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Our bootcamp-style social tango classes develop your musicality, connection, technique & improvisation, as well as your confidence with milonga etiquette.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Express yourself!

How many times have you heard these exhortations from teachers of tango:

Allow yourself to be transported by the music.
Focus on the connection with your partner and the music.
Develop your own personal style.

I believe in these statements.  So, why was I aghast when a couple in a milonga was doing their own thing (in concert with the music), executing bizarre, disturbing movements reminiscent of a stage show?

Fortunately, there were no collisions with other dancers or surrounding objects. It was not a case of Dodgems on the dance-floor.  However, their dancing was incongruous with that of other couples around them in the ronda. They seemed unaware of their disruptive influence on an otherwise harmonious dance-floor.

The person sitting next to me was more forgiving and remarked that they were simply expressing themselves. No doubt, they were dancing tango in the way familiar to themselves.  They appeared to be having a good time, and isn't that the most important thing?  It made me ask myself if I had become grouchy and intolerant of styles different to my own.  Was I being too sensitive and critical?  I think not, but that's a somewhat biased opinion, of course!

It seemed that the couple had not internalised a basic fact: Tango is, above all, a Social Dance.

Perhaps they had never been taught the skills and awareness enabling them to dance with the other couples in the ronda.  Maybe the distinction between performance and social tango had never been made clear, ie. social tango is not primarily for the entertainment of onlookers.  Carlitos and Noelia show us the difference, and the contrast could hardly be greater: performance and social tango.

Tango therapist's social tango etiquette emphasizes consideration and respect for the surrounding couples.  Why? Because surrendering to the music and your partner in an intimate embrace requires us to trust not only our partner, but also trust those dancing nearby - something we cannot do if collisions seem likely.

Here are snippets of milongas in Chan Park's documentary trailer, showing how we can express ourselves in the dance and allow those around us to do the same.

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