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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Good intentions?

Does the following scenario sound familiar?  I'll bet it's happening in a milonga near you - wherever you may be!

A beginner dancer musters up the courage to attend a milonga after taking just a few lessons. She's thinking of watching & learning, not expecting to dance. Yet before long, an older experienced dancer approaches and invites her to dance.

Throughout the tanda he proceeds to share his advice with her, so that she may know how to do giros, volcadas, leg-wraps, etc. Being a tango novice, she politely accepts all his comments, including his urgent exhortations to go into the cross or now do a forward ocho.  In the process, she's allowed to stumble around, feeling inadequate.  I'm sure that you get the picture. You've seen it all before!

We've all been rank beginners.  I dare say that most ladies have been assisted in our journey by a more experienced dancer taking us on to the dance-floor for our first real tango.  But how helpful is the approach experienced by our novice?

It will come as no surprise that her dancing does not improve.  At the end of the tanda, she leaves the dance-floor with her confidence shaken.

One might well ask: What were his intentions?

What could our experienced dancer have done differently?



Bob said...

In my opinion, some of the important elements of tango are communication, musicality and elegance. I can’t see any of that happening with this male dancer – there was no opportunity for elegance with this beginner dancer, no chance of musicality, and I don’t regard verbal instruction as the communication that belongs in tango. Whenever I dance with any lady, beginner or experienced, a constant presence is my communication with her body. It’s essential that I communicate my intentions clearly and in good time – I need to speak a language that she understands. There’s no point speaking Arabic to a Chinese-only speaker, so the first thing I need to do is work out how much of my tango language she’s likely to understand and respond to. My communication needs to be explicit, so that we can dance as a couple and express what the music is saying to us. Not only is the male dancer in question showing a total lack of respect for this lady, he simply lacks the essential skill of body communication. He’d be better off dancing by himself, because he appears to lack the sensitivity to dance with a partner.

Anonymous said...

I think some male dancers simply want to give themselves an ego boost as they are more interested in the sound of their own voice than genuinely helping anyone.

By the very nature of this approach, I would be questioning whether these guys should be tagged with 'experience' or 'advanced' as tango isn't just about the steps, it is about everything else that goes with it (etiquette, manners...etc)

Anonymous said...

I don't give advice but am considering if it's ok to ask followers to "relax into the music" during a dance. Sometimes I get followers who are tense and focused too much on themselves and perhaps the precision of their movements. With beginners I'm often tempted to say "trust yourself". :-/

-T (Auckland)

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

You are faced with a dilemma here, T. You want to ease the lady's tension, reassure her, help her to enjoy the dance. However, there's always the chance that by doing so, this will simply make her feel that you don't feel comfortable dancing with her .... and increase her tension. There's a place for this gentle advice in a practica, but I believe that the milonga is for social dance.
Make a mental note, and depending on your relationship with her, talk to her at some other time about the tension that we all have when we dance, and how we can work on relaxation.
In the meantime,keep things simple in the milonga with inexperienced partners. Allow them to feel that they are, in fact, dancing successfully. This will help build confidence and lower stress. By enjoying the experience, her confidence will grow, thus reducing stress.

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