09 November 2010

Giving and taking her space

This is a follow up from my post of "Landing her first." Of the two most important things I've learned to do in order for a tango to work is (see previous link) timing your lead to coincide with landing your partner first. The second is the active practice of giving and taking space from my partner.

Allow me to explain...

Taking her space
My first tango teacher once told me, "Occupy the space your partner just left." Not knowing anything about tango [at the time], I had no idea what he was talking about. I was simply muddling through my steps.

A year or so later, the light bulb lit inside my head. I finally learned how to lead with my chest by communicating my intentions with my upper body, moving my partner. When I move my partner from her current position to the next, my body occupies the place where she had been. When her upper body moves, my upper body takes it's place, moving her legs. When here leg moves away, my leg takes it's place. All this while leading  the pace, distance, and tempo from move to move.

Giving her space
The other side of the coin from taking her space, is GIVING her space. Where taking her space works well for tango walks, giving her space works even better for moves requiring directional changes (e.g. turns, sacadas, paradas, etc).

I found the reasoning behind the milonguero posture that (done right) makes my partner and I look like the letter "A." Back straight, chests projected forward, allows the legs space to move.

The significance of this is that, should I decide to lead ochos, giros, walk backwards, walk on three tracks, etc, it gives my partner a place of her to place her leg to land, thus allowing her space and time to shift and complete her weight change, move without knocking knees.

My lesson learned from this epiphany is that this principle follows common sense and is a fundamental skill, requiring the right posture, leading technique and timing.

Done right, the appropriate giving and taking of her space facilitates that magical tango feeling of having "One body, four legs."


Anonymous said...

Great post!

I'm still struggling to understand the difference between your approach (move to where she was, give her space) and what others say (move together). I tend to move together - carrying her with me .. is this bad for the follower?

any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Epiphanies have been the most potent form of understanding tango classes and concepts. Usually when I'm in a class I'm just absorbing information and trying things out. However, I find that even though I understand what the teacher is saying I don't get the thrust or the intent of the movement until much later when I'm doing something completely different. Then suddenly I have an a'ha! moment and my understanding changes ever so slightly but dancing leaps across another hurdle. It's fantastic. Dance for those moments is what I'd say! Thanks for sharing.

AmpsterTango said...

@ Anonymous (struggling): In my humble opinion (as a leader) we don't necessarily move together. I initiate a lead, and my follower reacts. As I move forward, she moves back, and I keep moving into where she once was and sustain this cycle. I feel that it gives her a split second to land her weight first, so it allows for smoothness and fluidity—and it harmonizes our movement together.

The effect can be seen in (current) my cartoon. Look at our legs. We look like the legs of a dressage horse in a smooth trot. One body, four legs.

This is true as we walk. If I lead anything other than a walk, then, things happen a little in reverse. (for example) I lead a giro, and I move out of the way, making space so she can occupy the space I just left. Then cycle continues.

AmpsterTango said...

@ Anonymous (epiphanies): I'm very similar. I only absorb a little of what is taught to me. In the course of time, I try to envision what was taught. Then, someday, sometime, my epiphany happens and, and, and...a'ha!

Halbert said...

@Anonymous(struggling): Consider this question: Are you inviting a movement, and then acting on the acceptance or denial of that invitation together?

Or are you moving (clearly, with good lead, but still) by yourself, and the follow has to move at the same time or be run over?

There is a (small) cue at the beginning of the movement, which would be giving space. There is an equally small cue at the end of the movement, where the follow lands. These are punctuations for the movement ... capitalization on the front comes *with* the word, but is still different than normal, and the period finishes the sentence.

Anonymous said...

I still don't get it. People say I'm a good lead, yet I know I am taking the followers with me. Carrying them.
Do I need to reevaluate or am I analysing myself into a problem that doesn't exist? I don't do giros or ochos .. I just walk and change weight, I haven't got that far yet - is this why maybe I never come across the problem?

AmpsterTango said...

@ Anonymous (still): Give it time and patience. Once you diversify and expand your repertoire, I think you'll see and feel what Halbert and I are outlining.