Skip to main content

Our Teaching Phrases

Our teaching phrases change over time as we find better ways to describe the same thing. Here are our current ones with some clarifying text for both leaders and followers. These apply to both close-hold and open-hold. The only difference between the two is that open-hold is much more demanding to dance well, whereas you can stumble around the floor equally in either close or open if you have no idea what you're doing. Here they are:

"We don't teach steps, we teach Posture, Connection and Movement."


Posture
- "Stand up tall, build a bridge"- Build a bridge to your partner with your chest, rolling forward from the ribcage upwards, no more than 1-2 inches/3-4 centimetres. The bridge has to have strong foundations i.e. soft floppy knees won't work. Try changing weight a few times with soggy legs and see if your partner even notices it. Try it again with strong legs. SURPRISE!

- "Weight on your heels or mid-foot"- Weight on your heels or mid-foot for stability and so that you can relax your free leg (the support leg is strong so that you can build the bridge).


Connection
- "HOLD ME UP!"

We used to tell our students to use toe pressure and chest projection for connection management ie to create a smooth continuous connection. We also talked about stabilizing their core to ensure that they didn't wobble like a flan as they danced.
That was too much to think about for most people, so now we just tell them to hold us up as we tilt towards them. SURPRISE! They stand up tall, their core stabilizes and they use toe pressure and chest projection.
They also gain the use of their partner's legs for additional balance ie not leaning on the partner but being aware that they should be helping you balance. If your partner doesn't know this then good luck, you're on your own and will have to do your best as far as balance is concerned. And your best as a single person is far less than your best as a couple.

Movement
- "Walk to your partner's centre"- Walk to your partner's centre as if they are the last, hottest person on earth, and never turn away (why would you!?). This lets the body mechanics work, is the most comfortable for the follower and allows changing to either side of the follower with minimal effort.

- "Constant shoulder height"- Maintain constant shoulder height relative to your partner i.e. you can change height but you mustn't slide up and down on your partner's chest, you must rise and fall together. Forget about where you think your feet should go and drift smoothly around the floor, concentrating on your partner's centre. Focussing on constant shoulder height means that the follower can forget worrying about the length of the step or the amount of pivot, and allows the leader to lead pretty much anything.

- "Unwind each pivot from the shoulders to the feet"- Let the turn wind it's way through your body from chest to hips to toes. When followers 'help things along' by performing hip turns then they limit the options for the leader. The follower may expect an ocho but the leader could have been about to lead a luscious colgada variation, but....no, I guess it will just have to be an ocho, now...

- "Walk like a metronome" - A metronome is an upside-down pendulum and we use this metaphor because we try to get the concept of all movement starting with the leader's chest. If the chest moves first in every direction of movement then the follower's legs can get the earliest possible indication of where to move.
Think of a tree falling, which is the same kind of pendulum. All that happens is that you stand up tall, project your chest a little and then tip forward like a toppling tree. Where to step? How far? Oh no!! If you are worrying about these questions then imagine how the follower is worrying! Once again...constant shoulder height. You want your shoulders to glide at a constant height (you can vary the height later) so the tip forward isn't huge, it's just to start moving her feet out of the way so that you don't step on them. Your legs really are just a means of keeping your chest area at a constant height to make it easier for your partner to follow. It's always about her!

- "Broomsticks and pendulums"- The dance relationship boils down very simply to two broomsticks (your axis and hers) connected together and floating about the floor at various speeds but always together. You are supported by pendulums which the leader swings so as to to support the movement of the connected axes.
Any decisions that the follower makes will disconnect you both, any sudden moves by the leader will disconnect you both, so the key is smoooooooth.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Advice for Followers

This post is about the most common questions that I'm asked about following.  It's a companion piece to my Advice for Leaders post. Read both, especially if you don't do both, because you need at least some perspective into the other half of the dance if you wish to improve.  My apologies for the use of gender when describing leaders and followers, sometimes my typing fingers get tired.  Regarding 'style', I've posted elsewhere on this site about that but suffice it to say that this advice is for a tango approach where a leader and follower move together to build a dance that is greater than both of them.
My post on leading talks about accepting followers as they are, strengths and weaknesses, just like in the movie Bridget Jones' Diary (one of my faves). However, followers can be on the receiving end of some pretty dreadful technique which sometimes means that they have to react rather than follow. 
Having said that, you should always be trying to give you…

More Lessons? Really?

I recently read a blog by a well known dancer and teacher, who had responded to a question from a reader about connection. The reader questioned 'why it works with some people but not with others?'. The teacher's response could be summarised that “one could only really change oneself, so dancers needed to focus on improving their own dance and technique, and to take more lessons”.

This is great for those who make a living as teachers, but where is the evidence of progress for all that investment?

There are thousands of dancers in Buenos Aires who enjoy dancing socially and who look like they've taken very few lessons. I'm not saying that they are great dancers, but they certainly dance better than many of those in other cities who have years of lessons under their belts.

I've danced with a lot of women, and a few men, in a lot of countries. Their dance abilities ranged from absolute beginners through to professional dancers and a  consistent thread running thro…

My Garden of Linkly Delights!

I've been sending out links on a weekly email list for a few years now, as well as to my Sacada TangoFacebook page and the New Zealand Facebook page Tango Dancers.
Many of them were archived into a post on this blog A Few of my Favourite Things where I organised them into coherent groups. This post is where I shall put them in future as an archive. They'll tend to look like a bit of a grab bag but I prefer to think of them as a wilderness garden... ___________________________________________________________________________
Cabeceo technique with Janis Kenyon  https://jantango.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/which-is-your-technique-gazing-or-staring/

Important news regarding closure of milongas in BA https://www.facebook.com/groups/www.wellingtontango.co.nz/permalink/784703498386424/

Interviews, videos and recollections of Carlos Gavito via Tango Commuter
http://tangocommuter1.blogspot.com/2017/11/gavito.html

Melina Sedò on the art of finding the right teacher for YOU.  http://melinas-two-ce…