Tango Argentino > Forward Ochos...Heel or Toes first? This is the question..!

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Chrisa Assis, Dec 20, 2016.

  1. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    I'm out of my depth in this august group, but forging ahead fearlessly anyways...

    It seems to me one vs. the other could express musicality. For instance, I could see toe first working well with slower, smoother music. I could see heel first (and then shortly after the toe coming down) working will with faster music that has extra notes to play with.

    Chrisa, it would be fun to see a demo video to showing the difference with two different Tango songs.
  2. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    This. Not doing pivots in front of a fireplace, with the camera placed ten miles away.
    A video with ochos, with a partner, music, and post-production. That is, some zooms, some slow motion, and several cams. Including an infrared one to visualize the impact of the foot on the ground.
    JohnEm likes this.
  3. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    Newbie, I'm not sure that Chrisa is familiar with your sense of verbal irony.
  4. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    No irony here. The vid is the first post of the thread does not show forward ochos in the first place. An illustrative vid has to be, well, illustrative. The current vid is not much more relevant than, say, a lolcat vid with cats being scared by a cucumber, and naming the thread
    "Are you scared of not doing the forward ochos the right way? You should not!"
  5. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    I haven't forgotten at all, in fact I remember all too clearly
    how pointlessly disruptive being taught such an ocho style
    is to actually learning how to really dance.

    Practice is to be recommended, but first be aware of what
    it is you are practising. In my view the OP is unhelpful.

    You are incorrectly inferring something I did not write.
    The problem isn't teachers being paid but what they
    peddle, what they claim and what are paid for.

    Without paying I would not have learned what I know now,
    not because they taught me it all (they taught very little
    of what I dance now) but because I would never have started
    dancing tango at all. After the first and second teacher experiences
    I nearly stopped completely.

    But it should not and need not be like this,
    which I also know from experience.

    Yes there is good and bad teaching at every level, and in every dance,
    with and without the commercial imperative.
  6. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Looks as if there is some demand for "solo ocho practice": ;)
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  7. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    If there was no irony, are you spending Chrisa's time and money, or are you volunteering to fund Chrisa's effort with your own hard-won cash?

    When someone wants to contribute something for free, it seems we're very good at looking a gift horse in the mouth.
  8. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    I can only assume that you are an excellent follow, wear high-heels when you do follow, and have an intuitive grasp of the motion the leg and foot execute during an ocho, or a boleo, or any of those other things one occasionally sees follows practicing alone. If not, you might be surprised to note that, despite the common perception that all the follow needs to do is listen to her man and then obey, it is not all that easy to do most of the things we leads expect of our follows.

    I say this from experience. My wife gave me a pair of high heels several years ago and insisted that I take a beginner workshop as a follow. If you haven't tried it, you might consider it.
  9. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    LOL. I happen to agree wholeheartedly with you. And I probably should have indicated that the only "teaching" I do is to demo, slowly and carefully, something a friend might ask me about. I certainly don't present myself as a teacher or advocate that anyone learn anything from me.
  10. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I feel like the direction this thread is going is at its core not about ochos, but about training methodology. (And i also think the direction this is going is somewhat misrepresenting what Chrisa is going for - in her blog she strongly emphasizes the difference between practice and goals, and she has a nice piece on how practicing embellishments is in the end all about practicing good technique). Training methodology is something that i have been thinking about a long time - like everybody who has been in tango for a while i have heard people advocating everything from doing extremely abstract "movement laboratories" to claims that "the milonga is the only teacher one needs".

    I think one way to deal with the question is to be conscious of exactly what Chrisa talks about in her blog - the practice is not the goal, and being aware what one is practicing. The image i tend to us is something i learned from indonesian martial arts - they have the concept of "kembang" - "flower". They believe that it is impossible to teach martial arts - ones martial art is a spontaneous expression of oneself in a fight that is unique to the moment, to that fight, to that opponent. All one can do is prepare the ground and do gardening by training attributes and reflexes and concepts, and hope that the flower will bloom. I similarly believe that tango only exists at the milonga - everything else is either practicing for the milonga or demonstrating/showing off the skills and attributes one will be able to bring to bear on the milonga.

    "pivots in front of a fireplace" are a great tool to train attributes that will make practicing ochos "with music, with a partner", and dance at the milonga better. I think the perceived drawbacks are an illusion created by people who forgot that they were training attributes/preparing the soil, and perfected the drill instead of the attribute the drill was supposed to teach (which is similar to people who perfect a trick instead of the body mechanics and techique that the trick is based on) - it has nothing to do with practicing something, and more with drawing the wrong lessons from practicing. It is the difference between using a drill to develop attributes for the social dance, and using the social dance as a vehicle to show ones mastery of the drills. The dreaded "robo ocho" does not happen because we practice solo ochos with embellishments, it happens when we forget what we are practicing. (btw - this is obviously from a leaders perspective - and this is the prime example of drills showing up in the dance leaders experience. I am sure there must be something equivalent that leaders do - what is a good example of things that make followers go "ok, i see you have worked on this a lot, but could you please not do the whole routine any time there is even the slightest opening"? (actually skip this - writing this made me realize that basically all vocabulary can fall into that category - i guess a followers experience is often endless series of robo ochos spooled off by leaders - :( )

    In some ways it is similar to the problem what to answer when people ask you to show them how a trick works - by now i strongly feel that tricks are mostly just showing off specific aspects of good technique, and most of them will start to happen almost automatically once ones technique is at the right place, and actually trying to "do the move" before the technique is in place makes it sometimes more difficult to actually develop the proper technique because it becomes a fossilized piece of vocabulary.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  11. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    As usual, I find your comments both perceptive and thought provoking. I talked about this concept - leader robo ochos - with my wife, and she agrees that many, but not all, leads dance a rather small vocabulary, ten or twenty, or even thirty moves, and often even in the same sequence. Robo moves.

    But she said there are a few she has danced with who create not just the dance, not just the timing and rhythm, but entirely new steps, in real time. Some who truly understand the technique of "A", say colgadas, and can lead "any" colgada - not just the same four or five - but twenty or thirty or forty different ones - and combine them with a lead to any one of twenty or thirty or forty different boleos - etc. Not because they have memorized them nor for the sake of showing off, but simply because the technique is there and it fits the music at that instant in time.

    I think that this kind of dance - fully improvised - puts more burden on the follower than the leader. The lead must have the technique and be precise. But the follow must be exquisitely sensitive to the mark as well as have the corresponding technique and precision in her response.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
    itwillhappen likes this.
  12. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    If they dance them to the music with the correct cadencia (and listen to their follower's suggestions about timing or even adding breathing space to invite suggestions about timing _and_ direction) they ain't robo.

    Same holds for followers. If a lady can "auto-ocho" (ironic quoting) in a way that communicates to me the intent, expresses the music, stay with me etc. she's perfectly welcome to backlead me. Sometimes she has a much better idea than I have anyway ;-). These are only robo-ochos if she forgets to dance with me and the music.

    'Robo' is dancing the sequence the same exact way (with the same intrastep timing and intensity) on D'Arienzo, Puglies, Troilo and Di Sarli, and dancing sequence #23 right through a dramatic phrase end, despite the not-so-subtle hints from the follower determined not to massacre the music.

    To get to the point of the post, tough: when I look at a couple of dancers, I like them or not because of something else than how many ticks I can add to my 'list of mohves done'. I really like Gssh's post, but let's not go overboard and think that to dance well you need to dance at least 64 of the 1024 possible sacadas either. Some time ago I posted a photo of a lady who leads and (truly) dances even though she only walks in parallel system.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  13. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think it is pretty much a shared burden, and the burden is not as much on precision and technique, but
    1) keeping ones ego in check and concentrate on mostly leading things one is actually able to lead (and for the follower to only follow things one is actually able to follow)
    2) trusting the follower that what they are doing is the correct and proper match for my lead, and then being as committed to following them as they are to following me - even (and especially) when it is not what i expected to happen. (and for the follower to trust their impression of what the lead is, and move committedly on it)
    3) trusting the music as an additional (or maybe the primary?) channel of communication - in the relationship to the orchestra we are both followers, and because of this shared experience of the music and the predictability of the structure of tango we both have some idea what kind of things are going to happen.

    In a way the dancer sixela talks about is where one mostly ends up - very little vocabulary done with full commitment to the partner and the music. And when i throw in vocabulary that i am not actually able to lead 100% like e.g. the cross i try to be extra committed to accepting my followers impression of what i lead as correct and follow her - not so different from accepting her interpretation of the music, just a bit harder on the ego ;).
    sixela and raindance like this.
  14. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    It appears that I failed to be clear. I again spoke with my wife, and she wasn't saying that she thought one particular lead was good because of the number of moves he could execute, and I would guess that he had never even tried to dance the 1024 sacadas, or xxx colgadas, or whatever. She didn't think he was counting coup.

    What she was saying is that she thought he was good because he could dance entirely in the moment as the music moved him, without being confined to the handful of step patterns that most of us are restricted to. If they were in the midst of something and he decided to follow the swooping violins with a swooping colgada, he could no matter what foot he or she happened to be on. No matter if she was stepping open or cross, or front or back. Etc. The dance became fully one with the music and lived moment by moment.

    Given her glowing review of his dance, am I jealous of this bastard? You bet! But oh well.
  15. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    I feel fortunate that the way I learned tango was by trial and error while dancing with my (now) wife. She (a much better and very highly experienced tango dancer) would, and still does, follow exactly what she feels me lead. I observe what she does, and conclude that I now know how to lead whatever she just did. I then confirm this by dancing with others and seeing if they respond the same way. This helps insure that my dance is normalized and not just a secret code between the two of us. I have never had the courage/chutzpa to tell her where she "should" have stepped. Especially not since I do want to preserve our relationship. :) Ego be damned.
  16. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Is there in reality a technical distinction between leaders who are able to
    a) end their figures at any point and start something new?
    b) follow unexpected follower moves?
    c) fully improvise their dance on the fly?
    I see there just an continuous improvement of dancing.
    oldtangoguy likes this.
  17. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    For the record, I don't think you were misguided. I just wanted to clarify since your post could have given a reader the wrong impression.

    That's where I don't actually follow your wife completely. You can be "confined" to a narrow range of steps and still dance entirely in the moment as the music moves you, and as I said I know a female leader doing just that merely with walking.

    In fact, I think that when dancing to the music the step patterns are the least of your worries (even though in interpreting the music and the mood at an even higher level, yes, being able to create your own moves does help you express things differently).

    I think the quality of movement is much more important than exactly what movements you do as far as expressing the music is concerned (even though I love a back sacada just as much as any other guy ;-) I'm not under the impression that doing one well is actually connected too much with expressing the music).

    In fact I seem to tend to pare down my dance to especially subtle music.

    Think of it as reciting poetry. You certainly don't need complex sentence structure or very obscure words to recite a heart-wrenching poem; not everyone writes like Shakespeare or needs to, even though his writing has a particular brilliance to it that is certainly related to his effusiveness, and other poets chose other ways to say something -- and to say something different.

    Despite Shakespeare's brilliance a mediocre reciter could make one of his sonnets as boring as me reading a phone book, and conversely I'm sure Cate Blanchett could make a telephone book sound interesting.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  18. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    Mhh -- I see a space in which you can progress that definitely has more than one dimension.
  19. Chrisa Assis

    Chrisa Assis Member

    I feel that this is the downside of actually having video...Video is like the mirror, we check ourselves and our movement and if what we see is good--what we believe to be good--we are happy. But we don't take a moment to think how that movement or position feels. And even worse we don't take a moment to examine other options and variations of the same movement that might create a different outcome in terms of quality and/ or feeling.
    The purpose of this video, is not to sell you anything, is to inspire you to try to explore the so many different options that you have in Tango. I find that--not being stuck to one way--inspiring and liberating since this type of practice has allowed me to be more expressive while dancing with many more different dancers and therefore enjoy my milongas more...
    Just some thoughts, pasted the footwork itself for anyone wishing to try a different approach
    itwillhappen likes this.
  20. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    Her response? "If that's all a lead can do? I deal with it." She really wants it all: Musicality, quality of movement, big, fun, novel moves. Yeah. Trained ballet dancer who wishes her body still worked like it did when she was in her twenties and early thirties.

    I asked her how she puts up with me. Her response? "You're getting better." Nice.

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