Watching Yourself Dance to Improve

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
Th
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

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.
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Haven't read other comments yet (and probably won't have time today) Again, kudos for being willing to post yourself for feedback.

To me the tilting to your left is a problem throughout the entire piece and not just at the point you mention. It isn't a consistent amount of tilt, but it seems to always be there. Even when your shoulders aren't tilted as much, your head is tilted. So rather than pick apart any specific movements, I'll just say that the issue with your shoulders and head is something you need to be focusing on in general all the time, and should be one of your top goals.

One consequence of you tilting left for your follower (aside from all the obvious consequences for you and your lead) is that your right shoulder comes up and your arm in her left armpit lifts her shoulder. While switching shoes can cause balance problems, being unable to get a correct position of her own shoulders would definitely cause balance problems.

I see her trying to adjust her arm position in a couple of spots and I also see she is unable to find a comfortable way to place her left arm that also meets what she probably feels is the "correct" placement of her arm. I'm wondering how she is able to deal with this at all, much less when she is 3" shorter in practice shoes! If I were her, I would have completely changed my left arm placement pretty early on so that your arm wouldn't have been lifting me. I see her at one spot going for the placement I would use, and then almost immediately going back to having her arm around your neck which isn't working for her. Without going back to find exact spots this is happening, perhaps the unintended opening you spoke of is a result of this issue.

So I would say one of the most important goals from the last video has NOT been met... #3, and should be one of your top priorities at this stage.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
OOh, 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.
Her elbow is up because his arm and elbow is also up. (assuming we are talking about the same video) In some places his arm is almost picking her up by her armpit. In a case like that, I would take my arm from around the leaders neck and try to find another hold, but I've met a lot of followers who have been taught that they're "supposed" to put their arm in a specific place on the leader whether or not it's working for them. The poster needs to think more about pointing his own elbows at the floor more.

With some leaders, if their right arm gets too high and out for me, my best option is to actually put my right arm UNDER theirs. That usually confuses 'em enough to make the point. ;)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
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.
All too often, leaders don't want to learn from a "follower" teacher unless she's also an accomplished social leader. It's unfortunate, because often followers ALSO don't want to learn from another follower because they want the experience in the lesson of dancing with a great leader.

There does seem to be a point in many men's tango journey when they realize that lessons from followers are exactly what they need.

Incidentally, the issue of leaders using their left hand and arm in a manner inconsistent with the embrace they are hoping to achieve is pretty common. So is the issue of followers letting their right arm get too far behind them. And they occur together much of the time.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
A better option is to place your left arm higher, on the leader neck.
You completely missed the point, which is to get my arm and shoulder LOWER if the leader is raising it via my armpit. There's a point at which the position of my arm is simply not going to allow me to hold my shoulders and upper chest correctly for my own posture. Depending on the height of the leader, going higher on his neck may not be an option, and I'm not short.

Plus taking my arm away and putting it under his usually prompts the leader to wonder why I'm doing that, which might create a change in his bad habits. In a practica, I might actually make a suggestion. In a milonga, I'm stuck with just doing whatever I have to in order to connect and dance MY best dance with that connection.
 

TomTango

Active Member
@Zoopsia59 Totally agree; body alignment and arm positioning have taken top priority recently. What's weird is that it was so hard to uncover. It's not uncomfortable for my partners, at least not consciously so. None of them (or other random dancers at practicas) have mentioned feeling lifted or tilted, and none of my private lessons recently mentioned it. It took video to bring it to light.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
@Zoopsia59 Totally agree; body alignment and arm positioning have taken top priority recently. What's weird is that it was so hard to uncover. It's not uncomfortable for my partners, at least not consciously so. None of them (or other random dancers at practicas) have mentioned feeling lifted or tilted, and none of my private lessons recently mentioned it. It took video to bring it to light.
I think sometimes followers haven't ever actually gotten their own body alignment right and therefore they don't realize where it's SUPPOSED to be to know the leader is preventing it.

You also see some performance dancers actually using a tilt to the right for the follower with her arm high around the leader's neck. This works better in a frame where the follower is looking to her right at least somewhat, there's a slight V to the shape. Even then, I don't recommend that regular social dancers mimic it, because it creates SO many problems for the follower that they aren't even aware are being caused by that tilt. It ripples through EVERYTHING and if someone is going to use it, they have to compensate specifically for it.

I think it is easier to keep your shoulders aligned if you also think about having your own elbows pointed at the floor rather than out. People tend to better feel the awkwardness of raising one shoulder or tipping if they don't have their elbows out. That will also make it easier for your partner to keep her own shoulders down, her own elbows down, and her chest lifted and connected.
 
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Wow, it was amazing to read all this thread and huge props to you for the constant improvement, thank you @TomTango for sharing your journey, as a beginner it motivates me seeing how other people have progressed in their dance!
 

TomTango

Active Member
Just an update on progress and some thoughts I've had.

First, the videos:



The goals lately have been (in order of importance):
*Have a level torso
*Dancing smooth pauses and half time walking
*How we look performing

The "Pobre Flor" video is ok, better than the previous "Gricel" video done in the same venue. Performances in front of large crowds will never be as good as demos to me. I wasn't able to think about torso tilt, due to the pressures of performing, but I think it was slightly improved in some spots. One thing that made my performance worse was a preoccupation with the large floor and the need to "fill it up." I've come to the realization that no matter how big the floor is, I should dance normally and not worry about making big movements that cover a lot of ground.

I think the "Charamusca" video is better - we're more relaxed and the floor is smaller. My partner wasn't happy with her leg articulation in the vals, and she was very focused on shaping in this one, and it shows. I also think this video shows real progress toward a level torso, though obviously it's going to take a long time before it can be considered "fixed".

I did some musing, practicing, and research (aka, asking teachers I know), and have some thoughts on reasons to fix the torso tilt. I think it looks better to have level shoulders, and it makes my lead better to get away from searching for connection with the top of my right arm. Also, it just feels better to me. However, there are some things that don't matter. For one, it doesn't make much of a difference to how good my embrace feels (somewhat surprisingly). All follows and follow teachers I've asked say it feels fine whether I'm level or not, and it's not noticeable to them by feel. Another is it doesn't affect balance in pivots. The videos show we can accomplish tight, controlled turns whether it's present or not. Finally, while it did contribute to my partner lifting her arm, her left shoulder will be higher than her right regardless of my arm if she goes for an over the shoulder embrace. I looked up performance videos by professional couples, and all followers who used that type of embrace had a slant to their shoulders.

Thanks @thedude ! This is why I decided to document this; because I wished I had something like this when I was starting.
 
Quite enjoyable to watch. As a beginning lead, I am not going to make any technical remarks. This thread started about five years ago. I am wondering how many hours per week you have put into your tango to get to this level.
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
In "Pobre flor" the follower was just too slow and heavy and there was a situation when the leader didn't wait for the follower. This just my general feeling of the performance.

In "Charamusca" there is some dancing and many prepared mini-sequences.

And it is nice that you chose vals for a change.
Vals is much more enjoyable to watch that D'Arienzo.

Some insecurities are visible on the follower side.
I feel she doesn't dance so often in high heels.
 

TomTango

Active Member
Quite enjoyable to watch. As a beginning lead, I am not going to make any technical remarks. This thread started about five years ago. I am wondering how many hours per week you have put into your tango to get to this level.
Thanks! It's hard to say how much I practice. I'm working on my tango constantly, but at various levels. For example, I have two hours of dedicated practice a week. I prepare three lessons a week which most of the time involve me putting extra practice into understanding what I'm teaching. I watch performances often, which I consider practice in musicality. I set aside one tanda per practica to work with my partner on something.

But I would say, in general, 2-3 nights a week of social dancing, one evening a week of practice, and going to 3-4 weekend-long events a year describes many of my years of dancing.
 
Thanks! It's hard to say how much I practice. I'm working on my tango constantly, but at various levels. For example, I have two hours of dedicated practice a week. I prepare three lessons a week which most of the time involve me putting extra practice into understanding what I'm teaching. I watch performances often, which I consider practice in musicality. I set aside one tanda per practica to work with my partner on something.

But I would say, in general, 2-3 nights a week of social dancing, one evening a week of practice, and going to 3-4 weekend-long events a year describes many of my years of dancing.
Wow both the new videos are very nice, i especially like the musicality! Piggybacking on this comment i'm curious to know, what would you consider the most "important" part of this for your progress? I've noticed that practicing don't always serve me well as opposed to social dancing which often helps me to "clean" my lead..
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
Funny you should say that. It was actually "Pobre Flor" which had a few prepared sequences in it. Charamusca was fully improvised.
Pobre flow has a flow and those sequences you may have are not visible.
There are many moments in Charamusca that you wait for a moment do a trick and continue.
You did one element going leading backwards the same as some video long time ago without moving torso. I comment that then and now. That way you lead that doesn't work with a random partner.
 

newbie

Well-Known Member
That way you lead that doesn't work with a random partner.
In a ideal world yes. Academically speaking TomTango should be assessing his tango by dancing with a random follower, of similar skill each time, and not familiar with his lead. As otherwise you cannot know whether your lead has improved, you cannot get rid of the thought that the follower just got more familiar with your way of dancing, your habits, your tricks.
Hiring a teacher maybe. But then, it would only work once, he would have to seek yet a new teacher for each video.
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
In a ideal world yes. Academically speaking TomTango should be assessing his tango by dancing with a random follower, of similar skill each time, and not familiar with his lead. As otherwise you cannot know whether your lead has improved, you cannot get rid of the thought that the follower just got more familiar with your way of dancing, your habits, your tricks.
Hiring a teacher maybe. But then, it would only work once, he would have to seek yet a new teacher for each video.
Or maybe his dancing should be tested on par level or below. Since he is a teacher and teachers should be experienced dancers, and experienced dancer compensate mistakes of others.

IME Every teacher has some points giving to their students. I don't think there a need to be so nitpicking about choosing a teacher.
 

TomTango

Active Member
Wow both the new videos are very nice, i especially like the musicality! Piggybacking on this comment i'm curious to know, what would you consider the most "important" part of this for your progress? I've noticed that practicing don't always serve me well as opposed to social dancing which often helps me to "clean" my lead..
I've held for myself, and I tell my students that volume trumps classes. Social dancing as much as you can is the best way to get better. However, it has to be social dancing with a goal. You don't even have to be actively working on something; simply being aware of a deficiency you have, in the back of your mind, is often enough to improve. So pairing, say, one lesson a week with a lot of social dancing is the most efficient use of your time.

The other thing I maintain is huge for progress is watching videos of very good dancers performing. You get to see how their bodies interpret the music, and it in turn passively effects your own musicality. I had excellent vals musicality waaay before I should've because my favorite performer did a lot of vals and liked hitting the unique rhythms while performing.
 

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