Last night I did a demo for a local university’s tango club. Never before have I gotten a standing ovation walking into a room like that. Granted, I think the cheering was all for my partner, who is incredibly popular with these kids.
Everyone cleared the floor right as we walked in, so we ended up dancing the demo completely cold. Ah well, at least I was feeling it by the second of the two songs we danced. The demo ended up going fairly well, with only a few really clear balance issues or missed leads. (This is the problem for me and performing tango – I lose a little of my balance and get more nervous about missing leads, which of course makes me miss them even more. On the other hand, I am better about other things.)
The students were thrilled, and they asked some great questions: How far ahead does the leader plan his steps? How do you two communicate? How does the follower know if there is time to throw in an embellishment? How long did you spend just practicing walking? And more. They are eager to learn. And everyone, including the teacher (who I have only had a chance to really talk to a couple times), was surprised that I have only been dancing for a year and a half.
Which reminds me. Getting this compliment gives me mixed feelings. I appreciate the sentiment, and I am happy to hear that I have learned quickly. But progressing faster than other dancers, while making me feel good about myself, doesn’t really tell me how I am doing. I appreciate other compliments so much more! Hearing surprise at how quickly I have learned doesn’t make me glow as much as a compliment to the feeling I put into my dancing, or my musicality, or how fun I am to dance with. When I step onto the milonga floor, I don’t care about how long it took me to learn these things; I care about being enjoyable to dance with. And with my friends, with leaders who know me and who feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, I appreciate the compliments as well as the tips as to what I could work on next.
As my ballet teacher once told my class, every critique from her is like being handed a bouquet of roses. It is like saying, You are doing so well, and if you just improve this one thing you can be amazing. I want to be amazing.
P.S. One week until I get to wear my new shoes to a milonga! Hint: They remind me of pointe shoes because of the fabric and color. And they make me feel very girly!