When we’re just starting to attend milongas, or if we’re at an unfamiliar venue, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In these instances, our tango suffers not because of lack of knowledge, but because our brains are trying to remember a million technique points at once. Here are three ways to calm the mental overload:
Concentrate on one area of technique, even if it’s just breathing
Keeping posture, connection, remembering to disassociate during a turn, foot placement, musicality…Trying to consciously tackle them all at once, right this second, will ensure you’ll do none of them well.
Start by focusing on just one thing you remember in class, even if it’s just steady breathing. Once that starts working, then move on to another technique item. Getting one thing right usually leads to other positive results.
Slow down a little
For leaders, keep in mind you don’t have to constantly be in motion with every single strong beat of the song. And you don’t have to throw in every figure you know in order to have a good tanda.
It’s okay to dance only the steps you feel comfortable with (or are able to remember in the heat of the moment). Moving forward at half speed, or even taking the time to pause, counts as dancing too. Moving too quickly exacerbates whatever anxiety you might be feeing.
For followers, try slowing down each step. You’ll know where the leader wants to take you a split second before he/she actually invites you there. Take the time to complete each movement, whether it’s a weight transfer or pivot. You won’t fall behind…but it is possible to get ahead. And that really messes things up.
Focus on those shoulders and arms
Having tense shoulders is a common problem for many dancers, and it’s the tango equivalent of driving with the handbrake up. It’s true that relaxing them is the solution, but keep in mind that our shoulders don’t do so naturally. It takes conscious effort to maintain tone without tension. But getting that right, regardless of how much mental power it takes, will help make us so much easier to dance with.