13 (well, 4) Ways of Looking at a Tango

One idea discussed in our private lesson was the array of skills that tango dancers may possess or choose to cultivate. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, our areas of interest, the things that make us unique.

Some dancers are focused on being the best social dancer possible—being able to dance with anyone, being able to socialize fully on and off the dance floor. I know that I consider tango to be a social venture for me, but really, I do not entirely focus on it as a social thing. I come to dance, and it happens to also be great for socializing. What I do care about is being adaptable and a good partner for most anyone who wants to dance with me.

Another skill is with steps and fully understanding the geometry of those steps. A lot of people (myself included) like to remind people that steps aren’t everything. But they are something. Someone who can execute a volcada with ease and grace, who knows exactly where to put his feet and mine to lead a smooth sacada, is going to be an enjoyable partner.

A good sense of rhythm is yet another skill, and one that can be developed just like any other. We all know the DJs and musicians who seem to bring musicality into their dance almost without having to think about it. We have probably all danced with someone who seems completely lack a sense of rhythm. And then there are dancers who choose intentionally to ignore rhythm in order to focus on other aspects of their dance (and it is nice to be aware that this can be a choice)—the example mentioned in our lesson was Osvaldo Zotto:


Finally (although there are surely others), we talked about quality. Quality may, in fact, be my primary skill and focus. I love paying attention to the melody, to the feelings that it evokes, to the flow of the movement. I love playing with the quality of movement throughout my body, whether it is flexibility in my torso or the distinction between staccato and legato steps.

It is nice to have an awareness of some of these distinct aspects of one’s dance. I was able to hone in on ways to really tweak and refine my quality of movement. It helps to identify the reasons why two people may be great dancers but have trouble meshing—or where they need to put their attention if they want to dance well together. Every partnership requires some accomodation to your partner’s strengths/weaknesses and thus creates an opportunity for a style unique to that partnership.

FYI, please let me know if the ads I just placed in my blog are too annoying or contain objectionable content. I am trying it out but don’t want to keep them around if they bug people.