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Last week I had an interesting chat with a man who recently started dancing Tango, and by “recently,”  I mean about 4 months ago. He was, in general, very disappointed with his performance. He was not happy.  He wants to be a good dancer and to be part of “the scene.”  After spending some time with him, I realized many aspects of this dance called Tango and the little world of Tango to which I belong.

Not everyone understands this dance. It is very difficult to explain to absolute beginners that it is not Salsa, West Coast Swing or Lindy… Tango is more complex.  Some people who don’t get it will reply by saying is not complex at all is just another dance like any other, but you and I know this is not true.

I dance other dances and Tango is totally different. People don’t understand they have to learn a new Language like any spoken one, but in this case, a body language. It’s very difficult to transmit the idea of learning how to have a dialogue with the body. Your body speaks, delivers, communicates, holds, embraces.

In Tango I always emphasize the idea of learning the vowels, the letters, the grammar instead of memorizing a poem or a paragraph from a book. This is not the way we learn how to read and write.

Another very common point that occurs is people asking, how much time it will take for them to dance well. From the minute someone asks this, you know there is a big chance he/she will quit right away, because they don’t get it.  When I started dancing (I myself as an example because is the best one I have) it was never an issue of getting bored when I had to just walk over and over again.  I knew this was a necessary foundation for the dance and I enjoyed understanding I was building and developing my craft, my footwork, balance, etc… it’s like people approaching this dance with a goal of being good (obviously) but the approach and the goal should be a journey in itself because at the end of the day when some of us become really good THERE IS NO MEDAL, NO SACK OF GOLD AT THE END OF A RAINBOW OR AND OLD MAN TO HAND YOU A DIPLOMA.

Another very common point is when people come up with their own ideas of how to become better, such as: I don’t dance with people who are not on my level, because I don’t want to develop bad habits, this is so wrong! When I started dancing I had to – and wanted to – dance with every one: tall, short, fat, really fat, skinny, very skinny, stiff, soft, anticipating, submissive, adorable, reject-able, sweet, distracted, encouraging, helpful, not helpful.  I had to learn how to lead EVERYONE, this is how we develop the skill. Because the word “lead” is about that, to know what the follower wants and how to please that need. Sometimes the leader is a bad leader because he lacks the sense of connecting with or reading his partner.

THERE IS NOTHING MORE SAD IN THIS DANCE AS WHEN LEADERS OR FOLLOWERS DON’T KNOW THEY DON’T KNOW. It’s a LOST WAR OR A VERY DIFFICULT TASK TO OPEN THIS CHANEL INSIDE THEIR SYSTEM.T

The way I see it and teach it is that EVERYTHING I DO IN THIS DANCE IS FOR THE PARTNER AND VICE-VERSA. If I always think about her/him in the first place, my balance, posture, embrace, rhythm, connection, length or speed of step will have a better chance of being understood.

I always say that in the Tango world you are what you dance, regardless of your background, noble, king, wealthy, poor, ethnicity, religion, political views etc… You can’t buy your way in like in other fields, so if someone is not talented enough to dance, is he/she out?

Should they be out?  What must we do in order to keep them in? Or . . . do we have to?

IMHO

Oliver

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