Another friend of mine pointed my attention to someone who would lecture their partners with blow by blow commentaries. She confided that after dancing with this guy, she was almost in tears.
Another friend of mine was telling me about several leads who danced technically great, but were "Cold," making the experience, less than memorable.
As I listen to my friends, (in retrospect) I sometimes have to tell myself that at one time or another, I was also guilty of these infractions of tango lead insensitivity. Since then, I have morphed my methods into something that I try to give my follows every time I dance.
One friend of mine said to me so eloquently, what her teacher once told her: "Make your partner feel safe, smart, and loved." I could not agree more.
This is my interpretation of things:
A. Make your partner feel safe
- Don't knock your partner off her axis. This will cause her distraction, breaking her connection
- Don't use her for a battering ram. She will not appreciate running into chairs, tables, and other people. Not to mention being kicked, stabbed, and stepped on
- Dance at her pace. As a lead, you should be able to feel her level of following skills. Once you've got that read, dance at her level (no matter how good you think you are)
- Do flow your energy through her and glide over the floor
- Do make her feel protected and safe in your company
B. Make her feel smart
- Don't pull your fancy steps on her unless you know that you can lead them well. Doing big loud fancy stuff will cause her to think about the steps... NOT about the connection
- Keep it simple. Let her flow with you and the music. It becomes a cerebral experience
- If you lead something and it doesn't work, give it up and try something else. No one is perfect, and not everyone can follow everything all the time
- Flubs happen... get over it and move along
- Don't, don't— DO NOT LECTURE on the floor, unless feedback is asked for (or if you're in a practica)
- No blow-by-blow commentaries to your partner while you're dancing
C. Make her feel loved
- The embrace in tango, is an embrace. It's not a (ballroom) open hold, nor a closed hold, nor a broad framed waltz pose. It is an embrace. The person you are dancing with at the time is special, and your embrace needs to reflect that.
- Your embrace should be gentle, firm, but not creepy
- Your embrace should be firm but not strangling, squeezing, or squishing
- Your hand around her should roughly be in and around the area of her shoulder blade, and over your heart
- Her shoulder blade should not be gripped and used as a steering wheel
- Your left arm is there for her to hold. You should not use your left arm to steer her like a boat tiller
- The height of your left hand should be in and around the level of her eye/nose
- Lead with your center, not the arms
- Make sure your embrace is sincere
- The objective is to move to the strains of the bandoneon as one. One body four legs, swirling in that magic called tango
Combine A, B, and C to develop that magical tango connection. Remember, Tango: It's not about you. It's about HER