Tango Basics

How to define success? Well … Wikipedia’s recipe uses 2 ingredients, the goal and the implementation competence. Although everyone defines their own goals, for me in tango it is clearly the connection between woman, man and music. I remain aware of the division between man and woman, as Leader and Follower assume a role assignment, which personally I do not see. A woman always remains a woman, even if she takes the role of leadership. A division into painter and brush carries the same problem. I understand the implementation competence required by Wikipedia as the necessary “basics”: the posture, the tango step (“La Caminata“) and the interpretation of the music.

These basics I already had appropriated while dancing ballroom about many years, so I decided not to visit a beginner’s class. However, why was it at first so incredibly difficult for me to keep the connection to the woman and the music over a complete tanda? Sometimes I had a good connection at the beginning of the dance, and I suddenly lost it just because my attention wandered off to the dancing steps. Of course, also todays I still have problems to connect with some women, because at least I need in my imagination a place for “more”. Which is why it never made sense for me to dance with a man. Nevertheless at my beginning there was something essential, I did not understand at the Tango Argentino. My conclusion … beginner training!

At that time, all tangos sounded the same and the steps shown were already known to me. After 2-3 years of tango dancing, however, my perception of the music changed and I recognized different emotions that sought their expression. My search for the only valid truth for the “Caminata” came to an abrupt end, because each emotion required its own form and completely overwhelmed me with it. So once again the feeling was dominant: “I never learn that!”.

Yet, world champions have started at some point too. And as often as I had the opportunity to ask them, they were all in agreement … Their secret can be summed up in one word: “PRACTICE!”. Sure, it takes a certain amount of talent, but even there, everyone was in agreement … only about 10 percent talent is enough for the final success.

The focus is on the core competences, the basics. They became rituals for me, like brushing my teeth. I have always been my biggest critic myself. If my body told me mercilessly, which movement just did not fit again. A certain feeling did not come and I felt disappointed because this was the last big key experience in my current development. What was wrong again? Or had I already automated the new idea so that all seemed normal to me? Am I actually standing straight today? How does it feel today? Self-doubt gnaws at me and I have the feeling that I am still standing at the foot of the mountain, which I have been trying to climb for 37 years. So back to the basics … look in the mirror: posture is correct? Alright, is my weight over my feet during the steps? How does the rotation feel? Ups, I tilt…. again! Am I ready to dance with the partner of my choice? Okay, she seems happy … well then, all right!

Barely perceptible from the outside, I always question myself. The feedback from my surroundings is that many of them like to see me dancing and they do appreciate the energy of my way to dance. Why do I seldom feel it for myself? I suspect because my movement has become self-evident to me.

Still remains to dedicate my full attention to the dialogue, because without him, the self-doubts are growing! How do I get into the dialogue? The theme is clear … the music. What does the music want from me? How does my body react to it? Tension or relaxation? How does my partner feel? Which part of the music is she currently interpreting? Is she also looking for the dialogue? Is she at a distance, or does she cling to me? What is her dress made of? Where is her head and what are her feet doing? Which part of her body responds to my impulses? I feel the whiff of her breathing on my neck, her embrace is soft and round … Hurray, I’m allowed to paint the music with her!

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