Tango Argentino > Small number of problems specific to leading?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by itwillhappen, Mar 1, 2017.

  1. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Sounds comprehensive, but I'm not convinced.
    The conclusion would be, that experienced partners should lead.
    Ok, nice, but how could one realize that in a beginner class, how at a milonga (and how in BsAs ;))?

    It takes - in my experience - much more tango practice to lead a follower up to her capabilities.
    And followers that try to start leading in the first years look reather deplorable for me, the profient ones that I see have been dancing for ages.

    I tend more to a method where both partner start leading from the beginning, however.
    But following MsHedgehogs argumentation that would be the worst case...
  2. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    I would not agree, too. I dance either role, Ive learned either role, but as completely different animals. I cannot conclude following from leading or the other way round. Each thing seem to occupy different areas in my brain.
  3. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    "It also allows you to solve about 90% of the big physical problems of posture, axis, embrace, balance, coordination, control of momentum, cognition and proprioception, before you start worrying about any of the much smaller number of problems that are specific to leading. "

    My partner attended a few weeks ago a series of beginners, from-scratch classes for leaders. She has years of following. I witnessed what the teachers corrected about her lead during those sessions. From what they said, as a leader her posture was not good. Nor was her embrace or control or coordination.
    Cognition and the other word nearby, I have no idea what they mean, and cannot say anything. But as for the words that I understand, I'd say that I disagree.
  4. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    Sure, following a bunch before you start leading helps your leading. But is that because you were specifically following, or just because of the extra experience while dancing tango period?

    Would someone who danced 10 months as a follower then 1 month as a leader be a better leader than someone who danced 11 months straight as a leader?

    And these aren't leading (pun intended) questions, I'm really going back and forth on this.
  5. Reuven Thetanguero

    Reuven Thetanguero Active Member

    I think for a leader it may be marginally helpful to train as a follower. Having the choice, it would be time better spent training as a leader. Understanding what followers go through does not improve leading skills. This understanding could be acquired by practicing dancing in classes, practices and Milongas, where leading skills are being improved.
  6. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    I think if you have precise movement as a leader, following will just make sense to you. But for a follower to pick up leading, that's a different game entirely. Men that are pros generally can follow, but that's not always the case for women who are pros. In fact, I've only come across two women that can lead the way a man can, Daniela Arcuri and Lorena Ermocida.
  7. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Susana Miller?
  8. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    If you flipped your ratio I think I would agree, for me 10 hours leading and 1 hour following beats 11 hours of leading (maybe it's closer to 20 or 30 hours of leading to 1 hour of following, but my point is I think a little bit of following is very valuable for a leader.).

    Here's a typical Tango class in my experience: A male and female, leader and follower, show you some steps. You try to replicate these movements with people as unskilled as you are. That works for many things, but there are some things it just doesn't answer.

    If open embrace, how much pressure, if any, should be in your hands? If close embrace, how hard, if at all, do you push against each other? How tight or how loose do you embrace your partner? Does that pressure change during certain steps (whoops, movements!)? What about this "down" thing to lead some steps? How much force do you use in leading a boleo? Do you change these things for less experienced vs. more experienced ladies?

    These are things that are hard to discern by watching. You could experiment on your inexperienced class mates. You could try a variety of combinations with many women at milongas and practicas, and note what seems to work best on average. You could ask your female instructor, and play the "hot cold" game: "No, too hard! That was too soft, more, more, OK, that's good." Or, you could ask your male instructor (or female leader) to show you once. Right away you can feel how much it takes. Fairly often I'll ask the instructor to briefly lead me, it is very illuminating and much faster than experimenting on 10 or 20 women, doing a Downhill Simplex hoping to minimize the global error and not fall into a local, less optimal solution.

    I had another eye opening experience. Once it was helpful to the gender balance if I followed, so I did so with a lady instructor leading me (she wanted to lead that night). I learned it was more fun to steer a linear movement into a circular movement rather than to suddenly have my direction linearly reversed with a lot of pressure on my back. I also learned following is hard! BTW I have been told I'm a bad follower! It was also a little weird for the TD, she went in and out of close embrace, it was different not being in charge of that (BTW she is on my CE short list, so she had implicit permission to do so). It was also funny, she kept using my line, "Just relax! You are too tense!" It was a fun experience.

    That gave rise to yet another benefit. Many ladies tell me "I just follow." I can now say, "Don't say 'just follow.' I have done some following, it's hard!"
    raindance likes this.
  9. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    In my next life I'll take a bunch of private lessons to avoid all the beginner stress .
    So I'll start with a period of relaxed following, why not?
    It's my choice and I'll get reborn with pockets full of money. :D

    But in this life I went the usual way, looked for a tango partner and took some classes.
    If I would have had the desire to get lead: there would have been nobody there to spoil me...
  10. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    If your teachers are competent, the "steps" are only an excuse to teach the class something, and they will be observing their pupils and highlighting common errors (and if the class size is adequate, also offer specific feedback to couples during practice).

    If your teachers just show the steps and you're all left to your own devices to manage stumbling half decently through them, I'd consider changing teachers -- if you have the choice.
    Reuven Thetanguero and rain_dog like this.
  11. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    "Observing" and "stumbling" imply things the instructors can see. I was trying to focus on things that are hard or impossible to see. A leader briefly following can make invisible factors immediately obvious.

    It's a common teaching problem, it is hard to teach things that are done by feel. It is easy to teach someone the motions it takes to change a tire, but hard to tell by watching them if they have over torqued the lug nuts.

    Here's a dance example: My DW and I started dance by taking a ballroom class. The class had about 5 couples. My DW was a fierce back leader. No one switched partners in the class, and it wasn't until about week 10 of 12 the instructor showed DW something and said she was back leading. It was not obvious to the instructors by watching. Then DW and I took our first Tango class. I cycled through several of the lady classmates until I happened to get one who was very experienced in dance. She followed my very inexpert lead like she was reading my mind. Wow, I suddenly got it, and now having been enlightened was able to morph DW from a sumo wrestler to a real follower. Likewise, she was cycling through beginner, inexpert leads, and wasn't getting it.

    My first CE class, with a visiting expert instructor, was a huge struggle. There was nothing to see, but somehow the couple was communicating through chest pressure. I was not getting it, so finally the instructor came over and had me follow. Though I still struggled, the instructor realized it was yet another way to teach. BTW I was the only leader in the class that he had briefly follow -- you experts that get things the first time don't need that level of help :cool:.

    An instructor was trying to teach going back briefly before going forward. It was subtle, and I could not see it. Did you do it the whole time you were waiting to start, potentially for several beats, or just a brief fraction of a beat beforehand? How much pressure did it entail? His leading me to show it once made it immediately obvious.

    For my Blues dancing privates the instructors would show things by dancing with each other, while DW and I watched for all the open moves. BTW, Blues is danced without touching, touching at one point (like hands), both hands, one armed open embrace, two armed open embrace, one armed close embrace, and two armed close embrace. When it came time for the close embrace lesson, they didn't even bother showing us, the lady instructor went right to me, and the male instructor went right to DW, to directly show us how. They realized it was a hard thing to learn by watching.

    Note this is not for everything, and actually fairly rare. It has been maybe a dozen times, usually just 60 seconds each time, in 100+ hours of dance instruction. Maybe I should change my ratio to 1 hour of following for every 100 hours of leading, but that little bit of following was much faster than trying to figure out an invisible aspect of the dance by experimenting on several ladies.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017

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