Intermediate Elements - The Lean
One of the interesting things about tango is how broad it is. Right now, I'm saying this from a vocabulary perspective. At first glance, it seems limiting because we're always in the same embrace. And so, you cannot do underarm turns and things like that. But I think tango is like haiku: when you add some rules, you also begin to plumb the depths of the possibilities that remain.
Tango is probably one of the only social dances where it would not be uncommon to have both people sometimes on the same foot and sometimes on the opposite foot for extended periods of time, sometimes leaning towards each other (this video), sometimes leaning away (see the colgada video).
- Artist Name:
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- A La Gran Muñeca
- Album Title:
- 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.
- The lean is cool and it’s a gateway to
many wonderful steps...
- ..and you see it a lot in performances.
- And we’re going to break that down in this chapter.
- When I first saw the lean, the teacher said,
"This is fashion all over the tango world."
- "It’s what all the cool people are doing."
- And so I said, “I don’t have to be cool,”
and I sat down.
- Because there was no way
I was going to lean my...
- ..thousand pound weight on my poor leader.
- I wasn’t going to inflict that
on the leader.
- And this wonderful man,
who weighed a lot more than I did said,...
- “No you don’t understand.
It’s not hard at all.
- You just balance your weight
with the other person.
- And you can both be totally relaxed
and it feels really good.”
- And from that moment I've loved the lean
and I still love the lean.
- It starts with a side step.
- Guys, you’re going to hold her in and up
and then reach back with your right foot.
- One more time; as I step side,
I step into her space...
- ..so we’re body to body,
so my body can support her.
- I hold in, so that she knows she’s safe.
- And I hold up,
so she knows not to take a step.
- I reach back with my foot because that
will be where we’re going; not too big.
- And then I go to that foot and it creates the lean.
- Point back, not to big.
- Now as I go to that foot,
you have to push, push, push.
- Don’t try to not lean, try to lean.
- And then as you go back, guys
you’ll keep your chest very far forward...
- ..eventually freeing your other leg,
so you can point.
- So now that we know how to get into the lean,
let’s work on getting out.
- But before that, once you’re in a lean,
take a moment and enjoy.
- And to get out just, point the foot forward,
stand her up, change weight.
- And then go on and do whatever you like.
- Now half of the lean, maybe a third,
is an illusion.
- So the point of my leg, makes it look
as if I’m more in a lean.
- And right now I’m on my heel
but if I shift to the ball of my foot...
- ..then this looks like I’m in a lean
even though I’m not. Right?
- So we can have this amount of lean
without actually any weight.
- And then, when I shift my weight to my back foot,
even that small amount...
- ..by having the weight on the ball of the foot
and pointing with the other leg...
- ..it looks like we’re in a decent sized lean,
even though we’re actually...
- ..in a lean that's that big. Not very big at all.
- For the ladies, there’s this instinct,
I’m the lady, she’s the guy.
- As the guys take you into a lean,
you say to yourself…
- “Oh I couldn’t possibly inflict my weight on him.”
This is the word choice.
- And so as he says lean, you say
"Oh I will but I’ll try to be really light."
- “Don’t lean. Don’t lean.”
And then you end up dancing like this.
- And, yeah, no, we don’t want that image.
- I mean we do want that image but not doing the lean.
- So… here, instead of putting the butt back,
you almost do a small crunch in your abs…
- ..tucking your pelvis ever so slightly -
- It’s a big crunch in the abs.
- Okay, big crunch.
- And then as the leader takes you back,
you keep your body in a plank position…
- ..leaning towards him with your chest.
- And then that protects your low back because
there’s an instinct to arch like this, right?
- So don’t do this, just watch and gasp in horror.
Step side, left.
- We’re here and as she takes me back into the lean,
- ..ladies tend to do this.
And that’s very bad for lower back.
- You know, I’m only going to do this,
only one take and that’s it.
- For the guys, as you go back, we spend literally,
weeks, weeks working with people on this…
- ..working with leaders,
on keep their chest far enough forward.
- Which is really important for the follower.
- So a lot of guys do this.
- And you’ll notice that I’m completely straight
and she’s leaning...
- ..and that means she’s doing all the work.
- She doesn’t get the advantage of using weight.
Instead she has to use muscle.
- So as I back up, you will see that,
unlike just then when I kept my back straight…
- ..here I’m very much leaning towards her as well.
- And therefore it can be really relaxed.
- And for both people it’s true, if you’re not leaning enough...
- ..then what happens is all of the muscles tighten.
- For the followers, if she’s not leaning enough,
- “Can’t lean and all the muscles tighten.”
- Where as if she just pushes forward,
it would be very easy for her. Keep pushing.
- For the leaders, if you’re leaning not enough,
then you’ll feel her tighten...
- ..you’ll feel you’ll need more muscle.
- If you lean more at her using weight,
then it becomes much easier.
- If you lean too much you’ll know and it tumbles over.
So this one is self correcting.
- Once again for the leaders:
keep your chest forward.
- Last two things.
- For the leaders, you really want to make her feel
safe and comfortable.
- And if I ask her to do a lean
and I’m holding her like this…
- She’s not going to go.
- And I say, "Why don’t you lean on me?"
And for some reason she doesn’t...
- ..because there’s this feeling,
probably very well justified,...
- ..that if I just barely hold the tips of her fingers,
I can’t support her.
- So I really gather around,
in firmly and up.
- And while I don’t try to
squeeze the life from her, I do have -
- N: It’s pretty strong.
D: Yes, it’s pretty substantial.
- Now the other point I want to make is that...
- ..it should feel comfortable
when it’s about weight.
- So if you imagine there’s a light pole
and then there’s a cool person...
- ..leaning on the light pole with a hat.
You don’t imagine their struggling terribly to stand up.
- And the questions is,
so I literally want you to at some point...
- ..stop and lean against the wall or something.
- And say, “Look how comfortable it is.”
- And then I want you to ask...
- ...Why does it have to be any different,
if you’re leaning against another person?
- And the answer is it doesn’t.
- And on that thought of a gateway to many things,
we can for example…
- Do stuff. Later chapter