I really wish the bloggers over at Movement Invites Movement would consider turning on their comments! I have questions, want clarification … I can’t even find an email address for private communication. (Am I overlooking something?) So I guess I’ll just post my questions and thoughts here once again.
The most recent post on their blog discusses musicality. This was at least somewhat inspired by the comments on a post on Tribulaciones de Milonga about what qualifies as tango. (I just want to pause a moment to say how beautiful I think the writing style is on that particular blog, and how nice it is to have a compelling reason to exercise my Spanish skills!)
Back to Movement Invites Movement: The main question I have is why they insist on this continuous movement they talk about.
This is a difficult concept to explain (or even show) to people, especially those who do not understand music and/or dance at some level. We can only point out that if the steps are arriving early or at the beginning of the beat and arriving on the beat “dead” (the step “ends” there – sort of like a wedding march), there’s a good chance the dancing is S.O.S. style. Continuous movement through the walk, for example, is not S.O.S. style. Movement INVITES movement – lack of movement or movement that is jerky/cutting kills the movement.
I think I understand what they mean (thank goodness for my lifetime of dance and musical training!), but I don’t understand why. Musicality does not equal rhythm, but a rhythmic dance with sudden movement is not necessarily amusical.
(As an aside, the term “sudden” as I used it comes from a dance theory developed by Rudolf Laban that divides up the quality of any movement into four categories: weight, space, time and flow. A movement can be strong or light (weight), direct or indirect (space), sudden or sustained (time), and bound or free (flow). I believe that the kind of movement our fellow bloggers are looking for has a sustained rather than sudden quality. They may be objecting to something more specific, such as a strong, sudden, bound step. If I have misunderstood, I hope they will correct me.)
So what I don’t understand is why this sort of movement can’t fit in tango. I know that, personally, I enjoy the sustained movements. I like feeling the larger phrasing in the music. This might come out in a sense of a beginning, middle and end to the movement that fits with the musical phrase. It might be a connection between sustaining a movement as the music sustains a note or feeling. In any case, I really do enjoy this kind of dancing. But I also appreciate leaders who identify very rhythm-oriented orchestras and play with those rhythms. I wouldn’t want that kind of dancing all the way through most songs, or very much at all with certain orchestras, but if there is a lot of playing around with rhythm in a prominent way in the music … why not translate that to the steps? I would not, of course, want to lose the dancing that happens in the rest of the body along the way, which may or may not have the same feeling that my feet have.
Am I making any sense?