For Leaders: Let’s make our partner feel like they’re gliding, no matter how simple or complex our movements are. Their embellishments are invitations for creative interaction, and not there to throw us off. The occasional mistake won’t fluster us. We can work with errors, improvising them into something else. We can adapt to each follower’s ability level and style of movement. Beginners don’t bore us, and advanced dancers don’t intimidate us. We’re leading, but we don’t feel the need to constantly impose our will.
For Followers: We can handle whatever our partner throws at us. A small misstep here or there is nothing to freak out about, because overall we’re making the dance work. We are unflappable. We can trust ourselves to stay on axis. There’s no reason to anticipate the next move because we’re ready to step anywhere on a moment’s notice. The next figure is an adventure to look forward to, not a potential disaster waiting to happen. We can handle this.
If we have the attitude that we’re ready for anything, we probably will be.
Let’s pay less attention to the worries – Tango is not as scary as we think it is.
It’s been weeks, months, or maybe even a year!
But finally, we’ve figured out a particular tango step or sequence that’s been giving us trouble. Let’s take a few moments to catch our breath, and celebrate.
Because of the exhaustion that follows our achievement, it’s difficult to believe that we’ve gained insight, knowledge, and strength from our dancing ordeal. And at this moment, it’s tempting to succumb to another voice. It’s the voice which tries convincing us that, after accomplishing this huge milestone, we’ve tired ourselves out and there’s no point in going any further. It says we should just be comfortable where we are, and just coast because there’s no way we can survive putting ourselves through all that again.
That voice, of course, is lying.
If we choose to ignore the lie, we’ll soon realize that overcoming all the previous hardships becomes a source of confidence. It’s a call to keep moving forward, not a reason to stop. It’s true that we’ll encounter new difficulties and tests, and they can be frustrating. But the more we become mentally accustomed to achievement, the easier it will be to motivate ourselves, and the faster we’ll be able to conquer whatever new challenges that await.
So let’s not celebrate each victory for too long, because it’s never too early to ask the question: “What next?”
We’ll likely encounter the same tango songs everywhere we dance.
When something memorable happened – such as the moment we accomplished some major tango goal – can we remember the song we were dancing to? Or did tango music happen to be playing the moment we received some other big news during the day?
The next time a familiar tango song evokes meaningful memories, take a few moments to pause. Reflect on the emotions that are attached to them.It’s a tango cliché to say that these emotions can’t be explained, and only danced. But it’s true. These less tangible elements bring a deeper dynamism, and life, to our tango that can’t be expressed through technique alone.
#tango #music #emotions
We’ve heard many times that tango is passionate. Emotional. It’s definitely emotional in that it feels very good. Blissful, even.
Dancing tango well involves surrendering to emotion, but only to a point. Being “too emotional” makes our dancing undisciplined and sloppy. And instead of working with our partners, we get caught up with ourselves.
The greater the emotion, the greater the need for self-control.
But as it is with emotion, we can also take self-control too far. With too much of it, our dancing becomes stiff and awkward. Every figure becomes mentally evaluated as “right or wrong,” and we feel more like we’re taking an exam when we ought to be having fun.
So it would seem that tango must be approached with balance; a middle ground between passionate emotion and strict control. Although that reasoning makes sense, it’s a mistake to look upon emotion and control as two diametrically opposed ideas. They are not fire and water, hot and cold. They are not like uncooperative pets that constantly threaten to kill each other.
Instead, emotion and control are closely intertwined and dependent upon each other. Tango looks and feels best when we consciously, and simultaneously, apply both with every movement. They form a partnership of their own. And like our physical partnership with another dancer, it is one originally designed not for conflict, but harmony.
Spending time on the dance floor is crucial to improving our tango. But in addition to working on technique and the right mindset, we need to consider the likelihood that getting better at tango will also involve changing aspects of our lifestyle.
For example, making time for tango might require us to shuffle our daily or weekly routines a bit. And when we make the effort, we might be surprised that we do have time for tango after all.
Now let’s go a little deeper. Perhaps we’re having trouble with a particular figure or aspect of technique because of a bad habit taking place off the dance floor. One obvious example of this, which I’ve written about earlier, is tensing our shoulders while dancing. However, relaxing our shoulders only during our tango time won’t solve the issue. We also have to think about relaxing them while driving, working, taking exams, sitting through meetings, when visiting family, etc. If we stop to think about it, how much tension do we hold in our bodies without realizing it? Relaxing more in those other situations can’t be bad for us, right?
If we’re leading, perhaps we have a nasty habit of pulling our partners around. Or if we’re following, maybe we’re anticipating or back-leading too much. Like tension in the shoulders, these controlling tendencies don’t suddenly show up when we dance. Where else in our lives are they having a negative effect?
Dedicating more time to improving tango does not mean we sacrifice everything for the sake of dancing. When we take the initiative to employ positive habit changes on the dance floor, the same effort must extend to other aspects of our lives as well. It’s a pretty major commitment, but you won’t hear anyone complaining about the long term benefits.
Although having intricate, in-depth knowledge of tango music will definitely add to our dancing, it’s not a pre-requisite for beginners. Anything about tango music that we don’t know can later be answered by more experienced dancers, or Google. Maybe even Bing.
But for now, while on the dance floor, let’s just do something that makes sense with the music. And with the simple rhythmic structure of most tango songs, there’s plenty of flexibility for that. What we come up with doesn’t need to be fancy.
Starting is one of the most difficult things to do. There’s no green light or countdown signaling us when to go. So we often hesitate. Then the knowledge from all our classes, combined with the melody of the music, starts getting jumbled in our heads.
There’s no special way to begin. But taking a clear, confident step will help a lot. From there we can let the music help dictate our movements, one easy step at a time.
When learning a new figure, we practice it exactly the way we were taught. But in the midst of practicing, we’ll sometimes start a figure only to end it in a way that’s different than what we were shown. Make a mental note when this happens.
Instead of chastising ourselves, let’s see if we discovered something new. What other possible steps can we create if we explore this “mistake?”
Appreciating the creative nature of tango means we have permission to not be so rigid with ourselves. Always mentally committing to a particular “correct” answer is, in and of itself, a big mistake.