Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Ganchos and sincerity

Here's the deal on me and ganchos.

My free leg technique isn't pro level.

We are never likely to be going fast enough or to have enough momentum for my foot to swing up high as a natural movement. There's always - always - a tedious moment of standing still and thinking “oh, here comes a tedious trick to make us both look silly” before it happens. I think, and I get bored, very fast under certain conditions. It loses the flow completely.

I've been taught to fake them quite well (I was taught to turn the leg slightly so the heel goes towards him, and to swing rather than kick or hold) but it's a completely voluntary movement. This, I think, is what most people do, and it's certainly what I do after the wait for positioning is over, the reveille has stopped sounding, and I get some sort of a lead.

I'll usually fake it at least once, as long as the man hasn't done too many other things to annoy me. If it's once in a tanda, the man dances with real feeling for the music (that is, having some apparent sense of the melody and phrasing and at least the most obvious emotional content, as opposed to just being on the beat), and it's in the right place, then, okay. At least then there are other reasons to do it, beyond whatever version there is of a lead.

If I don't really intend to ever dance with him again, I can fake cheerfully because it's just the once. It depends. If there's anything else so seriously wrong that I don't care if it annoys him, I probably won't fake. I'll just stand there and smile and pretend not to understand if he starts talking.

If he were a friend, I might fake for the sake of peace or the conversation. But in strict moderation.

Basically the reason I don't like them is that my limitations, quite apart from the difficulty of the lead, make them insincere, and I prefer to dance sincerely. That movement isn't something I would ever spontaneously do to express tango music, and it isn't something I would naturally do in response to even the best of leads that actually happen in reality in social dancing. It requires a higher level of technique than is going to happen. I don't like my moment being killed, and I don't like faking.

I prefer what I am doing when I dance to be faithful to a reasonably consistent overall aesthetic concept, and that means not faking things. That's just the way it works for me.

[Update: when I click Publish on a blog post, Blogger shows me a 'success' page with some ads on it. It reads what I publish to try to guess what I am interested in. On publishing this one, Ads By Google offered me the following:

The Top 10 Golf Mistakes?
Biomechanics Software
Gait Analysis Software
Golf Swing Technique
Wrong, but still sort of spooky.]


Elizabeth said...

I totally agree. You said it so well. It's like you are sailing along, nice little momentum, and thud....oh, I have to do this now. Blah.
A really great lead can lead it, but most just take too long and blow off the music in the process.

msHedgehog said...

Yeah, exactly. And the guys who can, don't (socially), because by the time you've been that good for a while you've learned enough that you don't have to bother. I suppose.

Anonymous said...

great post.

Mari said...

I know exactly the feeling... oh, we're doing this again... okay.. If I do it can we move on? Thank you, thank you, thank you a hundred thousand times for writing that post. I'll be forwarding it along.

David Bailey said...

Some more information from Chris and MsH on ganchos here:

David Bailey said...

Personally, my idea of ganchos at the moment is that they're a specific form of boleo.

Mostly, I don't use them much in social dancing.

However, they're good to practice, because they demand a lot from the follower (dissociation and free leg motion) and from the leader (musicality and confident positioning) to do well.

Captain Jep said...

Well I'm half half on this.

I know what you mean though about sincerity :)

Now the ganchos I dont really like are the ones where you stop and are then as Elizabeth says "thudded" backwards. The classic one is after the sandwich.

The only time I might do one of these is at the end of a tune. Or as a bit of an injoke (eg someone automatically does a gancho after the sandwich - even if I havent led it - I may then try to "make them happy" lol ).

The ganchos I really like otoh are the ones which are true "rebounds". Eg you lead the woman backwards towards you, gancho, and then she ochos away from you.

Ganchos only really "work" imo if the lady is already in motion, and you are merely changing the direction of that motion. The "sandwich" type ones involve a stop/start, and just arent as satisfying. For either party.

The irony is that it's the "stop start" ones that everyone does. And it's such a shame.

(Still, duly noted, Ms H, if we ever dance again :) )

Anonymous said...

Sincerity is key to finding tango. Anything else is just going through the motions. I really hate dancing with people who pre-empt what you do, or replay routines from memory.

Says a lot about a person, if they don't mind their partner faking it.

tangocherie said...

I hate ganchos! They are so aggressive and violent, and against the spirit of the dance I love--elegance, connection, and sensuality. IMO they belong on stage at the end of a Piazolla show piece and no where else.

Certainly they are dangerous on a crowded floor.

But I understand they are very popular outside of traditional milongas in BsAs.

Anonymous said...

I too hate ganchos, they are dangerous and anti social. For me there is nothing worse than a woman who has "learned" ganchos and then goes ahead and does them.
Obviously if I hate them I have not led them, so they become dangerous not only to others on the dance floor but also to me.
Keep them for the stage.

msHedgehog said...

To be honest I don't agree that they are good to practice. All the skills you could use them for are much easier to learn in other ways, with exercises that actually work and don't teach you to dance badly, or simply by dancing more. They're especially harmful for the women's dancing, as it teaches us insincerity long before it teaches us anything else, and also teaches us that insincerity is expected, and that anything else is lip service (women take a lot more notice of what actually happens than what's said). However, I entirely agree that knowing how to fake them is a useful skill, and knowing how they are supposed to work in theory is useful information.

David Bailey said...

Well... I will say that I've been pretty much persuaded by your arguments, and that I've only now realised how nasty they are. But I still like them as an exercise. If you can lead a gancho well, naturally, and smoothly, almost anything else is a doddle.

msHedgehog said...

The thing is, I think it's the other way round. If you both have great technique, musicality, and timing, they're not that complicated. But if you don't already have those, they're fake, for practice or any other purpose. Some are more fake than others. There isn't anyone who dances with me, actually does them, and can make them less than 60% fake. And I'm being generous there. Remember my own limitations have a role.

Simba said...

Ganchos can be cool, but never on the social dance floor. No kicking, remember?

Besides, they are much more difficult to do right than most people realize.

My advice would be never to fake anything. If it is not led correctly, don't do it, even if you understand what they are trying to make you do. I attribute the fact that my wife has become such an excellent dancer much to her persistance at this. (And helps me indirectly, however frustrating it can be ;-)

In fact you should not perform anti social steps like high boleos and ganchos at all on crowded floors, even if they are led correctly. Do nothing or something that could be a reasonable substitute/misunderstanding, e.g. a boleo along the floor however forcefully or snappy it is led.

Just my two cents.

msHedgehog said...

I think the reasons we have for our our own judgement whether to fake it or not, taking each case on its merits, are adequate to us, but in justice to ourselves we ought to think about them and their consequences. Whether it helps the man in some way may or may not be relevant in any particular case; I don't need helping someone else as a justification for working on the quality of my own dance, under any circumstances, but obviously it can be considered a bonus.

Simba said...

Clearly. My advice was with the intent of helping you, not your partners :-)

You gave the impression in the original post that you were faking to -- um -- please? your partner, and I don't think you have to feel obliged to do that, even with friends. Nothing personal, but no kicks on the dance floor.

Ultimately, it's your decision, of course, but the woman has to take her part of the responsibility (for her own dance and peace on the floor). She is a woman, not a puppy, and when the man acts irresponsibly, he deserves looking (or at least feeling) like a fool :-) IMHO and all that :-)

msHedgehog said...

Ok, my comment was misunderstood. What I was trying to make clear without actually saying so is that I feel full confidence in my own judgement whether to fake or not - in other words, that I do not feel I need advice or reassurance on this. Not only is it my decision, but I feel fully qualified to make it.

Anonymous said...

I think it's ok to do it on the floor as long as (1) you don't do it outside your own frame/space so risking other dancers, and (2) you don't do it in a way which appears threatening to others and makes them dance defensively, reducing their enjoyment and relaxation.

I've seen beautiful small subtle voleos/boleos. Smaller than a step. And no-one on the floor was affected negatively.

Andreas said...

MsH, this post should be required reading for male tango dancers.

Simba said...

@MsH: I just want to point out that you, too, have some degree of control of what happens and whether there is uncontrolled kicking on the floor.

And I give you my support in not faking, whether you want it or not...

@Anon: Boleos are part of the standard repertoire, but in a social setting they ought to be small/subtle/along the floor. This is a shared responsibility IMO. A problem I experience a lot is that women do the exact opposite of what they should do: however small I lead a boleo, I get a wham-crack-killer boleo, in contrast with a woman that makes a small and safe boleo even if I get too enthusiastic and lead a big one (which I am not supposed to do unless there is a lot of space).

Btw, it was supposed to be puppet a few posts up there, but I guess puppy also conveys the general substance of that statement ;-)

Anonymous said...

I personally really dislike ganchos and I never lead them. I have never seen a well done gancho at a milonga - only bad to really bad ones. They are the give away for beginners and bad leaders. It is an antisocial move in the end, and a hugly one if done badly, as it always is - leave it for the stage.

Chris, UK said...

Andreas wrote:

> this post should be required
> reading for male tango dancers.

Agreed, and even more so for male tango "teachers".

Chris, UK said...

> I'll usually fake it at least once
> as long as the man hasn't done too
> many other things to annoy me.

In tango as in life? :)

Anonymous said...

This is one area where fake it til you make it doesn't really apply. :)
We are always told that the man's lead is an invitation. This is one instance where I won't take it up, and when I admit that I won't do certain things, I am told I am not dancing properly. Heck with that!
Ms H, you have the right to exercise your right to gancho, fake or not as the case may be and for whatever reason. You are an adult. I can't agree with pandering to a lead's gancho whims for any reason and is why I don't dance so much. Each to their own.

NYC Tango Pilgrim said...

I watched an old milonguero dancing with a middle aged milonguera at Cachirulo on Friday night. They had danced four to five tandas together in the span of three years. What amused me was that he led her two three ganchos consecutively in one song during the first hour (I went so early that the premilonga class just finished when I arrived), when the floor was empty. It was clean, natural and to the point. Fit with the music as well. Although it was probably the only time that I had seen ganchos being led so nicely on a milonga floor in Buenos Aires.

The milonguera had her birthday dance at Cachirulo the following night at Plaza Bohemia (Maipu 444). She danced a very nice vals with the same milonguero again. No ganchos that time. :-)

NYC Tango Pilgrim said...

Sorry typo: three years should be three hours. :-P