A way to dance Apilado

Igor Polk, 2004 Novembar 3

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The distinction is leaning. When you stand for an hour you'll get tired. Is there a wall around? Oh, yes! You lean against the wall and it gives you relaxation. Right?

Now let us replace the wall with the chest of your partner who does the same. Do not be afraid. You both should experience relaxation! Keep balance of your unified bodies. They are relaxed, but alert. Keep legs straight, it is very important. ( bending of knees comes later, when you master the simple things) You should find this position very very comfortable. Keep up trying. You have to keep balance well. Not that sort of "..keep your own balance..", but a balance of unified bodies. Moreover, you have to learn doing it standing each of you on one leg only! And this should amplify your sense of connection. It does it magically. It comes like a surprise. How one lady said "as if suddenly my legs grew up! I started to fly!". This is Apilado Connection - the essence of the dance. Now all this micro movements have started to make sense, they are not artificial, they are not adornments! In this position every tango step and figure is possible. And much more. This position has tremendous sensual opportunities. Unfortunately, they are not very visible to outsiders. You have to know how it really feels to appreciate it in others. At first, try to make your bodies as solid and unified together as if it is one body ( a force is required by laws of physics to achieve this.. ).

For example: how to lead a forward step. To indicate a lead to move forward ( back step for a lady ) you do not move your body, but push a little bit forward ( from the floor with your legs, of course, or tilting your axis a millimeter forward). There is no any movement! If she is accepting your invitation, she extends her leg and let you move her forward, if not - she pushes back to you and you stay still.

Do not overdo it. It should be optimal. You have to push to each other to have that great connection and at the same time not too hard in order not to block movements or lose balance. The legs are constantly alert. The force should help your movements, not block them. Its increase or decline transmit lead. The feeling is as if you fly or balance on a rope. It is like this if the force is constant all the time. This force is your guide how well you feel each other, how well you move. Preserving balance means preservation of the force.

Note for ladies : you have to push from the floor really hard otherwise men will not feel you enough if you have light body. The contact area should be the chest and the stomach. You push from the floor through the straight legs, then chest, into the man's chest. Think about it as if you support a partner's chest with your legs and body - push up not down. He does the same. Your goal is to preserve connection. It is your responsibility in the dance. Do not hang on the partner - your left arm can be totally relaxed. ( And the right arm too ). Put it on top of the man's shoulder and relax. Weight of the arm is enough to make a connection at that place. Do not hold the arm! It is important to have good connection there. Keep legs straight. It will prevent "hanging with the body" which is wrong. Knee bending will come later when you master the position. It has to be distinctive clear horizontal force between your chests. Even up. This force keeps you up (up!) and relaxed. Preservation of this force is that balancing which I am talking about.

Note for gentlemen : you goal is to preserve balance. Move slowly. Feel your partner. Learn how to follow since in this style essentially both partners follow at the same time. Remember, all lead goes through the chest. It is possible to dance Apilado without arms at all. How? Your legs should do the work. Your legs rotate your body and create appropriate forces. A foot must step into the right point where the couple can achieve common balance. Ladies do the same. It comes with practice. There is very distinctive moment when a foot accept the support and force.

Note for everybody : PLEASE, DO NOT TRY IT WITH A PARTNER WHICH DOES NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!!! He or she may not understand you which leads to confusion compromising the style. And of course, I told you as much as I could, but this is only the basic. Good enough to try it with a trusted partner, but not enough to dance with strangers.

I have not touched here many other very important aspects. For example how to lead forward, side, and back steps. It is the art by itself. Or simply how to make tango steps on your own. They are very special. Regular steps do not work well! It is especially important for gentlemen, since they usually do not pay attention to their steps.

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May 7, 2006

Just a little note for those who try leaning, since I feel myself pretty comfortable in it.

Going from leaning to not leaning is similar to going from close to open embrace. It is not easy. And done wrong it is wrong. ( I can not do it )

If you lean - stay leaning. Usually everyone has been taught during a move to the next step to transfer the weight over a ball of the feet during a fast transfer ( like on step 4 of basic? ). That creates moving from leaning to not leaning and back to leaning. It does not feel good. To stay leaning a woman should step 2-3 inches ( 5-8 sm ) away from the usual. A man can do the same but it is better when a woman does it.

Since lean is very small (usually) ( 2 pounds? ) to rotate her is as easy as when she is perfectly vertical. But connection is different. And when you rotate her - you rotate her around the vertical axis ( another one, not tilted axis of her body). This axis is beyond her head if she leans on you and you go around her: it is...( surprise ) still in the ball of her foot! But if she does not step during rotation. Then it becomes even more complex. Guiding star: pressure created by the lean should be constant (Ex:Calesita).

The position of vertical axis to rotate her around when she leans vary. If we do a molinete the axis can be right through our head, right men? That is the axis ( usually vertical :) ) of a couple as a union, but in lean it becomes her own personal axis of rotation too.

How she rotates around her own tilted axis when in lean, I can not explain. It looks too complex for me now, and I am not a mechanic.

If you do not have that "Core support or inner-tone" ( thank you, Tom!) , you'd better work on that before going to lean.

Does it sound too over the head?

Jay:".. apply forward pressure to their partner. Alex uses the expression "2 pounds of force." In order to apply forward pressure, a person must push with their feet, which has the consequence of putting their center of mass/force over the balls of their feet."

And beyond, Jay, and beyond. There is no reason to be afraid to put projection of your center of gravity closer to your partner then the center of the ball of the foot. And in fact I suspect most are doing it. Then, there is no reason to push too hard - gravity does it for you, but "forward pressure to their partner" is important since it creates that "Core support or inner-tone" - that is the key, thank you!

Bending a standing leg a little makes sense, since it makes the couple more stable. It is like that bend %\ thing which holds the front wheel of a bike: it is for stability.  

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June 28, 2006

I can tell you more about apilado and apilado molinete.

A smaller leader has an advantage in deep apilado. It is easier to compensate for her mistakes if she is taller. ( under "she" I mean the follower :) ).
You can just make her go to the deep apilado on the step 2 of the basic, but she must know how to continue. This position requires quite a lot of knowledge and balance handling abilities on her part. It is more difficult for smaller and slimmer women. The bigger the woman, the heavier, the larger belly, the less lean she should make to reach the effect and therefore the less physiological pressure she has if it is new for her. Many large women do not even have the idea they dance in deep apilado. Because it is not the visual large leaning what counts, but the right feel.

If you are smaller and lighter then she, you lean more then she. But you know what you are doing, right? If she is smaller and lighter then you - she leans more, she does most of the work and that really requires her to be more experienced. Small women really have to work hard to get the right feel.

Molinete in the deep apilado requires perfect balancing skills, but it opens many new opportunities not available in other positions. It is because, your space becomes much more three-dimensional. I would say you get one more dimension.

So, you might like to start trying it with larger women.
But anyway she must give you a part of her weight. And this is not weight. She keeps her weight herself. It is the extra force she makes pushing from the floor into your chest. This is a trick number 1. She ( as well as you ) is in total control of this force. And it is shared by both of you. As well, she is in much more responsibility of maintaining The Unified Balance of the Couple. "Keep your own axis" advice does not work here and even opposite. We leave this sign far behind on our road to perfection.

Trick number 2. You put your feet a little farther back than usual - to create lean. The center of weight never is passed over the ball of the foot, but in front of it. This is difficult to overcome for those who were taught differently. Experienced leader can compensate it ( especially if she is taller and heavier ) but only up to the point.

Basic step in deep apilado is majestic! Making molinete - requires a lot of skill, but it is a heavenly experience. The feeling is like flying! The deeper apilado, the slower you can do it, and the more time you have to make other things during a step. Worth trying to learn!


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Discuss Apilado and Milonguero and other topics at the Forum. Other topics offered for discussion are "Tango in San Francisco" and "Milonguero style vs Apilado" (I start with my experience with Susana Miller). Now you have an opportunity to criticize me, as well as support me or discuss tango openly.

Apilada, Apilarse, Milonguero, Milonguera,

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My name is Igor Polk. I dance Argentine tango in San Francisco.

Copyright©2003-2006 Igor Polk
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