2009/05/18

Open frame experiment

The past few days I've been experimenting with dancing strictly open embrace (or "open frame" as I think is more accurate). And I mean about as open as you can get, hand under the armpit type thing. There are two reasons for this: first off, the past weekend was particularly warm in the Bay Area and it was a bit more comfortable to refrain from sharing body heat and stickiness. And second, I'm just not very used to it -- haven't much danced this way socially since I was a beginner -- so I thought it would be good practice for me.

I really wasn't sure how well I would be able to pull it off but functionally it was fine. None of my partners had difficulty reading the lead, which was a relief. Anyway, my impressions to date are as follows:

--It was particularly difficult to micromanage the musicality when I wanted to make syncopated movements or play with a shifty melodic passage. Though it worked from time to time my overall percentage was much lower than when dancing close. And in general the dance took on a kind of strictly flowy quality, kind of hazy and soft, legato. It was tricky to give it edges or accents.

--It was, surprisingly to me, far less physically taxing overall than dancing close, although my legs were aching when I got home.

--There was a feeling as if I had less responsibility for my partner, especially regarding her axis, and this provided a sensation of great freedom and autonomy.

--Though enjoyable, there was something distinctly unsatisfying when it was done. Did it feel like dancing? Yes. Did it feel like tango? No. It's the difference between two people dancing with one another vs. two people embodying a dance.

--It seemed as if I had to think through the dance more than I do in close, although that could just be because I'm not as accustomed to this kind of connection.

--I found myself constantly looking down, although again that could be just because I'm not used to it.

These are what I can come up with at the moment. I plan to continue this experiment to where it does begin to feel comfortable and natural for me, and I'll see if I have any added insight then.

1 comment:

tangojunkie said...

This type of experimenting with your dance style can be very productive in my experience, and will vastly improve your dance
(at least it has mine).

I think that everyone should spend some quality time with the style of tango that they are not used to doing, even if just to improve things in the style that they prefer.

When I did almost exactly the same thing awhile back I found that it improved my balance, axis, posture, and awareness of what my follower was doing, thus freeing up my need to control what she was doing and give her some responsibility for maintaining her own axis and allowing her some freedom of expression. It has also pushed me out of my comfort zone which I think is fundamental to learning.

As an added bonus I now really enjoy dancing this way now as another method of expressing musicality to a higher degree!

Great post!
Have fun,
Bill