Tangled Up? Just Tango On   Leave a comment

No mistakes in the tango, not like life. Simple, that’s what makes tango so great. You make a mistake… get all tangled up… just tango on.
—Al Pacino as “Lt. Colonel Frank Slade,” Scent of a Woman

Tangled Up? Just Tango On
By Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart.
Published with permission courtesy of GOTTA TANGO. Have you bought your copy from us yet?

There is a point in everybody’s dancing experience where one truly begins to understand how Argentine tango dancing is about two people embraced and moving in unison around the dance floor, led by the rhythm and the melody of the music. Circulating around the floor is an acquired skill; it combines timing, balance, and improvisational skill. The man who works the conditions of the dance floor to his advantage is the one whom some female dancers generally (and mistakenly) refer to as a good “lead.” That is not a compliment in Argentine tango. To the contrary, a man who “leads” may be lacking the confidence and knowledge of the dance to take on the full responsibility of managing the craft demanded by the conditions of any dance floor. He may rely on another person, generally referred to by the dehumanizing term follow, to guide him around the floor. A good tango dancer is a bailarin de tango who works the conditions of the dance floor to his advantage.

The Argentine tango dance is the intimate meeting of two people, each one fully acquainted with his or her role and fully equipped with solid technique and a deep understanding of the structure of the dance. It is not a reflection of a struggle for gender supremacy or fierce competition of oneupmanship.
It is not a place for selfishness, conflicts, and mind games. It is an unspoken covenant to respect each other, work together, and contribute equally to the requirements that the dance expects from each role. One of the most important components of the man’s role is to use his body and his choice of trajectories to protect his partner from injury by reckless dancing—his own and the others’. Here are some important tips for the women: The male tango dancer is not there as a pleasure and trance supplier. Having fun does not include demanding specific steps, forcing particular styles, or using him as a post to engage in self-indulgent leg flicking.

We keep emphasizing the improvisational aspects of the tango dance because it removes the shackles that learning memorized patterns places on the legs and the arms of beginning dancers. Dancing tango is about freedom to express with our bodies and our emotions the very special feelings that every tango induces in us. It takes two—as in the two of us, you and me, you and him, you and her, together as partners, with the confidence to enjoy the dance on each other’s own merits, according to our level of proficiency.

In tango we trust. We trust that the man will protect his partner and dance with full understanding of the structure of the dance and the options available to him in terms of improvising for navigation. We trust that the woman will let herself be taken around the floor in an embrace that provides her motion and allows her legs to perform the important roles of supporting her balance on axis and decorating and embellishing with tasteful footwork.

Posted January 4, 2011 by Alberto & Valorie in Gotta Tango

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