Teachers: Clint Rauscher and Shelley Brooks
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Category: Tango Classes
Teachers: Clint Rauscher and Shelley Brooks
This figure demonstrated to music:
Very nice and simple graphic illustrating some of the key elements of good floorcraft for dancing Argentine Tango. There are more complex illustrations out there and feel free to post them below, but I do like the simplicity of this one.
La Pista translates loosely to "the dance floor." Another commonly used term is La Ronda (The Round) which is more closely related to "the line of dance." In other words, we dance in the line of dance (La Ronda) on the dance floor (La Pista). But these terms can be used interchangeably.
For newer (and not so new) dancers, the main things to notice in this illustration are:
- There is an outer lane, an inner lane, and the center of the dance floor. Generally, better dancers dance in the outer lane, but may sometimes use the inner lane as well, but rarely the center of the floor. It should be noted, that not all dance floors are large enough for these 3 areas. For example, at our milongas (Plaka and 57th), there is really only room enough for an outer lane and a center of the dance floor.
- The outer lane should be wider than what is represented in the illustration. My opinion is that it should be approximately two body widths. You do need room to move a little sideways to execute ochos and basic turns. So, the inner lane or those dancing in the center, should not crowd the outer lane. Too often, dancers straddle the outer and inner lanes.
- Dancers should stay in their lane during an entire song. If you are forced from the outer lane into the middle lane, you should stay there until the song ends and only then move back to the outer lane. It is considered very bad manners to constantly switch lanes during a song.
- Dancers should generally enter the dance floor at the corner's, unless it is an oddly shaped dance floor. Leader's entering the floor should attempt to make eye contact with the leader that they are entering the floor in front of. That leader should then nod or indicate approval for the couple to enter the floor in front of them. You do not have to do this if there is plenty of room for you to enter the dance floor without getting in anyone's way, but this is rarely the case on a crowded dance floor. This also means that leader's need to have their heads up when dancing and paying attention, especially when near a corner, so that they can acknowledge couples wanting to enter La Ronda. (Organizers: Do not put tables in the corner, that is where people need to cue up to enter the dance floor.)
- Avoid going backwards against the line of dance. A small back step is generally acceptable, but it should be small and preferably after you have first moved forward. What is unacceptable is taking large or multiple back steps against the line of dance. It is especially unacceptable for leaders to be facing against the line of dance and moving forward. I often say that the leader behind me should never be able to focus on my face. The only time he sees my face should be as it is in motion turning. It should never stop and move towards him.
- This is not in the illustration, but is one that I see more and more. Do not walk across the dance floor if people have already started dancing. Organizers can help with this by making sure that there is space behind the tables for walking, if at all possible.
Click here for more about Floorcraft and General Milonga Etiquette.
Here is a wonderful video by Sebastian Arce and Mariana Montes on the tango embrace.
Wonderful explanation of the tango embrace. Students of ours will recognize almost all of these explanations.. such as the idea that you don't take the embrace and then begin dancing, taking the embrace is part of the dance.
I just had someone ask me yesterday about when you take the embrace do you start with the open side or the close(d) side. First I respond to the woman. If she lifts her left arm and not her right, then I start with the close side (and vice versa). If she waits for me to initiate the embrace, then I will usually lift my left arm, so starting with the close side. Then, of course, I would expect her to lift her left arm so that we can take the embrace on the close side. Notice Sebastian do this at 6.33 of the video. BUT there are many nice ways to take the embrace at 6.22 he takes both sides of the embrace at the same time.
After a class with them in Baltimore a few years ago, I made significant changes to my embrace which have worked very well for me. The main one being not bringing my right shoulder forward in the embrace. I attempt to keep my chest very flat. Many leaders reach way around the follower with their right arm, bringing their right shoulder forward, and thus they end up leading with their right shoulder rather than with their center. As he says in the video, I bring my right hand around her and try to position my right hand in front of my spine. If we are leading from the center instead of from one side or the other then the lead will be very clear.
The Structure of Tango
Part I: Cross Steps and Open Steps
Click Here to Download PDF of Full Class Notes
Introduction: At the end of this class, you will find that no matter which foot you are on or what system (Parallel or Cross) you are in that you will always have at least 9 steps that you can execute.
In Tango classes, teachers often teach figures or patterns. These can be fun and give students something to do when dancing. I think of figures as sentences and all the figures that we do during a song as paragraphs. In this class, we are taking a step back and looking at each and every step we take as a word. And each of those steps will have a beginning, middle, and end. Our goal is to make every single step that we take in tango count.
There are 3 basic steps of tango: the Open Step, the Forward Cross, and the Back Cross.
A Cross Step is defined by the orientation of the man and woman to each other. Whenever a couple takes a step, if they both stop in the middle of their step and turn (pivot) so that their hips face one another and their legs are crossed (twisted) then they are taking a cross step. If their legs are not crossed then they are taking an open step.
Cross steps can move in only two directions forward and back, but Open steps can forward, side, and backwards. In fact, Open steps have a 180 degree range of movement.
At any moment in the dance, both the man and the woman have these 3 steps available to them and when you combine these possibilities in both Parallel and Cross Systems starting on either foot you end up with 36 possible steps.