Connection - No Slack in the System

Post a question on our forum here.
Post a question on our forum here.

The follower's arms and back are tools that both the follower and leader can use to make the lead/follow more effective.

Once in a while, David will be dancing with a student and he'll say to them, "you're doing that wonderfully well, but you also need to be able to do it in this less good way." It's a strange statement.

But, sometimes, one lead is great for an advanced follower and yet would fail miserably for a beginning follower or visa versa (a follow would do well for an advanced leader but wouldn't do well for a beginning leader).

This concept is good for both people who are leaders and followers, both advanced and beginners. It's a matter of the subtlety of pressure. It's you're more advanced, you can use this in a more subtle way and immediately from the beginning of the movement to enhance the togetherness.

If you're dancing with a beginner, then this is one of the most important techniques to make the dance feel good and to make the lead/follow work clearly, even though the other person doesn't necessarily have the strongest of skill sets.

Here's what no slack can look like.

Here's what no slack can look like

Another example of no slack

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It Takes Q To Tango
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(From the website): Created in July, 2009 by Erskine Maytorena, a third generation tango musician and opera singer, QTANGO performs authentic Argentine tango arrangements as often as two to three times a week throughout the Southwest for tango dancers and listeners.

One of the things that really helps the lead-follow a lot is if there's no give between us, when he's trying to lead me.
So, if he tries to lead me, and then, I move away from his hand, then it doesn't give him anything to work with.
So, we want to teach you something that David calls, "No slack in the system".
Which means that between his hand, or, his body and my hand, or his hand and my body, - there's no give.
So, you can say, "Why is he holding one of these audio cables?"
And the answer is, I want to say this is very much like leading and following.
So, if she holds one end of the audio cable, and I hold the other, and I want her to go forward,
I don't know if you can see in the camera, but it's very bent. And now, it's straight.
D: And so, if I say, "Step forward", nothing happens.
N: And that's because there's, what he calls, slack in the system.
On the other hand, if we let it get taunt first, and then, I pull - then I can pull her forward.
D: And I, actually, want you to do this at home. You know, find your five year old kid. "Can I pull you forward?" They'll really like it.
N: That sounds like a good idea.
And so, then, after you realize, well, hey, as long as it's, you know, just hanging here, it won't work,
And, the minute it's taunt, it will, I want you to say, "Well, once it's taunt, I can use any amount of force."
D: As an aside, you might not want to use an audio cable, like we are. Maybe, you should use a rope. Anyway.
N: Yeah, use a rope.
So, once it's taunt, and if I pull softly, and she doesn't let it move, then I can connect it to her core, instead of her arm.
And I can pull it forward with just a little bit of pressure.
D: And we can do the same, you know. If she holds really tight with both hands, lots of force.
N: Grrr!
N: We'll break the cable.
D: OK, so we won't do it.
We can pretend that it's really tight, and then, I can pull her forward.
And, can't we do that with our hands?
D: And then, the same is true with the arms. So, if you look at her left arm, if she leaves...
N: My right arm.
D: Her right arm. If she leaves the arm loose,
D: I can't get her to walk forward.
N: You could ask nicely.
D: Pretty please, walk forward?
N: Sure.
Right? But it wasn't because of my arm lead, or my body lead. It wasn't because of this.
But, if she doesn't move her arm, and then, I softly pull.
And then, instead of moving her arm, she lets this pressure move her center of gravity, I can move her back, there.
And if we wait until the pressure comes into my body, and then I move, and he moves, we can be so completely together.
It's really cool.
And so, what often happens, is... If you look at the arm, and I'm going to pull softly.
D: Is it'll go give just a little bit.
N: That's right.
So, as I'm pulling, you'll see her arm move just a little bit. And then, she'll catch and move. Did you see that? It's very subtle.
D: And that's what you want to avoid.
N: Yes.
D: So, as I pull, you'll see the arm doesn't move at all.
D: And then, her body starts moving.
N: And I don't go, until after I've secured my arm.
And I've felt his force go up my arm and into my body. And that's when I move.
So, when you practice this, for the followers, I want you to start with just feeling pressure, and not moving. Brace yourself.
And leaders, just pull a little bit. And then, try to trick them into moving their arm forward.
Just like that. Did you see her arm move just forward?
So, don't let it move, don't let it move. And then, feel it hit your abs. And that's it. And then, do that again.
N: We do this in class a fair amount.
D: Yeah, just today, we did it.
So, I'll pull softly. She doesn't let it move. And then, when she feels it in her abs, then I can pull her forward.
And this is true in every direction.
So, it's not just that I can only pull her forward that way. I can use the same pressure...
So, for example, if we're doing a basic. When I'm taking her to the side, then, this kind of pressure...
Just so that... Wait, wait, wait. Just so they can see.
...Is there. And then, I'll push, so softly, until... Until there's no give. Until everything stops moving.
Because, if you watch the hand, at the beginning of that side step,
There's that little bit of motion. And then, it stops.
And, however small that is, you want to let it hit, and then go.
N: Or, ideally, you want to eliminate the little bit of motion.
D: Yes.