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Posts from the ‘Musings’ Category


Dancing with labels

Throughout the years that I have been dancing/learning tango, I must have been extremely fortunate to have met no teachers who force me to dance exclusively the way they teach, or let alone to dance in a “labelled” manner. To be sure, there was a couple of teachers who have but I accept that that was what they were teaching – a particular style – and what I was there to learn, so no issues there. I mean, otherwise it would be like showing up at a class advertised as “milonga” and demanding a lesson for “vals”, no!?

In fact, from now on, I think my response is to ask the person: “Do you feel more comfortable dancing with a label?”


What’s the rush?

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.


Video watching

To be honest, I don’t dance much these days, the last being a couple of nights 6 months ago, then another single night 3 months prior. However I still enjoy watching tango videos on Youtube. Here is a nice couple I found out from my feeds on Facebook. A small comment, looking back over their videos from 6 years ago, it seems their favourite combinations haven’t changed much over the years, except more smoothly executed, and more relaxed and less forced into having to cram many highlights into one performance. In fact, I noticed with many well-known teachers, their bread-and-butter moves can remain for as long as up to 10 years, but naturally the execution improves over time. I suppose this is part of human nature that it’s extremely difficult to continue to reinvent yourself?


Rock step

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.