20 September 2010

"Landing" her first

One of the most significant learning experiences I've ever had (in tango) was knowing when my partner has landed her weight BEFORE I lead something else. It makes for a better, smoother dance...

A leader in learning
I remember the time when I was first learning to lead in tango. Woe to my partners at the time as I was very consistent—In knocking them off their axis. I would go from move to move and it seemed that they could never keep up with me, nor keep their balance.

Much to my chagrin, their awkward debacles were my fault! Later in my (tango) learning process, I realized that I kept knocking them off their axis because of two things. First, I was impatient. Second, I was impatient because I didn't know if my partners had finished shifting their weight or not.

I had made the mistaken assumption that my partners knew what to do. What I should have done was to learn how to lead properly.

A major epiphany–Shifting weights
My epiphany lay in the fact that in order (for me) to go from lead to lead, I had to get the timing right—I needed a signal.

I figured out that the signal I needed was to know when she "landed" her weight. That's when my partner has completed her movement. This, I needed to know before I lead my next thing.

Our chests are connected to our feet
This is one technique I use to know where my partner's weight is. Since I dance exclusively in close embrace, I used our chest-to-chest connection as a telegraph by concentrating deeply and feeling her movements.

I find it difficult to explain all the nuances, but here is my rule of thumb. There are three movements after I initiate a lead. First—she answers my lead by responding to it. Second—She follows my center, then returns to align with it. Third—(My epiphany) I feel her feet touch down, then, she settles and her whole weight "lands" on her leg.

That moment is the moment I know that she's ready. It's the signal I was looking for! It's the (only) time for me to lead something else without knocking her over!

In tango, many simple things make so big a difference. This is just one of those examples. That single learning experience of knowing when my partner lands her weight made all the difference from attempting a judo takedown to a smooth giro.


14 September 2010

Every time I dance, I take a chance

Every time I go up to a lady to ask for a dance, either directly or via cabeceo, a little voice in the back of my head raises alarm bells... I am taking a chance!

The (main) chances I take

There is always a chance of being turned down. I am not a rock star that women would fall over each other to dance with (it would be nice). I am just another ex-Tango Zombie, who really likes to dance. My point is, I'm not guaranteed a dance every time

  • A chance of nervousness
I am not always as confident as I think I am. When I realize that I'm not as ready as I thought I was, I get so nervous and my tango blows up. It goes from a promise of a blissful tanda, to a long arduous ordeal for my partner

  • The chance of having a "brain fart"
I've been doing tango for a while now. Every now and then, I find myself just not remembering, not knowing, not doing whatever it was I was trying to lead. Alzheimer's perhaps? Too many knock on my head in my youth? It's a "Brain fart!"

  • The chance of asking an inept follow
When dancing with strangers, every now and then, I chance upon a inept follow. It is seldom, but when it happens, I will finish the tanda and be the best lead I can and give her the best dance I can give her. It would not be a good tanda for me, but I hope it will be good for her.

  • The chance of being a bad lead
The inverse of the preceding. I try to be as best a lead as I can be. However, on occasion, I'm "out of it," I'm "not into it," or, worse I can be having a "brain fart" night. If I'm a bad lead it's inexcusable as I would give my partner a bad dance

  • A bunch of other hang-ups
The preceding are the major stuff that worries me when I take a lady to the dance floor. There are is a myriad of other stuff that sometimes befuddle me. Things seemingly so trivial as " 'Is my cologne too much?' 'Do my clothes match?' 'Are my boots shined?' 'Is there too much stuff in my pockets? Etc, etc, etc.

All of these all play in my head when I ask a lady to dance. So much can go so wrong so fast that it is in fact, taking a chance.

Why I STILL take the chance to dance 
Getting over hang-ups (in tango) is like taking a leap of faith. I find that the magic that happens when one dances tango is an overwhelming reason to brave the minefield of misgiving in one's own mind. As much as I like to dance, it is important that I face the risks of asking (and getting) to dance a tanda of tango. Otherwise, I'd be sitting out the night, moping in a corner.

While it is true that every time I dance, I take a chance... It is even much truer that in order to dance I MUST take the chance.