Wednesday 25 February 2009

Ent Tango with Subtitles

The sidebar on YouTube explains that this is a take-home summary of important points for the students of a basic technique class.

It happens to be in French, a language I used to speak quite well, but haven't practiced recently enough for it to feel natural. The language makes a sufficient space between me and the (valuable, clearly-presented) content of this class that I can see how completely hilarious it would look to someone who didn't speak French and didn't dance tango. My favourites are the little bits of interpretive-dance that Detlef can't resist doing to reinforce Melina's points, and the bit where they make rainbows side by side. So, my knitting friends and various relations: enjoy.

For those who do dance tango, I have written out full subtitles below. A few time checks are included. The metaphor of the roots makes me imagine Ents dancing tango, hence the title. Detlef has been kind enough to review my translation, and I've incorporated his corrections. [Edit: couple of further corrections in purple - they affect the meaning.]

MELINA: Ok, let's start with the most important thing, our posture. As always - we close our feet and put ourselves forward a little bit on the front of the foot. Not too much, just a little bit. The heels are free of weight.

DETLEF: and the toes, inside the shoes, stay flexible. So there isn't weight on the toes. That would be too much.

M: and a bit further up, the knees stay relaxed, we want to be able to move them, but we won't dance with bent knees, the legs should be straight, but relaxed. A bit further up again, the pelvis rests in a natural position, it's also relaxed. The pelvis is the heaviest part of the body and that should be relaxed and sinking towards the ground.

D: That is, you leave the pelvis in a natural position, you don't do things like this, you leave the pelvis parallel with the ground, and keep the whole of the lower body very relaxed.

M: all of the lower body is very heavy and anchored in the ground, we imagine as though we had little roots between the earth and the soles of our feet. 01:19 The upper body is going to do something different, with the upper body we're going to elongate ourselves upwards, we make ourselves a little bit bigger than usual, we open the chest, and we try to create a space around ourselves.

D: And like that, starting from the posture of the bus stop, we try to construct the tango posture. And this point, {taps breastbone} now, is in front of the pelvis and not behind.

01:55 M: Imagine, as always, that you are a king, or a queen, and this is the internal posture that helps us communicate with our partner. Now, when you approach the partner, you try to keep this volume, this posture, we want to approach our partners and not abandon our own posture.

02:20 D: so, you take care of yourself first, that's always the fundamental thing. We embrace - it's an embrace like at the airport - and the only thing we change is these two arms. And that's basically all. In this position, we'll later dance.

M: But, for the moment, we're going to show you things in a practice hold so that you can see better.

03:00 M: Ok, now let's start with the first element of tango, the change of weight in place. It's a very small movement from one leg to the other, basically it's a horizontal movement, not up-and-down.

D: Yes, because it's a movement of our axis from here to there, that's to say the weight of our body is moved in a horizontal direction. But to make it clearer that we want to stay in the closed position, we add some information.

M: We'll add a third dimension.

D: The third dimension. You can see it better when we dance like this. The basic movement is horizontal, the shoulders stay parallel with the ground and the the heads stay at the same level. And what we'll do now is enlarge the presence, and we arrive on the other foot as though breathing out. We increase the volume in the chest and we reduce it. We do it like crossing over a little bridge, to go from one foot to the other. And we add that to the horizontal movement to make it clearer that the position stays closed.

M: Now let's distinguish between the change of weight in place and an open step.

D: A sideways step.

M: We're going to use the third dimension again for this movement. 04:45

D: the change of weight, it was, going up over the bridge, arriving here. And when we move from one place to another, we do it by descending to the basement. And we arrive on the ground floor again. And the basement again, and the ground floor, and the first floor makes another change of weight. 05:20 Ground floor, first floor, ground floor, basement, ground floor.

05:29 M: and this technique helps us to communicate with our partner, because what we're going to do in tango is not just lead and follow but communicate. The person who's leading will make a proposal to the person who's following, will sense whether the person who is following accepts that proposition, and then he, the person who's leading, follows the person who's following.

D: In other words, in a step in place, you propose this enlargement of presence, and look how the partners arrive together here in complete synchronisation. And when we do a lateral step, we move together to the basement and arrive at the same time and in the same place. The proposition - you can see. I could make the proposition - she has accepted, but I haven't followed her. So what we want to happen is this: 06:35 I propose - I notice that she is going to accept, and I adapt myself to her movement, and that keeps us in front of each other.

06:50M: we're going to do steps forwards and backwards, and we're going to work on that with another circular movement, the natural counter-movement of the upper body. What does that mean? The countermovement, it's to show, by the movement of your upper body, the movement of your legs. 07:16 A countermovement is when, for example, my right leg comes forward, and the left side of my upper body comes forward with it. The countermovement of our body.

D: Always in opposition. That is, when I want to walk forward with my right leg I'm going to pull back the right shoulder and the left shoulder goes forward a little bit and you can see this torsion in the body. And when you walk, like that, it creates a countermovement.

M: and this countermovement of the body helps us to keep balanced ... D: in equilibrium ... M: and helps us to communicate, because it's with the countermovement that he makes the proposal, and that initiates my step.

D: You can see it here. We've done the change of weight, with this circular movement, and I'm going to propose a backward step to her , by turning. 08:15. And I didn't follow then, but I can - by following her at the same time. But the proposal, which was also the lead for my own leg, was created by the torsion.

M: That means that the movement always starts with the upper body, with the countermovement.

08:40 D: We set up our posture again. There's less distance up here than down there. Change of weight - and we try to walk in a straight line. I invite her - for example here with a change of weight - and I invite her also in a step forward for her.

09:04 M: and I take this space in front of me actively, I don't let myself be pulled.

09:15 D: and the roots in the ground make us always synchronised, that means that the roots of each foot, you have to pull them out and push them in to the earth with each step. She doesn't close her feet as quickly as possible, the roots down there and the roots of my foot have to be pulled through the ground by the countermovement. And that gives us the ability to move together, even very slowly, in a very synchronised way.


Melina and Detlef also teach in German and in English.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the transcription :flower;

Got any plans to do more of these?

Treebeard: We have just agreed...
[Merry and Pippin lean in]
Merry: Yes?
Treebeard: I have told your names to the Entmoot, and we have agreed you are not orcs.
Pippin: Well, that's good news.

msHedgehog said...

More of what?

I have some ideas about videos I think are interesting, in one way or another. At least when compared and contrasted. I don't think any of them require subtitles, though. Maybe some commentary.

Anonymous said...

Other similar technique videos they've done in French (if there are actually done any others?)

I like the commentary idea too though.

msHedgehog said...

I don't think there are any others. The rest of their channel on YouTube is just demonstrations. If you like it, you could always try encouraging them in the comments there.

msHedgehog said...

Incidentally - I have experienced this leading technique with someone who is good at it, and it feels am-AZ-ing for the woman. So much so that I couldn't face another dance - I hid, finished my drink, and went straight home.

dianeinparis said...

I chanced upon your fabuluous video. I have taken up TANGO this year. You spoke to my dancing soul.