Friday, December 29, 2017

Thought For the Day

Teaching beginners to start their Tango with a back step is like teaching a toddler to mouth obscenities.

They do not understand it.

It is socially unacceptable.

It is likely to have negative consequences when they come out with it at inappropriate times.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tango: Drama or Emotion?

Those of us who have danced Tango for years love the way the shared improvisation to the music allows us to express emotion through the music and the dance. In the best Tangos, the brain is taken out of the equation. Our Tango takes on an almost Zen quality, in which the music, our partner, and all the other dancers in the ronda all come together to express the emotions of the dance.

The problem is that, in Tango as in life, we all too often mistake DRAMA for EMOTION.

When we dance with DRAMA, the focus is on the performance, not on the music, or the connection. And the result often kills the EMOTION.

The DRAMATIC dancers dance figure after figure - ganchos, boleos, sacadas, volcadas - and their dance becomes all about the figures. Women do embellishment after decoration after adornment, giving the impression that they are too restless to actually hear the music. Dancers race around the floor using big, dramatic steps, ignoring the subtle rhythms and emotions that are so much a part of traditional Tangos, and breaking the emotional rapport of all the other couples in the ronda.

We dance to nuevo and alternative Tangos in which the DRAMA slaps you in the face, and scorn the golden age Tangos with their complex, genuine emotions.

And in the process, we lose the true meaning of Tango.

That is not to say there is never a place for DRAMA in Tango. Some tangos call forth dramatic emotions.

But a Tango danced only in the primary colors of DRAMA is an adolescent Tango, not without merit, but lacking depth. The mature Tango dances all the colors of emotion; not just the bright red, yellow and blue, but the mauve, violet,and sage, and even the broken colors, as the music moves us.

Our Tango should be an intimate conversation. We should not shout our emotions to the whole room. When we dance the drama of the music, it should be quiet, considerate drama, without disturbing all the other intimate conversations going on.

Dancing Tango at the salon is a little like singing in a choir. Each part contributes to the beauty of the music, with no one voice overwhelming the rest. And the end result is a harmonious whole.