Where did I go wrong?

In Modern Jive, you learn moves in pieces / counts. When something goes wrong, your best bet is to stop and look at what you just did in that count. Chances are you've lifted the wrong hand, or turned her the wrong way, or something similar. In tango, if you're learning a move / sequence in pieces and it goes wrong, chances are you did something wrong a few steps back and it's now caught up with you.

A good example is the cross. Sidestep, step forward to the cross and then find that you're on the wrong foot to block, / sacada / whatever - it's because on the sidestep you were supposed to change your weight and so step out on your left foot, not your right; but it wasn't a problem when you actually did it, nor were the next couple of steps. The problem was at the start.

This means it's generally a bad idea when asking a tango teacher for help, to just go straight to step 4, and ask what you're doing wrong with that step. Because some of them will try and answer it, and yes there's bound to be something that's not quite right, but it's probably not the stumbling block. On the other hand asking "What am I doing wrong?" and doing the whole move through, will let them stop you at step 2 and show you've gone wrong there. Also because tango tends to reply on the previous moves setting up the dynamics of the move, starting at step 4 will often mean it now lacks the physics to work properly. If you do a boleo halfway through a giro, it will have considerably more "ooomph" than if you just try to lead the boleo from stationary.

My own personal suspicion is that a lot of tango came about from people covering their mistakes. A giro makes no sense - why suddenly split the woman's weight? But if you do a forward ocho sacada at vals speed, it's really easy to get a giro. I've noticed this with a lot of moves, having messed up leads for a wide variety of things and ended up with other "proper moves". Apparently the current definition of Neuvo Tango is "Asking 'What if?' ".

I suspect this is why learning Modern Jive and Tango moves work differently. Turn an arm the wrong way in a pretzel and the woman will yelp. Step out of a cross on the wrong foot and it's fine - but the move's changed so you now can't do whatever was being taught. You can however still do something else, which is useful on the dancefloor.

Or, as some AT teachers say, "There is no wrong"...

 - Christopher O' Shea