Contra body movement whilst walking

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by ant, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. ant

    ant Member

    For the sake of clarity I mean

    - moving your right shoulder forward when you move your left leg forward
    - moving your left shoulder forward when you move your right leg forward
    - moving your right shoulder back when you move your left leg back
    - moving your left shoulder forward when you move your right leg forward

    Over the last week I have two different philosophies on this topic.

    The first suggests you use minimal contrabody movement when walking just enough to direct the follower to walk and increase the contra body movement when you would like the follower to side step independantly around you.

    The second is that there should be more pronounced contra body movement when walking and there should greater use of dissociation to lead the follower into an independant side step around you.

    I see advantages and disadvantages in both philosophies. My personal preference is the first suggestion but I was wondering what other people thought.
  2. Mladenac

    Mladenac Active Member

    At first I lead everything strong, later I learned how to lead enough depending on the follower.
  3. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I don't "use" it at all. To me, it's not a technique, it's just the way I walk. Sometimes I do a small amount, sometimes I do a lot, depending on how I feel. I think it feels very nice to take a few long slow steps with my partner and even exaggerating the movement. I don't think of it as applying to turns, although I do twist my shoulders to indicate molinetes.
  4. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    I started with this concept, but by now I donĀ“t use it any more.
  5. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    In a walk, I would keep my upper body as still and as quiet as possible, almost dissociated from my hips as I walk.

    The only time I would use contra-body movements is when I need to lead something. The differences in the amount of movement would be dependent on the tempo and intensity of what I am trying to lead
  6. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    This is an odd concept to me, and I've never heard it said that the upper body should remain still. Quiet? Sure, but still, not for me. It seems to me that walking on ones own, gracefully, would include a natural CBM. Stifling the CBM would produce a less graceful and capable gait. I think the same goes for walking with ones partner in an embrace, open or closed. I understand the stylistic idea, but I still think it would sacrifice some grace and capability to suppress CBM.
  7. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    In the technique of other dance styles, CBM is used to initiate turn, as well as being a natural component of walking. It is not out of place in AT, in my view, but it doesn't lead to the swing/step principle (of which CBM is a fundamental component) in the ballroom dances; but it is worth mentioning that that principle does not apply in ballroom tango, anyway.
  8. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I love it when leaders use a sort of CBM in AT. Even for just regular old walking. It gives the movement depth and character.
  9. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

    Although I learned the method you describe, I was recently taught that CBM should come from the upper abdominals, not the shoulders. Any movement in the upper body & shoulders would be the result of that movement (for close embrace salon style). It seems to work for me.
  10. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    I used to be told I was too stiff, until I consciously started adding CBM. Since then, I've also learned it's a very important part of the lead, ESPECIALLY when the leader is walking backwards. It's part of the invitation for her to step into your space.
  11. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Certainly. In current ballroom technique, we no longer talk in terms of a turn in, or from, the shoulder, but from the 'side' (both in respect of CBM, and its opposite, 'side-leading'). In AT, I guess the use of dissociation may mean that that doesn't necessarily come from the hips, but higher up, but it should definitely be more than just the shoulders that turn.
  12. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    It's a style issue, nothing more.

    Basically, I think it depends on how the walk goes - if you want to use CBM / dissociation during the walk, then do so. If you don't, then don't.

    I occasionally use it to emphasize a movement, but mostly I don't swing around that much.
  13. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I dance milonga with far more CBM than tango; it adds to the playfulness and movement of the steps
  14. newbie

    newbie Active Member

    I use minimal contrabody movement when walking and dissociation to lead the follower into an independant side step around me. That is, my contra-body leads her contra-body, not her steps.
  15. JohnEm

    JohnEm Member

    Absolutely. I'm yet to find any use for it in my preferred apilado style.

    Natural CBM occurs when we walk normally swinging our arms which
    effects a counterbalance to the swing of the legs.

    Walking with a partner, together with the emphasis on creating axes,
    is very different. And bringing CBM in as the term to explain intent
    for creating a turn seems to be unnecessary jargon.

    Once a teacher stated that anything you could do with the left foot
    could be done with the other and promptly demonstrated a left footed
    sacada with anti-clockwise pivot followed by the same sacada & CCW pivot
    using his right foot. The first arguably has CBM and the latter definitely not!
    But both have CCW intent, or disassociation, from the upper body.

    Maybe CBM has a place somewhere but so far it seems too contrived.
  16. JohnEm

    JohnEm Member

    Elegantly put! :)
  17. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Another way of looking at it is that it is just one more term with an established meaning, and that it is an efficient way to communicate, once the term is understood. Otherwise you have to find another.

    I've never heard CBM referred to in AT circles before, and indeed was discussing an AT movement with another non-AT teacher just the other day. "Oh", she said "place the foot in CBMP?" (Contra Body Movement Position).

    "Yes, and no", came my reply, because if the dance style doesn't recognise the term CBM (and arguably it doesn't recognise ANY attempt at codification of its technique), then you can't have CBMP. But we both knew what we meant, and didn't have to bicker over semantics.

    I wouldn't agree, BTW, that CBM is the means principally to communicate 'intent' to turn. It is the action by which many turns are commenced, and like any action, intention comes first.
  18. JohnEm

    JohnEm Member

    I think I follow you, on the other hand I may not!
    Semantics, semantics!

    Actually I understand what CBM is - I probably even have some of the same
    books as you with the same explanations. And even in ballroom, books were
    the only place I found such terms, teachers never used them in lessons.

    But the missing explanation is that in ballroom a right turn is always with
    a forward step of the right foot or a backward step of the left. Although
    physicality of the human body in partnership with another makes this
    the most logical and natural this assumption doesn't have to apply in tango.
    It's this interchangeablility of the use of the legs which I still find challenging
    and for the moment remains on the "To Do" list.
  19. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Well, that suprises me: I talk about these concepts very early on with all my classes and private pupils, and I generally use the technical terminology, rather than alternatives, right from the start. Giving my classes the vocabulary of dance is part of their learning, particularly if they hope to progress beyond the level of novice.

    I'm sure we can agree, based on what you say, that the use of CBM is fundamental to nearly all turning actions in ballroom dancing, and I take the view that you might as well deal with the concept early, and make sure that your pupils understand what is required of them. It would be a bit like taking a beginner AT class, and saying nothing about pivots, while introducing ochos. It might be more helpful to talk about swivelling, though, because a pivot is something else ...;)
  20. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    That's how it is for me as well (a style thing). However, I am aware that a few teachers (like Detlef & Melina) teach it as part of the technique of leading (rather than just as a style thing). It doesn't seem to help me in anyway, and since it's not at all a natural thing for me, it tends to take too much of my attention to implement it, (when my limited brain cycles could be better spent elsewhere).

    ;)

    If it helps someone to lead better, or if you like the look it gives, then like DB says, use it. I rarely do, however.

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