In the process of moving the whole site to a different hosting company, I just realised that close to 20 posts have been sitting in Draft mode for over 9 years in some cases! I plan to review and release most of them in near future. Here is something that was last revised on 2011/01/24.
One of the important lessons I learnt in a private class last year (2010) was the idea of slowing down. In the year since I have come to appreciate the concept in a number of ways.
First and the most obvious aspect is the need to wait for your lady (from leader’s point of view) to complete her movement before continuing on to something else. However, not rushing also means that it’s unnecessary to be “doing something” all the time. It’s perfectly fine to be still, or to convey/suggest minute movements in the embrace. In this case, I won’t even label this as a pause, although admittedly there may be no movement in the legs. A corollary to this is to minimise unnecessary jitters – obvious example is the side to side shuffle we often see in beginners and many of the so-called intermediate dancers – be still and serene when you feel it in the music in order to accelerate and create a greater impact when music dictates. This then leads to the notion of taking the time to enjoy the process, and not just the start and finish. Savour the transitions and, from time to time, increase the density of the steps, so that there can be a bigger contrast in dynamics when necessary.
Final aspect is taking the time to advance down the line of dance (this is more in reference to crowded dance floors where it’s less than an arm’s length to the next couple in all directions). While dancing, it is not a race to the finish. And, as far as I know, there are prizes for coming first or to see how many rounds of the floor you can manage.
The humble rock step is something probably most people have come across in their tango education very early on. It might have been taught, for example, as a way to change direction, or simply to mark time etc.
I recently saw someone marketing on Facebook his “wisdom” on the rock step. The photo shows a couple in embrace, their knees bent, and sinking down at the end of the rock step (by “end” I mean either the forward rock or backward rock). This immediately reminded me of the amusing experience I had during my first and only trip to Buenos Aires in 2009. In a single day, I was corrected on the rock step by no less than three different teachers during my private classes! On each occasion, I was reminded that, as a lead, I should be rising (and hence as a couple) instead of going downward. The three different people consisted of a globe-trotting well-known teacher, a well-respected milonguero and a young teacher for whom I have a lot of respect for. Through this, together with my subsequent experiences on the dance floor, I am convinced of the correctness of what I was taught on that day.
Despite the often silly arguments regarding salon vs. so-called milonguero, this video from Sebastian Arce in my opinion offers lots of valuable advice on the tango embrace, regardless of whichever style you thought you might be following. Whether one chooses to adopt everything wholesale, or selectively pick out elements on posture, method of holding, etc., there’s enough to benefit anyone.
Two things that I have been meaning to work on in my tango since some private classes I took last year, which happen to be at opposite ends of the spectrum.
- Slow down – less noise.
- Be less “safe”, and dare to make mistakes.