Monday, 5 October 2009

The other way round

I've just got back from class that turned out to be really interesting. The topic was "renewing the tango" and the point Adrian and Amanda Costa were making with it (and I paraphrase here) was that to make the dance your own you have to take it apart and put it together in your own way - we are not dancing in the forties - but with full respect to the essence of tango, which is a social dance, which means that you dance it with other people besides your partner, and you have to consider them, which means further that you must be much more creative than you would be if you were just wafting about in space. Having a problem to solve makes you creative. That's the idea.

Anyway, the exercises were a lot of fun and people who can't get to a class or don't like taking classes could certainly try them at a practice or at home, so I might as well put it out there.

Start with a plain old 'salida' - sidestep to the man's left, step, step, cross the woman's left over right. Just that.

Exercise 1 - making a discovery
Find out from first principles how to do it the other way - that is, sidestep to the man's right, step, step, cross the woman's right over left.

Exercise 2 - making it work
Hey, you've invented something new. But it means that the first sidestep goes the wrong way, where you can't see because the woman's head is there. So in its current form, it's completely useless for social dancing. Now find out how to make what you've discovered fit into the rules for floorcraft - i.e. never changing lanes and never going where you can't see. (And generally, he told us, when a teacher shows you something you like, but you do it and it has a problem like this, or like ending up facing the wrong way, ask them how to make it work for social dancing, because then they will stop worrying that you'll leave if they talk about those things).

As those rules are hard to explain in words and can sound rather unconvincing, here again is my little top-view diagram of Adrian and Amanda from my post last Spring. Again we will suppose that the couple are in the outside lane, the wall or seating is to the right, and the boundary with the inside lane is about where the arrow marked 'line of dance' is. And we see that they can go anywhere in the green zone, which is where the man can see, until they get too close to a lane boundary and don't leave themselves enough space to turn. But they can't go into the red zone at all because the man won't be able see where he's going and therefore it's not safe.

Between about a dozen couples I think the class found three or four different solutions to this problem. This was the part that took the biggest chunk of time and the solutions they came up with were all very nice. I'll write what I can remember about them in white ink below - select the next paragraph with your mouse when you're ready to peek.

  • A normal salida at an angle to your lane so that it zigs from one side of it to the other, followed by the mirror one to zag the other way. Very simple [and maybe relies on a fairly narrow lane] but it works.
  • A normal salida with an extra weight change after which you step outside her on the other side.
  • Do it at a corner (if I remember correctly, where the sidestep goes round the woman into the corner).
  • Normal salida but with, I think, just one extra walking step. I'm not sure if I understood this one correctly but it looked extremely neat and elegant and original and Adrian seemed to like it a lot. So did I.

Exercise 3 - making it musical
Now find out where it goes in the music.

You probably can't solve all three problems at once but you can definitely learn something by taking them one at a time.

I had brought the wrong shoes, that I was too tired for, and my posture was scrambled, but that class was fun!


ghost said...

A general eloquent solution to fixing such moves / sequences is presented by Daniel Lapadula in "Learn to dance tango club style". Simply rotate the figure by a multiple of 90 degrees, eg a backstep which is problematic against the line of dance after a 90 acw rotation is now "safe" :o)

msHedgehog said...

I don't think it would be safe by Adrian's criteria, because you still can't see where you're going. But rotating whatever it is, even by just a little bit, certainly does often help.

It doesn't help at all with the first step to the right, for example, because you can't see there, but rotating just a little bit so that you're standing as in the drawing does fix the original version with the first step to the left. It no longer creates a change of lane.

Mathieu said...

Sounds like this class was loads of fun! What were the solutions people came up with?

ghost said...

Open out the embrace for that part ;o)

LimerickTango said...

Oh I can't wait until they get to Limerick. It almost makes getting snow bound in Stansted worth it all.

msHedgehog said...

@Mathieu - they're in the space above - if you select the invisible paragraph above Exercise 3 with your mouse, it'll become visible. It's just a way of giving you the choice when to read them.

Mathieu said...

Thanks Ms, my bad for not figuring it out!

The last option sounds interesting, will try to figure it out...

Game Cat said...

The two things that usually prompt me to try something different are 1) I want to express the music but don't have the right "tool" or can't use an existing tool satisfactorily, and 2) unexpected near-misses that force me to react differently.

Other times, I pick up something, practice it and forget about it, only for it to pop up when I need it for the right music and space available (or it fails!).

Anybody found something unexpected that turned out to be handy? Maybe we should have a post-it session. Would love to hear tips from others.

Anonymous said...

I spoke to someone earlier this week who was trying to tell me that to dance "proper tango" you had to have the floor to yourself... otherwise you were limited by what you could do.


LimerickTango said...

Sigh indeed. On an empty floor I run out of things to faster than in the ronda which is constantly giving me inspiration as I react to those around me.

ghost said...

During an night's dancing I will usually discover something new. I used to write them down afterwards, but now I just enjoy the moment as a kind of treat.

Mind you I did recently find a particularly satisfying idea you can do with the woman's shoe that I might try and repeat :devil:

msHedgehog said...

I like the idea of the post-it session. Not sure who'll turn up.