I just dragged this post out of the archives this morning - with a new title and minor edits. Forgive me if you remember it. I didn't. Sometimes I read old posts and think to myself "Did I write this?". Scary. Anyway, I think it's good and pertinent stuff.
A couple of years ago on Tango-L, there was a thread about followers automatically crossing (la cruzada) without being led.
Here was my post to the list on the subject - actually, more on the subject of the superslow cross than the un-led cross. I suppose you could term it "la cruzada lenta".
Subject: The subject that never dies
Re: Keith’s latest response to Floyd on the subject...
I would venture to say that the key to leading the cross is in the torso. I might even go so far as to say the cross is led entirely with the torso.
It doesn’t really matter (in a kinda/sorta way) what the leader is doing with his feet. I can lead the cross standing still, with my feet together, led entirely with contrabody/torso. I don't ever lead it this way while dancing, obviously. Granted, there are the “norms” of where the lead’s feet are when leading the cross - I just wanted to illustrate my point.
I just wanted to mention this because Keith's post didn’t – the importance of contrabody and what the lead's torso does in the lead to the cross.
There is no “autocross” in my experience - I don't really "get" a cross unless I lead it. Unless she is a very basic beginner in the first month or so – and has just learned the cross. Sometimes they will self-lead themselves to the cross, by accident. That generally goes away with a good lead, and as the follower begins to understand what the lead feels like.
The “auto” that I struggle with in leading a follower to the cross is what I will call the “autopop”. It's where the follower “pops” her crossing left foot into place, without any regard to lead, musicality, or timing/rhythm. Boom. BOOM! Not a good feeling.
To lead the “superslow” cross can be challenging – with the leader leading the rate of travel of her left foot – to the music - as it caresses the floor into place.
Here are the mechanics behind it as I understand it and try to lead it:
While walking, the normal travel distance of her left foot (from first placement to second placement) is between two and three feet long, unless she is being led in very small or very large steps. When being led to the cross, that “normal” travel distance is cut in half – when her left ends up beside her right in the cross - steppus interruptus you might say.
So, if the left foot is traveling half the distance in the same amount of musical time, then it has to travel at half of the normal speed to end up (in the cross) on the beat. Right? (Insert "Aha!!" moment here...)
So, it's very important for the rate of travel of the left foot to be led by the leader, not automatically executed by the follower.
That fast pop (of the left foot into crossed position) is only applicable in the superfast "walkthru" cross, where she crosses and you walk right through it. But again, this is led. With the torso.
Try leading the superslow cross when the music is appropriate. It’s also a good practica exercise for both partners - to help in eliminating/mitigating this unpleasant habit - and it shows her something new in the realm of possibility.
Try it. You might like it.
File this one under "quality and character of motion through time and space".
P.S. I repeat "when the music is appropriate". That is the hard part.