Cybertango Dicussion from the Tango Mailing List


Articles: [ Deutsch | English ]
  Cybertango: [ Deutsch | English ]
    Geography Page: [ Deutsch | English ]

Why I dance Tango (leader)


Date:    Wed, 29 Oct 2003 16:27:43 -0500
From:    David Allen
Subject: Why I dance tango.

Due to comments I recieved dancing in Portland from numerous different =
tangueras and some conversations with some tangueros I decided I wanted =
to share why I dance tango and why I believe it is the greatest dance =
ever created.  As a caveat I am in no way purporting myself to be some =
great tango dancer who knows it all.  These are my feelings about why I =
dance.  I have been dancing close to 6 years and go to various tango =
festivals around the US and Buenos Aires frequently.

The most numerous tanguera comment I recieved, "It is so refreshing to =
dance with a leader who dances on and to the music and who I feel is =
taking care of me on the dance floor".  The quote is not an exact quote, =
I combined the two comments I recieved numerous times.  After a few of =
these comments I began observing more closely when I was not dancing and =
I was surprised at the percentage of leaders who obviously were dancing =
the steps they knew oblivous to the music and what the dance floor was =
giving them.  When I had been dancing for about 7 months I had the =
pleasure of meeting and taking lessons from Cacho Dante.  In a milonga, =
as I watched ladies leave his embrace and dance with almost glazed over =
eyes, I decided to ask them why they enjoyed the dance with Cacho and =
why they were lining up for more.  These are the three reasons I =
recieved.  When in his embrace they felt totally taken care of and safe. =
 They felt like the they were the only woman on the dance floor and =
thirdly what he asked them to do in the dance was crystal clear.  Then =
and there I decided those were my goals in tang and Cacho became my =
"hero".  I quickly learned tango is about QUALITY not quantity.  =
Therefore, in all my lessons, practicing, privates I began working on =
posture, lead, technique, relaxation, etc.  All my feed back from =
followers I dance with tells me I was right to listen to what they told =
me.  For the past 6 months I have been working on how my feet contact =
the floor.  Its getting there and still not yet.  The more relaxed my =
feet and toes into the floor the clearer my lead.  Still in my infancy =
in this dance, only 6 years, I know the simpler and clearer the better =
for the follower and they do keep coming back to dance with me.

I was having a conversation with a few leaders who had asked my why I =
enjoyed dancing tango and the ladies seemed to enjoy dancing with me.  I =
began explaining the connection, the sharing of energies, heart to =
heart, in other words, the silent conversation between two people.  As I =
was looking at the guys I realized very quickly that a number of them =
had no clue what I was talking about.  I played with that with other =
leaders for the rest of the weekend and was surprised again at how many =
truthfully had no clue of what I call the "sweetness" of tango.  It is =
the real reason I keep dancing tango and why I have such an addiction to =
it.  People ask me what I mean by an addiction and I usually say if I go =
more than 3 or 4 days without dancing tango I get the DTs or withdrawal =
symptoms like on a drug.  Joking of course and yet, not really.  When I =
have the dance I am looking for is when the partner I am dancing with =
gives me more than her body.  She talks to me from within through her =
body.  It comes mostly from followers who have become comfortable in the =
dance so that they can let go and just dance, but not always.  Little =
surprises happen all the time.  One of the best dances I have had was =
with a lady who had only been dancing 3 months.  She talked to me like =
she had been dancing for years.  We dance together whenever we see each =
other and it has only gotton better.  The old milongueros will tell you, =
"90% of tango is what you don't see".

What I have learned in my short tango life as a leader (I did also learn =
to follow, great benefit as a leader).  Dance on the music and to the =
music with feeling.  Pugliese, Calo, Biagi, D'Arienzo, Rodriquez have =
different rhythms.  Tangos, vals, milonga are different.  Let the music =
talk to you and dance what it says to you.  The leaders number one =
priority.  Give your follower the best dance you can give her.  Don't =
dance above her, dance with her and make her feel like the bell of the =
ball for the  2.5 to 3 minutes of the dance.  If you do tango will =
become a soul satisfying experience and the followers will seek you out.

Many blessings and happy feet.

David


top of page
Date:    Wed, 29 Oct 2003 14:21:53
From:    Trini or Sean - PATangoS
Subject: Re: Why I dance tango.

--- David Allen  wrote:
> These are the three reasons I recieved.  When
> in his embrace they felt totally taken care of and
> safe.  They felt like the they were the only woman
> on the dance floor and thirdly what he asked them to
> do in the dance was crystal clear.  Then and there I
> decided those were my goals in tang and Cacho became
> my "hero".  I quickly learned tango is about QUALITY
> not quantity.

Thank you for sharing that.  I just started teaching a
beginners class this past Sunday and decided to try
giving the leaders the opportunity to make the
follower feel safe in the dance, really making a deal
out of it.  I was surprised at the response (having
recently had some new students uncomfortable with the
close-embrace).  Smiles all around and applause for
having such a good time.

Even though all they knew was how to walk and
rock-step, these new leaders were quite proud of how
they treated the ladies. And the ladies appreciated
their efforts.

Trini of Pittsburgh

top of page
Date:    Thu, 30 Oct 2003 08:42:36
From:    Alex
Subject: Re: Why I dance tango.

David wrote:

"I began observing more closely when I was not dancing and I was =
surprised at the percentage of leaders who obviously were dancing the =
steps they knew oblivous to the music and what the dance floor was =
giving them."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------=
-------------------------

Way to go, David, at last a post that doesn't put me to sleep! Totally =
agree with you. Focus on the embrace, the walk, and dancing on the =
b***** beat! It doesn't cease to amaze me how many 'leaders' dance out =
of the beat, so obsessed they are with 'cutting and pasting' the figures =
they know into anything and everything as a 'proof' that they are in the =
know. Yeah, right.

I also have to say that many a teacher is responsible for this too, =
since most only teach figures, not to walk on the beat (that has been my =
experience, anyway). Vicious circle: but many students only want to =
learn figures, so the teachers give them what they want because a) they =
don't know any better either (false teachers) or b) they do know, but =
they'll make more money as if they didn't, and give the customer what =
the customer wants, not what he/she needs.

I've run across many teachers and always felt dissatisfied. Intuitively =
I knew I was looking for something else. My present teacher (bless her) =
says that in tango "less is more". Ahem, blessed he who can find a true =
teacher, someone able to destil the essence of the art only for its own =
sake.

Best, Alejandro from London, UK.


top of page
Date:    Thu, 30 Oct 2003 10:48:41 -0700
From:    Tom Stermitz
Subject: Re: Why I dance tango.

>David wrote:
>
>"I began observing more closely when I was not dancing and I was
>surprised at the percentage of leaders who obviously were dancing
>the steps they knew oblivous to the music and what the dance floor
>was giving them."
>
>--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>Way to go, David, at last a post that doesn't put me to sleep!
>Totally agree with you. Focus on the embrace, the walk, and dancing
>on the b***** beat! It doesn't cease to amaze me how many 'leaders'
>dance out of the beat, so obsessed they are with 'cutting and
>pasting' the figures they know into anything and everything as a
>'proof' that they are in the know. Yeah, right.
>...
>Best, Alejandro from London, UK.

It isn't just the beat, although thank god if they have at least that piece!

It is easy, but not inevitable, to teach almost any guy to be on the
beat using a mix of milongas, D'Arienzo (clear, staccato rhythm),
Fresedo (clear, steady beat), Waltzes (clear phrases and slow walking
beat).

Dancing on the music means much more than that...Tango music has
phrasing, breath and release, dynamics and rests, just like speaking
has commas, periods and accented syllables.

The hazard of learning by long sequences or figures is that the
vocabulary is so complicated that people dance tango in a wooden
fashion like one long run on sentence with no pauses or periods in
one uninterrupted sequence of unrelated pieces so that any one
watching can't figure out if the music is on or off or whether it is
a waltz or a tango let alone allowing the poor woman to follow it
with any enjoyment

Sort of like that last paragraph.

--

Tom Stermitz
top of page

Date:    Thu, 30 Oct 2003 18:37:38
From:    Brian Dunn
Subject: Being on the beat (Was: Why I dance tango)

Tom wrote:

> It isn't just the beat, although thank god if they have at least that
piece!
>
> It is easy, but not inevitable, to teach almost any guy to be on the
> beat using a mix of milongas, D'Arienzo (clear, staccato rhythm),
> Fresedo (clear, steady beat), Waltzes (clear phrases and slow walking
> beat).
>
> Dancing on the music means much more than that...Tango music has
> phrasing, breath and release, dynamics and rests, just like speaking
> has commas, periods and accented syllables.

Alex replied:
Well, Tom, I agree with you but... It isn't just the beat, but it starts
with the beat. A house is not just the bricks, but without the bricks you
have no house whatsoever, no matter what else you may have. As I see it,
anyway...


Hmmm.  In discussions about whether "leaders are on the beat", an important
distinction often gets lost.

You can often train a leader to be "on the beat", but if trained by itself
this actually can cause a problem in tango, because of its improvisational
nature.  Many times the leader is happily "on the beat" in some step but has
not led his follower soon enough to be there with him in time.  It's a
different and additional skill, in the middle of your improvisational
moment, to lead your follower to land on the beat, then "catch up" to her so
you both land together.  Without this, the leader can often delude himself
that he is "right on the beat" - and he is! in HIS feet - while his follower
is left with the relatively unpleasant sensation of desperately trying to
catch up to his feeling of the beat, and very frequently being just a little
bit late.  This is especially aggravating for musically talented followers.

Whenever we talk about this in our classes, the experienced women start
nodding - sometimes even applauding!  The problem seems to be at its worst
in dancing milonga, perhaps because the energetically fast consistent rhythm
tends to activate the "boogie-down" solo-dancing reflex many of us grew up
with.

If you want to judge whether a leader is "on the beat", you're better
advised to watch his follower's feet, not his.

All the best,
Brian Dunn
Dance of the Heart
Boulder, Colorado  USA
top of page
Date:    Fri, 31 Oct 2003 02:18:21 -0000
From:    Alex
Subject: Re: Being on the beat


Interesting point, Brian. I see what you mean. Talking off the top of my
head now, I think it depends on what is going on. For instance, I would say
that while walking, both leader and follower ought to fall on the beat, on
the same beat. When doing a figure, the leader has to fall on the beat, and
the follower may get out of the beat temporarily but conclude on a beat
while the leader stays put to give space to the follower for this to happen.
This is something I'll have to pay attention to so as to figure it out
allright.

Best, Alex.
top of page


top of page


top of page


Garrit Fleischmann Nov. 2003
Email: kontakt(at)cyber-tango.com