25 November 2010

A superb start, the middle muddle, a finish with flair

My tango does not proceed on one monotonous pattern of rhythm throughout the song. Rather, like a dialogue with my partner, my tango has a distinct opening phrase, a body of content, and a distinct ending...

A superb start
This is the part where I make initial connection with my partner. I try my best to settle within her comfort zone. I establish her trust. I "Dial in" my dancing to compliment hers. I begin listen to the music, it's rhythm, it's beat, and it's phrasing.

I meld the music to my partner. I don't rush. I wait. I time my opening to the music, and give my partner clear non-verbal signals to get ready. When the time is right, I begin to lead.

I don't initiate the start of the tango with some fancy pattern. Rather, I consider something as simple as a side step, delivered clear and simple as a superb start. I am asking my partner, "Shall we dance?"

The middle muddle
This is the main, longest, and most intricate part of the conversation with my partner. It follows the ups, downs, and rhythmic changes of the music. To this, my tango shifts, adapts, changes and morphs. I lead my tango in a balance of movement to the music, and a "give and take" between my partner and I.

Sometimes the interaction works, sometimes it doesn't. I compensate, compromise, adapt and modify my lead in order to make the conversation work. My objective is to give her a beautiful tango experience.

A finish with a flair
As in life, every tango conversation has to end—sometime. I've tried to make a good start. I've been doing my best to lead and sustain a smooth, coherent, and pleasurable body of content, that is, the middle conversation.

Now the time has come to end this (conversation) in a way that compliments the events preceding. Just moving without regard to the ending makes for a "blah" experience (I think).

There is the one last note in (most) every tango song. I like to think that hitting the last note is a very good ending to a tango. By blending everything together to hit that one last note IS...  an ending with a flair.

As I write this, I link to several of my older posts for reference. I find that the more I know, the more lessons I draw from older lessons learned. Composing my tango in phases works for me. I hope that by doing so, it also works for my tango partner.


13 November 2010

We interrupt this broadcast...

A good friend of mine from Seattle (Halbert) has started his own tango blog. Please stop by and have a read: A Few Tandas

09 November 2010

Giving and taking her space

This is a follow up from my post of "Landing her first." Of the two most important things I've learned to do in order for a tango to work is (see previous link) timing your lead to coincide with landing your partner first. The second is the active practice of giving and taking space from my partner.

Allow me to explain...

Taking her space
My first tango teacher once told me, "Occupy the space your partner just left." Not knowing anything about tango [at the time], I had no idea what he was talking about. I was simply muddling through my steps.

A year or so later, the light bulb lit inside my head. I finally learned how to lead with my chest by communicating my intentions with my upper body, moving my partner. When I move my partner from her current position to the next, my body occupies the place where she had been. When her upper body moves, my upper body takes it's place, moving her legs. When here leg moves away, my leg takes it's place. All this while leading  the pace, distance, and tempo from move to move.

Giving her space
The other side of the coin from taking her space, is GIVING her space. Where taking her space works well for tango walks, giving her space works even better for moves requiring directional changes (e.g. turns, sacadas, paradas, etc).

I found the reasoning behind the milonguero posture that (done right) makes my partner and I look like the letter "A." Back straight, chests projected forward, allows the legs space to move.

The significance of this is that, should I decide to lead ochos, giros, walk backwards, walk on three tracks, etc, it gives my partner a place of her to place her leg to land, thus allowing her space and time to shift and complete her weight change, move without knocking knees.

My lesson learned from this epiphany is that this principle follows common sense and is a fundamental skill, requiring the right posture, leading technique and timing.

Done right, the appropriate giving and taking of her space facilitates that magical tango feeling of having "One body, four legs."