What are you currently 'working on' in A.T.?-Vol.II

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Mario7, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    The heels on the shoe make a difference too because we get instructed so much in tango forward walking to keep our toe on the floor or our foot flat or whatever. Even if there's no mention, the natural tendency of a follower after learning to use her leg and foot a certain way fr all her other movements is to attempt to keep that toe down when walking forward too. Certainly tango instructors don't ENCOURAGE "heel leads" as in certain ballroom dances.

    However, depending on the amount of arch and flexibility a woman has in her feet, it can be quite difficult to keep her toe down while stepping forward in a typical tango shoe. If she can't get her toe down, she is initially placing all her weight out in front of her on that tiny stiletto heel that holds her foot (and the rest of her) 4" off the floor on a pole and NOTHING ELSE!

    If she were walking down the street in these shoes, she would most likely NOT walk with that much reach. (and how many tangueras actually wear 3-4" heels off the dance floor regularly? Of course, many ladies invest in these stilettos before they get asked to do much forward walking. They actually can HELP with backward walking.

    So if you are informed you aren't reaching far enough, it may be that you need to determine whether you are letting the shoes create an issue. That's easy enough to find out... take them off. If you still have trouble when wearing lower heels or dance sneakers or such, then you have a larger technique issue with walking forward.

    But if your forward walking improves noticeably when you have no heel on your shoe, then the height or instability of the shoe heels is a part of your problem and requires a different approach to fix that just reminders to reach or walk with more intention.

    Yes, followers have to learn to get over their fear of walking right into their partner just as leaders did and they get to delay learning it quite a bit longer. But women in high heels have more issues to deal with in forward walking than the male leaders did.

    By the way, I never found a single male teacher who was able to recognize this problem on their own. It simply doesn't occur to most of them. In fact, I had several FEMALE teachers who acted as though they'd never given this any thought before I asked how to deal with my inflexible low arches and the heel of the shoe getting in my way. Those particular female teachers all had those high arches that allow them to bend their foot almost into a semicircle when pointed.
  2. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Leaning, yes...

    How often do leaders actually lean on their follower?

    Yous statement in really only true of a posture where weight is shared and the people would fall over if the other was not there.

    On the other hand, many tango styles and postures do not have any "lean" even though they have noticeable and consistent forward pressure or intention. It is completely possible to walk backwards with forward pressure without being pushed. Otherwise followers would not be able to practice on their own without sacrificing their basic technique.

    I guarantee you after years of practicing my back walks and teaching it to other followers, that people CAN walk backwards properly maintaining their forward intention without someone there to move them.

    Go find a slight incline and walk down it backwards with your body vertical rather than perpindicular to the angle of incline. You'll immediately feel what I mean.
  3. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I understand that there are various ways to dance. If you are dancing a style in which you lean into your partner, as opposed to appearing to lean, I think my statement is true. When I dance, the only way I can go backwards is if my partner propels me, as I do her when she is going backwards. The alternative, which happens more often than not, is that I un-lean enough to move backwards. When I have a partner who dances as Peaches describes it, we can maintain the connection undisturbed, which I enjoy.
  4. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    followers arm in the way

    Before I was sentenced to the reserve bench, I started with overturned ganchoes.

    I tried the following ones:

    1) after a voleo, still swinging the follower gently on her right leg, then turning her for 180° ccw, offering my left thigh to her left.
    2) out of the mirror, left foot forward, then stepping with my right foot to the right side, and offering my right thigh to her right.

    My problem was, where to put the arms?
  5. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I strongly disagree with pretty much everything here.

    Regardless of the style danced, the partner moving forward does not propel the partner moving backward. Each partner moves themselves. I can walk backward just fine, without being pushed. Furthermore, moving backwards in no way means "un-leaning." If that is happening, it's poor technique to blame.
  6. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    Tango is based on partners pushing each other, if you exclude this physical interaction you are dancing alone.
    Some post ago you described your walking forward pushing into your partner, and you found it awesome. That is dancing tango.
    Of course it must be done with kindness and respect, but it is a countinuous exchange of forces, pressure, balance, weight.

    Moreover, leaning is almost the same thing as pushing. You can't lean without pushing, you can't push without at less a little leaning. It's not tango technique, it's physics.
  7. Shandy

    Shandy Member

    Excellent post. All partner dancing is based on a "continuous exchange of forces, pressure, balance and weight". This sounds SO much better than the person dancing forward must "push" their partner but reading (lurking) I think they mean the same.
  8. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    I agree 100% with the above post.:cheers:

    The other post by Chanchan makes sense, to me, too;
    A strongly forward walk can really give the feeling of being propelled and lifted to the follower (my experience as a follower..) but mostly
    the backward walking is still being done by the follower...the impulse to surge has to be duplicated by the folllower.
  9. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Yes. I feel the strong intention to move forward from a lead, and I move myself back to match him, while still keeping forward pressure towards my partner. Even if we are dancing apilado, I still move myself. Yes, I am leaning on my partner, to the point where if he were to disappear suddenly I'd be in trouble, but it's still very controlled. I'm not just flopping on him and expecting him to hold my weight.

    I strongly disagree. When I dance with someone experienced, I experience pretty much NO sensation of being pushed around. Strong intention, yes, but when I feel that "push" I move of my own accord, to match him. It's not a case of being shoved to my next foot. Similarly, when I talked about walking forward and pushing my partner, it wasn't a case of me forcing him to walk back. I walked forward strongly, as if pushing, but at the same time he was moving back of his own and creating that room for me to move into.

    I also disagree that you can't push without at least a little leaning. If this were the case, a strong connection without weight sharing wouldn't be possible...and yet it is possible. It's a case of being grounded and pushing into the floor and providing some resistance in the connection. Similarly, even when I dance apilado I don't feel that I'm pushing my partner. Pushing, to me, is an active force back in the direction of my partner...and is pretty much universally bad. A controlled lean, however, is a case of controlling your body and allowing gravity to do it's thing...there's no additional force coming from me to add to that.

    I wonder if we're talking at cross-purposes. Perhaps we're thinking the same things and using different language...
  10. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I'm pretty sure we are. I often tell my students that everything I say is wrong; in some degree or in some context my words will be incorrect, and the dancers have to figure out what is appropriate. Another saying I like, attributed to Gautama Buddha, is, "When I point to the moon, don't study my finger".

    My partner is never working against me (well rarely, when we play) and I am not forcing her to do anything. We are always cooperating to make the dance happen. Another way I try to describe the backward walking is the person going backwards goes for a ride on the energy of the person going forward.

    I think the leaders are use to giving that ride and followers are often not. From your description, Peaches, it sounds to me like you enjoy giving that ride.
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    The terms "push" and "pull" have been very much out of favor the past ? years. As I've pointed out before, they are very common in "older" dance texts. HOW we dance together as couples hasn't changed, I don't think, once you get the hang of it. What vocabulary we use to explain the procees of "moving as one" has changed though in many instances. Not always for the better, I think.
    So, yeah, it looks like a semantics thing to me.
    There have been many days when I thought about giving up on this dance because of the misinformation that is thrown at me by people who, um, haven't grasped the basics yet but think they know what they are talking about.
    Reading some of your responses her gives me hope.
    (And actually the past few weeks have been pretty good at the practica, too!)
  12. chrisjj

    chrisjj New Member

    That's a very interesting and ISTM muddled subject. Have you read Christine Denniston's book "The Meaning of Tango", 2007? The style of dancing it describes, identified as the predominant style of the BsAs Golden Age is one that I found danced by probably less than one in twenty of the locals I've watched and partnered in BsAs - centre and outskirts. In the embrace of this Golden Age style there is NO contact chest-to-chest and NO contact guy's arm to girl's back. The book has one page mentioning a very different "Close Hold" - this seems to be the close embrace most of us recognise as the major BsAs style today.

    So, if this account is accurate, there has been a massive change in the preferred style of dance in BsAs.

    You could continue with the dance and give up those people... :)
  13. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    I understand that you don't like the word push because it evokes you the sensation of being "pushed around" like a puppet.
    That's why I talked about a kind and respectful exchange of forces, pressure, balance, weight. Which, of course, is true for the leader as well as the follower, where both of them have an active and passive role at the same, contributing each one at 50%. Nobody forces nobody, but this doesn't mean that tango is minding your own business: there is something between doing on your own and flopping on your partner.
    When I say push, I just mean applying a force, which is normally balanced by the same force applied by your partner. Variations in this force is what we can call connection or comunication, and that allow us to dance togheter.
    It is possible if the leaning is so light that your center of mass doesn't overtake your toes, but the energy that you can put this way is very little, because the floor can provide you only a vertical push.

    Learning to lean means basically learning to control your body and allowing gravity to do its thing. Of course, if you want to dance leaning, you cannot stay all the time in a perfect, stable, still balance: you also need to add something to the gravity :p
  14. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    Yes, I dance/practice close embrace and I exhort my partner to lean hard on me and there is a bit of a push when I have the embrace and move forward. This makes for a very controlled dance where each feels every slight effort of the other...at this stage, the trick for me is to mantain this tension in turns and crosses, side steps, etc...wow dificil but my goal is to never break the embrace...it's my own personal challenge at this stage in my dance. If anyone sees anything with this that is fundamentaly going to cause problems, please post on it..thanks.
    PS..I now have a practice partner and we practice 1 1/2 hrs each of four mornings a week! Tues. nite is the only weekly Milonga.
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I think the reason Peaches and I are arguing with the original statement was because it implied that a follower can't walk backwards while pressing forward unless something pushes her to make her/allow her to move. (and therefore she CAN"T dance alone!)

    Every follower who has learned the basic method of walking backwards knows this is false.

    On the other hand, you are saying that a follower can't be LED to walk backwards without being "pushed".

    That's not the same thing.

    Being able to dance alone is how I know that I can walk backward while pressing forward without a partner to push me. Can I be led to take a backstep without any pressure (pushing) from my partner at all?

    No.

    Without a pressure (or movement) to indicate a lead, there IS no lead and therefore I don't move. That's true of EVERY step regardless of lean, style or direction. Yes, you are right that the whole basis is pressure or "pushing" to indicate the next move. Although "moving" might be a better word than pushing.

    But that's very different than saying that someone can't walk backwards while pressing forward with their body.

    I realize that Andabien's post that started this debate did NOT say "you can't go backwards while pressing forward". It said "you can't walk backwards while LEANING... etc"

    I agreed that if you are leaning (sharing weight to the extent that you would fall over if the other person is removed) you might be able to move your feet back without being "pushed", but obviously your body isn't going to go anywhere without it being moved by or with the other person. Simple physics and geometry say if you're leaning on something, you can move your feet away from it, but if it stays in the same place, so will you.. you'll just be leaning MORE.

    However, not everyone reading these forums has been dancing for awhile... some folks are quite new to tango. I wanted to clarify that followers still need to learn to maintain forward intention and pressure even when walking backwards, that this IS possible (and it can be practiced alone) and it doesn't require shared weight (leaning) to keep that forward pressure.

    I was afraid that Andabien's post might be misleading to newbies which is why I expanded on the thought. It was not a contradiction, it was a clarification for anyone reading who generalized the statement too far.
  16. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    This is very well worded. I tried to give this instruction to my new practice partner and all I could do was demo it...reaching back with my leg (from the ribcage) and pushing forward (sort of) at the same time.
    All beginner women need to practice this alone.
    Anything that helps to make this movement clearer is very usefull and is sooooo important for the Tango look and feel!
  17. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Tell your friend to go walk backwards down a small hill. She should notice how if she doesn't keep forward, she falls over backwards and rolls to the bottom of the hill in a heap ;)

    Everyone I have had try this understands pretty quickly the principle involved... then its just a matter of refining it for dancing on no-incline surfaces
  18. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    This is true, but I don't think that Andabien's post could interpeted in the sense that the follower doesn't have to mantain pressure forward, but the contrary (or maybe I didn't find the post you are talking about): if the leader pushes, the follower needs to push as well, this is clear.

    If you don't have someone that pushes you back, you just can't push at all. Of course you can walk backward alone, and maybe it can be a good exercise, but walking alone has nothing to do with tango. You CAN dance alone, but that dance is not tango! Tango is something that you just can't do alone...
    You can't lean if you have not a partner that leans on you, and you can't press if you don't have a partner that presses you.
    And if you want to walk backward while pressing forward, then your parner must push stronger than you.

    There is nothing worse than a follwer that "understands the lead" and then walks backwards alone, without waiting that the leader really pushes her, inevitably breaking the connection. Of course one can do it, but please don't tell me that "this" is tango... :(
  19. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    Not really, we both can push equally against an imaginary barrier that is moving. Eg put a balloon between our chests. I can not excert enought power on the balloon to physically move her without making it pop, but when i start to move she feels the increase in pressure, and moves herself so that the pressure we both excert on the balloon becomes equal again. (actually, now i want to actually try this using an egg - i am pretty sure that with at least one of my favourite followers we could do this for at least two or three steps without either dropping or squishing the egg - i also pretty sure that she is not going to be willing to try *laugh* -because at the third step something is going to go wrong :) ). I actually think that pushing stronger than your partner is not good - there should be no difference in the pressure between standing still, or walking forward, or walking backward. Both people push exactly the same amount, and the purpose of the push is not to physically move the other person, but to have a connection and be able to feel what the other is doing, and then react and do something that complements what the other one is doing.
    YMMV, and all that
    Gssh
  20. bafonso

    bafonso New Member

    you mean you basically started moving with your torso instead of reaching out with your leg?

    there's nothing more pleasing than leading a lady that can actually walk forward.

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