following or 'dancing the woman's role'?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by jfm, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    Hi, I'm coming in late here...and it will take me all day to catch up on reading the posts..but I want to post this dance which speaks for itself.. My take is that the dance comprises the dynamic of Man/Woman and all that that signifies ...be it stone-age or new-age...here it is easily observable the differences in the two roles and the fantastic contribution of the woman. To observe without prejudice is to know. ps: as this dance has very minimal correography it makes it more valid.
  2. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Wow. What a beautiful dance. Minimal choreography, but maximum in other aspects. To me, the more important ones.
    Mario7 likes this.
  3. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Good for you. I think it's important for leaders to understand the feel of the followers role, and you can only learn that by being a follower.

    The key to following, IMO, is going slow enough to feel the whole lead, and responding slowly enough to dance the entire movement. Sometimes new followers have a tendency to jump to the end of a movement, and overlook the pleasure that is found in the middle of a movement.
    Mario7 likes this.
  4. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I found this video of El Chino and Pamela Mármol.


    I've never seen a follower dance to the music as beautifully as she does. Check 1:27.
    Lilly_of_the_valley and Mario7 like this.
  5. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    I don't see what this has to do with jfm's original post. Sure it's a nice dance, but this is a very controlling style and the follower is doing no adornments. Is the follower's role then to only do what she's told?
  6. jfm

    jfm Active Member

    Well I wasn't talking about adornments actually. Anyway, she may well be doing what I was talking about, you just can't tell from the outside.
  7. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    As a follower, I agree. It took me awhile to learn that I had far more time than I thought I did.
  8. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    I am not sure we watched the same video - this is one of the least controlling tangos i have ever seen. She shaped the couple at least as much if not more than him, and he spend most of the dance waiting for her and then matching her interpetation. Almost every single step she takes is adorned and/or playing with his lead - my first reaction would be more that she might even adorn a bit too much for my taste. He does little more than opening lines for her to move on and into, and everything else - the timing, the emphasis, how far she is going down that line, how circular, at what angle - is all hers.

    (disclaimer: of course i might be mistaken - only him and her know what actually happened during this dance -, but if you compare at the calmness and quietness of his marks when you look at their upper bodies, and what she does with it if you look at their feet i feel this does not look "very controlling and with no adornments" - i think i can see at least a few moments where she delays, or steps half the distance he expects, or further around him, and once where she seems to be doing two steps where she could also have done one step, switching them into the cross system, and he seamlessly follows her wherever she goes)

    Gssh
    rain_dog and LadyLeader like this.
  9. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Pretty much how I felt after watching them a coupe times. He made simple leads and expected her to follow and add her own contribution. Their dance was beautiful.
    LadyLeader likes this.
  10. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Member

    In the end of the video (the first one) she has dissapeared and the organizer is talking to him so it must have been more his performance. But during the dance she had most of the space and he was more offering a base and frame for her.

    She is dancing beautifully! A slow dance gives a possibility to be more musical, to complete your movements in a relaxed way.
    (This was the biggest difference i found for dances in Europe and in South Korea. Some of the followers in South Korea had been dancing only just over one year but I could not tell them apart from experienced dancers. When I tried to dance faster they did not resist, but continued in this slower way. This has had a clear impact on me and much of my dancing goes slower now when back home.)
  11. rain_dog

    rain_dog Member

    I agree - it was lovely. El Chino Perico is one of my favorite dancers to watch, particularly for his relaxed, unhurried style. His dancing exemplifies the idea that every step should be a work of art.
  12. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    In my mind, this is how tango should be - the leader gives a dance to his partner and she accepts it.
  13. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Whatever. Maybe I am just completely bored by this kind of post. Oh hey, it's another video of someone dancing CE to traditional music. How beautiful. That's the way tango should be. Blah blah blah. Look at the good little follower doing what she's told.

    I'd post a video of someone dancing contact improv, or role switching, but no one here would care or it would just start an argument.
  14. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    I appreciate skill and beauty whenever I find it. If you posted a clip of contact improv or role switching with those qualities you would not get negative comments from me.
    AndaBien likes this.
  15. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    Well, i agree that this is pretty much "dancing CE to traditional music" - and i understand if you have drifted away from that over time - certainly if i track my own stylistic preferences over time i end up with quite a tangled line. I was more reacting to the impression that the follower just does what she is told, as it seems to me that especially this video was a great example of where and how followers can do whatever they want even in CE. Sure, the vocabulary they use is quite minimalist, but that applies to the leader as much as to the follower, so i don't see this as indicative of of her being disempowered. And i have seen about as many domineering leaders in OE as CE and in traditional music as in non-traditional music (in my opinion in non-traditional music the risk of being domineering might even be a bit larger, as the leader is becoming less predictable for the follower, it sometimes becomes "leader dances and expects the follower to wait for every impulse, and then gratiously gives her a few seconds where she is allowed to dance, before he picks up the reins again").

    Your comments point to one of the important issues in tango: the question if both the leader and follower have a voice in the dance. A lot of teachers at least in the beginning don't teach anything about that, and do some lip-service to the followers contribution by asking the leaders to "give followers space" - the classic example being after a parada, and then teaching a set of flourishes and adornment the follower can "add to the leaders dance when there is space. There is a certain type of followers that seems to me to be the consequence of this - very light, very up, very sensitive to any lead, utterly passive. My following doesn't go much beyond "i am trying really hard to keep up", so i am not speaking from expereince, but from seeing this happen over and over in my community this seems to be also quite unsatisfying on the long run once the technical challenges are mastered (i.e. followers leave the community once they are there).

    I am not sure if role switching or learning to lead is the answer to this - it is basically admitting that following is boring, and if somebody wants to have long term fun in tango the only way they can do it is by leading. And i personally think that that is not true - there is such a thing as great following, and i have danced with followers that shaped our dance by how they followed much more than i did. There is creative space in following. Followers are dancing, they are not just dance tools that leaders need for their dance. It is one of the things i strongly believe in, and enjoy in dancers i am dancing with. So i try to notice and understand when a follower activly follows, and shapes the dance, and so on, and i was surprised when a performance that to me was an example of a follower doing what she wants, and the leader following all her actions and doing what she tells him is seen by somebody else in the completely opposite way.

    Gssh
  16. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Does not being in charge of navigation really mean she doesn't have a voice in the dance?
    jfm likes this.
  17. jfm

    jfm Active Member

    I'd like to point out that that was the essence of the original post and a load of guys weighed in to tell me, and all the other people who dance in the role that doesn't navigate, that we don't.
  18. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Whether the follower has a voice or not depends on who she's dancing with at the moment. This theoretical discussion has no effect on that.

    It seems clear to me that El Chino allows his partners lots of influence on the dance, and at least some of them take full advantage. Personally, I like that. However, I don't doubt for a moment that he is still "the leader" and she is still "the follower". He seems to me a perfect example of the leader giving the lead and then becoming the follower for a moment, until his lead has become completed.

    In this forum we are reduced to using words (which we like to think have a definition), to describe tango, which IMO, cannot be effectively described. It can only be danced. In discussing tango we always come to a point where our words are insufficient. Then we begin to argue about definitions for something that cannot be defined.

    I got a bit lost on the clear meaning of your last post. These threads always wander around a bit, but I'd be interested to have you restate your last comment regarding the dance, rather than regarding this discussion of the dance.
  19. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Quite right ;) women spend enough time talking; in tango they listen
  20. jfm

    jfm Active Member

    I'm sure you are joking, but maybe you should take a step back and think about a. the dismissiveness of that comment. b. the fact that women's voices are not 'heard' in many situations, and when they are loud enough they get told to shut up (Mary Beard last week? hostility towards female politicians for no obvious reason) and c. the fact that only Zoops, Lily of the Valley and Lady leader seem to post on a semi regular basis anymore, where id all the other ladies go? A lot of these threads end up as men telling us how we're supposed to do it and shouting down any women who do attempt to contribute.

    Anyway Andabien:
    If she is making her steps feel different depending on the music (smooth, sharp, languid, powerful, gentle) or very slightly playing with the timing but in a way that immolbilisises him so that he's not going to 'kick' her (as apparently men are wont to do if their follower deviates from the rigid instruction laid down), how would you know by watching?

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