Paradigm Shift

27th May 2009

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"The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor." ~ Albert Camus


I was discussing the annoyance of doing workshops as a follower last night. You learn the "move" and then no-one every leads it on you ever again! Quite why women go to most workshops (and pay to do so) is a mystery to me, though I admire their optimism.

The tango - jive fusions I've encountered have a similar fundamental problem. They all seem to be focused on how do you lead this tango move in MJ - but they solve it as a sequence and by teacher the followers the ncessary tango conventions for it to work. Which is fine if your follower went to the same workshop (or you muscle it) but otherwise you find yourself in the annoying position of having no-one who knows it.

But surely it's just a matter of technique? Well maybe, but looking around at the guys who've been doing this for several years now and the effort they've put in, I've gotta say the level of skill you need to acquire is pretty darn high.

The fundamental problem is that you're using conventions that don't exist in MJ.


Well you can simply lead it anyway. It won't work most of the time, but regular women at the venue will probably ask you to explain what you're doing. Or you can occasionally ask them if you can just try leading xyz on them at the side.

Paradigm Shift

The thing is, tango isn't supposed to be about the moves. So ultimately being able to lead boleos and ganchos etc in MJ doesn't actually get you that far along the path.

What if instead of trying to figure out sequences to lead tango moves, you simply focused on how to apply tango technique to your MJ?

The First Move

MJ Version: in the "open out", the leader keeps his right hand on the woman's left hip. The woman places her left hand on the man's right shoulder

Tango version: use a fluid embrace; the man's right hand ends up on the follower's back. The follower's left hand flows up the man's right arm to come to rest in close embrace.


MJ Version: walk in lockstep, feet and legs apart

Tango version: lead initiates follower to start stepping back before he steps forward. He steps so that the inside of his foot touches the inside of her "opposite" foot (effectively left to left and right to right). Woman steps back with her foot first, then her body and keep her feet closer together.


MJ Version: fingertip lead

Tango version: use an embrace. This makes a huge difference for the follower if you're going to lead the side planeo at the end


MJ Version: Man stands still like a maypole

Tango version: man does lapiz or enrosqeues.


Keep feet brushing the floor

And so on.

The beauty of this approach is you can now do it when you want to.

The other benefit is that MJ is based on moves that are a series of interchangeable steps, so you can treat it like walking in tango, one step at a time.

 - Christopher O'Shea, 25th May 2009

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