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This compilation of posts on tango head snaps has been collected by Mark Balzer m-balzer@uiuc.edu</P>

Date: Fri, 10 Jun 1994 22:17:17 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Kay A. Teague" <BR>

Subject: Re: Tango (even more, yes!)

Several years ago, I was asked to dance by a gentleman (and I was completely unaware, at that moment, that it was John Kimmins [who had been a world champion and who since has become the Ballroom Director for Arthur Murrays, etc., etc.]). The dance was a Tango. The first "link" enabled me to achieve such a stunning, sharp, head-turn that my right earring flew off, didn't hit the floor for several yards, then skidded under I-knew-not-where. The next link caused a similar fate to the OTHER earring. So often on the floor (_almost_ always, it seems) one sees the lady and gent NOT in synch with each other when their heads are supposed to turn sharply, e.g., during a link. What is often missed (or not learned) is that the proper way for the gentleman to lead it is from his BODY lead, and, when properly executed (assuming he has a readable lead, they are in body contact, have the correct knee compression, and assuming she is a very responsive follower, and hopefully since their heads ought to be attached to their respective spines!), when properly lead, the lady CANNOT AVOID matching her partner's head movements so precisely that it looks smashing. That's precisely what had happened when I danced with JK, _I_ didn't do it, _he_ "made me do it" ... and it was sooooooo _easy_ ... no effort at all! From: unknown Head action in International Style Tango.... is not what it appears to be. You see the result, not the cause. It is a small action for a large dramatic effect. The action must be small in order to be very fast. If you would like to try an experiment, first try turning your head from right to left. Now align the back of your head with the back of your torso and turn your head again - turn the back of your head because it is on the inside of the head's turn. You should notice an appreciable increase in head-turning-efficiency. The snap is an illusion.</P>

From: sheldon@ai.mit.edu (Mark A. Sheldon)
Subject: Re: Tango "Head Snaps"
Date: 17 Nov 94 19:25:19 Ron Nicholson writes:

<I>> I think the head movement comes directly from the floor. The angular
> force from the floor due to the foot turn in/out in Tango closed
> promenade position transitions should get directly absorbed by the head
> mass. If the angular force went completely to the lady's body instead,
> it might cause good dance position to be lost. The fact that this force
> must be absorbed quickly to give International Tango its staccato quality
> can lead to an invisibly fast cat-like head motion.

Actually, I think Ron is right: The action comes from the floor (feet). The one exception that springs to mind is the body fan which has no associated foot movement. It originates in the body center, that is to say with the thigh, pelvis, and abdominal muscles. So maybe it would be productive to think as the action originating in the body, but with the feet and legs setting up/preparing the body to do a strong action. The head action is certainly larger than the body action, especially for the lady, but it is often not as large as one might think. It is also not so unnatural: I submit as evidence of this that if I stand with my best simulation of correct posture and dance the lady's part (or even the man's part), a world champion dancer will lead me to do very sharp head actions much to my surprise. Well, I guess it's been done often enough now that I'm not too surprised, but I'm very impressed:-) </P>


From: Gerald Cosby<BR>

Subject: Re: Tango "Head Snaps"<BR>

Date: Wed, 2 Nov 1994 22:51:23 GMT <BR>


Tango head flicks, as they are generally done, look really stupid! This is primarily because most dancers, at least in the U.S., have lost the character of Tango completely,and go through the forms without any clear sense of what they are trying to accomplish. Every dance has its character. This character comes, primarily, from the music. Waltz is sweeping, elegant, Foxtrot lazy, gliding, Quickstep, playful. Tango is a dance of fire, and passion.</P>


People will tell you that Tango is a walking dance, but it really is a STALKING dance. It imitates the catlike movements of A wild animal stalking its prey. ALL of the characteristic movements of Tango - the stacatto action, the lack of body flight, the level action (no rise and fall), the curving without foot swivel - these all stem from the stalking characteristic of the dance. Watch a cat stalking a bird sometime. It spends most of its time standing perfectly still - lots of quick movements, interspersed with moments of perfect stillness. It doesn't move directly at the prey, but comes at it in a roundabout fashion. And you NEVER see the cat turn its head - it simply goes from one direction to the next, without ever seeming to pass through the intermediate points.</P>


In other words, the cat must move without ever being seen to be moving. tango is much the same way - the Tango dancer should move without ever being seen to be moving, to curve without ever being seen to curve. When the figure calls for the lady to look where she is going - in other words, when she is in promenade position - she must get the direction of her head from looking at where she has been to looking at where she is going, without ever being seen to turn her head. Hence, the rapid movement from one direction to the other of the lady's head.</P>

<p> Nothing in the character of the dance, i.e., stalking, calls for her to waggle it from side to side, as is so often done today. When I see people doing this, i am forced to believe that either they do not understand the character of the dance, or they are making fun of it. Parodies may be okay, for shows, where the dancer understands the subject well enough to parody it. To perform maneuvers like this in competition is inexcusable, in my view. It says to the judges, and to the audience, "I can't treat this dance as a meaningful part of the program."I have heard many people who haven't had their instincts trained out of them comment on the silly look of Tango in competitions. I have never seen this happen when really good dancers, who understand the character of Tango, and seek to manifest that, dance Tango. For non-dancer friends of mine, who express the opinion that Tango looks funny, I usually show them a tape I have of John Wood Anne Lewis, dancing Tango. The usual comment is, "Gosh, I wish I could look like that!" So, to wind this up, Tango can look very silly, if the dancer forgets, or never understands, the foundation of the dance. When performed in a fashion true to the character of the dance, it can be awe-inspiring. Gerald Cosby</P>

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