This is a very common movement in tango. You see it everywhere in vals, milonga and everything from the 90 year olds to the most ‘nuevo’. Its often hidden in turns, angles wide and narrow and speed, but its there.
If there is a spanish name for this movement I’d love to know!
Next time we’ll look at the movment with a partner, add more details and play with variations.
I’m enjoying the challenge of slowing down to clean, connect with my partner, my family and guests, cook and the endless chores. Thanks to everyone one of you for the contribution you make to the world, your circles and mine! Enjoy your day and your obsurd amounts of food!
+ don’t miss that beginning next Friday I’ll begin my tango video blog! Just go to my youtube channel and click the ‘Tango Blog’ playlist
Every Mon, Wed + Fri there will be a new post on every topic from technique to etiquette to practicing to teaching to learning to music to DJing and whatever else is exciting to y’all! Shoot me an email with topics or questions and I’ll create a blog about it!
Imagine a general walking before the troops under his command to deliver a speech before a bloody, pivotal battle. He begins by puffing himself up and storming onto the podium raising a fist high into the air and opening his mouth wide saying in a meek voice:
“Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh…I, uh. I’mmmmmm not exactly suuuuuuuure of what we need to do, you know? I’m feeling a little stressed right now and really confused. What do you guys think we should do?” Imagine the response of the troops who’s lives are being risked by this general. It won’t be one of confidence. He isn’t leading. To lead is to listen, carefully planning and then: decide. Leading is decision, direction, action. Call it the yang, the fire. In the dance I must move. I must move in way that inspires trust. The surest way to trust is clear invitation and caring about the safety of my partner. Sweetness.
Now imagine having a conversation with someone who interrupts you with non sequiturs after every few words. They look distracted and seem to be both oblivious to your words and absorbed in their own thought (maybe checking out their body in the mirror or chuckling at thoughts in their head). There is a lack of awareness, receptivity and rapport. You are not being met in the conversation. On the other end of the spectrum, nor are you simply passive in your listening, sitting blankly, occasionally nodding with understanding. Lets say you are flow, movement. Yin.
An image I had very early on in tango was that of a river. The follower in tango is the river, and I am the banks of the river, shaping the flow. The river ultimately decides and often just overflows the banks, and yet, I subtly and clearly attempt to define the course of each twist and turn. When I dance, I want to dance with you! Where are you? Who are you? How do you move? Let me know…this is a conversation.
In the yin and yang symbol, the black is not purely black, and the white not purely white. As a leader I am also not purely ‘leading’, as in a confident general. As a follow I am not purely ‘following’, as in passive listening. There is an element of the each role always present, fluctuating with each moment passing, each movement and shift. As a leader, I must move, and yet my partner doesn’t I can’t. I stop and adjust. Thus I am always following my ‘follow’. As a follower I am responding to the impulses I feel and yet I am not simply surfing their energy, weakly, meekly, passively nodding in agreement as a puppet in the dance. No! I move move myself too! I must. I am light not because I weight nothing (which I don’t!), I am light because I respond, I move, I choose to flow instantaneously with the feeling I perceive.
My job as a leader:
Powerful, irresistible leader: decision, direction, action, balance.
Action through clear invitation.
Responsible for both my own and my partner’s balance, connection, fun.
My job as a follower:
Match the energy of my partner.
“Listening” to three things from my partner - When, How far & What direction.
Responsible for my own balance, powering my movement, enjoyment.
In the milonga, that’s where I leave it, if there’s a mistake, its mine (lead of follow). In a class or private, you pay me to make you wrong for everything I see. If there’s a mistake, its your fault.
Next time we discuss the difference between practicing and dancing.
Cheers and marvelous dancing to you all,
Here are two videos of a master of Tai Chi push-hands, an art that has endlessly informed my tango. The lines between lead and follow are intentionally blurred and shifting to through you opponent off. The ‘pushing’ is always from the flow and is usually a devious masking of a push as a innocent movement…until the last moment. If you haven’t try it!