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To cross or not to cross

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Date:    Sun, 18 Jan 1998 23:54:23 ITA
From:    Gabriella Marino
Subject: To cross or not to cross?

Hi everybody,

I'd like to ask you the following question, hoping
I get the terminology right:

supposing that the woman and her partner are doing
the basic salida, starting with left foot forward
for the woman, does the woman have to wait for a signal
to cross on 'five' or does she cross anyway if the
man doesn't lead her in such a way that it is impossible
for her to cross?

Three out of four of the teachers I've asked have said
that unless the man stops her from doing so, the woman
crosses without waiting for a signal. Both my boyfriend's
teachers, however, have taught him to signal to the woman
that she has to cross and that the woman cannot do so
unless she feels that signal, which means that if the
man hesitates, she has to wait for him (while I, for
instance, would have crossed in that case).

I'll probably find out that both approaches are
right!!! :)

Thanks in advance!!!

Gabriella
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Date:    Mon, 19 Jan 1998 15:21:07 +0200
From:    Markku Tallgren
Subject: Re: To cross or not to cross?

>I'd like to ask you the following question, hoping
>I get the terminology right:
>
>supposing that the woman and her partner are doing
>the basic salida, starting with left foot forward
>for the woman, does the woman have to wait for a signal
>to cross on 'five' or does she cross anyway if the
>man doesn't lead her in such a way that it is impossible
>for her to cross?

IMHO the follower should avoid doing non-lead movements
especially when it possibly causes the leader to change
his plans. In this case, suppose I just want to walk a
few steps forward (thus giving no sign to turn in any
direction): the follower's crossing will effectively
ruin that plan.

M. Tallgren,
Un tanguero Finlandeso

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Date:    Mon, 19 Jan 1998 10:23:32 -0600
From:    Frank Williams
Subject: Re: To cross or not to cross?

Gabriella and friends,

I posed a similar question to the list about a year ago and received helpful
advice by private e-mail.  Those ideas and my own opinions are summarized
below.

> supposing that the woman and her partner are doing
> the basic salida, starting with left foot forward
> for the woman, does the woman have to wait for a signal
> to cross on 'five' or does she cross anyway if the
> man doesn't lead her in such a way that it is impossible
> for her to cross?

Whether the follower crosses or not, (s)he must still step in time
with the lead, maintain frame, and follow the leader's floor direction.
If all three of these leads are followed, there will be no ambiguity whether
to cross or not.  The feet will have no choice and the cross will be a natural
follow.

Point 1 - as lead-and-follow skills increase, the question becomes moot.  The
cross will be led.


For learning purposes, however, consider what happens if a cross is done
without a lead verses if a lead to the cross is not followed.  A cross without
a lead will move the follower to the leader's left.  If the leader's aim is to
continue to walk "outside" of the follower then there may be a direction
change, and a too-small crossing step will change the dance from parallel to
counter stepping. Resolving a counter-step walk is not something at which most
beginning leaders are adept.  Trouble!  On the other hand, a lead to the cross
that is not followed may leave the follower paused in a less attractive pose -
right leg dangling - and adjustments to frame and balance will be necessary.
 Still, one can dance through it, attempt to adjust lead-and-follow as the
dance proceeds, and not further traumatize the beginning leader (who's thinking
may not be as fast as the tempo of the music).

Point 2 - it's easier for beginning leaders if the follower only crosses when
the cross is led.


Skilled dancers, of course, can accomodate for a miscommunication much more
easily than the beginner, and the consequences of a surprise are much less
problematic.  One might argue that a long outside walk without a cross is
unattractive and beginners should try to avoid this.  No argument there.

Point 3 - IMHO, however, leading the follower to the cross with sensitivity and
firmness is a skill that beginners should master.  For followers too, waiting
for the lead without anticipating is good to learn.  Why not teach both from
the beginning using "the basic"?


> Both my boyfriend's
> teachers, however, have taught him to signal to the woman
                                        ^^^^^^
> that she has to cross and that the woman cannot do so
> unless she feels that signal,

...not sure what they're teaching as a "signal"...  Around here, that
(non-verbal) signal is "your torso is coming over here with me - if you want to
balance and have your feet under you, maybe now would be a good time to cross"!
 :-)  It's much more eloquent when it's un-spoken, don't you think?  :-)

Best wishes to all,

Frank in Minneapolis


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Date:    Mon, 19 Jan 1998 11:56:26 PST
From:    David Orly Thompson
Subject: Re: To cross or not to cross?

To cross or not to cross, is NOT the question!

The question is:  WHAT ON EARTH COULD COUNT AS ONE GOOD REASON WHY THE WOMAN
(FOLLOWER) SHOULD DO AN UN-LED CROSS?!!!!

Whereupon, my knee jerked.  This is one of my favorite tango pet peeves, as you
might guess.  No other tango subject can make me shake and foam at the mouth
like this one can.   See David pound his fist on the table.   (Though I don't
know why I should care so much).

Of all the steps and moves which leaders are always learning to lead, why
should this one step NOT be led???  I mean look, perhaps the oldest and most
common complaint of a leader to a follower is that they are not FOLLOWING.
"Don't do anything but follow!"  So why this one exception?   If I put a women
into a cross from standing still, I lead it.  As a leader, the better you get,
the more you can lead, and not just more figures, but more of each and every
step and move.  With time you learn to put the woman on each step, even when
walking, and then to put her on her feet in some particular fashion.  Less and
less is taken for granted, and more and is led.

I ask this particularly because both leading and being led to a cross can  be
one of the loveliest moments in a dance.  Who hasn't enjoyed taking two, three,
or even four (four?) full beats to complete the one single step that is the
cross?!.   Of all the steps that might have been automatic, why bastardize this
one beautiful step into cold mechanization?

Further, why complicate an already relatively difficult to learn dance with
this inconsistancy, an inconsistency which serves no productive purpose
whatsoever?

It's not hard to guess that a teaching habit must have developed, over many
years, of trying to teach beginners as quickly as possible, to get them dancing
SOME basic figure as soon as possible.  So they said, carelessly, "women,
remember to always cross when the man walks outside you on that side."  Sure,
anything to get people dancing some figure (the "basic" so they can feel like
they are dancing.   Then they'll come back and take more lessons, and increase
and better the dance community, etc. etc.  This is understandable, but it's not
THAT hard to teach people to lead a cross, and to follow a led cross.

Teaching beginners to lead and follow the cross is one of the best ways to get
them thinking and feeling leads and follows.  "see how the lady's leg moves
across in front of her other leg when you move her like so?  It's inevitable.
Yes, it's pure and simple physics.  She's just trying to keep her feet under
her.   See how she doesn't put her weight on that crossed foot until you put
her on it?  Women, let the man PUT you on your foot.  Make him earn it, and
you'll both be happier.  Bien, no?"

Moreover, it seems absurd to have to lead my follower NOT to do something
(cross) if I want to just walk outside partner for a more than a couple steps.
Call it an anti-lead.  Ridiculous!

I want to believe that teaching automatic crosses must be a quirk solely of
teachers in the United States, but I fear it may be global.   So as a side
question I'd love to know if, and how many, teachers teach the Dread Un-Lead
Cross (hereby dubbed a DULC), particularly in Argentina (and Uruguay of course
; )).

I sometimes wish I could be a world class female follower for while - so that I
could go to milongas and not automatically cross.  A few lazy leaders would get
frustrated and eventually rant and rave about "WHY DIDN'T YOU CROSS!!!!"   I'd
say, "I'm sorry, but you didn't lead it."

Ahhhh, well, I'm sure I'll never succeed in changing this little portion of the
Argentine Tango world, but I can try.

Now, if someone could please tell me one good reason why a women should
automatically cross?  I'm happily, nay, eagerly prepared to eat my words, my
hat, and maybe my left dancing shoe.

The gauntlet is thrown.


David Orly-Thompson
SF Bay Area



P.S. I don't suppose anyone else out there shares my little pet peeve?



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Date:    Mon, 19 Jan 1998 13:56:49 -0700
From:    Tom Stermitz
Subject: Re: To cross or not to cross?

>To cross or not to cross, is NOT the question!
>
>The question is:  WHAT ON EARTH COULD COUNT AS ONE GOOD REASON WHY THE WOMAN
>(FOLLOWER) SHOULD DO AN UN-LED CROSS?!!!!

To be clear, we need to know what everybody means by "led" and "unled".

At the advanced level your comments make sense. There are no unled moves in
Tango and if two partners are communicating nicely in their lead-follow and
with their entire bodies, souls and embrace then the cross becomes an
automatic and led movement.

At the beginner level few leaders have good body language, and few
followers follow well. Therefor a led cross for a beginner usually means a
push with the arms. That might be fine and good, if subtle and gentle, but
it takes leaders such a long time to learn to be subtle that teaching them
to force the follower to cross with their arms or hands usually leads to
brutish, forceful leading. (I have seen this a lot; exceptions might
exist.)

In my book (syllabus?) the cross is lead by the leader being outside the
partner. If she is not to cross, then he must come back in front of her or
lead her (non-brutishly) to not-cross. The follower must know this
vocabulary or else the dance starts to fail; she does unled crosses (by
herself?). She fails to cross at the right moment.

Not to be polemical, survey the followers in San Francisco whether they
find the average leader too gentle or too brutish, or whether they consider
this a problem. In Colorado, most of the teachers have insisted on body
leads, not hand/arm leads, so our community tends not to be very harsh with
their hands and arms.

One of the beautiful aspects of the cross is the way it resolves a
particular tension in the dance. The leader steps outside the follower, she
feels him escaping her eager heart, and she crosses to resolve that tension
and return to the embrace.

Another way to look at the cross is to consider it a stretched out
molinete. The follower takes a step to the side-back-side-front, where the
cross/front is the normally expected molinete movement. (The second side
can be stretched to be a diagonal or a back.)

The grapevine pattern of the molinete is never led at all (the follower
must know the pattern), so obviously there are tango elements that are not
led, but conventional, which contradicts your statement two paragraphs
below: "Of all the steps...."


[Here, the posting of David Orly Thompson was cited.]

Tom Stermitz


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Date:    Mon, 19 Jan 1998 16:00:09 EST
From:    Manuel P
Subject: Re: To cross or not to cross?

In a message dated 98-01-19 14:57:43 EST, you write:

<< Now, if someone could please tell me one good reason why a women should
 automatically cross?  I'm happily, nay, eagerly prepared to eat my words, my
 hat, and maybe my left dancing shoe.

 The gauntlet is thrown.
  >>


By the tone of your post I'm fairly sure that your mind is already made up so
I will ask you to please suspend judgement for one moment. This may be an
arguable statement but lets posit for a moment that the tango consists of
walking steps. Now, there is a particular kind of walk that the follower does
around the leader, it is called a molinete or grapevine. I dont know why but
the sequence of steps is ...front, side, back, side, front, side, etc, etc.
These are done in both directions, CW and CCW. Now, this could also be argued
but I wont do it: the lead for a molinete is only to start it or to finish it.
In other words the follower must continue doing it once the leader initiates
it until the leader stops it (usually with a change of direction, eg "ocho" or
a parada). The molinete will always begin with the first side step. For
instance, once the woman has crossed, if you lead her to do a front ocho (a
change of direction) she will do a side step next unless you stop it by asking
for another ocho, front or back (another change of direction).

Here is the rationale for crossing automatically: The basic step (dreaded or
not) which is taught to most beginners is nothing more than a molinete. It can
begin with the "dreaded" back step for the leader (front for the follower) or
directly with a side step to the follows right. Now, the next step is a back
step with the follows' left foot, next is the side step with the follows right
(the forward momentum by the leader makes this step go straight back. Now, the
next step is a front step with the follows' left foot this is natural since
the follower wants to stay in front of the leader, and the molinete is done in
this sequence anyway.
Obviously, you might ask why then it is not done to the followers left as well
as the right? Well, there is no reason why this cannot be done. It would be a
very interesting move. The only reason this is done mostly to the leaders left
is because it  follows more closely the direction of dance. This movement
flows naturally to the left and conforms to the CCW direction of the line of
dance.

IMHO it is simple and correct to teach this and dance in this way (semi
automatic crossing?). The only caveat is that the step itself must be lead.
The biggest problem is that the followers take the step too soon, before the
leader asks for it. It does not matter wether they cross or not, if it is not
lead it will fall apart. I have heard innumerable arguments pro and con
"automatic crossing". I believe that the theory that I propose makes a lot of
sense. I did not invent it myself (wish I was that good!) This is a method
taught by a number of the best know Argentine tango dancers and instructors
today. I've had it explained to me at length with a lot of examples and
excercises. I believe that the biggest problems come as a result of not having
enough skill with the dance in general. The inexperienced leaders will often
run into the inexperienced followers. I've had very good results leading even
inexperienced followers but I practice a lot. My partner and I teach 2 to 3
times per week and dance socially and for "demonstrations" another number of
times per month. I agree with you and others who decry the mechanical type of
dance. I strive to teach my students to dance rather than to count steps or
repeat memorized routines. The problem is that teaching AT (or any other type
of dance) is just not so simple. Many people have a number of difficulties
grasping the art of controlled movement. We try all types of systems and
stratagems to teach AT. This is just one more tool.

No need to eat crow, you are entitled to your opinions and beliefs, the only
thing that matters is to keep an open mind and dont judge others to harshly
for their apparent lack of skill. Many will get much better with time if they
practice. The others? well, usually they think they are quite good enough
already. You will find them mostly in the ranks of "tango authorities".
Meantime, I will continue to teach them to cross, otherwise they'll never
learn how.

Regards,
Manuel


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Date:    Mon, 19 Jan 1998 13:03:16 -0800
From:    Larry E Carroll
Subject: Re: To cross or not to cross?

Gabriella Marino writes
> I'll probably find out that both approaches are right!!! :)

If everyone else around you is using the same dance conventions, you
should probably go with those conventions -- though sometimes it's good
to raise a little Hell & defy them!

But the better approach is the one that gives everyone the most freedom
to be creative. The automatic cross is part of the dance-by-numbers
approach of most ballroom dancing. Good Argentine tango is more
improvisational.

I define the salida as the first three steps of what some call the basic.
If your partner keeps you in the usual starting right-foot-inside
position after the salida you CAN'T cross. If he leads you into the
right-foot-outside position you can. But when & how?

Your partner may lead you into all sorts of other figures while you're in
the outside position. So you should wait for the lead before doing the
cross, which gets you back into the right-foot-inside position.

But even when he leads you back to the inside position, it may not be the
cross that he leads, because there are other ways to get back inside.
Indeed, he may lead you into a LEFT-foot-inside or LEFT-foot-OUTSIDE
position, not the right-foot-inside position!

                Larry de Los Angeles

P.S. For a longer discussion of this subject, plus some diagrams, see
chapter three of my online book (Argentine Tango Dancing - the Basics) at


http://world.std.com/~larrydla/basics_3.html
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Date:    Mon, 19 Jan 1998 14:10:55 -0800
From:    TangoMan
Subject: The cruzada position

On Mon, 19 Jan 1998 11:56:26 PST

commented on the subject of "To cross or not to cross?"

>Now, if someone could please tell me one good reason why a women should
>automatically cross?  I'm happily, nay, eagerly prepared to eat my
>words, my hat, and maybe my left dancing shoe.
>The gauntlet is thrown.
>P.S. I don't suppose anyone else out there shares my little pet peeve?

Dear Dave and "cross interested" tangolisters:

First my fondest wishes for a very happy new year to all 600 plus members.
What a difference a year makes! Congratulations Shahruk for the doubling of
the membership. Now with your permission,

I can not find a good reason as to why "a women should automatically cross."
You may have already suggested several wrong reasons why the concept seems
to be confusing and conflicting.
>From a technical viewpoint, the body position commonly known as "la
cruzada," the cross,  has the sole purpose of bringing the dancer's bodies
back to the full torso contact.
Prior to that, the man had moved to the side of the woman by displacing his
body in such a way that her right breast lines up with the center of his chest.
The man achieves this position by slightly loosening up the shoulder of his
marking arm, i.e., he creates space by opening his right shoulder which
allows him to shift to his left without "pushing" the woman.
If the woman's left arm is firmly in contact his right arm, she will
recognize the mark as a side step where the man travels a longer distance,
i.e., their bodies are now offset with, I repeat, her right breast pointing
straight at the center of his chest.
Walking on the woman's right side creates every four steps the condition
where the bodies could line up in front of each other, i.e., chest to chest,
breast to breast.
It follows that on the third step of the four step sequence (or the step
prior to the planned cross position), the man may create space for the woman
to move back in full front of him by expanding the circumference of the
embrace with a stretching motion of his right arm.
One of the many technical concepts women are taught is: "if you are given a
space, move into it."
If the posture of the woman is such that she continues to keep firm contact
with the man's right arm (instead of hanging from him as if he was a
lamppost) she will recognize the mark anticipating that in her next step she
will move into the space that it has been created, ending up back in front
of the man.
To do this in a clean, balanced and elegant manner, she must step crossing
her left foot in front of the right one.
If the intention of assuming the "cruzada" position is to continue with a
forward ocho or a right turn giro, the space the man creates prior to the
cross will be greater than if the intention is to follow the cross with a
"caminata" (a walk), another "salida" or a "cierre" (resolution or close).
Dave, keep your left shoe because you will need it. When it is time for it
to step, it is when you will have to make the decision, mark, and follow
through with the intented arrival to the "cruzada" position.

Tangazos,

TangoMan

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Date:    Mon, 19 Jan 1998 23:01:00 -0500
From:    Eric Jorissen
Subject: Re: To cross or not to cross?

Dear list,

The answer to the question to cross or not to cross, put down by Frank
Williams is lacking an essential alternative. IMO it is better to say tha=
t
it is possible to lead either a cross or a close on 'position' 5 of the
'basic tango-8-step-combination' :)

Going through this position without weight resulting in a normal walking
step (as the suggested alternative of Frank) is an entirely different
action.

Bye,
Eric Jorissen


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Date:    Mon, 19 Jan 1998 23:29:07 -0500
From:    Eric Jorissen
Subject: Re: The cruzada position

 TangoMan wrote this:
>If the woman's left arm is firmly in contact his right arm, she will
recognize the mark as a side step where the man travels a longer distance=
,
i.e., their bodies are now offset with, I repeat, her right breast pointi=
ng
straight at the center of his chest.
Walking on the woman's right side creates every four steps the condition
where the bodies could line up in front of each other, i.e., chest to
chest,
breast to breast.<

This might be alright in the way of dancing tango with a sliding door
action (with the bodies slightly disconnected at certain times).. If you
really dance a close dance ( my favourite way) it would be a whole lotta
rubbing going on in the upper region. =


I don't like it when somebody comes up with THE answer. =


Tango is no science.

I do agree. Automatic whatever steps are NEVER really the result of two
bodies connected by harmony.
But there are many ways to connect. (Read: to lead and follow)  Your way =
of
doing it is not necessarilly the 'automatic' right answer!

Bye again,
Eric Jorissen


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Date:    Tue, 20 Jan 1998 14:32:16 +0100
From:    "Holger A. Bock"
Subject: Re: The cruzada position

Some points of TangoMan's posting make me wondering / curious

TangoMan wrote:
...
> I can not find a good reason as to why "a women should automatically cross."
> You may have already suggested several wrong reasons why the concept seems
> to be confusing and conflicting.
> >From a technical viewpoint, the body position commonly known as "la
> cruzada," the cross,  has the sole purpose of bringing the dancer's bodies
> back to the full torso contact.

Isn't it, that walking *outside* the follower is possible also with full
torso contact? I would not define too much difference in torso contact,
if I twist my body a little bit to the right, while doing the left step,
which is bigger than her right step (salida or any other time)

My experience is, that by this little twist I can position her right
foot
exactly where I want to have it, allowing my right foot just the space
it needs
but no more, to pass the follower's right leg (and hip) which is also
twisted
slightly, because her torso wants to stay in parallel (or at least in  a
constant angle since we started to dance)

> Prior to that, the man had moved to the side of the woman by displacing his
> body in such a way that her right breast lines up with the center of his
 chest.
> The man achieves this position by slightly loosening up the shoulder of his
> marking arm, i.e., he creates space by opening his right shoulder which
> allows him to shift to his left without "pushing" the woman.

Pushing would/should not be necessary anyway, I think; and when should
this
loosening up the shoulder take place ? before the left step, during the
left
step (after would be propably too late !-). If I try to imagine this, I
get
the picture of a very unstable position, potentially a *hole* in the
leader-
follower contact

> If the woman's left arm is firmly in contact his right arm, she will
> recognize the mark as a side step where the man travels a longer distance,
> i.e., their bodies are now offset with, I repeat, her right breast pointing
> straight at the center of his chest.

Maybe this slight shift takes place anyway, but I prefer that being a
side
effect, if what we call ZUWENDUNG in German (zuwenden, the verb, is a
nice
word, you see, it means turn towards someone and devote to or bestow on
a
person) is taking place with both partners.

> Walking on the woman's right side creates every four steps the condition
> where the bodies could line up in front of each other, i.e., chest to chest,
> breast to breast.

Why, please, every four ? don't we have two legs, so that after two
steps
I am in the same position - if I want to ?

> It follows that on the third step of the four step sequence (or the step
> prior to the planned cross position), the man may create space for the woman
> to move back in full front of him by expanding the circumference of the
> embrace with a stretching motion of his right arm.

If I do anything with the right arm which should bring her more to my
left
this is very close to pushing , isn4t it ? But if I come back with my
chest
from a twisted position to an untwisted one, my arm got nothing to do
with the
lead (or at least nothing, which could be done independently from my
body)

> One of the many technical concepts women are taught is: "if you are given a
> space, move into it."
> If the posture of the woman is such that she continues to keep firm contact
> with the man's right arm (instead of hanging from him as if he was a
> lamppost) she will recognize the mark anticipating that in her next step she
> will move into the space that it has been created, ending up back in front
> of the man.
> To do this in a clean, balanced and elegant manner, she must step crossing
> her left foot in front of the right one.

Does she have to know anything about the mark, which she translates by
elegance
to a positioning of her next step ?

> If the intention of assuming the "cruzada" position is to continue with a
> forward ocho or a right turn giro, the space the man creates prior to the
> cross will be greater than if the intention is to follow the cross with a
> "caminata" (a walk), another "salida" or a "cierre" (resolution or close).
...
>
> Tangazos,
>
> TangoMan

curious to answers,

Holger,

El GRAZioso

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Garrit Fleischmann Jan.97
Email: kontakt(at)cyber-tango.com