20 September 2010
"Landing" her first
A leader in learning
I remember the time when I was first learning to lead in tango. Woe to my partners at the time as I was very consistent—In knocking them off their axis. I would go from move to move and it seemed that they could never keep up with me, nor keep their balance.
Much to my chagrin, their awkward debacles were my fault! Later in my (tango) learning process, I realized that I kept knocking them off their axis because of two things. First, I was impatient. Second, I was impatient because I didn't know if my partners had finished shifting their weight or not.
I had made the mistaken assumption that my partners knew what to do. What I should have done was to learn how to lead properly.
A major epiphany–Shifting weights
My epiphany lay in the fact that in order (for me) to go from lead to lead, I had to get the timing right—I needed a signal.
I figured out that the signal I needed was to know when she "landed" her weight. That's when my partner has completed her movement. This, I needed to know before I lead my next thing.
Our chests are connected to our feet
This is one technique I use to know where my partner's weight is. Since I dance exclusively in close embrace, I used our chest-to-chest connection as a telegraph by concentrating deeply and feeling her movements.
I find it difficult to explain all the nuances, but here is my rule of thumb. There are three movements after I initiate a lead. First—she answers my lead by responding to it. Second—She follows my center, then returns to align with it. Third—(My epiphany) I feel her feet touch down, then, she settles and her whole weight "lands" on her leg.
That moment is the moment I know that she's ready. It's the signal I was looking for! It's the (only) time for me to lead something else without knocking her over!
In tango, many simple things make so big a difference. This is just one of those examples. That single learning experience of knowing when my partner lands her weight made all the difference from attempting a judo takedown to a smooth giro.