That’s right. You heard it here first. Stick it out!
Often when discussing the Nuevo vs Traditional debate, we hear that Nuevo is an “evolution” of Argentine Tango. We have already made it clear that we do not agree. Nuevo took the concepts of Argentine Tango and CHANGED it. CHANGE being the operative word and hence leading to the idea that Nuevo is a separate dance and not to be mistaken for A.T.
Anyway, this is not the point of this post. What we want to talk about is the EVOLUTION of Argentine Tango; the very little of it that we’ve seen and come to understand as Tango dancers and lifelong dancers.
STICK YOUR BUTT OUT
Throughout our readings of blog posts and websites, we’ve often heard how women should NOT stick out their butts when they dance. We’ve heard that women should stand straight with their pelvises directly under them – their backs should be so straight that they may even come into tummy contact with the man. We do believe that this once was the expectation for women and yes, you can see it in many videos of the milongueras. Take a look at this one and pay particular attention starting at 1minute 11 seconds where you’ll see Adela’s shoulders actually surpassing her back and butt:
We do want to clarify that we love the dancing in this video. We are only trying to point out what we are talking about.
One of the ways Tango has evolved is the role that women play in the Tango partnership. Although we understand that Tango has always involved the man taking care of and showcasing the woman, older videos seem to tell a different story. It’s not that the woman wasn’t showcased or held dear, but rather that the man was the one who really knew how to dance and the woman was a by-product of the tango partnership. Where there exceptions? Of course. Was it a rarity? Absolutely.
If it is so that men practiced with men, what about the women? The level of dance for women, it seems, was not expected to be very high. This doesn’t mean women couldn’t dance extremely well, but there was little focus on her technique.
Oh no. That “evil” word: TECHNIQUE. Technique, in our books, does not entail learning how to do adornments or “performing” with your legs. Instead, technique provides different methods to ensure your body feels comfortable, is properly aligned for the dance, and as a cherry on top, looks good.
When women decided to take control of their role in the Tango partnership, this is when we believe Tango EVOLVED. If a woman is interested in being on her own feet, maintaining her own axis, and providing space for the dance, then a woman will “stick out her butt”. On a purely physical level, women have pelvises that naturally tilt in a position that causes their behinds to stick out slightly. Secondly, putting this type of pelvic-tilting body onto a pair of high heels will create an increased tilt. Therefore, asking a woman to flatten her back/behind is in fact asking her to do something completely unnatural for her body in that situation (if her body is “naturally” aligned to begin with – and many bodies are not “naturally” aligned).
So what does it mean to “stick out one’s butt”? It does NOT mean arching your back or tilting your pelvis more than it naturally tilts. What it does mean is pulling your hips back over your ankles so that the line from your hips to your ankles is perpendicular with the ground. How else can a woman expect to maintain her own axis if this line is slanted towards her partner?
This idea was a huge “AHA” moment for K in Buenos Aires and combined with two other concepts (to follow) were groundbreaking for her. To give you a hint, there are four concepts that most tangueras are taught which were all proven to be wrong for K in Buenos Aires. The first one: don’t stick out your butt. The second one: put your weight forward on the balls of your feet. The third one: collect your feet/knees/thighs. The fourth one: don’t move your hips. All four… WRONG. Or in other words: not beneficial to one’s dance if what you are seeking is a comfortable and efficient Tango.