Hang on, that’s a planet. No wonder I was getting confused.
Monday was the first Tango Space class of the week, this time on the Planeo. A movement in which the leader lowers his height to lead a pivot, and the follower drags one foot on the ground in a semi-circle.
In the version we were doing, I was finding there was rather a lot to think about at once …
You lead a side step, then a second one in which the left leg is extended by bending the right one. At the same time, you dissociate to the left. Then a pivot to the right while transferring weight. Finally reversing the right dissociation while remaining lowered to have the follower step over your right foot and come back in front of you.
Some figures are more complicated for the leader than the follower, others the opposite. This one was, I think, difficult for both! Or, as Pablo translated, having arrived midway through the lesson to observe, ‘challenging’!
There are quite a few ways to get it wrong. Ones I managed were:
- having the second side-step be too far forward
- sending the follower too far away from me
- not pivoting enough to the left to make for a good pivot to the right
- not bringing my follower in close enough when leading the parada
So hitting most of the ways to screw it up, really! On the plus side, not all at once, and I could draw comfort from the fact that I was obviously far from alone in this impressive-looking list.
I was pretty sure any more complicated version was going to be beyond me as yet, but asked Federico and Natalia to give me a sneak preview of the Improver version to be sure. Yep. Absolutely yep.
Which is not to say every go at the beginner version was terrible. Some attempts worked reasonably well, especially when practicing in the practica to a faster track, where the speed gave it the sweeping motion I think it needs. Some things are much harder to practice slowly than quickly. Indeed, the follower I was working with then said that was the first time it had really felt right with anyone.
But my hit-rate was certainly low. I think part of that was that it introduced several new types of movement. I hadn’t done anything before which required me to lower the follower. The pivot is also quite different in feel from a giro. Plus a parada is still rather new.
Part of it was because the followers were also finding their own movements tricky, which I could certainly understand – for them too, this is a very different type of movement to anything we’ve done before. So couple a leader who is struggling to a follower who is doing the same, and the hit-rate isn’t going to be too high. And because followers were so focused on their own part, I wasn’t able to get much feedback on my lead.
Thanks to Federico’s excellent feedback, from both observation and me leading him, I have a good sense of what I need to fix.
Natalia suggested I try the Improvers class tomorrow. I’m as yet unconvinced, but am going to devote my morning solo practice to trying to get the hang of the beginner’s version leader movements and will then make a call. If I feel reasonably comfortable with it, I’ll try the Improver’s class followed by the beginner’s one. If not, then just the beginner’s one.
I’m not sure how confident I can be about my solo practice, as most of the ways to mess up will only really become apparent with a follower. But I’ll focus on the points I know I need to correct. And perhaps the ‘everything in tango is connected to everything else’ principle will save me: although there are new things here, I do know how to do most of them.
Either way, there’s a practica after tomorrow’s classes, so I’ll practice long enough to get the hang of at least one version!
Two more things
I used to get really frustrated with myself when I couldn’t get the hang of something. I’ve (somewhat ironically) worked hard at being more chilled about it, and the evidence is that I’ve succeeded. Tonight, I mostly just treated it as information. A list of things I need to address.
I do know that I’ll get it at some stage, whether that’s in tomorrow’s classes, or working on it in my next lesson with Mariano on Sunday.
Which is the second thing. While my various private lessons will always be a bit of ‘see what I need at the time,’ I think it makes sense to have a specific focus for each teacher. So my thought is:
- Mariano: Pure technique, no new movements. Work on the things I’ve been doing in the Tango Space classes, and have him refine my technique. The lessons are only 45 minutes, and once per fortnight, so can’t be too ambitious. I think sticking with the latest Tango Space topic, and having him work on my technique for that, will be the best use of his time.
- Maeve: These lessons have always been technique-based, so I probably don’t need to change the focus, but I will ask her to have her priority be ensuring that my lead is both clear and comfortable for the follower. Essentially being a little less ambitious in terms of ultimate refinement at my stage of the game, and prioritising the two things that matter most.
- Bridgitta: Because she’s a friend, and has a really good intuitive sense of what I need, I’m mostly just going to go with whatever she suggests (unless it’s more ballet fitness …). I’ll just let her know the issues I’m working on at the time.
So although this evening was about a 3/10 in terms of getting the hang of the movement, it was still a really good step forward. I know the things I need to fix. I’ll do what I can in terms of solo practice, then work on it more in tomorrow’s classes. Onwards and roundwards.
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