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November 6, 2005


Improvisation experiment

Instead of following the pattern adopted over the past month of concentrating on one specific technique during the Friday guided practicas, I decided to try something different last Friday. As a matter of fact, this “experiment” was something conceived as far back as the Porridge Club days (over 3 years ago)! I suppose the History Museum in the end provided the more appropriate venue and context!?

The basic challenge is: can you still dance as you do normally after removing the back-step? That is, apart from observing the basic principles such as the line of dance, posture, being watchful of your partner, can a leader safely and, where possible, elegantly navigate across the dance floor without ever having to step backward? By the way, this was the simplest version of the exercises I had in mind, in order to accommodate the level of the dancers present. There will be more (inspired by others and books from Tango Discovery) to come… 🙂

Essentially this exercise is designed to take people out of their comfort zone and adopt a more “considered” attitude – especially for the leaders – in how they move. Instead of doing things “naturally”, which more often than not means “out of habit”, the onus is on the leaders to think on their feet before taking each step. Depending on the situation you are in, sometimes this can be quite tricky, speaking from personal experience!

While this may be at odds with the Tango purists who will uphold that intuition/feel as the way to go, I personally feel that when there is no suitable environment (large dance scene, many advanced dancers) to develop the intuitive feel normally, alternative approaches need to be tried. Also, another advantage is that whatever solution a leader comes up with (and sometimes with the help of the follower) is his alone and most likely more suited to his dance level. Hopefully this can help him/her to develop a unique a style in future.

Some very quick observations after the experiment:

  • For the beginning dancers, there was less pressure to do fancy stuff which resulted in more considerate movements.
  • There seemed to be fewer potential collisions because leaders were not rushed into taking steps.
  • Better flow of movement overall along the line of dance.
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1 Comment
  1. Nov 8 2005

    As a follow-up to my final point regarding analytical thinking in Argentine Tango, I just read this:

    “There is a world of difference between someone who is not thinking about techniques because he has got it all stored in his subconscious, and someone who does not think about techniques because he simply does not know it!”

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