Tuesday, September 19, 2006


So far you have been studying to better understand tango and practicing to improve your technique. But tango is not just an intellectual or athletic activity. It also has esthetic and emotional and social sides. To learn these you must dance, even if you only do it in private. Even if you only do it with a pretend partner!

So start a piece of music that you and your partner like, or request or wait for one if you're at a dance. Embrace your partner, but don't begin to move or expect to move right away. Open up a space inside yourself and let the music fill it, to become part of you. Let your body very subtly "bounce" to the pulse of the music. Enjoy the melody and whatever singing there might be.

Also, focus on your partner and your connection with them. Try, but not hard, to make your frame good. "Listen" to their "body language" and imagine what they might be experiencing. Enjoy the feel of your arms around them and theirs around you.

If you're leading the dance, when it feels right - not before - begin walking. If you're following, don't be anxious to start. Resist (just the tiniest bit) the leader's efforts. This will actually help your partners lead you and make it easier for you to follow them.

Keep your head up and stay alert to obstacles and others around you but not hyper-alert. You have a lifetime of skills that will protect you and others. When you occasionally bump another couple or your partner say "Sorry!" but don't make a big deal of it - as long as you didn't kill or maim anyone, anyway!

When you or others make a mistake - and everyone does no matter how good they become - DON'T try to figure it out or work to correct it. You're supposed to be dancing, not analyzing or practicing technique. Just recover from the mistake as gracefully and quietly as you can and continue dancing. As you get better at handling mistakes you'll fear them less. You will also sometimes discover a step new to you when you recover from a mistake.

As you dance think of yourself as a great jungle cat and your body will automatically begin to move with the proper tango style. Imagine yourself as powerful, graceful, and beautiful as the cat. Often you will begin to feel and move and even look the way you imagine.

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