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January 9, 2008

Conversations in Tango

Tango has sometimes been described as a “private conversation between two people”. But if we cut through the proverbial hyperbole, what does it mean exactly? Is it just leading/following: “I speak, you listen?” By the way, from what I can see, even when people may disagree in principle to the last statement, they are ultimately betrayed by how they dance.

However, I believe that there can be a more literal interpretation to the “private conversation” question. In November, I was very privileged to attend a class on musicality where we looked at phrasing in Tango. Without going into the technicalities of music – which I am not qualified to discuss in detail in any case – I now think of dancing to the music (from leader’s point of view) as being quite similar to “punctuations” in my movements. That is, there are occasions where I complete a sentence, pause and take a breath, before starting the next sentence, and there are times where I increase the “volume” to emphasize a point, etc. Subsequently I think leaders and followers can both become more attuned to the music they are dancing to, as well as being less hurried in all movements – just like when we are having a friendly chat, no?

Incidentally, there are indeed specific techniques (ps. I am NOT talking about embellishments or adornos) for the follower to express her “voice”, in response to a leader’s intention, but that is something which I will elaborate in future.

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