24 December 2008

Don't impress her with your fancy steps! Impress her with...

... the movement of your soul

I've recently had a leg injury. Because of that, I've had the opportunity to watch people at milongas. In the process, I once again see behavior that really rubs me wrong.

Here's the scenario:

A leader asks a [seemingly] beginner lady to dance a tanda. He then starts to lay on the fancy steps. The dance falls apart. Not because she doesn't know what to do, but rather, he leads it badly! Apparently, leader is a newbie, trying to compensate for some inadequacy. Anyway, he then tries to teach her the move that he's trying to do, in the middle of the dance floor, holding up traffic...

This makes for a very looong tanda. Not to mention, it is VERY, VERY, VERY rude to teach in a milonga. You just don't do that! A well meaning criticism can be very devastating and humiliating to a follow.

Seeing the follow, I dance with her. I keep it simple. SHE CAN DANCE! Not technically astute, but she is able to achieve that "Tango connection," which is the whole point of AT. After the tanda, she tells me "Thank you, I feel so much better with you than with that other guy."

My curiosity is piqued and I ask her, "Why?"

I embark on a small research project...

(This scenario is repeated in several milongas. There's always at least one lead who does this sort of thing)

The consistent answer is that, to the majority of ladies, it is the "Tango Connection" that makes the dance worthwhile.

Only the advanced dancers are the ones who can do (sometimes enjoy) the fancy stuff. For it to be enjoyable, you have to lead it well.

So, my conclusion is this:

Dance to the level of the follower. Don't try to push fancy steps if you can't lead it well, and if she's not comfortable with it. Keep it simple and concentrate on the connection.

Move her with your soul. Not your feet.


Mtnhighmama said...

Amen! If you do it right, I don't even notice the moves. Who cares about moves when our souls are embracing?

Elizabeth said...

So true! Women just want to feel a warm connection, to feel transported sweetly by the energy. If a leader is trying all sort of fancy steps, it is hard to feel anything except anxiety. A very experienced leader can take a few more complex steps and the follower can go there without even knowing what happened. (As you so clearly state, He must be able to lead it well.)
Thanks for writing this.

Elizabeth Hensley said...

The connection makes such a difference. Let me give you an example. Suppose a leader is inspired to repeat a movement -- perhaps it is because the music repeats a rhythmic pattern that invites the repetition, perhaps something else -- and it is a movement that you haven't followed very well in the first instance. The quality of the connection, of the embrace, makes the difference between "Forgive me, my angel. I haven't led that very well -- I know that you would enjoy this if I could but show it to you. Let me try again" or "B*tch!!! Why don't you dance what I tell you to dance? If you can't follow it this time, you are dead to me".

Henderson said...

How simple is too simple? I'm leader and a beginner (just over three years of dedication). I know about eight steps that I have at least a modicum of confidence in and these eight include the "basic 8" and two variations on the the "basic 8". I try to be a clear lead and I try to dance to the music. Is that really enough, or is my follower going to be thinking, "I didn't come here to be practiced on.")?

AmpsterTango said...

@ Henderson: Yup, keep it simple. In January (09), I wrote about how to master a few simple things YOU know, and vary it. (http://ampstertango.blogspot.com/2009/01/combination-lock.html)

It's HOW you dance that matters. Not how fancy. IMHE, go to a milonga and watch the most elegant dancers. Most of what they do is based on "The Walk." Watch the expression on the faces of their partners. They look like they're in a blissful trance. In contrast, look at the ones trying to force the fancy stuff. Compare their partners reaction.

Which expression would you want your partner to have dancing with you?