I want to improve my connection / frame / dance technique in MJ

3rd December 2008

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The perceived wisdom is that you should take up either Argentine Tango or WCS. Clearly it's half right...

Introduction

Simply put, there's usually more emphasis on technique in tango classes than there is in MJ classes. I've only had my posture corrected once in an MJ class and that was by one of the dancers. Some tango classes do nothing other than focus on technique. Also because tango does rely on fairly subtle movements it does have some very effective techniques for leading and following precise movements.

Because there's quite a variety of tango styles it's worth looking around a bit to find one that suits your approach to MJ. For example milonga is faster, Tango Nuevo is more open, "Central" styles of Salon tango are closer and so on.

Help, I need somebody!

Energy is very important in Connection and Frame. A sufficiently determined leader could for example use a trolley in place of a partner to get a basic understanding of frame and connection and a follower may well dance around a kitchen chair, but realistically you need to learn this with an actual living human being. Amir recommended simply agreeing to have the first dance of the evening together just focusing on frame and connection to set you up for the rest of the evening.

Mirrors, video and posture

It's pretty cheap and easy now to get either a webcam or a video recorder and record yourself dancing so you can see what you doing right and what you're doing wrong. Just have a good supply of chocolate nearby.

Swap roles for the exercises

Even if you have no intention of ever doing the other role when you dance, you'll be amazed how much you'll learn from doing both sides of an exercise, in particular how little energy it actually takes to stop a follow.

Pitfalls

Although there's overlap between AT and MJ there's also a lot of differences. This can mean that technique that works great on an AT follower will actually make things worse on an MJ follower. The classic example is that an AT follower dances one step at a time when lead to, whereas an MJ follower will shift her weight continuously by default (moving to the beat).

Solutions

You probably need to look for a workshop along the lines of "Tango technique for your MJ" or a private lesson. It's worth noting that both MJ and Tango teachers run these workshops. Alternatively learn basic tango then go to technique classes.

Who's doing it currently

Franck of CerocScotland occasionally does workshops, some of which may be available on DVD. Tango technique classes can be found:

 - Christopher O'Shea, 3rd December 2008