You are NOT a Dead Squid: Detailed Observations about Argentine Tango

Two nights ago, at Argentine Tango class and social in Singapore, I had the opportunity to dance with ladies I have never danced Tango with, and to ‘experiment’ with my usual dance partner. Here I want to share a few new pointers I have learnt, and a few old pointers that I have seen some new significance in:

Leading the Argentine Tango: Framework and Momentum

  1. The strength is in your framework (and not your biceps)

In Argentine Tango, somehow it is impossible to lead properly using your arm power. It has to come from the whole connected framework of your arms and torso. Your framework is like a big clamp that is clamping your partner in place and moving her around! Of course you have to use strength, but the strength is in maintaining your framework and using the framework to “clamp” the lady, and not in using bicep power to pull her around. When your framework locks your lady to you, she will move when you move and where you move. (But please don’t make your framework so strong that your partner ends up with fractures!)

  1. The importance of controlling momentum

It is very important to know the effects of momentum. For example,  during class I led a newcomer into the “three entradas” step that we learned last year. Although, she had no problems following my lead, she became slightly off-balance because I gave her too much momentum. The importance of momentum is very clear if you try doing moniate fast and then trying to stop the lady suddenly: she will end up with too much momentum and her free leg will swing back even though your framework is good enough to stop her. Another way to try this is to do a very quick tango walk and then changing direction or stopping suddenly.

  1. Momentum can be controlled by lifting

However I learned that momentum can be reduced by lifting the lady. For example, when executing a walk and I want to stop my partner halfway, I learned to lift her up slightly. This transfers some horizontal force into vertical force, so that she won’t lose balance or feel uncomfortable. Once the lady is “lifted”, she will stop, and if the lift is strong, her free leg will naturally come to the side of her other leg, and you can move her in any direction after that.

  1. Lifting is not carrying

Of course when I say lifting I don’t mean suddenly stop and yank your partner off the floor. See it as you and your partner doing a fluid movement, like a playground swing gently going up.

Leading the Argentine Tango: Weight placement

  1. Place your partner where you want her to go

Another reason why having a strong “clamp” is so important, is that some ladies try to autopilot. One of the ladies I danced with stepped something like 20 meters away the moment I pushed her gently. Ok maybe not really 20 meters but you get what I mean. It really made me realize that I cannot compromise on my framework. If your framework is in place, she will have no choice but to stop where you want her to stop.

  1. Place your partner’s weight where you want it to be placed

This is highly, crucially important. If your partner’s weight is on her left foot, there is no way she can move her left foot unless you want her to fall down. It may sound simple, but it is sometimes difficult to feel where the lady’s weight is when you execute complex and subtle variations. The clearest sign of a “wrong weight” problem is when your foot crashes into hers.

  1. Solve “wrong weight” problems by slowing down

When I encounter a variation in which I placed my partner’s weight wrongly, I realized that the best remedy is to do the variation very slowly to see exactly where I went wrong. Also, if you are in the middle of a dance and you realize your partner’s weight is wrongly placed and you can’t do the variation you want to do, don’t panic! Just stop everything and sway her until you can feel where her weight it. Anyway it is romantic to sway with a lady on a dance floor with Tango music in the background right?

  1. Know when you can execute technical moves

There are certain variations in tango that need the lady’s weight to be on a certain foot before they can be executed. Much as I love to simply do what I want on the dance floor, I realized that I need to remember certain things. For example, the front and back ochos need the lady to be on a specific foot (go try it out!).

Following in Argentine Tango

  1. Feeling, feeling, it’s all about feeling

That night I also tried dancing the lady’s part, and it is actually quite fun because I don’t have to think! Ladies, don’t worry about being “bad” at tango, because as long as you have a sensitive framework, it is up to us gentlemen to make sure you do what we want you to do. You simply have to feel his lead.

  1. Feeling the lead comes from both your framework – you are not a dead squid

The lady in Argentine Tango needs to have a strong framework too. As mentioned above, the gentleman needs to form a “clamp” to move you. If your framework is very weak, he will have nothing to clamp because your right arm will just feel like a dead squid. It is not fun trying to clamp dead squids, I assure you.

  1. Neither are you doing martial arts

There is no reason for a lady to have a huge tension in her arm all the time. It is very strange to dance with ladies who seem to be trying to push my arm away from them throughout the dance. Having a good framework is not the same as showing off your bicep strength. If the gentleman gives you tension, return the tension. If he relaxes his tension, relax yours. If you don’t relax when he relaxes, you will end up either pushing his arm back, or looking like a statue. Also, there is no reason for a lady to use too much power in carrying out tango steps. When you feel led to move, simply step there naturally and do not “autopilot”. Don’t worry about taking too small steps, because how small or how big your step is should be entirely controlled by the gentleman. You just have to do what feels natural to do.

Dancing as a Single Unit- The Beauty of Argentine Tango

This is why I love Argentine Tango: when both you and your partner’s frameworks are in place, the two of you become a single unit. The lady will move wherever the gentleman moves, and the gentleman will know exactly where the lady is and how to lead her. It truly becomes a romantic, slightly flirtatious, and very emotional dance: it tests the lady’s trust in the gentleman, and it tests how well you are communicating with your partner.

Bring out the roses. There is no dance more romantic than Argentine Tango.

- Samuel Tan, 2006

Latest Happenings!

Follow us on Facebook for the latest updates and news!

 

Find Us On...

Facebook Actfa Dance School Singapore Google+ Actfa Dance School Singapore Twitter Actfa Dance School Singapore Youtube Actfa Dance School SingaporeLinkedIN Actfa Dance School Singapore

Login With Facebook

Testimonials

Starlinn Actfa DanceSTARLINN CHOO YANQING joined the SFDF program in 2004 while studying in NUS, training 12 hours a day; she completed her SFDF, Diploma & IHDC courses in 3 years, using her teaching income to finance her classes in Diploma & IHDC. In 2008 she pursued her IMDC Dance Business & is now doing her 3 years IPHDC Dance Product Research. While pursuing her IHDC she was already traveling around the world for assignments. more


Bianca Actfa DanceBIANCA enrolled in the SFDF course after A-levels. Within 6 months she was dancing as a backup dancer for MTV. She has also traveled to many countries like Germany, UK, Taiwan & Hong Kong to teach & perform, & was offered a position to dance in a few Musical plays. 


 Libin Actfa DanceLB, a masters degree holder working for a MNC, decided to do a career switch after he completed his SFDF. He then worked as an International Sales Manager in dance products, an international artist & dance instructor. He is the Singapore Bachata Champion 2008 and the 1st runner up in the Asia Salsa Championship behind Serge and Polina from Russia in 2010. more


manfred Actfa DanceMANGGOH was one of the elite few selected for the Mediacorp Dance Academy in 2000. He graduated from NTU with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and used to work as a Project Manager in the IT Industry. He passed his examination & evaluation for SFDF and is currently doing his Diploma & IHDC. more


maricel Actfa DanceMARICEL, a professional dancer from the Philippines, joined SFDF in 2009. In less than a year, she has performed at the Esplanade Da:ns Festival 2009, Salsa Cruise Asia 2009, & has also been to China to teach & perform. In 2010 she was offered a full time dance instructor job in Singapore. She has since gone on to set up a dance studio in the Philippines and comes back periodically to upgrade her skills.


rachel Actfa DanceRACHEL an undergraduate in NTU joined the SFDF in 2010 and was offered to open a dance studio in China.  She has taught and performed in Guang Zhou, Shen Zhen, Hong Kong, Singapore.


 derrick actfa danceDERRICK has over 20 years of dance instructor experience with more than 30 types of dance. He was granted an exemption from SFDF after taking an examination & evaluation and signed up for the diploma & IHDC simultaneously.


tamil actfa danceTAMIL, a professional dancer & teacher actively involved in competitions & performances for Hip Hop, Bollywood, Indian Dance. He was teaching dance in secondary school and choreographing for SYF. He joined the IHDC program to further his training as a dancer & teacher in 2009.  Since joining the IHDC, he has taught, performed & competed in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan.


brenda actfa danceBRENDA joined the SFDF when she was 13 years old and was hired to teach and perform both locally and overseas after 6 months. She was also financing her own dance study while teaching private dance classes.  Under the SFDF, she was the 1st runner up in the Asia Salsa Championship 2010 and Singapore Bachata Champion 2009.  She was given opportunities to teach in Malaysia, Hong Kong, China.

Follow Actfa Dance

Partner Dances Actfa Singapore

Facebook Actfa Dance School Singapore Google+ Actfa Dance School Singapore Twitter Actfa Dance School Singapore Youtube Actfa Dance School SingaporeLinkedIN Actfa Dance School Singapore

Login With Facebook
We have 75 guests online

Contact Details

Actfa School of Dance & Performing Arts
Tel:  +65 6225 0150                        Location:  Map
Email:  i@actfa.com                      Inquiries:  Ask Us
47A Chander Road, Singapore 219546
(3min from Little India MRT, exit E turn right
Parking at Hilton Garden Inn Hotel or HDB Multi-Storey Carpark)