Ballroom Dance > Tango Basic Timing

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by IndyLady, Oct 19, 2017.

  1. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    Most of the instruction I've had for tango has the basic timing as SSQQS, steps danced on 1-3-5-6-7 (initially counted T.. A... N-G-O for beginners).

    Recently, I've started working with an instructor who wants it danced on 2-4-5-6-7 (compress on 1, step on 2). OK fine, he's been in the comp world for years, I'll go with it, I've been able to implement it for his amalgamations.

    Yesterday, on of my other instructors "introduced" me to 2-3-5-6-7. I didn't say anything, but tbh, this one has me skeptical. Is this a legitimate or common timing for a tango basic? I didn't say anything, want to do my homework first. Instructor #1 has coached instructor #2 in the past (though not currently affiliated with each other, AFAIK), so I'm wondering if this is one of those half-remembered things.

    TIA for any education you can provide me.
  2. PaulBunyon

    PaulBunyon Active Member

    I am not qualified to provide guidance, but for clarity (mostly for myself), expanding it to show 2 measures:
    Does that mean you are "gathering" on the 8, holding through the 1, and dancing the 2 as quick?
  3. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I could find SSQQS in 2-4-5-6-7. So I would translate 2-3-5-6-7 as SQSQS. Will ponder this a bit in case I can think of a reason, but my initial reaction is "no".
    IndyLady likes this.
  4. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    It’s not a slow if you step on one. It’s a quick with a hold so yes slow is compress and divide on one and step on two etc
  5. Borazine

    Borazine New Member

    The way my coach teaches it, the weight transfer on a slow forward walk can occur anywhere between the 1 and 2. (So timing the weight changes, 1-3-5-6-7, 2-4-5-6-7, 2-3-5-6-7, and 1-4-5-6-7 would all be technically acceptable.) Usually you want the delayed weight transfer (2-4-5-6-7) to be your default, but can use the others periodically to create some contrast. Perhaps instructor #2 wanted to create a bit more sharpness by collecting the forward movement into beats 2 and 3?
    Larinda McRaven likes this.
  6. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    This was my thought, esp bolded. I could see the 2-3 thing possibly applying to a specific figure (not that I have one in mind), but for me it undoes my "stalk, stalk... POUNCE POUNCE... enjoy feasting on the prey" character of the basic.

    My plan is to check with one other instructor, but if I don't end up with some reassurance that this is a thing, I'm probably going to push back. 1-3 or 2-4, but not 2-3.
  7. vit

    vit Active Member

    My current teacher is teaching S steps as transfer weight on the 2nd beat. However, I analyzed a video of his demo slow motion and in case of SSQQ (2 walks into whisk in particular), weight transfer of first slow happens at around beat 2 or slightly earlier, while weight transfer of second slow happens earlier, somewhere around 3&, which feels natural to me because next step is Q

    So it is actually somewhere in between explanation of your first and second teacher

    Step duration in dancing is never mathematically exact, given timings are just approximations, because we are not robots. It depends on what figure follows etc. What you hear from particular teacher is what works the best for his students, so if you change teachers, you will hear different explanations. And you will hear different explanations from the same teacher as you are progressing, if he is a good teacher at least ... Dance teaching is not an exact science, although some people, ballroom especially, try making it as such
    dlliba10 likes this.
  8. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    They are all three valid. I teach all three versions to students depending on where they are in their understanding and experience.

    The first way is like kindergarten. Here is a crayon make a lower case letter "a".
    The second way is like elementary school. Here is a pen, make a capital case letter "A".
    The third is calligraphy. Here is a fountain pen, make a letter A in 5 different fonts.

    What you are working through is learning how to express different counts. How to control different timings. How to inflect and nuance your leg action and body rhythms. There is no one right way to express a slow. There are hundreds. And to be an excellent dancer you are going to need to master more than just two ways to count or dance a slow.

    The idea of ballroom tango being that we tend to group mini explosions with moments of silence in between. So actually the third version you have is working on light and shade. Build on 1, step 2 3, pause on 4 and build up again, step 5 6, hold on 78. Unlike something like standard foxtrot where you would be working on learning to sustain multiple slows across the music.... tango is working in small explosions.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
  9. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    I was secretly hoping you would weigh in at some point.

    This might not have a precise answer.... but what is the advantage of the 2-3-5-6-7 timing, i.e. what is it trying to achieve? I get the 2-4 thing (compressing into it), but 2-3 just seems weird to me.

    I'm obviously in "resistant" mode right now, but thinking ahead, it's hard to see where the 2-3 timing is going to be of use (for me personally). This is a primarily social studio. 99% of the leads will dance 1-3.
    Larinda McRaven likes this.
  10. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I went back and added more while you were posting I guess... and I did acknowledge the benefit of 23. Small bursts of compact action offset by moments of rest/stillness/buildup. Hope that helps.
    IndyLady likes this.
  11. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    If you are in a primarily social place all I can say is the more expertise you have then the more opportunity you have to respond to a weird variety of odd ball stuff that gets thrown at you.

    There is a guy here that dances triple time swing like this ONLY while he LEADS AN UNDERARM TURN.... 1&2, 3, 45. But I can follow him seamlessly because I know what he is doing, as weird as it is. It only took me one dance with him, and 2 underarm turns to figure out his wacko timing right there. And I can swing with him all day long because I can handle what he leads. I then am able to consciously follow his next few basics that are danced 6&1 2&3 45 because I am fluid with my own understanding and connection to timing. But if I had a very strict and limited view of what was "possible" or "right" I would look like the other ladies that are constantly out of step with him, refusing to speed up or slow down to match him. Each of them zigging while he is zagging.

    Eventually he will lead another uat and we will be back "on time".... eh .... I don't see it as a big deal, because it isn't about him. It is about me and my ability to express different rhythms on purpose even if those around me express them by accident.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
    flying_backwards, IndyLady and vit like this.
  12. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    Thank you. That makes sense. Food for thought.

    This gave me a chuckle... my kid is pre-school age and he makes a big deal out of "that's a LOWERCASE 'a' " and "that's an UPPERCASE 'A' " when completing worksheets (daycare homework... a whole other topic).
    Larinda McRaven likes this.
  13. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I've been mulling this over this afternoon. (I have the day off and I am cleaning a junk room, nothing to do but be alone with my thoughts)

    As we stated above that slows can be danced steppping on the first half and a silent second half. As in 1*3*
    And slows can be danced with a silent first half while stepping on the second half. As in *2*4

    So if we have already established that dancing on the first beat is acceptable... and dancing it on the second beat is also acceptable... then how is it unacceptable to dance *23* Because we have already established that both ways to dance a slow are valid. Why would it be so hard to conceive that BOTH ways can be used... gasp... right next to each other?
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    And Scrivener said that ; Tango is the simplest of the standard 4 " .His article on Tango in his book , goes into great detail from a very basic standpoint.
    Timing in basic tango,may vary according to what is to "follow " in some cases, hence the variation in speed of weight changes.

    The irony is, the "walk " is NOT included in the rev. techn. in the step list but described separately .
    There is more than a simple approach to a basic walk ( in my experience ) than the outline suggests .The written word cannot do it justice..
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    An afterthought; Scriv. never taught the basic in S and Qs, He counted it this way.... " Step catch, Step catch, walk walk " . This reduces the "swing" of the leg action and highlites the actual music construction .

    An interesting comment by Bill Irvine.."The tango today looks more like FT "
    j_alexandra likes this.
  16. Dr Dance

    Dr Dance Well-Known Member

    My group instructor would like to see more "stalking" and "sword fighting" from his tango students. ("The Mark of Zorro")
    IndyLady likes this.
  17. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    In the vacuum of academic theory, I don't disagree. I think there's just a lot of other baggage here that's clouding the issue for me, wrt this instructor. Given our (very limited) history with this dance, I may put the kibosh on this "next level" until we can actually dance kindergarten level tango successfully together. Also, this concept is still less than 2 days old in my mind (and something I'd never even heard of in the decade+ that I've danced), so I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it.

    That's kind of how I feel about instructor #2's tango. I noticed this when I watched his tango routine with another student at our Showcase dress rehearsal.
    Larinda McRaven likes this.
  18. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

  19. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Threads like this often make me realize that I count things oh so differently... I have this theory that the part of my brain that understands things like counts and alignments is different than the part of my brain that I use when I am dancing... that part feels it, and may on occasion count in a scatting/singing rhythm - but rarely in words, and NEVER in numbers. (Sometimes leads to hilarious discussions with pro, or with my current ballet teacher, both of whom have remarked on my "odd" way of learning combinations or amalgamations... but both say to keep doing it, because it works for me.)

    It's actually interesting for me to read these discussions. I can follow them, but it is like seeing a foreign culture described by native speakers and those with a high level of fluency in a language that I have only ever learned in a classroom, and never really understood the point of, even though I could pass the tests.
  20. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Hey whatever works for you...

    I had a profoundly deaf student. He was amazing to work with. One of the things we had to overcome was how to talk about timing. Since slows and quicks and beats didn't mean anything to him we devised our own method. Somewhere I still have his spreadsheet of "tango babbles". He could feel the vibration in my back with his right hand. So I would babble out different sounds that felt different to him. And he learned to interpret them as different speeds and types of movement.

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