Time to stop and smell the roses   Leave a comment

Time to stop and smell the roses

Tango improvisation is not for the casual foot shuffler and leg flicker. Learning what’s at the core of tango improvisation removes the shackles that learning steps out of context bind the legs, arms and souls of beginning dancers. Dancing tango is about freedom to express with our bodies and our emotions the very special feelings that every tango induces in us. It takes two—as in the two of us, you and me, you and him, you and her, together as partners, with the confidence to enjoy the dance on each other’s own merits, according to our level of proficiency. That is if you are in this for the purpose of joining that special class of people called a tango dancers.In tango we trust. We trust that the man will protect his partner and dance with full understanding of the structure of the dance and the options available to him in terms of improvising for navigation. We trust that the woman will let herself be taken around the floor in an embrace that provides her motion and allows her legs to perform the important roles of supporting her balance on axis and decorating and embellishing with tasteful footwork.

One of the most unique characteristics of the tango (beyond the fact that it is based on simple concepts for unlimited power of improvisation and the need for commitment and solid technique in equal parts by each partner) is that dancers don’t have to move on every beat of the music. They can actually dance by not moving—that is, by stopping in suspended pauses. Bringing the dancing to a stop is another sophisticated way to change directions.

In Spanish, the word parada is the past participle of the verb parar, which literally means to stop. In tango shorthand, it is used in context with the expression, la mujer ha sido parada por el hombre, or the woman has been stopped by the man. The definition in tango terms is the action of stopping the woman when she still has both feet on the floor (in other words, when she is transitioning between axes on a forward or back step but never laterally). Men should never stop women while they are in the process of executing a lateral opening or side step because it is not flattering for women to be seen with their legs open.

On page 143 of Gotta Tango, we cover extensively the standard parada on the woman’s back step and the subsequent sandwich. The section is fully explained and demonstrated in the accompanying DVD. In this lesson we introduce a parada on the woman’s forward step.

We set up with a simple salida to the woman’s cruzada.

The man marks a forward step to his right for the woman, and receives her right forward step stepping back with his right foot.
The man marks a change of direction while doing a media vuelta.
He marks a forward step to his left for the woman, and receives her left forward step stepping back with his right foot.
Immediately he holds her in place creating the parada, and passes over to her left with his left foot on a back diagonal over her left foot.
He continues going around her by stepping forward with his right foot changing her weight to her left axis.
He then marks a back for the woman and receives her back step walking with his left foot taking her to her cruzada position.

A variation is shown when the man after going around her steps forward with his right foot changing her weight to her left axis.
He then marks a back step to his left for the woman, reaches with his left foot to her left foot, blocking her next back resulting in a leg hook.

After the dismount from the hook, the woman steps forward with her right foot, and the man receives her step changing his weight to his right axis.
then he repeats the parada, going around and the hook.

This is a social leg hook because the couple stays within their own dancing cylinder without invading somebody else’s space.

Posted October 3, 2011 by Alberto & Valorie in Gotta Tango

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