Archive for April, 2008
Alex coined a great term: boppers. My golden-standard to check if the follower “bops” a lot is to do some corridas. It’s one of the best feelings to feel both of us glide instead of trying to manage her boppiness… I call them bouncies.
At any rate, Alex’s post inspired me to write about why I love dancing with beginners. Why? First and foremost because I still consider myself a beginner and I make a point of reminding that to every person I dance, specially if they start going on about how good I am. I always tell them that they still need to dance with great dancers to have an honest opinion. That said, there’s much more as to why I really like dancing with beginners.
Clean Slate. Yes, they don’t tend to have vices, obnoxious unlead quirks, etc. I try as much as possible to make we feel as equal instead of me giving them a lesson or helping them out of pity. Sometimes it is a bit impossible if they’ve only had very classes/dances. But in general, in practicas I ask if they want to work on something specifically and then ask if we can work on something I want to work on. Not only I try to level our dance relationship but I also try to get somewhere together. It helps the community feeling of learning tango and makes us more accessible to each other in the future to try/practice something out. It’s also a great way to meet peers and since I’m shy with people I don’t know, the more the merrier.
No attitude. Very rarely I’ve seen beginners with an attitude problem. But they exist. It’s all good, I don’t dance with them. Recently I was taking a beginners class and a woman there apparently had something against me. I had never spoken to her neither did any harm to her. But she had a problem with me. I won’t be dancing with her since I am very sensitive to all kind of less positive feelings coming towards me and I dance to enjoy the music and its positive vibe. The moment I stop enjoying it, I’ll do something else. Life’s too short to waste it on unhappiness.
Pushes my technique forward. They’re beginners so when I try stuff I’m not very good/proficient at, I really have to do my best to lead it really well. Chances are they don’t know what I’m trying to lead and neither they’ve done it enough times before to have muscle memory for it. This helps me become much more clear in my lead and take into account the follower, their shortcomings and own pace. It’s a humbling experience that I recommend to everyone.
Helps me become a better tango citizen. The more beginners I help out to become better dancers, the better I get at it. The more I realize what works in helping out someone become better follower/leader, the more insightful comments I can give to anyone in the future. This will be better for the community as a whole.
Future dance partners. Obviously, if they practice a lot with me, they will realize what I feel is really important to me in a follower. It’s a selfish driver but it is more unconscious than otherwise. I am fully aware that other leaders will enjoy different things in a follower but I don’t force any ideas.
There’s more but this is enough for now
Barely started on blogger and already I’ve decided to move from there to here! I’ve never liked any of the blogger themes… and I hate the fact that it’s a pain to upload images using an external blog publishing tool. So, I’m trying out wordpress.com backend Since I’ve got my own domain, I can always keep it and use whatever system I want.
Thank you for checking out my tango blog!
Every once in a while, I contemplate at how my Tango experience has been. At the beginning, you just want to dance. Everything is good, new and fresh! But, helas!, as you develop your Tango, you find worries and get contemplative. You look back and see how your path has been. What was great, what was ok and what things you did you now find hilarious but weren’t at the time.
You specifically remember when a particular moment in time got imprinted forever in the memory. A great dance, the first glimpse of bliss or just a dance in a practica where you felt all of your dance skills were scrutinized with pity. I still remember a dance in a practica where I felt specially bad. The follower told me that she was taught to strictly follow the leader. Of course, that meant that I sucked. Well, thank you baby ! She was semi-cute and I was curious to see how it felt like dancing with her. I have never danced with her again. I have principles. And an ego to protect
Fast forward in time, and recently I was talking to a friend about how my tango lately just sucks. I was at a milonga and couldn’t connect with the music or with my partners. Everything felt old and cliché. I felt like a fraud in the middle of the dance floor. My friend went on about that tango is like an oscillatory process, goes up and down over time, in a steady fashion. I promptly said: “Nooooo, it’s not like that. It’s like an ECG!”. Here’s my Tango ECG. Enjoy it.
I feel my tango isn’t evolving as it should. I can see how I am being a bit trapped in technicalities for the time being. It’s keeping me from fully improvising to the music and to generate new ways to move around. This is partially due to the fact that my technique shortcomings still rank high on my things to improve
This is why I am becoming a bit tired of some classes. Of so much input to parse and let it grow in me. But specially, because I see that this Tango thing is hard. I’m musical, I’m sensitive and gentle, but I still lack technique. I feel thankful for the fact that I am very musical, which has made “well-known” followers ask me directly for a dance (how anti-cabeceo!!). Me, on the other hand, would never have. I always feel they just want to dance with the best dancers and doesn’t feel right to me to ask them. To rob them away from a great tanda with a great dancer.
But it is hard because no matter where you are in your tango stage, you always want to narrow down what is currently annoying you. What you really need to improve on. And why do you need to? Because every time you finish a tanda with a great dancer – be it technically or musically – you always feel you could have done a bit better. You could have given the woman a better dance. You feel that deep down, you may have disappointed her a bit.
It is only healthy if you want to improve to give the women better dances, not for your own ego. But those two are tricky to separate and wishful thinking is easy…
Is that the woman I’ve most enjoyed watching lately won’t have any chemistry with me. What I most desire is for her to have the smile I’ve seen on her face while dancing with me.
I am yet very padawan to venture asking her. And my shyness will always out-grow my abilities.
Johanna writes about why women can’t sometimes understand why other women get all the dances.
I must say I can relate to this (imaginary?) point. If you really dance tango because of the music and are deeply connected to the music, you want someone that also has that passion. I couldn’t care less if she can dance upside down or has impecable technique (just needs to have balance of course…). If the embrace is musically sterile the whole thing is pointless. Besides, great dancers tend to have this big ego and that just screws up people’s minds.
Lately I’ve been growing a bit annoyed of women that dance with a guy as if it was just a dance. It isn’t just a dance. At least for anyone serious about it. It has to be an experience, a moment unique in time and space. Just sit if you don’t feel like dancing in the deepest sense of the word. This isn’t a practica. As someone commented on Johanna’s post, you can have a feeling of what lies ahead the moment you embrace a woman.
With a great dancer you want to dance forever simple moves, slowly, melodically and eager to see how she interprets it. How her smile (that you can’t really see) will get right back at you as a tsunami of confidence. With the plain vanilla technique obsessed dancer you normally try hard to convey feeling and you get back a sad face because you didn’t do/try the latest and greatest trick of a recent workshop. The dance will feel like a workout instead of a blissful magic moment shared by two human beings.
Let go of technicalities and spend 3 times more time listening to music and feeling, interpreting and dancing it in your mind than practicing the latest technical challenge. In the grand overview of it all, any man will rather dance with you than anyone else. The more experienced I get, the more I see how enjoyable it can be to dance with a very beginner follower that is into the music…
Unless he’s not there for the music experience. I am sorry for you then.