From Latin/Swing to Argentine Tango - Help!

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by LindyKeya, Jul 11, 2009.

  1. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    REALLY well said!
    (darn... I can't find the bowing down smiley)
  2. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Allow me... :notworth::notworth::notworth:
  3. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Lindakeya--I have so much to say in response to your posts, but no time in which to say it.

    Bottom line: This is a completely separate dance, you know nothing about it going in, so stop trying to say that you're thinking things can't be right because of X, Y, or Z. This is totally separate. Don't compare it to ballroom. Don't compare it to latin. I know nothing about Balboa, but I'd suggest not comparing it to that, either.

    You can be both straight (good posture, good spinal alignment) and forward (weight forward). In fact, you should be. It's not a contradiction in AT terms.

    Even though BR isn't technically back (so far as I understand it), the way the movement happens and the way the posture is, will feel "back" or "away" FROM AN AT PERSPECTIVE!!! If you're even thinking about putting pressure back into his right hand--you're "leaning" back and away from him.

    Legs should be moving before body. That's not a mark against your teacher (his teaching maybe, but I'm not commenting on that), it's how it should be done.

    Clear your mind of how you think things should be. Accept the dance on its own terms.
  4. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I have to agree with Peaches on this.

    You probably need to not associate what you know with ballroom with AT. It isn't going to help you. (I danced ballroom for years, and also did competition and had much to unlearn when I made the complete switch to AT.)

    Even if you had straight posture or even slightly forward posture, if you were moving your center at the same time as your legs when he initated a step, then you most likely felt like you were "falling away" or were leaning backwards, especially if you are thinking your presence in to his hand on your back rather than forward in to his torso, because the walk works a little differently in AT.

    IMO at least, it would be unwise to judge whether you thoguht his technique was correct for walking based on one lesson. In AT the lead initates a movement wiht his torso just before he takes a step. It's subtle, enough so that entire classes get spent on the concept, and if you havent' experienced it before, you may not know what you are feeling for. That moment of torso initiation is actually the point where the follow is supposed to be extending her leg (not moving her torso) so if you moved you entire body all at once, you'd definitely feel as if you are "falling backwards" to him and you are probably missing that part of his lead (since you've had only one lesson) and only saw his legs move, thereby thinking he is leg leading...but I wasn't there so I can't know the real case. I am just giving a breakdown of the ideal movement.

    As for his unfortuante sounding interaction with his assistant, well...that doesn't bode well, IMO...for developing sensitive leaders and followers and so you have a couple of choices.

    Try a few more lessons with him with this new information and see if it's better, or shop around or both. Either way, I think you will need to open your mind and try to clear it of preconceptions of how a dance works just because you've had plenty of other dancing. Just let AT be it's own thing.
  5. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi LindyKeya. .. just a little addition to my post: connected with the posture and the lean is the way of projecting steps in principle. This is very essential and must be learned together with the posture.

    Hier are some examples of walking, caminare, caminadas

    Gustavo and Giselle (watch how she projects every single step in comparison to her body adjustment) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewzjylUDTTg

    Jennifers Embellishments (watch the steps in between) http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BewitchingBlackLotus&view=videos

    OD
  6. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    I think there are two distinct issues here:

    A) Technique
    It is difficult to diagnose technique over the internet, but AT technique is somewhat peculiar in how it works, and while AT dancers always claim that it is the most natural thing in the world, and "just walking", i most of us (all?) had immense trouble understanding it - i took my beginners series 3 times in a row because i just didn't get it. Because of that my advice would be that even if the technique and logic of movement seems strange and unnatural it might still be ok, and give the class a chance.

    B) Student-Teacher Match
    To be honest, after thinking about it this worries me much more. I don't know you LindyKeya, and you might be overreacting, or be frustrated that your dance skills are not directly applicable to AT, or just have a personality mismatch with the teacher, but my advice to friends is usually "trust your gut". You have been dancing for a long time, and you know what the atmosphere in a good class should be like. You see the other students, and if they are happy, or are developing skills. Based on your descriptions of the class i would personally look for alternatives.

    Gssh
  7. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I agree with you on much of this, but I can say from personal experience, that having a teacher who at least understands why ballroom is different and how it is can be helpful for someone who is trying to make a switch. They don't need to actually dance or teach both, I agree with you there, but it would have been a lot more helpful for me when I was first starting to have had someone who knew why I was making the mistakes I was and could have explained it rather than me spending large amounts of time figuring it out and beating my head against a wall.

    Now if someone is just trying to learn a bit of AT and isn't all that concerned with what is technically different and just wants to go out and dance a bit socially, this may not be of as much interest to them, even if it would be helpful.
  8. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Yes, I agree. I've encountered this too - it seems to be one of the most common problems for beginner followers, keeping a consistent and "solid" connection.

    (By contrast, one of the most common problem for beginner leaders seems to be the tendency to move the feet first)
  9. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    yes and yes...follows haven't really learned to 'connect" in an AT fashion (among other things) and the beginning leads usual biggest problem is learning to come forward enough to give "presence" to the follow and how to initate with the torso. Most move their legs and don't think about torso initiation, which of course, doesn't help the follows learn to connect and feel the lead for a leg extension....round and round....
  10. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    There's a lot of very good advice here. In particular, I like most of what Zoopsia and Gssh posted. I also think they are correct about possibly this instructor isn't the right one for you. The only thing I might add is that there are different styles of walking and different embraces, so remember there isn't just "one" correct answer (i.e. I'm not in agreement that the foot can not move before the body, in certain situations).

    In leading you to step backwards (with him stepping forwards), in my opinion:
    1) The leader indicates his intention by leaning/moving forward slightly. (depending on the teacher, the lead comes from the chest, frame, core, or body). The movement should not be initiated by the arms or hands.
    2) The follower responds by moving her free foot back, but without doing a weight change yet.
    3) The leader moves into the space that was created by the follower. (But some people say the leader's foot moves first, while others say the body goes first. IMO, this is a style preference.)
    4) When the leader's body moves to complete the step, he brings her (or the follower's body moves) with him.
    5) The weight change for both of them happens together on the beat, which completes the step.

    Just my two cents.
  11. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    She was responding to what I wrote that HE can't step forward with his feet prior to moving his body forward to initiate (and indicate) the lead. If he is doing that, then IMO it IS a mark against him.

    Your statement is true for HER, moving backwards, not for him as the leader, which is what I believe she was referring to in response to my post.
  12. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Yes... like the \ key is both straight and forward. That's the problem with the word "straight" it can mean both "straight up and down" and "not bent"
  13. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    I am in this boat with Peaches and bastet.

    I too was once a ballroom dancer. In hindsight (when I was learning AT), I had similar concerns such as yourself. I literally wasted a year trying to transpose my competitive BR experience with my AT by trying to equate lessons and techniques from one to the other. I sincerely thought that my previous BR experience would breeze me through. It did not. Looking back, it was counter-productive.

    AT is diametrically opposed to BR in posture, lead, rhythm, music, etc., etc., It is a different dance all together, and should be approached with an open mind as a beginner. Had I done this when I first started AT, I would have saved a year's worth of aggravation.

    My turning point was seeing myself dancing AT on video tape. In my mind, I looked good. BR training with AT steps, and figures... It looked goofy and laughable. It was neither elegant nor pleasant to watch. Big square ballroom frame, good top line, heel leads, steps that were distinctly AT... didn't work. I have friends who are former national latin/rhythm champions. I dance AT with them, and they don't feel right. Neither do they look right on video.

    We looked like those silly people in Dancing with the stars doing Argentine Tango... Bad, bad, bad.

    I literally had to clear my mind, and unlearn BR to improve my AT and get it right. But then again, I'm one of those people who can only learn and do one thing at a time.
  14. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    @ "Legs should be moving before body.."

    Sorry for doubling. That is what I meant with the term "projecting steps".

    OD
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Yes, and since she's likely to get stepped on this way, she reacts by scooting out of the way in an abrupt fashion worsening the "she's there, then she's not" thing.

    And the leaders, in fear of stepping on her continue to move their legs first but attempt to avoid her by waddling in a wide stance stepping outside her feet rather than directly into her. Then all she feels is a side to side movement, doesn't know where to go, and gets stepped on anyway.

    Really, its amazing that anyone ever comes back for more given how awkward the first lessons are! (especially for a dance that's supposed to be "natural" and "just walking" ;))
  16. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    If I'm understanding what you are trying to say, the stylistic difference comes in part 3, but only if part 1 was done correctly.

    #3 doesn't REPLACE 1 and 2.

    In other words, in #3, the leader moves either his body or foot into the space created for him by the correct execution of 1&2. If he hasn't done 1&2, there is no space.

    Just wanted to make that clear for the OP, in case she interpreted your post to mean that INITIATING the lead can come from the body or the foot depending on style.:friend:
  17. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    You are correct (as always). I misunderstood what you initially said in a prior post.

    :notworth:
  18. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    exactly- if the toso initiation didn't happen and he just "moved" then that's bad...but that torso initiation is very subtle, and takes practice to both lead and follow, and I'd say a person who got that on day one no matter how much dancing they have done or taught must be pretty amazing, because it's subtle and easy to miss without training first...which I think is why people get so much in a frazzle about leg versus body...the movement itself is felt, generally not seen, so people just watching probably aren't going to be able to tell how or if it was done because it looks like the leads leg moved on it's own before the body though it didn't if they did it right.
  19. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Re: first lesson´s bruises

    I still remember my first traumatic lesson: The students should walk in beginners frame (leaders hands at the woman´s upper arms). The teacher couple rotated in. Finally it was my turn and I took her at her arms and did my steps. After 2 or 3 steps she insulted me: dont clutch me that tight, I get bruises at my arms! I chuck up the class, and never took one again. I migrated for two years through the milongas of my town and learned by doing. And, thanks to all milongueras: You are really pretty good teachers, and you know what counts!

    So, my credo as a to-be teacher is to get into the position of the student.
  20. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    First off, the "just forget everything you know about ballroom" comments aren't terribly helpful. Comparisons for things that are very different can be quite helpful for someone learning anything new - but only when you can say "it's totally different in x, y, and z ways." While for people with prior dance experience making comparisons to other forms of dance can be useful, the same is true for people without dance experience - i.e., "it's like just walking down the street, except. . . " Explaining how something should be (itself), or how (specifically) it is different from something else is useful.

    My original complaint wasn't "That's not how it's done in ballroom," but rather "That's not what I've witnessed (in my admittedly limited experience seeing) Argentine Tango." Moving on.

    Okay, now that we're all refining terminology, the position he physically put me in (that is still bothering my back) was not straight and forward as Peaches mentions above - it was forward and forward. Imagine taking a standard (straight) posture, and reversing completely - so instead of shoulders down and back, they are up and forward. Instead of the lower back curving forward and then back, curving back then forward, with even the ribcage pulling back (not just closed, back). (And this was not just how it felt, I saw it in the mirror.) See posture-exercises.blogspot.com/2008/07/bad-posture-number-3-of-4-flat-back.html for an image (except with the weight more over the balls of the feet).

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