As our tango improves, there will come a point when we notice that technical proficiency doesn’t necessarily involve technical thinking.
For example, experienced leaders aren’t always “strictly in charge.” They may initially set the tone of the dance, but followers can alter that tone in several different ways (e.g. with embellishments). And from there, leaders can choose to respond and add other elements that encourage the follower to do more of the same or perhaps try something different.
The music calls us to create, to experiment, to discover…and it takes a little time to get used to this idea. It may also feel a little scary when we find ourselves in the middle of that growing process. But tango is a dance where we’re not just making our partners do what we want, or where we mindlessly follow directions.
Beyond technically perfect ochos, molinetes, and ganchos, tango is more creative and “alive” than we might have first imagined. Musical interpretation and much of the enjoyment from tango takes place in that “gray area,” where leading and following is anything but black-and-white.