It’s all about “How,” not “How Many.”

I just got out of a session with my body worker. She was telling me about a client who came to her early on, wanting private Pilates sessions. This client had been doing Pilates elsewhere for a while, but when she arrived all she wanted to do was power through a bunch of different moves. The body worker wanted her to slow down—Pilates is all about doing moves very precisely, with control, emphasizing quality over quantity. She wanted the client to learn how to do one move properly, because doing it improperly twenty times doesn’t get you anywhere. It is about how you do each movement, rather than how many you do. The client ended up doing just a few sessions with this body worker and then never came back.

My idea of tango is all about how rather than how many. I don’t care how many steps you can squeeze into the dance, or how many well-known teachers you have studied with, or how many orchestras you can name. I care about how you dance. I want each step you take to have meaning, to have a place in the song we are dancing to. I want you to pay attention to how I move and respond in kind.

I want the quality of your movement to take precedence over the kind of movement you do.

A single walking step, done with feeling and musicality, means more than a fancy move done just because you can. It is surprisingly hard to convince some dancers of this very simple idea. And it goes so much further than tango. How many things do we do in our daily lives that have no meaning? Things we do just because we can, just to say that we have done them? How much better it can be to cut away all the excess, find the simplicity that brings so much joy, and fall deeply into it. Will you help me fall deeply into tango?


4 thoughts on “It’s all about “How,” not “How Many.”

  1. This is a concept I try to convey to younger dancers at some practicas. Not necessarily by words but most of the times by focusing a lot on the quality of the move, to help them figure it out if they like it or not.

    I agree 200% with your post.

  2. I also try to communicate this to new leaders at practicas. They are often so concerned about learning more moves. I try to encourage them to think about the quality of their walk, and to try to play with simple steps in musical ways.

    Thanks for the comments!

  3. Life in the fast lane is DOING rather than BEING, going through the motions in daily life rather than being present in the moment.

    Thinking gets in the way of the dance. The embrace is more important than the steps. The music tells us how to dance what we feel.

  4. No doubt: The „how“ leads you to depth, to new ‘rooms’, to intimacy.
    So, what happens, when I do single walking steps as you mention. I get very different answers. The one dancer walks with me and I feel her question „When does this guy start to dance?“ The next dancer walks with me and trys to get me into the lead for ochos or voleos. Just to walk is vasted time, the teacher told a lot about figure, „I’m here for training, be active or I will be“, she seems to communicate.
    „I want fun and moving adventures, not looking to the birds in a park“ the next dancer seems to tell.
    And sometimes – sometimes I feel after 2,3 steps, she wants to sink into me, but never lose herself. I feel the smile from toe to nose, when I do an accent with the music.

    Thanks for your posting!

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