Tango Argentino > Systems of leading voleos and colgadas

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by kieronneedscake, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    What you say is intersting as we've had two visiting teachers ask people not to shuffle their feet over the surface of the floor and say the room shouldn't sound like someone sandpapering. The foot should glide over the surface of the floor, but without contact until your foot lands.
  2. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    Quite right, I shall request full resumé before dancing with anyone to make sure they have had the correct training. I could even ask "What level are you?", that would go down well. Sadly classes do not guarantee the correct response either.

    In each and every case it has been a consequence of expanding the repertoire when a dance or two have gone well. The number of successful colgadas is far outweighed by the number of quizzical looks from my partners when they wonder what I'm trying to do. Certain colgadas (short duration rotating) treated as an interrupted step require nothing special to follow if I have my partner's complete trust. It's just going with the flow. Other more static variations I wouldn't dare to try.

    Attempting to instruct a 12-week beginner mid-dance, now that's a fool's game. If you're reading, you know who you are.
  3. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member


    If a technique doesn't translate well outside of a specific class - if you can't lead / follow based on that technique outside of that environment - it's probably not a universal principle.

    And we're back to "secret signals" territory.
  4. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I think you're thinking of "push" in a different way - I'm describing a physical action, I'm not talking about a violent shove, it's just a description of the physical force involved.

    However, I do understand that the term "push" is usually interpreted as "forceful shove", which causes these problems. So I think "compression" is a good alternative word to use.

    Again, "push" <> "shove".

    Too much compression, yes. But "compression" is "physical contact" - if you have no physical contact, how can you possibly lead? There's always some compression, there has to be, it's sheer physics.

    Yes, volcadas have more compression, and colgadas have more tension, but let's not pretend there are no physical forces involved in tango lead / follow.

    Actually, I'd agree - any movement that takes a follower off-axis should be done cautiously in a milonga. Colgadas and volcadas are the equivalent of dips or aerial moves in other dances - they have their place, but usually that's not in a crowded milonga, and certainly not with a new dance partner.
  5. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Huh. and that's in complete opposition to what I've been told by pretty much every teacher.
  6. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I've had both.

    But, mostly, the advice has been in line with Bordertangoman's guys.

    My feeling is that the foot should appear to slide, but doesn't have to slide. The main point is to avoid raising it too much - and the easiest way to do that, at least initially, is to slide.

    So it may be that you get different advice from different teachers, but the principle - avoiding Evil Knee Raising - is the same; it's just that there are different ways to get there.

    That said, I think that deliberate sliding of the follower's trailing foot - providing some resistance - in things like forward ochos can be interesting, as a stylistic measure.

    I guess, as always, you need to know the rules (and the principles behind them) before you can break them.
  7. Me

    Me New Member

    ...and since the example made no mention of these dynamics, my answer was to simply stop walking. :)

    I agree. Dancing flat footed and shuffling is just plain bad dancing, and horrible to listen to.

    I disagree. Completely. :) Maybe we can start another thread about it - It is always good to talk about good old walking every now and then. I just don't want to hijack the boleo discussion... but I will add that dancing with the inside edges is by no means noisy or shuffling.
  8. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I totally disagree... you can caress the floor without "shuffling" or "sanding". I have never heard a respected teacher say for the follower to hold the foot in the air off the floor until you are ready to place it. In fact I have heard exactly the opposite from quite a few well known followers who teach.

    The trick is in the pressure. It is a weightless caress, not a slide.
  9. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    One can certainly dance close embrace without being apilado. Partners can easily maintain their own axes and it may only look like they are leaning on each other.

    Yes, you can dance with no pressure. But you can also dance with pressure and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. It certainly is bad to push and shove your partner around, but you can dance with a great deal of physicality if your partner is up to it and it can be hugely fun. In my opinion, there is not just one tango technique.
  10. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Yes, but there's still physical contact. And if there's physical contact of any kind then there's a physical force involved. That's the point.

    Obviously, the magnitude of the force varies - presumably apilado has greater force, and volcadas greater still. But some force is always there.

    In that case you can't be touching your partner. Which is technically feasible - visual cues only - but I'm struggle to envisage a "no-contact" embrace...
  11. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    You are right. Touching does involve pressure. But it can certainly be a lot less than many think is required. bafanso's point about invitation is also an important part of this as well. One can dance using the embrace simply as the glue that keeps you together and then lead entirely by invitation. A few years back I was taking a series of private lessons from a _very_ well known Argentinian nuevo dancer who made me dance for an entire hour having no contact with my partner and leading entirely by invitation. Very interesting exercise!
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    In the sense that apilado has a high/higher "Couple Weight", when compared to both patners being "on their own axis", there is more "force" involved.

    But, when a couple is at rest, the forces are balanced.

    The amount of "force" used to produce movement does not have to be high in apilado, however. Hutchinson (the swing dancing engineer) refers to this as "Movement Weight".

    I think it's useful to distinguish between the two.

    A change (delta?) in the forces involved is what creates a lead.

    People use the terms "shared weight" or "forward energy", also.

    The ability to vary the amount of force needed to create a movement, just as musicians can play notes either forcefully, or lightly, is very useful, too.

    One dance book lists "visual lead" as a technique for leading, although it was in reference to movements when the couple is not physically connected.
  13. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I'd disagree :) - the way i see it _every step_ takes the follower of her axis. The basic principle of a colgada is (imo) not to take the follower of axis, but to suspend her there a little bit longer and more noticable than in a normal step. Colgadas and volcadas are not "tricks", but happen naturally and almost inevitably due to geometry. Extending a forward ocho into a small milonguero style colgada is just a question of precision in the lead, and of the follower being aware that in tango steps and weightshifts are led. If a follower is relaxed and willing to wait for a lead, even the large nuevo style colgadas are perfectly doable with people who have not seen them before. And there is very little risk - if it doesn't work she will just put weight on her foot and create a new axis for herself, and then i can pick it up from there. Ot she will not release her free leg, and then it is just a lean - again, no problem. I do small colgadas with beginners all the time, and never had any problems, either it works, or it is just a walking step. I admit that i avoid big ones (but then i don't do those very often anyway), but that is mainly because the part that is difficult to lead is not the volcada itself, but the size of the followers frontstep - they are not only suspended in the middle of ther front step, but the frontstep is also 3 times as large as the normal front steps.

  14. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I experienced a very neo form of boleo dancing this weekend. My follower did a boleo that I had led then lifted her foot ( bending at the knee) and held it suspended for a moment. It was a beautiful shape, and required no more than a pause on my part. My leading was no different to how i would normally lead a boleo.
  15. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    Thanks Gssh, I like your expression that each step involves a surrendering axis. Physically it is true, since it is gravity redirected by bone structure that results in movement (traction also plays a part). It is a useful perspective when considering how to achieve each kind of step.

    Interestingly, I spoke with someone else who attended the workshop that made me start this thread. He was more non-committal about it - "sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't".

    It occurred to me that the little changes in the rules of the embrace (allowing for pull etc.) is potentially useful for the more willful follower. Perhaps it promotes a mechanism for the follower to actively choose and communicate steps as well as the leader. Certainly I know of quite a few girls who choose to colgada in situations where one can be safely performed. Perhaps a different attitude to the embrace encourages more active followers?

    If this is the psychological effect of the approach given, then I can see the potential for more creative followers to develop more rapidly. That would be very much in line with the impression I get of Dutch followers in general - i.e. the aspiration toward 50/50 responsibilities in the dance.

    Of course, the general consensus here on how one leads steps does not prohibit active followers, it is the deaf and preoccupied leader who crushes the creativity out of them. I wonder if the lower level of backtalk found elsewhere is a result of teaching that does not show women how they can express themselves.

    In this case, they are perhaps shown how they too can begin to request off-axis maneuvers, without having to find it for themselves. Of course this is all conjecture, but the teachings as described to me are definitely more pro-follower than I usually hear.
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    This is going to sound picky, but, again, I think it's important.
    I'd just like to point out that what has been called an "axis" is in fact a vertical axis.
    "Force" or a push directed at that axis produces movement in a straight line.
    "Force" or a push directed somewhat off that vertical axis will produce a rotational movement, sort of like a door on a hinge.
    A dancer who no longer has a vertical axis still has an "axis" from the "center of gravity" into the floor at the weighted foot (if there is only one foot on the floor) .
    Yes, this is a bit academic, but if that axis is not maintained through extraneous movement in the body, it makes it harder to lead.

    gsssh, I wonder exactly you mean by a milonguero style colgada? I ask because if we define "milonguero" as having an apilado element???? Or do you just mean "small"? Or did you mean to write volcada?
  17. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    And why is it necessarily apilado? I think of milonguero style as close embrace, perhaps full frontal upper body connection, perhaps a little offset. But why leaning on each other?? That is necessary for neither a good connection nor a good walk. It is simply a sylistic preference, which I personally do not like and do not use unless my follow compells it.
  18. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    My example was about volcadas :oops: - though i think that the mechanics are pretty much the same, only that one is on a front step and the other on a back step. Though now i am wondering what a milonguero colgada would be like - i do lead single axis turns, but the opening up of the embrace durign the turn is logical only if one also does some nuevo. I guess with pure apilado following the most i can do is suspending her when axis is vertical -which is tilted away from where her original axis was.
    Interesting - in a way apilado is like having continuous volcada, and we are already "off-axis" - it is not difficult to become more off-axis, and have it look decent, but i don't think becoming more "on-axis" will be visible unless we cross the point of leaving the shared axis and by definition stop dancing apilado. I will have to play and see if it i can create something that feels (or looks) interesting before we reach that tipping point.

  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Note the word "if".

    BTW, single axis turns are possible in apildao. With those, if both partners are maintaining the "forward lean" that maintains the connection, which requires quite a bit of movement in the torso (which we are currently refering to as "disassociation"), you can do a rapid, high energy, "Wheee" kind of thing. It is rare to find women who have taken their apildao to that level, however, even in "close embrace" Portland.
  20. joetango

    joetango New Member

    balance and counter balance with resistive feedback


    Blimey Kieron, what an active discussion you've started. :)

    (I'm the guy who came back with this idea from the Taboe tango winter camp)

    I'd like to clarify if I can. Firstly I'd like to say where I use the words pull or push, this is a completely shunt and drag free concept! (Yes I know those words can evoke unpleasant memories from both followers and leaders of how not to dance). All of the vital concepts of listening, respecting and allowing space for creativity from both dancers still very much apply. Secondly this idea really only works with two dancers who have a confident and independently well balanced basic walk. Now, onto the idea broken down into two constituent parts:

    1.Resistive feedback:
    (Some preliminary ideas. The two dancers as a pair should be balanced. The two dancers should both have good posture. Each should be listening and responsive to the other through their whole embrace, arms included) How do you know someone is listening? They give some kind of feedback. In terms of physical listening this happens through the exchange of forces. If there is practically no resistance from the follower at a point of contact then there is no feedback and practically no two way communication through that point. If there is total resistance through every point, then there is no movement. When there is some resistive feedback in the embrace that means responding to a pulling force (tension) with an opposing pulling force and a pushing force (compression) with an opposing pushing force. (If we apply a complementary force, e.g. 'you push and I pull', that tends to result in having the choice of when and where to step being taken away – generally not very desirable). These changing opposing forces through the whole embrace allow active two way communication.

    In addition to the above you also have the desire to maintain contact in the embrace, so if part of the embrace softens (the comfortable default state) then it is natural for the partner to move that contacting part of their body to maintain the connection.

    By taking this listening exchange of opposing forces (while keeping good posture and points of contact) and expressing them through your movements you can get a very creative and subtle dance, with every point of contact a channel of communication.

    2.Balance and counter-balance:
    Now, taking an embrace that has the above qualities of resistive feedback and generally seeking to maintain the connection at each point of contact, and combining that with the idea that the two dancers, together should be balanced, what happens when the leader softens the enclosing arm and at the same time introduces a pulling force through the open hand? To keep balance, contact and posture the follower leans out into the enclosing arm and pulls pack (provides tension) through the open hand – a colgada. If they have a free leg in the right position they can use that as a counter balance. Similarly, going the other way, if the leader begins to push with the open hand and release slightly with the enclosing arm the follow can raise their free leg to counter balance (maintaining the balance of both dancers). Note there may be very little movement, if any, in the position of the meeting hands of the embrace, it is just a channel of communication through exchange of forces – no arm waving called for! Also the forces can and if possible should be be light (obviously more needed for big shared balance positions).

    One of the beauties of this idea is that you are no longer strictly dependant on momentum for leading the free leg or shared balance movements, both linear and turning. It can be applied at any speed.

    So how does the above relate to regular walking and leading of steps? By inviting with the chest and having a comfortable embrace and the open hand in neutral (at least with no more compression that normal and comfortable to maintain), you wait then step. The counter balancing and leading of the free leg comes in when you change what you communicate with different parts of the embrace. With the follower aware of leads or invitations through every point of contact in the embrace and giving the resistive feedback (as described above) that allows subtle and precise communication and actively using the free leg for more than simple decorations, great things happen.

    I felt it was worth elaborating a little on it, but you might boil the idea down to 'both dancers responsible for keeping balance, opening up communication through every point of contact in the embrace and seeking to maintain that contact while communicating through resistive feedback and allowing the free leg to act as a counter balance where called for.' or more abstractly and philosophically – 'stay together, work together and keep balance together'.

    I've been exposed to this idea previously in a slightly different way but not really had the opportunity practice it much with receptive followers or see it in action with dancers who have made it their own. It was in NL at the Taboe camp though that I really grew to appreciate how much difference the 'versatility' of the free leg and resistive feedback (or whatever you want to call it) can make to the dance.

    I have no interest in secret codes tango. To me the above ideas seem almost the polar opposite of that (naturally as with all tango there is some stylization to it). I like them because they are in essence simple and open up a whole world of exploration and communication. I also saw how some of the more 'advanced' techniques such as lifts and secarda gancho chains are really aided by this kind of understanding.

    I think when you involve the free leg more, you naturally open up more creative avenues for the follower (and by it not simply being: 'follower does some decorations with leg, leader waits for them to finish, then carries on', but more: 'free leg is used creatively and with some input from leader' it becomes much more collaborative.), similarly as when you invite the follower to interpret forces from the whole embrace, not simply impulses to step.

    “We both desire the simplest metaphors and principles to apply to as much of the dance as possible.” Indeed!

    So, my challenge now is to keep exploring this idea and find ways of growing that clarity and subtlety of feedback in the whole embrace to encourage my partners to do the same.

Share This Page