"Are We There Yet?"

How is it that after a night of lovely dancing, the first thing that comes to mind when I think about blogging is my frustrations? Because I am frustrated. It’s the “but …” that comes right after the exclamation, “I love tango, and I had some wonderful dances tonight!”

Maybe it is because I am used to being proficient in other dances. Maybe it is the natural tendency I have toward wanting to be perfect, and yesterday. (As a high school student, I started and then set aside three new musical instruments, giving them up when I realized that I didn’t have the time to become a star at them … so why continue to muck around? It was too frustrating to not be able to pick them up and excel when I could already play other instruments nicely.) But I won’t be tossing tango aside; I am genuinely hooked on it. So I am forced to deal head-on with my frustrations. I know there are others, but these four are the ones that spring to mind:

#1. The feeling of “Agh, I missed that lead!”: I still find, every once in a while, that I am not listening carefully enough or do not have something ingrained in my muscle memory sufficiently to be able to respond to a lead.

#2. The feeling of “I know she has five/eight/twelve tango years on me, but I want to be as good as/better than her!”: I can’t be alone in feelings of tango-jealousy. This is probably one of those moments where I also need to be better at separating the dancing from the social world – because I am sure that some regular-life jealousy is bleeding over into dance-jealousy. But as a lifelong dancer, I have trouble conceding that someone else is simply going to be better than I am because she started years before I did. And that yes, that means that she will be a more attractive dance partner.

#3. The feeling of “Can’t we dance open/close for once? Or to an alternative set for once?”: I certainly have control over these things, but have you ever had those moments where you realize that you always dance a certain style with a partner – even when you have seen (and been jealous of, to return to my last frustration) that partner dancing a different style with someone else? It’s hard to change those kinds of habits, especially when you hear that great alternative tanda come on and watch your target running onto the floor with someone else.

#4. The feeling of “Oh, that didn’t look good!”: I hate the moment when I do a boleo, or an ocho, or just take a step in a normal walk, and it doesn’t feel or look right. It’s back to that muscle memory problem, where I still find myself dancing with weird habits or not-quite-there technique. Where I realize that my right arm has been tense for the last minute. It makes me want to break out a graceful développé and a rond de jambe en l’air, or something fast and complicated from the modern dance I am rehearsing. It goes back to that feeling of trying to master a new way of using my body, and wanting to just be there already. I love the journey there, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to ask someone just how long it will take for me to arrive.

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6 thoughts on “"Are We There Yet?"

  1. i know exactly what you mean — i have felt all these things, and i get frustrated at least a couple of times every night i am out. i have to remind myself that i am there to enjoy something… what was it? oh, yes, dancing tango, hehe. and that it takes time… i am beginning to think that dancing well isn’t what i really enjoy… when i look back on some of the incredible nights i’ve had, i don’t remember anything about technique or following correctly, or how bad i must have looked before i fixed that bad habit… all i remember is how passionate i had felt that night, and how beautiful my partner had made me feel, and how much i had loved that song at that particular moment when i had my eyes closed…

  2. Hum, my first comment seems to have found trouble…!I wanted to thank you, first, for your link–I have added you to my blogroll as well!Second, love your blog’s concept, and particularly this post–very honest. My way to deal with these feelings–which we all experience–is to remember that there will always be someone better than me… but that this is not important. In the end, the Tango Road is about the road, not about a destination… which we never really reach (since the Road is ever-expanding). That is why it is so important to enjoy every step, every little success, every moment of bliss.

  3. I am so glad that I am not the only person who feels these things! I, too, try to enjoy the moments of blissful dancing without worrying about every technical detail – or getting everything right! You never know when a misunderstood lead could turn into something beautiful or fun. 🙂 And it certainly can’t be about arriving at some imaginary level of dancing where everything will just feel perfect all the time – I work around enough professional dancers to know that you never feel like you’ve really reached an end point in your technique!

  4. As a leader I have to say that the follower missing a lead is the absolute last on my list of priorities. What she does AFTER is much more important to me. The best dancers out there miss leads, maybe because they were not 100% on, or more likely because the lead wasn’t as good/early/late/clear/etc it could’ve been. A really great follower will generally not get flustered, not loose concentration, not get tense and not apologize. An amazing dancer will make that mishap a “feature”, she would insert something into the dance that would make the mishap work.I wish tango instructors would have “damage control” workshops, where they would teach options when when things go … not as planned.

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