Review: Tango In Action: Follower perspective

10th January 2009

This is a review of the Tango In Action class, complementary to the initial review - see that review for details of the venue, location, time and so on.

Follower's Axis - Technique

The sequence involves a Parada (described here), where the introductory steps in brief are:

  1. Step One: Side step to right, weight centered on balls of right foot, collect with other leg
  2. Step Two: Back step (Left leg) in line of dance, foot parallel to leader's left, pushing through on balls of feet and collect
  3. Step Three: Led to step forward (feels like it's across) with right leg so right hip meets with Leader's left hip as leader has taken a much bigger step outside of you on your right. Keep hips close to leader until the end of the sequence.
    It is useful to note that this forward step marks the start of the sequence and so it is from this step that all followers are made to go through in detail in front of the studio mirrors.
    Standing in front of the mirror, Alex demonstrates a technique a follower can use to practice (solo) being 'under' her axis at all times

Posture

  • Stand up as tall as you can (deep breadth and elongate diaphragm)
  • Chest Forward and Open
  • Straight back, no lean
  • Shoulders level
  • The leg with which you step with, the corresponding arm goes up tall
  • Each movement of the leg is under the axis and not outside. Your finger tips, head, middle body right down to your torso ought to be more or less in a straight line
  • Alex' use of the arm I guess was representational of the imaginary line - see Axis

(Also see Follower's FAQ for more technique and posture tips)

Exercise

  1. With right arm stretched up, step forward on right leg
    [*Stay under your axis]
    [*The smaller steps you do, the easier it is to achieve. No big steps are required nor desired for a Giro sequence]
  2. Pivot 180 degrees, left foot tucked close to right foot
    You are facing the opposite direction from 1
  3. As you side step onto left leg, left arm goes up sequentially, then place foot on floor and change weight
    [*Stay under your axis]
    [*The smaller steps you do, the easier it is to achieve. No big steps are required nor desired for a Giro sequence]
  4. With right arm stretched up, swivel 360 degrees on balls of left tucking your right foot closely behind your left, crossing at back.
    [*Stay under your axis]
    [*The smaller steps you do, the easier it is to achieve. No big steps are required nor desired for a Giro sequence]
    The motion is rotational as opposed to a square movement, so in theory, the position of the 'axis' has not moved. Personally, I try to imagine a spinning marble, although it moves, for each rotation, its centre does not get displaced and maintains its position.
  5. As you change weight, bring right arm down - with weight shifting to left
  6. Left arm goes up as you uncross to step on your left side.
  7. Right arm goes up as you step, crossing right leg over left
  8. Pushing off balls of your left foot, create a sweeping motion (make it quite exaggerated), to bend left leg behind you, creating a 'hook' look, so thigh is brought as high as you can and toes should be pointing towards the floor.
  9. Swivel clockwise on balls of feet, maintaining the lift (left leg is still up), to bring the left leg in-front of you
  10. As left leg is brought in-front, you will generally have the ability to raise the thigh even higher than it was. Also, the leader ought to have given you significant motion (when swiveling you round) so, by way of 'balancing' the extra energy is naturally extended to this part of the body (non weight bearing) making it move more. The next natural effect is that it calms the force down and so your leg begins to drop.
  11. The foot is on the outside of your right leg, and there may be contact with left foot with right calf. The legs are crossed - similar to crossing your legs as normal when sitting down, only difference is that you are standing (and toes ought to be pointed)
  12. Left leg's toes (balls of foot) make's contact with the floor but no weight should be transferred yet. Do not anticipate next step and imperative to wait until led.

Summary

  1. It is the follower's job to be perfect in our spirals, pivots for that perfect axis. If it is not than this is likely to off balance both follower and leader. It then becomes noticeable and does not look elegant.
  2. Weight distribution is also vitally important:
    • Most weight is clearly on balls of feet, but centred
    • Partial weight ought to be felt on heel to - this will help in pivoting (as much contact with the floor as possible)
  3. Pay attention to posture.

More information

- Betty Smith, 10th January 2009