Chapter 9   Leave a comment

Consensual tango dancing

When people judge a book by its cover, they may not find the time to read it, or worse yet, they may become “experts” at what they judged without reading. The cover of the Argentine Tango dance book sometimes is illustrated with references to the exotic, cliche-ladden, fairy tales about bordellos, machos, knives, control and submission, which taken at face value may lead to create an injustice on the dance floor.

It is not unusual to hear the plight of those who believe that all the fun and energy of Tango dancing is enjoyed by the overbearing males, who already control and dominate every other aspect of life. Then, dancing becomes militancy and technically challenged individuals set out to “share and exchange the joys of having control, using dominance and establishing supremacy.” They lead themselves to denial and follow a pattern to boredom.

Whether we like it or not, authentic Argentine Tango dancing at its best, requires the physical and phychological encounter of a man and a woman working together to fullfil a three minute contract, which they agreed to when the invitation and the acceptance took place.

The terms of the contract require that the man take care of all external elements that would interfere with the woman’s enjoyment of the dance. Those external elements include physical protection against other dancers, expert navigation skills to become part of the dance floor and not the dance floor itself, sensible understanding of the music style, rhythm and mood in order to dance the music and not the steps, and a clear understanding of where the woman’s feet are, and most important of all, where he is going to mark her steps so her feet will be placed exactly where they should go to execute a particular movement, figure, pattern, or whatever you want to call it.

In turn, the woman is required to know where her axis is within her own space, to allow her body to be secured in the embrace, to respond to the mark by transporting her body into the space created dynamically as a consequence of the mark. To do this, she must have a clear point of support before moving, i.e., one leg supporting the weight, and the ability to allow her “free” leg to be placed as a result of la marca so the motion of her body is in unison with the man’s.

Parada at Door Number Six

Last time we proposed that knowing how to initiate, enter, stop or exit from a Giro gives the dancer a powerful tool to develop creative improvisational skills. We also suggested that the woman’s body positions in the Giro could be seen as eight different doors, each numbered from one to eight, and further, that it is required that you enter the odd numbered doors with your left foot and the even numbered doors with your right foot.

We described a parada, a stop at the position we called Door Number Three. We will now describe another parada, at Door Number Six.

1.- Fourth movement of the giro 2.- Fifth movement of the giro 3.- Sixth movement of the giro

He enters the Giro de Ocho with a leg displacement as he marks a forward step from the Cruzada, (Figure 1). Because he advances with his right leg, he is entering through Door Number Four.

As he steps forward, he displaces her left foot (he produces a Sacada) and he transfers her weight completely to her right foot. He continues rotating his upper body over his right leg while opening his right shoulder to create a new space for her. She pivots and opens her left leg to her side. This is Door Number 5 so he advances with his body and his left foot producing a Sacada. (Figure 2)

Next, he opens his right shoulder to create new space for her to turn into. Her weight transfers to her left leg and she opens her torso to the right pivoting on her left leg until he stops the rotation locking his right shoulder and then releasing it to mark a back step. At this point he “sees” Door Number 6 and decides not to “enter”. So he locks his right shoulder, places his hand firmly on her back, stops his rotation and moves his right foot to touch parallel her left foot. She responds to this lack of space to move by not moving (Figure 3).

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Posted January 7, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in Tutorial

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