BUILDING SKILL vs CONFIDENCE

When it comes to gaining confidence in tango, it makes sense to want to improve our dancing skills first.

But tango, regardless of how much or little we know of it, is meant to be danced socially at a milonga. The pursuit of skill-building will increase our potential as dancers, and helps us develop control. But increasing skill has its limits; it won’t do much to build actual confidence.

When we step out onto the dance floor, we will never feel as though we know enough. But pressuring ourselves to be perfect will only make things worse. Instead, let’s try letting go and have fun utilizing the skills we presently have. Things will have a much better chance of falling into place.

Confidence manifests itself while seeking enjoyment, not control.

penguin-jump

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TRUST YOURSELF FIRST

We know by now that neither the leader nor follower should be trying to take total control of the dance.

It’s important to trust that our partners know what they’re doing, and this requires a significant amount of “letting go.”

But why is it so hard sometimes?

Is it because a good tango partner is really that hard to find? Or do we feel dissatisfied with the ability of dancers in our community? Or, deep down, do we doubt our own abilities?

Before we can dance well with others, we need to trust ourselves first.

duck learning to fly.jpg

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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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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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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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