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Heel first?

Bill
Arthur Greenberg
Walter M. Kane
Laurie Moseley
Alexis Cousein
Jacques Gauthier
Walter M. Kane
Jari Aalto
Sharon Pedersen
Kate Withey
Sharon Pedersen


Date:    Sat, 31 Oct 1998 05:17:34 -0800
From:    Tangito
Subject: HEEL FIRST?


Any comments re stepping on the heel first versus stepping on the ball of
the foot first would be greatly appreciated.
Bill

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Date:    Sat, 31 Oct 1998 23:20:51 EST
From:    Arthur Greenberg
Subject: Re: HEEL FIRST?


Dear List:

I think that I was still in diapers when the dispute came up about "heel
first" or "toe first".

International Style Tango leaves nothing to debate.  Most (if not all)  of the
steps taken forward by the man are definitely "heel first".  It has been
debated for years and the result is the standardized technique (see Alex
Moore's explicit breakdowns in his book Modern Ballroom Dancing!) of
International Tango danced in over 100 countries  around the world.

Some of the best (in the world) Argentine Tango Dancers from Buenos Aires also
dance some of their forward steps on the heel and teach it that way for Salon
Tango.

One of the best Tangueros I have met, teaches "toe only"  but when he dances
many of his forward steps are "heel first"  captured on video to prove the
point!

I have seen some great dancers teach "toe first" and dance "toe first"  as
close to 100% of the time they dance.

So what is the point of this 50 year old  (or older) discussion?

Sincerely,
Arturo
West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

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Date:    Mon, 2 Nov 1998 09:12:57 -0500
From:    "Walter M. Kane"
Subject: Re: HEEL FIRST?


Good morning listueros,

Arturo comments on the subject (last first):

> So what is the point of this 50 year old  (or older) discussion?...
> I think that I was still in diapers when the dispute came up about "heel
> first" or "toe first".

Besides prompting Arturo to admit to being at least 50 years old (he looks
much younger), perhaps the point is that our tango professors continue to
bring it up by instructing us as to "heel first" or "toe first," some one
way and some, the other.

> Some of the best ... from Buenos Aires also dance some of their forward
> steps on the heel and teach it that way for Salon Tango.
> One of the best ... teaches "toe only"  but ... many of his forward steps
> are "heel first"  captured on video...
> I have seen some great dancers teach "toe first" and dance "toe first" as
> close to 100% of the time they dance.

Last night I popped the Zotto - Godoy instructional video into the VCR and
concentrated on watching Osvaldo' toes and heels. I never heard Osvaldo
make a particular issue of toe or heel first, but most would agree that his
walk sets a good example.

It looked to me that in every salida, although his ankle was extended (toe
somewhat pointed, with the sole of his foot roughly parallel to the floor),
his toe would come up slightly, in a very *natural-looking* way, just
before the end of each stride, letting his heel strike first.

On the other hand, when executing a sacada, the toe would always precede,
even though the step into the sacada might constitute a long stride, the
toe was down, appearing to be in contact (or almost in contact) with the
floor for the entire step.

The advice that the walk should be "natural" is probably the best clue as
to how much to flex or extend one's ankle.

Tangringo
____________________
Walter M. (Tangringo) Kane
Harriman, NY

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Date:    Mon, 2 Nov 1998 13:30:12 EST
From:    "Laurie Moseley (at home)"
Subject: Re: HEEL FIRST?


Interesting point from Arturo.

My own preference in AT is for ball of foot first. My reasons are:

1. If you step ball of foot first, you are less likely to commit your weight
too early, and can, if necessary, retract the step (for example, if someone
comes across the front of you).  In theory, you should be able to do this when
walking heel first, but I find that as normal everyday walking is heel first,
one does tend to transfer one's weight quickly to the advancing foot, so the
late commitment of weight is more difficult. In my view the late commitment of
weight is an important feature of Tango, as it gives the man the chance to
consider his options up to the last moment.

2. If you are walking in salon style and throwing in a few turns,  you will
often wish to do some sort of swivel turn. One normally swivels on the ball of
one's foot. Therefore, for a smooth transition from walking to turning, it is
preferable to make the walking steps on the ball of the foot.

3. The final point is to do with the way you walk. I think that if you are
walking ball of foot first, when you do, on the second half of the beat,
transfer your weight forward over the foot and on to your heel, this movement
has an automatic effect (well automatic as far as I can see) of drawing back
the hip of the walking leg. This gives the slightly 'slinky' walk which many
people prefer.

I agree that on Argentinian videos, all sorts of walks can be seen. It clearly
is a matter of personal preference. However, I think that the 3 points above
might sway the odd preference here or there.

Safe Ganchos

Laurie (Laurence)

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Date:    Mon, 2 Nov 1998 17:54:53 +0100
From:    Alexis Cousein
Subject: Re: HEEL FIRST?


Tangito wrote:
>
> Any comments re stepping on the heel first versus stepping on the ball of
> the foot first would be greatly appreciated.
> Bill

Not by me. This has already been beaten to death several times on this
list; I'm sure there are archives for that ;).
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Date:    Mon, 2 Nov 1998 13:48:40 -0500
From:    Jacques Gauthier
Subject: Re: HEEL FIRST?


My personnal preferences for partner dancing:

How about:  "Ladies First ?"

I find it's appreciated and helps insure more
dances.  :-)
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Date:    Mon, 2 Nov 1998 14:38:29 -0500
From:    "Walter M. Kane"
Subject: Re: HEEL FIRST?


Jacque wrote on this subject, Monday, November 02, 1998:

> My personnal preferences for partner dancing:
> How about:  "Ladies First ?"

I'll dance to that. But it suggests the question (with apologies to the
veterans who've heard all this before) of women wearing high-heeled shoes,
and how they step, on the rare occasions when they get to walk forward.
With a 3 or 4 inch heel, it would seem to me almost impossible to land a
forward step on the ball of her foot.

To some extent, doesn't the same apply to a man wearing a taconcito with a
1-1/2" or so heel height?

Tangringo

P.S.: (to Alexis) I've looked for articles on the subject in the archives at


http://www.Cyber-Tango.com/e/art_e.html

and don't see any there.

[Garrit: you were right - but this page has changed that ;-)]

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Date:    Mon, 2 Nov 1998 19:51:16 +0200
From:    "Jari Aalto+list.tango"
Subject: Re: HEEL FIRST?


|Sat 1998-10-31 Arthur Greenberg <AHGberg@AOL.COM> list.tango
| International Style Tango leaves nothing to debate.  Most (if not all)  of the
| steps taken forward by the man are definitely "heel first".  It has been
| debated for years and the result is the standardized technique (see Alex
| Moore's explicit breakdowns in his book Modern Ballroom Dancing!) of
| International Tango danced in over 100 countries  around the world.

I'm a ballroom dancer and yes, there is no question about the correct style
in ballroom dancing.

But for argentine Tango, it doesn't apply. It's completely diffrent style
with body postures and all. I can't find any similarities. Take for example
the "frame" which is leaning heavily forward for males to "close the frame"
or to control the fram where woman moves.

In ballroom dancing there is no such thing. Leaning forward is usually
serious no-no.

| Some of the best (in the world) Argentine Tango Dancers from Buenos Aires also
| dance some of their forward steps on the heel and teach it that way for Salon
| Tango.
|
| I have seen some great dancers teach "toe first" and dance "toe first"  as
| close to 100% of the time they dance.

An event that changed my whole Tango style was when I met Alejandro Aquino
who teached toe-first style. It makes a dramatic difference in visual
appearence if you use toe-first over heel-first. But I didn't realize that
until the other tango dancers started asking "how do you do that? Have you
been practising Tango for several years....?". "Oh no", I replied, "It's
just the Aljandro's toe-first style".

It has nothing to do with natural walking (heel-first), but the aesthetics,
like what you see in the ballet.

Side steps

    If you think about it, you see that when you stand in natural stand-up
    position and extend your foot to the side, the toe is the fist that
    touches the ground.

Forward steps

    If you keep your toe touched with the floor when you extend your
    foot while you step, you leg posture is more beatifull than what you
    would get if toes were pointing to the sky ;-)

    Think how "ballet" dancers lean their foot forward in exercises, same here.

Backward steps

    Same as forward. 1) Keep the non-stepping foot's toe touched with the floor
    when you withdraw it. 2) Keep the back stepping foot's balance on the toes
    or you're unable to accomplish 1.

Balance

    The key here is that the wight remains on toes as much as possible, not on
    the heels. This makes is possible to move more fluidly. (Like in boxing)

Another interesting style difference is the "both-heels-always-down" when
you stop, whereas some say that you can lift the heel-up in some moves. I
find it impossible and very awkward to always keep heels down eg. when
leading some Oucho moves.

Argentine teachers so far have emphasised the "both-heels-always-down"
style.

jari
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Date:    Mon, 2 Nov 1998 17:55:14 -0500
From:    Sharon Pedersen
Subject: Re: HEEL FIRST?


"Walter M. Kane" wrote:
> I'll dance to that. But it suggests the question (with apologies to the
> veterans who've heard all this before) of women wearing high-heeled shoes,
> and how they step, on the rare occasions when they get to walk forward.
> With a 3 or 4 inch heel, it would seem to me almost impossible to land a
> forward step on the ball of her foot.

"Rare occasions"?!  Every forward ocho is a walk forward.

Wearing high thin heels, I find it even more important to aim for the
ball of the foot than try to land on the heel first and expect a firm
step from that.  (At least, that's how it seems to me as a usual
flat-shoe wearer but a dancer in 3-inch heels.)

> To some extent, doesn't the same apply to a man wearing a taconcito with a
> 1-1/2" or so heel height?

What does it feel like when you dance in such shoes?

I *do* find that it's hard to lead in spiky heels -- I feel much better,
leading, not with flats per se, but with the support of a large heel
area to step down on -- not that I'm necessarily stepping onto my heel
first (I'm not sure *what* I do when I'm leading -- another opportunity,
if not a problem!), but I definitely use my heels for stability, even
when my weight is on the balls of my feet.  Whereas when I'm following,
I seem to be able to do with less dependence on my heels.

I don't know if I represent Truth or Inexperience?

--Sharon
  pedersen@bowdoin.edu
  Brunswick, Maine, USA

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Date:    Tue, 3 Nov 1998 14:10:14 -0800
From:    Kate Withey
Subject: Re: HEEL FIRST?


Jari wrote:

<SNIP>
Forward steps

    If you keep your toe touched with the floor when you extend your
    foot while you step, you leg posture is more beatifull than what you
    would get if toes were pointing to the sky ;-) ...

Backward steps

    Same as forward. 1) Keep the non-stepping foot's toe touched with the floor
    when you withdraw it. 2) Keep the back stepping foot's balance on the toes
    or you're unable to accomplish 1.
<SNIP>

In a private lesson with Pablo & Ester Pugliese once, they scolded me for
keeping my foot touching the floor (gliding, ever so lightly, I thought).  Pablo
said "I don't want to HEAR your steps" & I realized he was right -- at least in
the silence of a room with just the 3 of us, my steps were whispering quite
audibly, though one would hardly notice in a milonga.  But keeping the foot on
the floor lets you cheat on your balance (I now try to keep my steps just a hair
off the floor).

-Kate :)

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Date:    Wed, 4 Nov 1998 19:00:58 -0500
From:    Sharon Pedersen
Subject: Re: HEEL FIRST?


Kate Withey wrote:
> In a private lesson with Pablo & Ester Pugliese once, they scolded me for
> keeping my foot touching the floor (gliding, ever so lightly, I thought).  Pablo
> said "I don't want to HEAR your steps" & I realized he was right -- at least in
> the silence of a room with just the 3 of us, my steps were whispering quite
> audibly, though one would hardly notice in a milonga.  But keeping the foot on
> the floor lets you cheat on your balance (I now try to keep my steps just a hair
> off the floor).

Actually, multiply all that gliding ever so lightly (they think) whisper
of feet on the floor, by all the dancers in a milonga, and it sounds
like a crew of carpenters sandpapering.  Three cheers for Pablo for
pointing it out, and you for changing!

--Sharon
  Brunswick, Maine, USA


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Garrit Fleischmann Nov.98
Email: kontakt(at)cyber-tango.com