I lead most of the time I dance tango. I practice my follower’s skills in practicas. In milongas, I will sometimes follow in playful roles swaps with some lady friends.
I love to follow. It has been a process of re-discovering the dance. It made me gain much more appreciation for the dance and in particular, for how a leader can make a dance wonderful.
After reading this entry from tangopilgrim I realized why I love to follow. While leading I always need to be ahead of the follower and the dance in some ways, as a follower I release myself from all that and focus on the present. And the present only.
Recently I had a chance to dance with a relatively famous Tango DJ. I immediately realized she was a really nice person since even though she was tired she still swapped her sandals for some dancing shoes after I asked her. That, on everyone’s book, is a very nice gesture. 🙂
We danced and chatted. The dancing was very cool, relaxing, flowy. I went for a laid-back interpretation of the music. Enrique Rodriguez. I shared with her about how I’ve been going back and forth between different approaches to interpreting music. Basically to either try to capture the mood of the whole music or to try and dance every tiny nuance/detail of the song. She joked about it and told me I was maybe worrying to much about it…
That further led us to talk about how we spend our time at the milongas. She then told me something very interesting that reminded me of how I sometimes forget how social the milongas should be. The thing she enjoys more at the milongas, believe it or not, is not actually the non-stop dancing. What she enjoys more is to sit and eat while talking with people mixed with the dancing.
I said hi and she said hi back to me. The last and only time we danced was, according to my recollection, disappointing. To her.
I was nervous since I had seen her dance before. She was obviously a gifted dancer. I could not connect and figure out her style. Nothing in that dance “connected” to me. Not with the music, not with her. My mind had been haunted already with the images of her confidence dancing with great dancers. I could not shake that off. The dance was not our dance, it was someone else’s, badly impersonated. A sad affair.
She remembered me. She remembered me as a person.
In the milonga world there are dancers and amazing human beings that love to dance. I admire the latter. I am grateful she reminded me of that.
I’m still alive, thinking and living tango. But writing less. Dancing a bit less too, but alas, life gets in the way. I have been out socially a bit less than what I used to and having less flavorful nights when I do. Some politics to deal with and a busy life have kept me from fully enjoying some nights.
I don’t really have much to say so I will share with you two videos from Fabian Peralta and Virginia Pandolfi. These are recent videos shot at Salon Canning, earlier in the year.
I find their interpretation very close to the music. This is the current trend except for older milongueros it seems. And maybe Melina and Detlef. 🙂
Anyway, here’s hope that one day I can be as close to the music so that I can then detach from it.
Ask every Jazz musician how they learned and they’ll tell you: from listening to records. It’s all there a lot of them will say. I feel a lot of that has happened in my tango journey. A lot of times you need to watch a lot to realize what’s happening, just like a jazz musician will only figure out why someone solo’ed using a certain scale or something in between after they themselves have toyed with that idea.
Make no mistake: All improvisational art stems from the shoulders of others. The most admired artists have themselves the utmost respect for their predecessors because in some ways they owe their brilliance to them.
This video brings me back to what I feel is my kind of tango. Deeply connected to the music, the moment and your partner. That embrace couldn’t give a damn about the proper posture and he couldn’t care less about anyone in that room during that moment. That’s what I love when I get in the zone. I just do what I need to do to pour the music out of my body, I don’t care about being judged by qualities or interpretation.
In five years I’ll still be learning from this video which probably can’t be said for a lot of other videos out there. Sorry for the outburst but I’ve just watched a lot of boring tango in the last days…
I think I’ve figured out why I rarely get anything out of musicality classes: They’re not usually taught by people that truly have learned, studied and practiced music.
Understanding music and contextualizing tango music is fundamental to teach about the music itself. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of young teachers out there that are fanatic to the point that they have not (yet?) danced anything else in their life and do not know much more music besides tango. This makes their teachings lack perspective and thus, failing to reach the entire class/audience.
Next time you go to a musicality class, make sure you’re not going to a “let me show you what move/steps I do when this type of stuff comes up in music“. The good news is that it’s very easy to realize when you are at either situation.
Musicality development is inherently personal and everyone needs to go through the individual process themselves. What a teacher should be able to give you are the tools for that. Not just share the end result, ie, a step/move, with you.