It takes two…

Picture of Carlos Yesterday I received an email from a porteño who I danced with last Tuesday in Salon Canning. He is relatively young and dances with passion and energy. He is a fantastic leader. I danced with him to a seven minute long version of La Cumparsita played live by the fantastic orchestra Los Reyes del Tango. I felt like I was flying. He emailed me to say that it had been a great pleasure to dance with me and he hoped that we could repeat the experience soon. This is a moment in my Buenos Aires tango journey that I will never forget. I believe that he wants to dance with me again, because  when we danced there was a powerful connection.

My tango journey here consists of a hierarchy of such moments. When I reflect back, I remember my first tango in Buenos Aires which was with a Canadian tourist. I was grateful to dance at all. Then I longed to dance with any porteno. Gradually I have noticed myself become more discerning. I watch the tangueros. I decide who I would like to dance with. I have the confidence to stare at them until they stare back!

I am beginning to have my favourites. Of course Carlos is still my dream dancer here. Perhaps he always will be because in his arms I relax completely. It is gentle tango, intense but quiet. I can feel my heart beat soft. I can feel his. It is special and on Sunday night we danced five hours together in La Viruta with no other partners. We know each other’s bodies in the way that only tango makes possible. On the dance floor we connect. Of it we are good friends and I get to practice my Spanish!

At this stage of my tango journey, I am learning that there are different types of special connections on the dance floor and I enjoy them all:

  • The quiet intensity of  my dances with Carlos. I close my eyes and I am one with his body and the music. I decorate his lead. I feel beautiful. I am in heaven.
  • The passion and energy of my dances with the author of yesterday’s email. I celebrate my skills and relish every beat, every step. I perform. I fly.
  • The challenge of my dances with Julio who dictates with precision every moment. He gives me no time, no choices. He knows what he wants and shows me this with strong sacadas and his tight embrace. He bosses me on the dance floor and we laugh at our achievements. We say ‘Yes!’ at the end when I finally get the finishing position he wants.
  • The beauty of my dances with Ariel. For me this is pure tango. He knows exactly what I can do. He notices how my energy changes from day to day. I notice the same in him. Some days there are sparks and I fight for a degree of control. Other days we are both quieter, calmer. Others our energies combine perfectly.  On these days I want to cry as the tango finishes. I know I am a dancer.

If only all tandas I dance could be one of the above experiences. Alas no! Within seconds of the embrace with a new partner I sense how things may turn out. I try to match his energy with mine so that I have the best chance of following well. I try to relax in my head and feel confident. I try to absorb the music which is often familiar now and that helps. Within 30 seconds I can begin to work out my partner’s patterns, his preferred steps on the dance floor. If I miss anything I usually can correct it by the second dance of the tanda. Occasionally though things just don’t work out. Why?

  • I am having an off night. I can’t focus.
  • The embrace hurts me. My right arm is pushed back, or my back cannot remain straight – no matter how hard I try, and I am strong! This distracts me.
  • The lead is unclear, hesitant. I feel confused, unsure.
  • The leader is keener on me than on dancing, and I sense it.

All of these basically have the same effect. I don’t relax. Therefore I don’t follow well, therefore I don’t enjoy the experience. However even at these times I try to remain calm, remember that I can still be a beautiful dancer. Confidence is everything.

In BA at a Milonga, there is always a degree of pressure. I am aware that I am being watched. If I dance well, I will receive invitations to dance from good dancers. This is why it matters how I dance. For example I do not like to dance a tanda of milonga as my first tanda, because I am less confident in milonga than tango or vals. I also try to dance my first tanda with someone I have danced with before.

On Wednesday night we went to La National, a new Milonga for us. I loved it. And I danced all night. But it was interesting. All the women sit on one side of the room and all the men on the other. Believe me, the pressure is on! The women are watching you as you dance past them, the men are watching you as you dance past them. Luckily I am turning in to a bit of a show off! I like these situations now. But it sure takes a bit of getting used to…

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One Response

  1. Wowsa! I like the way you are able sense energies in tango…it sounds very magical. I like that.

    I hope and imagine that our energies will match well when we dance…I dunno…I can feel that it will just from your writings. You just seem to be an amazing lady: courageous, lovely, and understanding.

    What I already know about you:

    One, I know you will be a much better dancer than me. It’s only because you have gotten more accelerated experience that I have. *merry grin *

    Two, I know you will be forgiving of my steps because you are a great follower. You’ll find a way to dance the dance within our dance.

    And three, I will delightfully surprise you. *merry wink & smile*

    Isn’t it true that when you are relaxed, everything just flows. At practica this past Tuesday, I was so ON. My frame was excellent and they played a lot of music I recognized…and my steps were performance-like beautiful since I am always trying to make my steps similar to my favorite instructors: Gustavo Naveira, Carlos Riverola, Damian Essell, Julio Balmaceda and now your Ariel, just to name a few. 🙂

    A good leader can lead virtually anyone…but you have to work awfully hard though to communicate it (if your follower isn’t at your level yet) without being insulting…

    …I am always glad and reassured that when I’m having a problem with a certain step in class and know I am giving the proper lead that I can ask the teacher and double-check to ensure I am giving the right lead.

    And it is! Because you’re right, Sally. Confidence is everything in this dance. Even if you’re leading things right, but the follower can’t follow the lead, it is frustrating and saps the confidence level. Thus, it’s always nice to get a boost when you dance with your teacher and she says “Yes, Sly, that’s a beautiful lead.” Words to warm any leader’s heart. 😀

    Now I just have to help my follower understand…without her getting all insulted. Then again, it’s only 3-5 minutes and it’s on to a new partner. *chuckle* Still, if the follower allows herself to be corrected, I’d do my best to help both of us out in making it work.

    …because yes…it does take two to tango….

    Smiles, Sly 🙂

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