6267  The Lead Pyramid

ARTICLE INDEX


Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 17:09:47 GMT
From: "larrynla@juno.com" <larrynla@juno.com>
Subject: [Tango-L] The Lead Pyramid
To: tango-L@mit.edu

A lot of discussions in forums such as this one involve taking sensible
statements to ridiculous extremes. For instance, "Don't lead with
hands too much" becomes "Don't lead with hands AT ALL." It's all part
of the human tendency to convert the rich rainbow complexity of reality
to barren black-and-white oversimplification.

Leading and following uses a hierarchy of requests and replies to those
requests. The layers of requests/replies might be arranged in a
pyramid. At the base would be leads by the torso, the part of the body
that includes the center of gravity. We use this to request movement
in straight lines, forward and back, side to side, and diagonals.
Maybe 60-80 percent of all leads are at this level, so it would be the
widest part of a diagram of leads.

Above this is leads that use the shoulders. These are requests to turn
to one side or the other. Curving our path around the floor are at
this level. Ocho leads are too. So are molinete leads. Shoulder
leads are in addition to torso leads. They modify torso leads. They
are used less frequently than torso leads and so would be a narrower
layer of the lead pyramid diagram.

Next come the less frequent arm leads, and the even rarer hand leads.
Each level of lead requests are less often needed, and each
progressively refines the lower level.

So one rule resulting from the pyramid of leads is "Never use hands to
lead a movement if you can use arms (or shoulders, or the torso) to do
it." This does not mean hands are never needed.

One example where hands are essential is when we lead a parada in the
middle of a back ocho. Here we have to separate our torsos at the end
of the movement. One hand is used as a brake on the back of our
partner, the other to block them from moving forward. Our two hands
oppose each other, pushing gently but firmly in opposite directions to
freeze our partner in place with legs apart and weight on both feet.

Often after a parada we will then go into another movement. We might,
for instance, sandwich our partner's front foot with ours. Or step
across her front foot and use our free foot to sweep her front foot.
Or use any number of leads that use a foot, calf, or thigh against her
foot, calf, or thigh.

Which brings us to the fact that in tango, unlike any other dance I can
think of offhand, we use not only upper-body leads but also lower-body
leads as well. But that's another subject.


Larry de Los Angeles
http://ShapechangerTales.com - site for Immortal Shapechanger series



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Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 09:00:11 +1100
From: Noughts <damian.thompson@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] The Lead Pyramid
To: tango-L@mit.edu
<cb8208d0902261400h7897e3f6kcb95c0e444f39f90@mail.gmail.com>

Larry - that is a perfect example of what never to do. You never need
to stop a lady with your hand for a parada mid weight or not. If the
lady is following, she will maintain her distance and that is all she
needs. The only time I would ever use my hand is to stop an
accident....

Does it mean that it's wrong - no, this was taught for years and years
so must be valid. It's just that it can easily be done without the
hand in the middle of the back and therefore create a smoother,
gentler lead

Damian.

"One example where hands are essential is when we lead a parada in the
middle of a back ocho. Here we have to separate our torsos at the end
of the movement. One hand is used as a brake on the back of our
partner, the other to block them from moving forward. Our two hands
oppose each other, pushing gently but firmly in opposite directions to
freeze our partner in place with legs apart and weight on both feet."





Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 16:58:33 -0700
From: "Brian Dunn" <brian@danceoftheheart.com>
Subject: [Tango-L] How wide is the base of "The Lead Pyramid"?

Dear Larry, Damian, et al.

Damian wrote:

>>> ...You never *NEED* (emphasis added - Ed.) to stop a lady with your hand

for a parada mid weight or not...Does it mean that it's wrong - no, this was
taught for years and years so must be valid. It's just that it *CAN EASILY
BE DONE* (emphasis added - Ed.) without the hand in the middle of the back
and therefore create a smoother, gentler lead
<<<

Damian, I very much appreciate the distinction you're drawing between "what
is right/wrong" and "what is necessary" for leaders to do, or to think
about, or to focus on, when trying to communicate through the "wiring" of
the lead/follow "circuit".

Sometimes in class we point out that I can get my follower to "do" something
by sticking out my tongue at her, if we have a prior conscious intellectual
agreement that me sticking out my tongue means she'll consciously "do" a
gancho/boleo/front cross step/whatever. In most of the conversations about
"leading with xxx", or "how to lead xxx", this stick-out-the-tongue maneuver
qualifies as a successful (albeit unconventional) choice of a lead/follow
conversational element. What apparently keeps it from being a POPULAR
choice is:
1) this particular successful form involves a lot of things which aren't
necessary, and
2) it has no historical validity as a commonly observed behavior in Buenos
Aires tango.

But focusing solely on 2), we must return to the effort to figure out the
fundamental nature of "lead/follow" by observing others' behavior. But
there are so many aspects of tango communication that are NOT apparent to
observers! Often, these aspects are not visible in conscious awareness to
the partners themselves! While most of us probably agree that we would like
to maintain continuity in general observable form of movements (although
perhaps not worshipful imitation thereof) with the traditional choices of
tango's originators and their descendants, we often hear tango teachers
abstracting their observations of a particular move into interpretations of
what is *necessary* for the communication to succeed. This is done often by
very talented natural dancers of long traditional experience whose
considerable dance skills are not matched by an equivalent depth of insight
that would enable them to explain HOW they do what they do in a teaching
setting. Like the tongue-sticking-out example, this process of
abstraction-from-observation can succeed on its own terms in class settings,
but involves lots of confusion between what is sufficient (due to specific
prior agreement learned in class) and what is the "minimum necessary" (due
to the predictable intrinsic qualities of two partners pursuing a shared
state of awareness from two polarized perspectives).

I appreciate that you took the time to point out that it is not "wrong" to
follow the pedagogical ideas developed in many cases by talented dancers who
genuinely sought to pass on their experience to highly motivated learners.
But I support your apparent interest in a closer investigation of what is
actually the "minimum lead necessary" to communicate across the lead/follow
boundary. This inquiry has the possibility to lead us into very fruitful
tango explorations without hamstringing our "tango conceptual framework"
with unnecessarily cumbersome and misleading ideas about how all this
lead/follow stuff actually works.

All the best,
Brian Dunn
Dance of the Heart
Boulder, CO 80302 USA
www.danceoftheheart.com
"Building a Better World, One Tango at a Time"






Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 00:44:25 +0000
From: Jay Rabe <jayrabe@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] How wide is the base of "The Lead Pyramid"?
To: "tango-l@mit.edu" <tango-l@mit.edu>


On the question of what's the minimum amount of hand pressure necessary (if any) to lead a certain step:

Try leading the step without an embrace, that is, with no arm/hand/chest contact. You'll quickly see where a gentle pressure with the hand can be especially helpful, with of course the caveat that it must be gentle enough to not be uncomfortable. I think check steps are a better example than the parada/pasada. Check steps are almost impossible to lead quickly in open embrace without some slight "braking" pressure with the hand.

J




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Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 17:22:53 -0800 (PST)
From: NANCY <ningle_2000@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] How wide is the base of "The Lead Pyramid"?
To: Jay Rabe <jayrabe@hotmail.com>, "tango-l@mit.edu"
<tango-l@mit.edu>



--- Jay Rabe <jayrabe@hotmail.com> wrote:

think check steps are a better example than the

> parada/pasada. Check steps are almost impossible to
> lead quickly in open embrace without some slight
> "braking" pressure with the hand.


What is a check step in tango? I could only find
this check step in mambo

http://www.expertvillage.com/video/19760_mambo-dance-check-man.htm

Altho the guy in the demo makes it look more like
the wee wee dance little kids do. Certainly not the
mambo step I was taught in my ballroom days.



Nancy








Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 01:56:32 +0000
From: Jay Rabe <jayrabe@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] How wide is the base of "The Lead Pyramid"?
To: <ningle_2000@yahoo.com>, "tango-l@mit.edu" <tango-l@mit.edu>


Nancy wrote:

> What is a check step in tango? I could only find
> this check step in mambo


Sometimes they're called rock steps. They are basically the same as the
mambo step, that is, you transfer a portion of your weight on eg. a
forward left step, then rock your weight back to your right. They're
the first part of a typical ocho cortado. They're also often used to make a
1/4 turn and are especially useful in tight spaces for navigation
adjustments.





J




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Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 18:08:05 -0800 (PST)
From: Jack Dylan <jackdylan007@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] How wide is the base of "The Lead Pyramid"?
To: "tango-l@mit.edu" <tango-l@mit.edu>

I think 'Rebound' is the modern terminology and 'Rock-step'
is the older terminology. Also called an?'Amague' or 'fake'.

Jack



> From: NANCY <ningle_2000@yahoo.com>
>
>
> What is a check step in tango??
> >











Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 02:20:59 +0000
From: Jay Rabe <jayrabe@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] How wide is the base of "The Lead Pyramid"?
To: <jackdylan007@yahoo.com>, "tango-l@mit.edu" <tango-l@mit.edu>


per Jack: Amague?

I thought an amague was like a front boleo, with (usually) the woman lifting her free leg and wrapping it momentarily around/in front of her standing leg.

J


Windows Live? Hotmail?:?more than just e-mail.
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Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 14:54:01 +1100
From: Noughts <damian.thompson@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] How wide is the base of "The Lead Pyramid"?
To: "tango-l@mit.edu" <tango-l@mit.edu>
Cc: Jay Rabe <jayrabe@hotmail.com>, NANCY <ningle_2000@yahoo.com>
<cb8208d0902261954y7f20d1d9k5bfd98614ba58b6d@mail.gmail.com>

Well,

Funny enough, but I actually had some requests to clarify the need for
using hands on this as well.

Well, I don't use them, my partner doesn't need me to use them because
as a partnership, I ask her to do things, she accepts and does them.
I don't need to place my hand on her back to stop her in a stop, or a
check step - more oft' called a rebound step or rock step if you have
a ballroom/rock'n'roll background.? My partner knows that when I
pause, it is for her, her to decorate at the appropriate time and that
my role is then to follow until she allows me to continue to ask her
to dance with me... To stop her, either I just straighten my legs and
stand, becoming still and calm, or I lower even further....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkcTpqa1XME&feature=channel

If I am leading and my partner is following and her role is to
maintain the distance between us unless I choose to open or close it
(art of leading), then she should maintain the distance apart from me
not necessitating the need to use my hand to 'stop' her.? It is a
simple change of direction.? Do we need to use our arms/hands to
rotate her for a pivot - I hope not, but it certainly was done and
taught 'many' years ago.? Many of those teachers that used to teach
that, now - don't. I wonder why that is....

Damian






Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 02:47:48 -0800 (PST)
From: "Trini y Sean (PATangoS)" <patangos@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] How wide is the base of "The Lead Pyramid"?



--- On Thu, 2/26/09, Jack Dylan <jackdylan007@yahoo.com> wrote:

> I think 'Rebound' is the modern terminology and
> 'Rock-step'
> is the older terminology. Also called an?'Amague'
> or 'fake'.

A rebound is something different and has more elasticity, like a rubber band. An amague is an ornament.

Trini de Pittsburgh









Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 03:45:02 -0800 (PST)
From: "Trini y Sean (PATangoS)" <patangos@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Tango-L] How wide is the base of "The Lead Pyramid"?


"Reining a wild horse" is what Daniel Trenner describes when he talks about leading and following. The woman goes and the man stops her. She dances. He puts himself in her dance. Hence, the use of hands to stop.

There's value to this way of thinking. I don't know how many times, I've wished my partners (when I lead) would just friggin' go and not hesitate as if they're afraid of making a mistake. If I'm lead by a good dancer, I can feel him capture my energy for a dead stop when he wants it. To me his hands feel like nothing, but he has to be using them when I'm going with a lot of energy to move. I don't consider it following a stop. My intention is go go go. But then suddenly, he stops me. And I'm wondering at times, how the heck did he do that? Where did all that energy go? I can tell when it goes into the floor. I don't feel stressed. Where did the energy go? He had to have absorbed it through his hands.

Trini de Pittsburgh






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