancing, overall and a lot of details about it in particular.


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I thought I'd put myself out there share the video with the community and ask for any thoughts/critiques on our dancing. Do other people video themselves dancing?

Background: we've been dancing tango for about a year, and it was our first dance.
Very nice. And brave of you to post it for commentary. I think my comments mirror those of the others who've already commented. I'd recommend getting your chest up higher and more forward and keeping your head straight. That requires a bit of work before it becomes a reflex; I had to consciously remind myself to do it before it became a habit and one of my teachers would often put his hand on my sternum and tell me to lift it up, up, up. Makes a big difference in your posture. And it's more comfortable for your partner and provides greater contact.

Also, don't bend bend your knees so much and try not to bounce on the beat. It takes time to dance naturally and fluidly, but you'll get there if you apply yourself. When you move your feet, its' not so much step, step, step but a fluid motion that comes from the upper body. Make sure not to lead with your legs like some men do but your upper chest, especially when moving forward. Maybe try keeping your feet from lifting so high off the floor. That might help. And once you improve your posture and stretch upward, it should help with the legs. Try not to bounce with each step; glide into the step, it's much nicer. Steps, even side steps, should be energetic and deliberate and smooth.

Musicality is nice, you're moving with the music. And there were some nice walking steps there to the beat. But you needn't be too formulaic about it, you can open up and slow down some of the movements, or use fewer of them. You don't need much fancy footwork here. Ganchos, I can't comment on since I've never been a fan but you slipped a couple in there. Be that as it may, you and your partner look better than some guys I've seen dancing for years. Kudos to your partner, too. You're both doing well.
4) My lapiz @02:24 could be more expansive and less lazy
Let me hook in here. I miss a compelling attitude to create a few awesome minutes with your partner in the first place.
A lapiz yields no direct benfit for your partner - it can only give you some momentum. But then it's a natural move of your free leg and no "figure" that you perform.

And look to the end how you let her arms fall down after the last tone, and how she lets them fall. Additionally the sparse applause distracts you from giving her carefully attention and accompanying her from the floor...
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Improvement video - another Di Sarli by request: "Esta Noche de Luna" (Di Sarli/Rufino)
Ok. This is nice. An improvement. One thing I noticed (and it's always entirely clear in the video) is that your embrace is kind of flexible. Now, some people dance that way and prefer it, so that's not necessarily a criticism if you're doing it deliberately. You're a bit open on your left side. That gives you a bit more freedom but reduces contact with your partner. It's not my own preference but some women naturally adopt that posture. You've already got a nice repertoire of "steps" for someone who's been dancing only a year. My teachers took it much more slowly than that. However, at this point, I'd work on fundamentals and avoid learning any new tricks. You don't need lapizes or ganchos to create a great dance. Obviously, that's a personal choice; just that for now, I'd recommend sticking with what you've got and refining the walk and the embrace and the basics. You can do a lot with a little if the little is done well. Oh, and what's with your partner's arm? She's going to kill someone with that elbow. I know it's a thing and you'll see it a lot, but it's not so great for a crowded floor.


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How often does she dance in high heels?

I don't see a physical contact in the chest during the close embrace.
And she is tilting her head forward.


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I've tried both heel and ball leads when walking. I prefer heel leads in general, but switch to ball leads for certain movements. Very slow movements or certain circular movements in particular. Any place where I need to go very slow or have a lot of foot turn out.

I'm currently trying to learn the style of Carlitos and Noelia. Their musicality really speaks to me, and I love their close, flexible embrace.

I'm all for periodically resetting posture and embrace. I'm in the middle of that right now. I'm just fixing an anterior pelvic tilt with stretches, exercises, and going for the "turtle back," i.e. expanding both your upper and lower back. Once I have that down, I'll go back to focusing on being tall, having my shoulders down and head over my spine (which was a little lacking in the video).

Honestly, I thought I had too much upper body movement in weight changes, but I think I see what you mean. Part of it is I didn't choose many movements that required big dissociation because these types of songs don't bring that out of me. But on my giros to the right, I think I could use some more twist.
As to hell or ball, I don't know what I'd recommend for you but I prefer a smooth, almost gliding step now and landing on the ball of the foot. I raise my feet very little off the floor, I rather skim the surface. I didn't used to, but I do now and find it preferable. It prevents you from making a thud when you step (or appearing to). It also helps you keep your chest forward and lets you lead with your upper body. But whatever works for you is good.

Carlitos and Noelia are great but they are *performers* dancing on an open floor. And they use a very flexible, sometimes open, embrace. Like many dancers, they start out close (her arm over his shoulder, which is my preference), but open up to suit the movement. You can't dance like Carlitos at a milonga without seriously interfering with the flow of the dance. Plus, the guy has been dancing since he was a teenager (Noelia as well), he's already got years and years of practice under his belt. But I love the energy in his step and his confidence and groundedness. He really uses that floor. I've seen him in a workshop video where he's dancing and wearing a pair of Timberland ankle boots. He just steps, steps, steps. Very interesting what he does there. It's great to take inspiration from people you like but you have to find your own dance.

Not sure about your upper body movement. The trick is to keep your upper body as still as possible, as well as your left arm. That way, you provide a stable ground for your partner, something she can rely on. Dissociation is important, even in simple outside walking steps, not just turns. A lot of the initial momentum for turns, etc., comes from the hips - so, dissociation. You're doing well, just try to keep it simple. Posture. Embrace. Music.


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Your partner is still having to/choosing to dance with her right shoulder pushed behind her. Your left arm/hand position is not conducive to dancing a flat-on embrace, but she also doesn't seem to be comfortable opening into as much V as she would need to do. She would have to turn her head somewhat more towards you as well.
I wish I had received this kind of advice when I was first starting out. It would have been invaluable. Lessons with good teachers helped, of course, but it's amazing what you can learn from an experienced dancer.


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People progress at widely varying rates.

It's futile to expect certain ability at specific milestones measured by TIME.
So very true. I recall one dispiriting moment when I had been dancing maybe two years, maybe 18 months. I wasn't very good and my dancing was very basic and uninspired but musicality was OK. I danced with an older woman at a very informal milonga. At the end of the second song (maybe the end of the tanda), she asked how long I'd been dancing (almost always a bad sign). When I told her said, "you should be dancing better by this time." And that was that. Was one of the many times I thought about quitting. I never saw her around much after that though. To my great relief.


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Congrats on being able to filter the noise made by the audience. Like for your previous video
my main critics would be for the follower but ok let's just consider your part.

0:33 (but not only at this time) shoulders are not horizontal while walking in circles. Even worse, the inner shoulder is the highest one.
1:00 the pivots CCW with sacadas are less confident than their CW counterparts.
2:53 (but not only at this time) The abrazo is very shifted to the right.
0:14 (but not only at this time) The music has four very clear (even to the phillistine audience) notes, the follower steps on each note while you step on the 1st and last. The effect would be more noticeable if you stepped only on the first, then not moving while the follower takes the three remaining steps. Here it's more a preference of mine than a critic really.

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