Chapter 28   Leave a comment

Whatever, whenever

We are reaching a point where the original purpose of this series is being fulfilled. More and more people realize that there is more to dancing tango than arguing about styles, proclaiming who is the best teacher this week, or pretending a level of expertise from behind the glare of a computer screen.

The way people dance is affected by social and cultural values. People in different countries dance differently in social clubs, salons and night clubs. One thing is common everywhere where tango is danced: couples are required to embrace. By definition, embracing involves arms surrounding one another with neither pelvis pushing in nor butt sticking out. Yet, people fight over “open” and “close” embrace as they draw battle lines to protect the “purity” of their turf.

A similar situation occurs in the matter of styles of dancing. Nowhere in Europe, Canada, and of course Argentina, you will find discussions, dissertations and grand standings on “invented” style names. It’s only in communities in this country that people find the need to give everything a name, embellishing it with the use of an euphemism here and an oxymoron there.

At the end of the day, there is only one way to dance tango: the way YOU like to dance it. And there is only one style: the one YOU choose to be your style; because a tango dancer never copies, never imitates, never conforms to an established pattern, never follows the trends, never talks about his dancing. A tango dancer dances.

What and when does a tango dancer dance? Whatever and whenever the moment, the music, and the partner provide the ingredients that motivates a dancer to dance.

Variations on Giros to the left

As teachers, we try to encourage dancers to dance, whether in a class environment, or through the sharing of our experience in this series of articles.

The description of figures captured on video during live teaching sessions and performances, is primarily aimed to frame their execution from the mindset of the man and the woman during the process of sheer improvisation.

In this issue’s example, we will analyze the interruption of a right hand giro with a change of direction that initiates a left hand giro. During the progression of the left hand turn, the man will advance breaking the line on which the woman is executing her change of front, displacing her into a new trajectory where both dancers will turn around each other changing fronts. The movement will be interrupted by a change of direction to the right, whereby the dancers will find themselves in the same initial position from where they will repeat the left hand turn again, to finally exit with a salida cruzada on their way to their next destination. The movement will begin at the end end of a salida simple, which  is one of many positions where a new trajectory can be initiated.

First take notice that both the man and the woman are in an almost identical position as that adopted at the beginning of a salida. The man’s axis is on his right leg, the woman’s axis is on her left leg (Frame 1). The woman’s right leg is hooked (crossed) behind the left, rather than next to it as it is at the salida. The position may look and feel different, but it is exactly equivalent to the beginning of a salida.

With the woman’s right leg crossed behind the left, it is more obvious that she can be made to pivot to her left and made to walk forward into the man’s right side. The man marks her pivot with a rotation of his upper body, and her forward step with a matching left back step of his own (Frame 2).

The man stops with his weight on his left leg, marking a pivot for the woman in order to change directions. Rather than continuing moving into his right side, her body now is positioned to walk again forward, but in the direction of the man’s left thus initiating a giro to the left. The man accompanies her forward step to his left by turning to his left on his left leg while letting his right leg coil around the rotating axis completely weightless. (Frame 3).

The impulse of the man’s rotation on his left axis, marks a second step for the woman, who then begins to change her front with forward opening of her left leg in order to continue her giro around the man. As she touches the ground with her right leg, the man initiates a forward step into her left side crossing the line between her open legs and preparing to displace her left leg (sacada) as soon as his weight is transferred (Frame 4).

Frame -1 Frame -2 Frame-3 Frame-4

It is important to emphasize that the man must continue rotating throughout the entire figure to create the trajectory on which she will execute her changes of front around him. Also, it is very important for the man to tuck his left arm and to open his left shoulder turning his upper torso deeply into his left side, in order to avoid sending the woman away from him when she is in the reverse step of her change of front.

It is also very important for the woman to allow her right elbow to bend so she can actually be pulled deeply into the left side of the man. A very common occurrence is the stiff arm syndrome which has kept many women from ever knowing that there is left side to every man. At a more basic level, the stiff arm syndrome is what stops a woman from finishing the salida in the correct body position, because she stops herself from being able to cross her left leg over her right leg and end up in front of the man.

With the man moving forward into the woman’s left side with a displacement, the woman receives the sacada by pivoting on her right leg. The man follows with his left leg the woman’s left leg as she pivots, and marks the end of her change of front by stepping on the inside of her right foot while she steps back with her left leg. (Frame 5).

The man continues rotating to his left while transferring his weight, and the impulse completes the woman’s back step with a quick opening of her right leg which places her again on his left side (Frame 6).

While rotating on his left axis, the man marks with his body her next movement, which happens to be the beginning of a new change of front, or if you prefer to see it in a different way, the beginning of a new giro to the left. The man must time the landing of his opening right with the landing of her forward left leg (Frame 7). Depending on the amount of rotation, the man has the choice to straddle with the opening of his legs the woman’s forward step, or to advance his right leg into the woman’s left side producing a bonus sacada in the process.

Frame-5 Frame-6 Frame-7 Frame-8

While in the open position, the man simply does a half a turn in place ending the left progression of the woman’s giro. Since she is on her left axis, the body mark of the man provokes a pivot on her left leg. This changes the direction of her movement, and she returns into the man ready to begin a change of front into the man’s right side (Frame 8).

The next move is identical to Frame 2, with the man marking a forward step to his right, while accompanying with a back step of his own (Frame 9).

Here is where the mind of the creative dancer recognizes the position and seizes the opportunity to repeat the figure just finished, albeit that he is already planning to end it in a different way. On Frame 10 the man interrupts the forward motion of the woman into his right by stopping and setting his axis on his left leg. As he continues to turn to his left, Frame 11 is identical to Frame 3 and Frame 12 is identical to Frame 4 as the woman advances through the first two steps of her change of front.

Anticipating the third move of her change of front (going backwards), the man does a half a turn in place to position himself on her right side, cross feet position as she steps back with her left leg (Frame 13).

Recognizing that this is the second move of a salida cruzada, the man can continue forward to complete the salida cruzada, for example, whereby the sequence comes to an end. The opportunity to initiate another combination waits for the creative dancers in their displacement around la ronda embroidering the dance floor with their invisible curved lines.

Frame-9 Frame-10 Frame-11 Frame-12

Posted January 8, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in Tutorial

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