IT’S SIMPLE, BUT…

Executing complicated tango figures is simple, because it usually involves fundamental elements we’ve learned before.

Just about everything it takes to dance tango well is simple, including the way we connect, walk, and mentally focus.

Tango is fun, meaningful, rewarding, precisely because it is simple. Internalizing its simplicity, however, is the hard part.

simple dance

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#tango #simple #noteasy

NOTHING STANDS STILL

Our tango will evolve over time. Dance figures we were once afraid of trying might now be among our favorites. There was a time when we were intimidated by the faster pace of milonga, but perhaps now we look forward to it. We might now love a song that we hated at first.

Other changes are inevitable as well. Sometimes venues close or change. Friends come and go. Technological advances disrupt what was once familiar. Sometimes we’re the ones facilitating the change, and other times we’re caught up in the middle of it.

Nothing about tango – or anything else in life – stands still for too long. Moving forward – either with our dance skills or with the changes around us – can be uncomfortable at first. But it’s the only direction we can go.

But don’t be afraid. Tango has endured much over the past century. We will, too.

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#nothingstandsstill #tango

EFFORT vs POWER

After a fun milonga, we often wake up with sore shoulders the following morning (or afternoon). Either our partners, ourselves, or both parties, put too much tension into the embrace.

We want to get better at tango, and we know it’ll take effort. But those sore shoulders mean we’ve been conflating effort with power. In this dance, the two literally don’t go hand-in-hand.

Effort is about mental focus, detailed body awareness, and self control. Although tango requires some degree of exertion, raw physical power should largely take a backseat to effort.

At the end of a milonga, we’ll know we’re on the right track when our brains are more fatigued than our muscles.

flying squirrels

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CONTROL YOURSELF

We often think that in order to tango well, we have to know everything our partner is up to. It’s true that we need some awareness of our partner’s movements, and to respect his/her axis. But while we’re doing our steps, are we trusting our partners to properly execute theirs?
Intellectually, we know we’re not 100% responsible for the outcome of any particular tanda. But on more than a few occasions, we act as though we are. And as we know, tango wasn’t designed to work that way.

Dancing well together requires less worry about what the other person is doing, and more control over what we’re doing.

Tango-Dancers
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ON THE HOOK

How do we stay motivated with our tango learning, especially if we’re new to the dance? One way is to not be afraid of telling other people that we tango. Since it’s not something others are used to hearing, it’ll makes us memorable. And it’s likely they’ll ask about it again.

By making our plans known, we’re taking a small social risk. If we back out, we might be thought of as the kind of person who’s always starting and quitting new things. Who wants that label?

To improve our tango, it’s true that we have to keep working at it. But putting ourselves on the hook by risking a little social currency to do so is a powerful motivator.

hooks

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YOU MIGHT FEEL THIS WAY AT A MILONGA…

You might feel this way at a milonga…

 

…when you spend a lot of time putting together the perfect tango outfit, you look great, you feel confident…then you realize you left your shoes at home…

oh no cat shoes

 

 

 

 

 

…when you’re leading, and the person in front of you keeps doing figures against the line of dance while there’s at least five meters of open space in front of them…

hulk LOD.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

…when your tango crush turns you down for a dance…

sad corgi rejected tanda

 

 

 

 

 

 

…when your partner keeps talking…

stop talking rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

 

…when the leader starts teaching on the dance floor…

angry panda

 

 

 

 

 

…when the follower keeps anticipating…

push penguin

 

 

 

 

 

…when avoiding cabaceo from a creeper…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…when you’re determined to make it through an all-nighter…

pingu dance

 

Can you relate?

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COMMON INSECURITIES OF THE “GOOD DANCER”

We’ve committed to tango. We’ve pushed ourselves to dance better, and we’ve become regulars at classes, prácticas, and milongas. Our skills are improving! Yet we either feel just as insecure as we did when we first started, or we encounter brand new insecurities.

Believe it or not, becoming more experienced with tango can actually make us more insecure. How can that be? Oddly enough, the more we learn, the more we realize that there’s so much we still don’t know. There’s literally a lifetime of knowledge we can glean from this dance, so it’s easy to get stuck feeling like a perpetual beginner even when our skills prove otherwise.

Another source of insecurity materializes when we start gaining more acceptance in a tango community. Before, we worried that we wouldn’t be good enough to fit in. But now that we do fit in, we worry about where we fit in. As a result, we catch ourselves playing the comparison game, where we “rank” ourselves in a mentally constructed hierarchy. Going down this rabbit hole only leads to a twisted perspective, quickly followed by misery.

Although increasing our technical skills is beneficial in many ways, that alone won’t resolve our tango insecurities. We need to work on tackling them while off the dance floor as well. To get us on the right mental track, let’s start by asking ourselves these questions:

– What are we able to do now that we weren’t able to do a week, month, or year ago?
– Why does tango make us happy?
– What tango goals, both small and large, have we achieved? How did we celebrate?
– What are some things about tango that we were afraid of before, but aren’t afraid of now?
– What are some big fears we had that never came true?

squirrel-hiding-behind-tail

 

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#tango #insecurities