A Follower's FAQ - More Musings

29th November 2008

(Part of the Fusion set of articles - also see A follower's FAQ)

On Wednesday night, at the Thames Valley Tango practica, I picked up the following tips

Tip 1: Do not anticipate

Do not Anticipate, You are being led: Followers should wait for the lead. In not doing so, your lead will not forget you for all the wrong reasons. You may have picked up technicality very well, but this means nothing to your partner if you can't be led.

In close embrace, it is easier to know/read what's coming. The follower can get indications of steps from various parts of her lead's frame.

As a 'beginner', it was really useful practicing open embrace

Tip 2: Positioning of Follower's Left Arm

It is important as the left arm is used to receive body signals from the leader.

  • Ensure your left hand is on your leader's outer upper arm.
  • For a better "connection" the inner side of the follower's forearm ought to be in full contact with her leader's upper arm.
  • According to most leaders, a firm grip, as opposed to a feeble one is desirable. The leader responds better. It's also an indication that you're comfortable to dance with him.

Tip 3: Collect and Transfer of Weight

Followers should "collect" their feet. Collecting feet is bringing your feet together.

I've been taught this at every lesson attended. It is critically important as it's just another way to enable us to change our weight completely. It is most basic, but most critical skills needed to 'dance' (or walk) Tango well.

Collecting feet is the "end" (or completes) to the step. I tend to "collect" before I transfer my weight. So what I focused on last night: "collect" and then change weight, however, for some moves e.g. ochos, and dancing to a Milonga, the skill of just collecting without actual transfer of weight is present.

I remember, in the beginning, there was little difference when asked to collect and transfer weight. I was tempted to "jump" slightly. Don't! An important point to note is that when in dance, one foot will generally bear most of the weight, at all times. So there will always be one foot firmly on the floor, unless of course you've been led into a 'lift'.

There are lots of ways to remember to "collect". Watching other followers dance, it does look elegant, if the follower brings her knees-in together (side by side or thereabout)

What struck me is that, although we 'collect' before the transfer of weight is done, I tend to think "Transfer weight" first, and then the "Collect" will happen.

Learning to transfer weight will help you build your balance. This improves your technicality overall and you can add poise to your steps.

As demonstrated by Jenny Sayer in week 7 of Amir's Tango course, there are a couple of ways of achieving this:

  • When doing ocho's, wrap your non-bearing weight foot behind the ankle of your weight bearing foot
  • Point your toes and tap behind your weight-bearing foot before completely the step.

Dos and Don'ts

Do Don't
Wait to be led Anticipate
Hold your partner firmly use feather-weight hold's - if you are uncomfortable with your partner, better not to dance at all. (remember, body language is powerful and your partner generally interprets a feeble hold as un-willingness on your part)
Complete the step - and Collect! Feel rushed - a good lead will wait for you to collect
Change weight when led - it marks the end of the step or the beginning of the next (whichever way you want to look at it) Change weight if it is not led e.g. moving from back ocho's to front ocho's.
Keep at least one foot on the floor when changing weight Jump!

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 - Betty Smith, 29th November 2008