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Monday, 2 January 2012

Ladies in waiting

No, this isn’t a reference to serving the royals, but rather a key element of the dance. Anticipation by followers is a hazard for their leaders and can destroy the timing & interpretation of the music that defines each tango; it also affects the leaders’ balance & posture as well as making them tense & watchful – not great for improvisation. I’m talking about guessing at what’s coming next & stepping into it, rather than intuitiveness with regard to timing & rhythms that comes with long experience.

So what can help women wait for the lead (a proposal) instead of moving ahead of her partner? Maybe looking at some possible causes will provide some clues. I’d suggest that it begins in the woman’s head – does she have confidence in her own skills and trust in her partner? From the beginner, who can do no more than walk well with good posture, to the dancer who has a broad range of well-developed skills, she needs to have a sense of self-belief – a belief that she can do what she does well - regardless of the partner (provided, of course, he can lead effectively). This confidence will translate to her being prepared to wait for a clear, well-timed lead – after all, rushing ahead can mean the moment is lost, whereas if she takes her time, the man has no alternative but to wait for her.

Clearly, this assumes that the man leads in a manner that will generate trust in his partner. He needs to quickly assess what his partner can do well, and dance within that range in order to make it an enjoyable tango for them both. He also needs to subscribe to the principle that he leads (proposes), the woman follows (listens and then responds in her own time), and he follows her (when the music invites). Which sounds very much like the leader needs to listen to and wait for the follower!

In fact, it’s that constant & well-timed two-way communication between the two bodies which can result in a truly satisfying tango.

So what can you (leader or follower) do if you find yourself dancing with a partner who doesn’t wait?



  1. Another great post! A humble comment from a man; the worst experiences come from dancing with women who are processing the tango in their brain. THIS IS THE MAN'S JOB! The best ladies to dance with, whether beginners or not, are those who focus only on what the man's body is telling them. Hence, and ironically, lady equestrians often make very good tango partners, providing they leave the jodphurs, crop, and spurs at home. A woman riding a horse does not look at the horse's feet to decide what she needs to do next! Nor is she trying to remember what she was taught in Horsemanship 101!
    Keep up the good work, this is surely the best tango web-site in Australia.

  2. ...that the man leads in a manner that will generate trust in his partner.

    Very well analyzed, very well said.

  3. Well said John, but it is a learned thing and can take some time for a beginner to comprehend what is required, for me, once I honed in to this technique, it was a complete pleasure to dance tango.

    Sheila Varnes from Adelaide


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