“Why write about tango? Words cannot come close to describing the experience of dancing. The main reason I started this project was that I felt a lack of common vision of practice and improvement among even the most serious tango dancers. I wanted to articulate some general principles for myself, my students, and for some fellow dancers who were also interested in the topic. I have written and rewritten it all many times, and eventually I felt reasonably comfortable exposing the present state of it. This website is the result, though it is bound to keep changing as I learn and understand more.
How ANYONE can be a great leader in tango: Five points for tango success
TANGO—The myth, the surprise, the seduction, the silence. For many, a religion, a way of life—milonguerismo. But what about the raw facts? How do we take charge of our dancing?
The answer, I believe, has two parts of equal importance: one is artistry; and the other is technique. Both are demanding, and their perfection generally takes many years of study and perseverance. In this article I will address five areas for consideration for leaders, principally in the realm of technique, to help them achieve their goal of becoming great tangueros. (An article addressing some important technical considerations for followers will appear in March 2011).
1) A step is a transfer of weight
In its essence, the “step” in tango is a “transfer of weight.” If we have not made a full and proper transfer of weight, we have not executed our step. If we overshoot this transfer of weight, we are making more than one step, and this will also cause problems in our dance. When we define a step as a transfer of weight, we will realize that the step needs to originate in the standing leg (i.e. from the floor); and end when we are perfectly in balance over the new standing leg.
1. Tango is not about leading and following; it is about dancing.
A tanguera is at a milonga to dance, not to follow. A great tanda is magical coming together of two sentient, creative beings ready to make something happen in motion, in harmony with each other, with the music, and with the room. In this, there is no “leading and following” in the pedestrian meaning of these terms. Both individuals are creating the dance in fluid response to the sensuous ebb and flow of the music. In this process, the man is placed in charge of navigation; but both will lead and follow as the creative process unfolds.
2. Use the floor, not the man
In order to dance and not merely to follow, one has to have a command of one’s own axis and one’s ability to move with precision and the right amount of energy; that is, one has to have a command of one’s technique. Just as the tanguera does not like it when she is squeezed, pushed, or pulled by the man, as these actions limit her freedom to dance, the man does not want to be leaned upon or otherwise used to support the weight of his partner, as this will limit his freedom. When the man—the technically capable man, that is—leads the accomplished tanguera to a calesita, she does not use her arms and his to maintain her balance. She uses the floor and the resources of her own body (her musculature, her poise, her core).