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September 2, 2004


I have observed the following pattern in the development of leaders (especially those who have managed to stay with Tango for at least one year) in our Tango community in Singapore.

Initially, perhaps out of some sort of hero-worship, there seems to be a desire to perform (or aspire to, at any rate) the acrobatics, the big and showy steps, as well as various Tango poses… However, when the eventual realisation came that much of the skills required to make all these fancy steps appear effortless are actually non-existent, these same people settle for the second best thing: meticulous study of small sequences that can be re-used time and again. Hopefully, with hard work, miracles can still happen.

Then comes the curious stage of simplification. This is when some, either through travelling abroad, instructions from visiting teachers, videos, etc., suddenly discover the mysterious world of close embrace dancing. This is when walking with elegance, connection with your partner, musicality, and all those strange and dreamy concepts which some people believe to be the true essence of Tango take over. Figures and fancy movements take a back seat. Steps become very uncomplicated. After that, there is another reversal: some continue to simplify even further, while others branch out to more serious stage dancing.

Perhaps psychologically, this can be summed up to consist of an initial period of emulation/idolising, followed by a period of getting down to basics. Then a self-discovery period, followed, hopefully, by truly dancing for yourself. Kind of a spiritual journey in a way, no!?

As for Tango “Nirvana” – as a good friend used to put it – I have got a long road ahead yet!

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