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Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Uh-Oh Moment

I don’t mean the Occasional Uh-Oh! moment
… the one that we feel when dancing with a new partner, in particular – those times when communication fails a little, and an opportunity for improvisation presents itself.

I mean the Serious Uh-Oh!
… when you’ve watched the dancers at a milonga, assessed someone as a good choice, successfully cabeceoed, taken up the embrace, taken the first step, then suddenly thought, “Uh-Oh!” … or even “Oh-No!”  You realise that your partner has a poor embrace: too tight, too loose, or can’t walk well, doesn’t pivot, pulls you around, and you come to the conclusion that this will be a long 12 minutes. 
You’ve misjudged your selection, so now you have to deal with it.  As a man, you need to quickly assess what your partner can do, and do your best to make the dance a success – keep it simple, give her the time she needs, make adjustments so that ochos work, etc. As a woman, you can forget about surrendering to the music and your partner. This situation warrants self-preservation tactics, i.e. good technique to maintain your balance and a readiness to take evasive action, if required.
Then there’s the Ultimate Uh-Oh!
… when the behaviour of your partner suggests that the dance may need to be cut short.  For example, dangerous movements in the ronda:  frequent collisions due to inconsiderate navigation, high boleos or sweeps by the woman; inappropriate personal behaviour.   

In such cases, it’s reasonable to have a few tactful words with your partner at the end of a piece of music, and essentially put him/her on notice (remember, we’re talking about the Ultimate Uh-Oh!).  Should the behaviour continue unchanged, then it’s appropriate to end the dance at an opportune moment; regardless, the man should escort his partner back to her table.

Maybe we should, in fact, value the Occasional Uh-Oh! moments because they are the ones that define every unique tango conversation with our many partners.  They’re not ‘mistakes’, but rather opportunities to adapt our dance in a way that will enhance the experience with our partners.

We know you’ve had them, so how have you dealt with your Uh-Oh moments?



Anonymous said...

"High boleos and sweeps (planeos?) by the woman" shouldn't count as an "uh-oh" moment. It's odd to blame someone for something you yourself have led, such as a boleo. If you don't want a high boleo, don't lead one! And if she's doing planeos as a decoration, there's nothing wrong with that, as such, unless it's crowded. Again, don't lead the kind of big swoopy paradas that will make her want to planeo in response unless there's room. But, please, don't blame your partner for something you yourself have led.

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

Dear Anonymous, I couldn't agree more. However,I'm referring to occasions when the man doesn't lead any of this, and his partner insists on independent movements that endanger other dancers. He has a responsibility to deal with this awkward situation. I wonder how others would respond.

Anonymous said...

For me, tango is a feeling shared by two in the embrace, a silent conversation.

Many are teaching that it's a dance with freedom of expression. That's where the problems arise.

I remember only once having to leave the floor before the end of a tanda many years ago. After that I learned to select wisely. Observing a man's conduct and his selection of partners helps.

Great post, Bob.

Chris said...

Janis wrote: "Many are teaching that it's a dance with freedom of expression. That's where the problems arise"

Very true. There's no problem with freedom of expression itself. Freedom of expression of the music and all that grows from it is what gives us the embrace and ronda of social dancing. The problem is freedom of expression of the perversions that naturally arise from dance teaching based on bulk instruction in classes, devoid of foundation in the music, of embrace, and of ronda. This teaching is the primary source of the anti-social behaviour in question.

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

Totally agree, Chris. Both group or private classes can be a effective vehicles for teaching and reinforcing good social tango behaviour - embrace, ronda, connection, appropriate movement, and very importantly, response to a variety of traditional tango music. Unfortunately, classes such as this are too few.

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