Saturday, 7 April 2012

Shooting the feet, slow motion

Many thanks for the comments on Meeting Myriam. As often happens, there's a lot there that's interesting.

As to the embrace, I was very struck by Myriam's point that the main contact is between the lower side of the woman's left arm and her left side, and the upper side of the man's right arm, and rarely ever with his right hand. If his right hand becomes the dominant contact then the embrace is likely to be tight. But I can't help thinking that women generally need to be aware of this too, they need to seek out that side of the contact. Man's right to woman's left arm and side, and the contact of hands on the other side, form the classic 'frame', with the contact of torsos directly in between. (I wonder: if the woman's arm is over the man's right shoulder, isn't half of the frame missing, or at least less effective?) She also spoke about varying the hold: when the man dances to the woman's left he needs to be firmer, and when he leads turns he needs to give more space. This seemed to me a difficult thing to control, but it might be essential.

(Incidentally, she was speaking in English. Her English isn't exactly fluent but it is clear, and she has the instinctive teacher's perception of any stress, which can hinder learning and understanding, and she immediately relaxes your attention with some good-humoured comment, often about her English. Too many teachers in general imagine that if they just hammer on they will get their point across.)

Thanks for the comments on 'shooting the feet', especially Tango en el Cielo's remark that Ricardo regarded 'shooting the feet' as '… a very masculine characteristic, one of the qualities of dancing that distinguished a woman's way of dancing from a man's'. I love the description of Ricardo going '...pad, pad, pad, as if he was in slippers', and RealityPivot's description of 'foot punctuation' too. But verbal description is limited and I wanted to look at some slow-motion video of Ricardo 'shooting the feet'. I think it's common to that generation of dancers, although perhaps it's most noticeable and distinct in Ricardo's dance.

Ricardo and Myriam. The full video is on TangoNad's channel.

& here's Ricardo dancing with Jill Barrett in 2004, upright posture, chest well out and leading with the weight well forwards. Perhaps because the weight is well forwards the forward step shoots forwards with added urgency. & it meets the ground exactly on time! The music sounds terrible slowed down, but I included it because it makes sense of the movement. The full video, correct speed, is on TangoCelebration's channel.

I was also fascinated to hear from Tango en el Cielo that '...Ricardo eschewed technique. He believed that technique analysis was only for stage dancers; social dancers didn't need it as "the body finds its own technique naturally"'. I guess the 'own technique' you find that way, naturally, is your own individual tango. Technical analysis seems like a short cut for people in a hurry, a verbal, cerebral practice that will never build up the muscle memory or get the results developed from hours and hours of dancing and watching dance.

We are never passive when we watch. Our muscles follow instinctively, which is how we can imitate: we've been through it before. Watching, too, builds muscle memory. But a YouTube screen is a bit small: it would be great if we had an hour or so of high quality film of Ricardo and others, to watch full-size on a big screen, our bodies relaxed in a cinema seat, before we go dancing. Well, maybe one day there will be algorithms that can take old video and make a beautiful clear HD image from it...


Chris said...

TC wrote: "I was very struck by Myriam's point that the main contact is between the lower side of the woman's left arm and her left side, and the upper side of the man's right arm"

I too was struck by this, because it doesn't accord with the dancing one generally finds in the central BA milongas. Most couples use an embrace in which the main contact is at the chest.

"I wonder: if the woman's arm is over the man's right shoulder, isn't half of the frame missing"

It is indeed. No frame is necessary.

Tangocommuter said...

Of course the main contact is the chest, Chris. Myriam was talking about how to use the arms and hands.

JohnM said...

The feel of the right hand emphasis depends on where the right hand is. If it's on the back of the lady some pressure is almost inevitable at times unless your partner excels in maintaining forward intent. Wrapping the arm further around the lady such that the fingers of the right hand reach the right side of the lady's back changes and improves the whole tenor and dynamic of the embrace so the dance for the lady becomes an effortless one of the senses. Lady willing, there is no need for her to be released for turns - it truly is the dance of one body and four legs.

So I rather think you need to be clear about what the dance is you are describing.
Interestingly Ricardo Vidort danced differently with Myriam Pincen than he did with Jill Barrett or Liz Haight.

You talk about "frame" but in the embrace there is no conventional frame. The man's right arm wrapped around the lady unifies the two bodies into one. The gentle clasp of the man's left hand of the lady's right is unstressed and untoned. Those arms are actually unnecessary, watch Tete & Sylvia for extreme examples.

Tangocommuter said...

I'm not describing any dance: I'm recording advice I was given.