following or 'dancing the woman's role'?

If you're in a social dance class, your teacher is correct. Embellishments are for performance, not the social floor. Looking for pizazz in tango isn't going to help you feel it. It takes time for women to learn they don't have to embellish every single step. They want to use what they paid to learn, but is not necessary.

Feeling tango comes when you stop thinking steps and get lost in the moment with the music.
Who says a woman can't embellish occassionally in a social dance? There's no rule as far as I'm aware, beyond not doing anything that's going to interfere with other dancers. Small, elegant signatures with the feet look nice and show very clearly that the woman IS very much in the moment and interpreting the music. Like I said, if she's doing them so much that they distract the lead, that's not a good thingm, but to say they shouldn't ever be used in social dancing doesn't make sense to me.
 

jantango

Active Member
Inexperienced dancers overdo them. Men lose control of the dance. Why do you care what your partner does since you can't see her feet anyway? Is she really feeling and responding to the music with the embellishment or is she just filling time while you think of your next move?

Take a look at a milonga in Buenos Aires. You don't see much embellishments. The fidgety feet are those of a foreigner.

 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
I think that the image of "dancing as a conversation" is one of the things that should never have been started.
Part of me wants to agree with this, but then, that stuff that was in the "box" Pandora opened, is still around, too.

I DO hope (hmmm, that was in the box, too!) that all concerned can move towards a deeper understanding of what "a conversation" might mean. Here, for instance is text from 1942.
"While all leads are given by the man, he does not always control the lead. The lead is controlled by the girl when she steps backward. Leading and the control of the lead must not be confused.
...
Since the man can control the lead when stepping backwards or sideways, it is only when he steps forward that his partner may take the lead away from him."

When I am surprised by taking a step I didn't think I was going to take because of something my partner did, it's a good thing (almost always). There are caveats, of course. And this seems to only happen by accident, when a very skilled women is involved.

Adornos? Who are they for - the "audience"? Aren't feeling anything with your partner and the music and you're bored?
Now, use your body in a way that, say, your leg brushes against mine as we walk. Now you're talking partnership and hey, I think you are special.
 
Who says a woman can't embellish occassionally in a social dance? There's no rule as far as I'm aware, beyond not doing anything that's going to interfere with other dancers. Small, elegant signatures with the feet look nice and show very clearly that the woman IS very much in the moment and interpreting the music. Like I said, if she's doing them so much that they distract the lead, that's not a good thingm, but to say they shouldn't ever be used in social dancing doesn't make sense to me.
There are no rules at all. But there are a number of traditions, and you get to pick which tradition speaks to you, and fits in with your local scene. In one tradition, it's rude to do "Small, elegant signatures" that the leader might feel. In others, such things are appreciated. Dance with people of your preferred tango tradition (you might need to move to a different city for this as many around the world have discovered, or simply different milongas if your city has a diverse tango scene), or be all-accepting.
 
RE: Jantango

Sorry to be facetious, but if you took the smart shoes away, this could be a shot of people bustling around a train platform. It doesn't look like dancing to me at all. As for the "fidgety foreigner" (in the gold shoes, I take it) she was a little over zealous, but she certainly stepped better than most of the natives with ugly sickled feet and bent legs -though I'm sure from the waist up they were cosseted in a bubble of bliss. The lady in the black cross-hatched tights towards the end had a nice touch with her embellishments, she kept them subtle and elegant.

It really is a matter of preference, I guess. I just did a workshop with Pablo Velez and Daniella Kizyma and they actually taught us how the woman can, at certain points coming into a parada, choose to "lead" the man to wait for her while she does a few little glissandos and taps with her feet, before transfering control back to him. I personally like these touches because it demonstrates HER personality in the dance and with the right girl, it can be damn sexy, to me and to an audience. Of course they should be used sparingly, must be done with good technique and go with the music.

A few ornaments in a house give a nice touch, but if you have a colony of gnomes in your garden and fairy lights wrapped around ever door handle, people will think you are stark raving mad. Same thing with adornos.
 

LKSO

Active Member
Sorry to be facetious, but if you took the smart shoes away, this could be a shot of people bustling around a train platform. It doesn't look like dancing to me at all...
The music must always be taken into consideration. I thought it was very good compared to the kind of dancing here. What were you expecting - a somersault in to reverse sacada?:rofl:

I just did a workshop with Pablo Velez and Daniella Kizyma and they actually taught us how the woman can, at certain points coming into a parada, choose to "lead" the man to wait for her while she does a few little glissandos and taps with her feet, before transfering control back to him. I personally like these touches because it demonstrates HER personality in the dance and with the right girl, it can be damn sexy, to me and to an audience. Of course they should be used sparingly, must be done with good technique and go with the music.
This is really a matter of cultural mindset. You're American, no? American attitudes of partner dance are like two separate soloists battling each other to the same beat. That's not tango. That's SYTYCD.

These individual "touches" are narcissistic in my view. A man should dance the man's role, and the woman should dance the woman's role. At no point should a woman take over the man's role. That's like a passenger grabbing the wheel while you are driving and trying to steer the car. That's dangerous.
 
RE: Jantango

No, of course I wasn't expecting a somersault. A poor old dear could break a hip with those shenanigans. To be quite honest I'm getting a little tired of defensive salon purists deliberately misconstruing what I say here.

First off I am Irish, not American. I personally think the tangos exhibited on shows like SYTYCD and DWTS are cliché, garish nightmares, with more ballet tricks than actual tango steps, no proper technique, no lead and follow, no musicality and no chemistry. That's not going to change, since the contestants dance for votes and nobody is going to vote for salon tango. The public want to see lifts and dramatics. Plus 5 days is hardly enough time to learn how to properly move in the embrace, let alone dance a convincing 1min 30sec tango. The difference when one watches stage tango danced by a couple with over a decade of social dancing experience is mesmorizing to anyone who appreciates the aesthetic form, because they clearly demonstrate a lead and follow and don't over anticipate like 2 soloists competing for attention. I could link some examples, but the forum won't let me post them yet.

As for Daniela and Pablo whom I took workshops with, they both had many years of experience in tango BEFORE they started doing choreography. Having seen them dance at milongas held here, I can safely attest that they can and DO dance socially, more beautifully and musically than any of the people in the video you posted, that's for sure. I don't think it's a bad thing to want to emulate that level.

These individual "touches" are narcissistic in my view. A man should dance the man's role, and the woman should dance the woman's role. At no point should a woman take over the man's role. That's like a passenger grabbing the wheel while you are driving and trying to steer the car. That's dangerous.
This analogy is a bit much. A woman signalling to the man at a particular part in the dance that she would like to have a moment to express something is in no way comparable to a passenger in a car grabbing the steering wheel :rolleyes: . She is leading herself, not leading him. He is just waiting, appreciatively -and if he's not appreciative of a talented dancer adding playful textures to the music, than I would say he has the problem, not her.
 

bordertangoman

Well-Known Member
Given my experience last night dancing a milonga with an exceptional lady; the lead/follow went out the window and we were alternating quick and slow steps; i would do very small steps with the fast rhythms and she kept to the overlying accents, then we reversed. it was quite an incredible way to dance.

i don't think this will ever be the norm but I know at least three ladies who can dance this way...
 

pascal

Active Member
We have a teacher who says "the leading entity" and "the following entity". So, for her, gender plays no role, but there is still one leader and one follower, it's not a cooperative process.
Like the Macana brothers do. They alternate, but at a given moment there is only one leader, and when they trade roles they also trade the abrazo.
 

opendoor

Well-Known Member
..A few ornaments in a house give a nice touch, but if you have a colony of gnomes in your garden and fairy lights wrapped around ever door handle, people will think you are stark raving mad. Same thing with adornos.
Watch Noelia, of course she carries her role to extremes. But watch carefully: she does not decorate much: it´s rather pure cadencia and expressiveness. On the other hand she does not give a toss about aesthetics and style. For me this combination simply is kind of ingenious.

 
Limited opportunity for outright deviation, yes, but almost unlimited for her to add her own flair, and extensive for her to subtly tweak things (minor changes to timing, etc). Except when the guy is so bound-and-determined that he.is.in.charge.of.the.dance.PERIOD, to the point of not even liking embellishments. It happens, it's patronising, and it sucks. (And, IME, the guys generally are nowhere near as good as they think they are. I always wonder if it's an issue of lack-of-skill being dressed up as a preference.)
Im one of these guys...it isn't patronising it's just the dance as some others see it... the male leads and the woman follows... I've had one woman yell out on the dance 'I will not submit' when she couldn't begin to dictate the dance... I guess male and female roles are now 'out' in correct society... I dance always close embrace never breaking it...try doing that when the woman decides to insert her own timing...and see if it doesn't throw you off and make you start from zero again..... If I wanted a give and take dance...i would dance west-coast swing or something....
 

Subliminal

Well-Known Member
Has anyone seen two women tango together? Or as a woman if you danced the tango with another woman? My cousins who were like 30 were dancing at a wedding together and I've noticed it's common.

- Chopper

Not uncommon in my area, particularly in the college crowd. One of the teachers regularly teaches a "Leading Ladies" class. And those ladies that take that class, well, if they don't see a guy they want to dance with, they'll dance with their friends. Some will switch back and forth during the night, changing shoes even. I've also seen a few who are leader-only now. More power to 'em.
 

opendoor

Well-Known Member
Are you a woman? And as someone who has Hispanic blood in me I know how we love to dance. But I'm wondering whether it's done mainly with mothers or sisters? Or friends and strangers?
Hi Chopper, I´m a guy (click on my avatar, there you´ll find a link to a photo. I´m that leader).

Concerning the said above women: there are two kinds of female leaders. One sort prefers to dance the following role but easily can switch to leading if there are too many women around. The other only is leading. The majority of the latter group belongs to the queer tango sub scene, but not entirely. At socials over here in Germany it is widely common that female leaders also ask unknown and new women.
 

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