Tango Argentino > first signal of closed embrace

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by olamalam, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    It is good that you are exposed to close embraace, but not to be mandatory way.

    Close embrace is like walking on ice, and open is like running on the tarmac.
    i.e. there is no room to mistake in close embrace.

    You have your own way for tango just as everybody do.
    Be curious but not frustrated.

    So why didn't you ask exactly what he/she wanted to express?
  2. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    You are right - i probably should have said something like "in my experience what often happens is ... " or so. That is the beauty of tango - nobody has to do anything, and the only measuring stick of success is if one (and preferably ones partners, too) is enjoying the dance. Still, there is a life-cycle to tango dancers that can be observed over time, and that is somewhat predictable. It does not apply to everybody of course, but it seems to follow certain patterns.
  3. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    When you bend (I like 'bringing the knee forward' as a better mental cue), you get more on your axis. It doesn't matter what movement you're doing, even if you go backwards, that knee of the supporting leg still has to come forward.

  4. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    My little side blow was for olamalam.
    IMO can someone who's eager to learn tango and attends workshops after a few months half such averages.
    Someone who's talented too. Both factors together would multiply itself.

    BTW: And it might be that not everyone will be wholeheartedly happy if you do a quick-start.
    You shall follow you heart and not think about steps - but what if you show a nuevo heart and dance nuevo steps?
    Tango is social and you shall not compare to others - but what if you plan to travel to a top-level milonga-weekend?
  5. olamalam

    olamalam New Member

    I plan to get the fun factor of Tango as soon as I can since Salsa scene is getting worse and worse in my city. But I want to keep dancing socially.
  6. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    So your instructor told you to push your follower with your chest, then step. But you feel like you're falling when you do that.

    I had the same problem. The reason was the only way you're going to feel a push is if your follower resists your movement to some degree. If she starts moving backwards as soon as your torso moves forward, you'll never feel a push. And since you're taught not to step until you push, you delay your step way too long and you end up falling.

    Ideally, when you start to move your torso forward, your follower will resist the movement while she extends her leg behind herself, then allow you to step. I believe this to be fundamental follower technique, and the debate lies in how much or how long she should delay. In any case, if the follower doesn't use that technique, don't keep searching for a pushing feeling. You have to step before you feel off balance.

    In my experience taking and teaching classes, creating this delay in the step, this resistance, this building up of pressure between the torsos, is very hard for many beginner followers to feel comfortable with. I've tried many different exercises and imagery: "slow me down," "when I move forward, try to stop me," " when I move forward, pretend you're a leader trying to get me to step back," "pretend I'm a train moving forward at 20 kph and you're a train moving in the opposite direction at 10 kph," "hold me in place until you get your leg extended," etc. No matter how strong the verbage, many beginner followers will still move backwards immediately when I shift my axis forward.

    Actually, if anyone has any insight or experience on techniques, exercises, or phrases they've used or have seen work, let me know.
  7. rain_dog

    rain_dog Active Member

    One bit of imagery that I've thought of, but have never shared before, so it may not actually be of any use, is the following:

    Imagine you're moving a piano. You've loaded it into the moving truck and driven to the destination, and are now unloading it. There's a ramp you need to move it down, and you're facing the piano stepping backwards down the ramp. Because it's heavy, with each step you have to extend your leg first, and then ease it down the ramp, giving some resistance with your chest/core/solar plexus so it doesn't move too fast.

    Most leaders don't weigh as much as a piano, so taken literally this would give way too much resistance, but I think the metaphor might work.
    opendoor likes this.
  8. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    The way I've approached this is slightly different.

    1) First, I explain to leaders is that they need to indicate their intention, (what they want to follower to do), before they actually step. This is done with a slight lean, (just enough for the follower to detect it).

    2)The process of indicating his intention is what triggers the follower to start her extension. I don't tell the follower that her role is to resist or stop the leader, but just maintain the embrace (at whatever pressure it was set at), while extending her leg.

    A drill (for 1 & 2): I have newbies practice simply getting the followers leg/foot to start moving, without taking a step. The goal is for the man to understand how much (or little) he needs to increase the pressure, the get the follower to extend. I also explain to the follower that a goal to to not require the leader to use excessive force, but rather enable him to do as little as possible to lead her extension. It's basically teaching them how to calibrate, so excessive force (or movement isn't needed). I then explain that everyone is slightly different, so

    3) Next is when the leader actually starts his step, (that is, when the follower has started her extension).

    4) The leader completes his step as they both land (do the weight change), together, on the beat. If the follower finishes her extension before the beat, she waits, but she should be trying to time the finish of the extension so she doesn't have to wait for the beat. The same for the leader, BTW.

    Another drill: Lots of walking, with pauses after three steps (or any odd number), so they practice starting and stopping on both feet).
    Mladenac, Tango Distance and olamalam like this.
  9. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I like this, especially for one reason - the small but crucial nuance that in this image the piano is _above_ you. One of the big problems with the concept of "giving weight", and the way it interacts with the often heard complaint about "heavy" followers is that these two statements both use the image of "weight", but in reality they talk about something quite different.
    "good weight" is presence, and allows for an exchange of energy, but it does not mean that the follower is pulling the leader down, but ideally it means that the follower lifts the leader, resisting up into them. So while it then requires (slight) force of the leader to start the motion, it is not against inertia, but it feels like setting into motion a coiled spring by moving it over the hump that keeps it contained. The image i use is that a counterbalanced close embrace couple has the most energy when standing still, and relaxes into motion, while most open embrace creates energy for/in/through motion, and relaxes into standing still (using this imagery also explains while lots of close embrace vocabulary is exceedingly boring when danced open, and vice versa (unless one adapts them to the different movement technologies).
    Another image that might be useful is the idea that a big part of the followers role is to maintain the leaders balance, and followers movement is a reaction to the leaders moving around, their balance getting wobbly in the process, and them needing support somewhere else.
  10. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Instinctively quite memorable our female workshop teacher: "No. No! Yeeeesss..." ;)
    Mladenac likes this.
  11. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Only want to add, if a dance partner should indeed lean heavily on you, there might be something wrong. Lean should be an illusion in the first place.
    Mladenac likes this.
  12. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    And did that "all" include the decomposition of a single step in "intention, projection, shift of weight, closing" accompanied by adequate imaginations, actions and reactions? :pomp:
    Mladenac likes this.
  13. doornail

    doornail New Member

    Here's a random thing I discovered that helped me 'get the feeling'. I stumbled across this when I was crossing a car-park to a milonga once. Maybe it will help you, or maybe it will be meaningless to anyone but me! We have to find the visualisations that work best for us.

    Find a path, road, open space that has a gentle slope to it, and walk up it. Note that it's a gentle slope, just enough that you notice it. Walk up it with a little bit of urgency, but without rushing (e.g., think 'I'll be on time for the show, as long as I don't waste any time...').

    By doing this, I found that two things happened that I could then take into the milonga and walk with more drive:

    1. I could remember that feeling of pushing my weight along the slope with my back foot each time. It has a much more satisfying 'oomph' to it than when normally walking on flat ground. But you can then apply the same muscle memory on level ground and give yourself that oomph.

    2. Even though I was pushing 'up' hill, my intention was still 'to go forward'. When you walk up a gentle hill, you don't think 'up' you think 'forward' (or at least I do). This results in you driving into the ground, almost. This gave me the first real inkling of what 'being grounded' should feel like. Again, you can borrow the feeling and apply it on level ground.

    I think both of these result in a clearer lead, and without having the mental image of a 'lean' being involved.

    When I'm struggling to find a connection with someone (if I feel like they are 'floating away from me'), I often come back to just that feeling and that idea of walking up hill. This often results in my partner also improving the groundedness of her walk, and suddenly we're back together again.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  14. JTh

    JTh Member

    I don't know about your examples... But absolutely agree in visualizations. If you can see it -paint a clear picture in your head on how your lead is going to go before the practica /milonga or whatever...chances are that you are much further to getting that realised at the milonga. I interpret visualisation part of preparation; and obviously the more prepared you are the better the chances of you doing a good job.
  15. JTh

    JTh Member

    Absolutely lead with the chest first then the feet follow...and thr feet don't necessarily need to follow the same direction as your chest. I find that a close embrace works well with this; followers are quick to move in the direction my chest indicates and the lead from the chest I fund is clearer and unambiguous as opposed to the open embrace where it's not as clear (that maybe because I'm not doing the open correctly).. Balance is important as is timing and weight transfer. From the followers side, she has to be attentive and pick up ques like this; sometimes it may be subtle. as usual, practice will get you there.. For both.
  16. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    Sounds like you're being taught Apilado style, the style I dance. Very few dance Apilado.

    I don't think you've been given a good explanation so I'm volunteering.

    Most dancers dance completely vertical. There's a slight angle in Apilado.
    Here's a photo.


    Both partners are leaning INTO each other not ONTO each other. Each is on her own balance and axis. Nobody is off balance.

    As you pull your hips back, your chest will lean forward and your weight will move onto the ball of the foot. This is why you feel off balance. You just have to practice. I practiced with a chair with wheels. The objective was to move the chair WITHOUT moving my feet. Another exercise is pushing a shopping cart. Put your hands on the cart, bend your knees, pull your hips back and come onto the ball of the each foot. As you release your knees, your chest will move the cart forward WITHOUT stepping.

    Carlos Gavito said "I lead, but I follow." Right. The woman steps backward first BEFORE the man steps forward, INCREASING the space between the partners. The man steps forward a split second after the woman steps backward into the space she just vacated. If the man steps first, he DECREASES the space between the partners.

    It's easier to transfer energy to the woman by leaning into her chest.

    I see a lot of men take tiny steps. Tiny steps leads to little energy which leads confusion to the woman because the lead isn't clear.

    Dancing Apilado allows me to transfer a lot of ENERGY (NOT pressure and NOT resistance) to the woman. If she takes a big step backward (reaching from the hip crease), she won't be confused which foot to stand on. Woman get tangled up in their feet during ochos with small steps and a confusing lead.

    I accept full responsibility for anything that got "lost in translation." Some things are just difficult to explain in words.

    You're on the RIGHT track even though I think you were given poor explanations.
    opendoor likes this.
  17. vit

    vit Active Member

    Well, on most photos on that link, center of gravity of the follower is well in front of tip of both her toes. It's physically impossible to stay in that position without help of the partner
  18. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    The angle of the "lean" is up to the dancers. I certainly don't lean as much and the woman doesn't support my weight. The cardinal rule of dancing is each partner is responsible for his/her weight.
  19. vit

    vit Active Member

    I understand that, just the photos didn't illustrate that. I actually don't dance tango but BR and salsa so I don't know, but from photos you posted it looks like there are (some) people dancing in a way that they lean to each other so that they support some weight of the partner and are still able to be in balance as a couple, which of course would be more demanding. But as I understand from other posts on this forum, most prefer dancing in a way that both partners have own balance (except of course in figures requiring support of the partner)
  20. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I would somewhat disagree - i don't lean very much, but i rely for my balance partially on my partner, and she does the same. It is not a situation in which i couldn't recover my weight if i needed to, but i would still move differently if i did not have her support. This is a personal choice, and different choices are certainly possible, but i am pretty sure that my dance does not violate any of the cardinal rules of dancing.
    opendoor and vit like this.

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