The Tango of Zero: Weight Changes

11th February 2010

"I'm tired of worryin' about weight all the time. That's all I used to think about was weight, weight, weight. After a while, you know, you realize other things in life" ~ Jake LaMotta


"Am I doing it wrong? :(" ~ Half a dozen beginners

Um, no?

I was fairly confused at this point. All I was doing was weight transfers in single time and they were following them perfectly. There wasn't any space for me to lead anything else, the music wasn't doing anything inspiring and anyway I didn't really want to start syncopating weight transfers on a beginner. Weight transfers fitted the music.

So why were they worried they were doing it wrong?

It's the Recovery Position!

What I eventually realised after mulling was that teachers repeatedly say in beginner classes

"If it all goes wrong, just go back to doing basic weight transfers."

From her perspective, one minute I'm doing nice gentle walking to the music, maybe a few gentle pivots. Everything's going well. Then somehow she does so something wrong - and it's so terrible, I start doing weight transfers to try and recover from it. Doh!

Salving and Solving

Fortunately there's a simple solution.

In terms of space, there's no real difference between doing weight transfers on the spot and doing them while advancing or retreating literally a couple of inches along the line of dance. It does however feel very different to the follower. Which stops followers from worrying.

This also gives you more options with more experienced dancers too.

If you're stuck in place, you can transfer in place, then retreat backwards a few tiny steps, some small steps to the side (I wouldn't recommend this with beginners as they tend to take full sized steps regardless) go forwards a few inches. Throw in some double times, syncopations, rocksteps, turning rocksteps, maybe some ocho cortado variants etc and you can stay there for ages dancing musically but with enough variety that neither of you gets bored.

Whereas leading 30 seconds of single time weight transfers in place is probably not a great idea.

Added bonus

I've noticed that because followers are rarely led to step forwards ie towards the leader, it's actually reasonably easy to get them to do double-time if you led them to do tiny weight-change steps of literally only an inch each.

- Christopher O'Shea, 11th February 2010

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