Cybertango Dicussion from the Tango Mailing List


Articles: [ Deutsch | English ]
  Cybertango: [ Deutsch | English ]
    Geography Page: [ Deutsch | English ]

Wristlock - or How to hold hands while dancing :-)

Articles by:


Date:    Wed, 8 May 1996 11:19:06 +0200
From:    Michael Cysouw
Subject: Re: Wristlock (was Bad Example)

Larry described
> [...] this practice of tilting the woman's wrist back & twisting
> it sharply outward. [...] I've noticed this grip used increasingly
> in the last year. [...] Anyone know where it came from? (Maybe a
> tango show act where a pimp uses it to control one of his string?!)

I don't think it came from some famous 'example', it is IMO a rather
natural problem arising with advanced dancers. Beginning dancers normally
do not have this problem as they are struggling to get the 'frame' right
(Note that 'advanced' and 'beginning' do not necessarily refer to the
amount of time one is dancing...).

One of the main things beginning men (leaders?) often don't do is to lift
their left elbow. In that case the left upper-arm is hanging relaxed down,
the woman's (follower's?) hand is more or less on top of the man's, so you
will see sometimes the hand of the man being twisted.

If now the man lifts his elbow, maybe even untill his upper-arm is
horizontal, the most relaxed position of his wrist is such as that the
inside of his hand is pointing at his face. The hand of the woman will in
most cases be below the man's hand. If now the man has a lazy wrist, or if
the woman doesn't support her own arm enough, the man's wrist tends to fall
inside, resulting in the uncomfortable position Larry described.

Proposed solution: men, use your muscles to straigthen your wrist (and keep
it straight all the time); women, use your muscles to lift you right arm
yourself, instead of hanging it on the man's hand. As always, it is a
problem that needs some effort from both sides to get to a solution!

bye
michael cysouw
nijmegen, holland

top of page
Date:    Wed, 8 May 1996 14:09:44 -0600
From:    Alexis Cousein
Subject: Re: Wristlock (was Bad Example)

[The above article by Michael Cysouw was cited here]

I couldn't disagree more. For me, the most relaxed position for *both* partners
is the more natural, which means *not* lifting your elbow that much. No point
in having a `death grip' and using all these muscles for nothing. You can't
dance naturally in a forced position, and all this effort will distract from
conveying a `natural' impulse to the follower.

As for hand comfort, I just make sure the hands make contact on sides of the
palms of the hands, and the leader's hand isn't just gripping/clenching the
follower's fingers. That also corrects most of the possible ugly side-effects
of not dancing with your elbow up (like a sagging leader's left arm and a
follower's hand `on top').

Maybe all of this makes a `beginning dancer' out of me? In that case, I'll try
never to grow up ;). `Correctness' at comfort's cost is IMHO almost always the
result of trying to copy a style you don't actually understand.

If you don't agree, spraying lavish amounts of stiffener on both the leader and
the follower, or plastering their arms, will solve all these position problems
*very* convincingly ;).


--
Alexis Cousein
Sales Support Engineer
Silicon Graphics NV/SA  (Belgium)
in .be domain: al@sgi.be, elsewhere:

top of page
Date:    Wed, 8 May 1996 15:27:26 +0200
From:    Michael Cysouw
Subject: Re(2): Wristlock (was Bad Example)

Larry described:
>> this practice of tilting the woman's wrist back & twisting
>> it sharply outward. Anyone know where it came from?

I wrote:
>> [If the man's left elbow is raised high and]
>> If the man has a lazy wrist, or if the woman doesn't support
>> her own arm enough, the man's wrist tends to fall
>> inside, resulting in the uncomfortable position Larry described.
[...]
>> Proposed solution: men, use your muscles to straigthen your wrist (and keep
>> it straight all the time); women, use your muscles to lift you right arm
>> yourself, instead of hanging it on the man's hand. As always, it is a
>> problem that needs some effort from both sides to get to a solution!

Alexis reacted:
>I couldn't disagree more. For me, the most relaxed position for *both* partners
>is the more natural, which means *not* lifting your elbow that much.

Do you want to relax or do you want to dance? I'm serious: IMO dancing
means using your muscles, moving around, doing something. Why don't you lie
down if you want to get into a relaxed position? What means 'natural'
anyway?

Of course, I agree with you that a dancer should try and minimize the
amount of energy put into his muscles, not using any more tension than sHe
needs to interact with the partner, to do things sHe wants.

Notice though that my point about the straigthening of the wrist is
completely independent of the elbow-height. If both partners would let
their wrist completely relaxed, it will always end up with an uncomfortable
position for one of the two. With a low elbow it will be the man's wrist
that is uncomfortable, with a high elbow it will be the woman's.

>No point in having a `death grip' and using all these muscles for nothing.

I'm not proposing a 'death-grip': I'm stating that *to prevent
uncomfortable position* you need some tension in some muscles! As you seem
to agree with me that a comfortable position is very important, this
tension is not 'for nothing': it is needed to reach that comfortable
position.

>As for hand comfort, I just make sure the hands make contact on sides of the
>palms of the hands, and the leader's hand isn't just gripping/clenching the
>follower's fingers. That also corrects most of the possible ugly side-effects
>of not dancing with your elbow up (like a sagging leader's left arm and a
>follower's hand `on top').

So what are you proposing? Making hand-contact needs some muscels too. And
how should hand-contact prevent of the 'low elbow position'? IMHO there
also is contact between the palms. So it is not the palm-contact that
prevents the 'sagging' arm. Just hold your own hands together with
palm-contact and you will notice that the wrists can still move. Those
wrist movements were the problem here.

>Maybe all of this makes a `beginning dancer' out of me? In that case, I'll try
>never to grow up ;).

Sorry, I shouldn't have used the words 'beginning' and 'advanced'. Although
there is some truth in the word use, it is by no means meant as a important
statement. But as you don't seem to have the problem Larry originally
described, you would fall under the 'advanced' category in that stupid
dichotomy.

>`Correctness' at comfort's cost is IMHO almost always the
>result of trying to copy a style you don't actually understand.

Beautiful statement! I completely subscribe it. (We should put it in the
AT-FAQ Shawn!) But remember that my proposal of using some muscles had a
reason: it will have no 'comfort cost', it will have a 'comfort benefit'.

>If you don't agree, spraying lavish amounts of stiffener on both the leader and
>the follower, or plastering their arms, will solve all these position problems
>*very* convincingly ;).

No, it won't. I probably wasn't too clear about the difference between
active tension and stative tension. Using stiffener will result in a
stative tension: a position where nothing can change, leading to
unnecessary force.

When I talk about straightening the wrist I mean that you should *actively*
try to hold to that position: only use the minimal amount of energy to hold
to that position. If there aren't any forces on that position you won't
need very much energy, but sometimes you will temporarily need to increase
the enery to let everything stay in that position.

So, Alexis, we probably do not differ very much in our opinions. I only
think you got my idea of 'muscle use' wrong. To hold to a certain
(comfortable) position you will have to use some muscles: it is this sort
of muscle-use I was refering to, not any muscle use to provoke force.

bye
michael cysouw
nijmegen, holland

top of page
Date:    Wed, 8 May 1996 08:43:19 -0700
From:    ALBERT GARVEY
Subject: Bad Example

Dear Larry, Michael, Alexis, et al,
    How about a woman's point of view.  First of all, I admit to being
on the side that admires the 'classic' tango dance position practiced
and taught by the older milongueros of whom fewer and fewer are left.
It's reported now that so many new younger people are dancing tango in
Buenos Aires, the milongas are much more crowded than even a few years
ago, perhaps encouraging a more compressed frame and limited movements.
But this is certainly not true in the U.S. (what about Europe?) even at
the most popular dances.
    In any case, there is a good technical reason for the leader's and
follower's arms to be held out to the side, with somewhat bent elbows
and equal resistance, varying according to the figure.  This position
provides a strong frame for a body lead by maintaining  the torsos and
shoulders parallel. If the man's left arm is relaxed and down he
usually tends to move it around which is very distracting for the
woman, not to mention the uncomfortable hand position for her. A year
or so ago I had a minor incipient wrist problem and found it necessary
to wear a plaster cast on my right hand and wrist, especially when
dancing with partners who used that frame! Someday I'll post some
comments on 'defensive tango' for followers, or how to survive three
minutes with certain leaders! (Have I unwittingly revived Alberto's
idea of the Tango Hall of Shame?). Al might want to do the same thing
from the man's point of view.
                    Abrazos to all,    Barbara

top of page
Garrit Fleischmann 16.May.96
Email:kontakt(at)cyber-tango.com