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Monday, 9 January 2017

Music is the leader

Much is said about men as leaders, and there’s a lot of merit in “he leads, she responds, then he follows her”.  However, more fundamental to the dance is the ability of the couple to let the music lead them. Thanks Tango Therapist for articulating this concept. 
But it appears not everyone places such a supreme value on the music that they dance to.  This can be seen in: “I’ll dance tango to anything”, couples already on the dance floor before the music even starts, and others who carry on conversations during their tanda.  However, these are exceptions; I believe most dancers want to connect with the rhythms, emotions, and cadences of every piece that they dance.  To go some way to achieving this, some dancers even reserve a particular orchestra or a vals tanda for particular partners.

Listening is essential, and it starts with the man & woman listening to each other’s bodies at every moment, with every move, every lead and response.  Then there is a higher order skill – listening to and interpreting the music.  Higher order, because it is premised on good physical technique & control, a body memory of movements that will respond to music (rather than the dancer engaging in a thought-process), good floor-craft, a strong familiarity with the music, and a sensitivity & respect towards one’s partner.

So, is this listening to the music the man’s domain alone?   Absolutely not!  When I dance, I want my partner to hear the music, and to feel the congruence of my response to it.  I want to take her on a journey, but one that she will feel is guided by the nuances of the music.  If her total focus is ‘listening’ to my movements & responding to them, then she is not engaged with the music.

To listen to the music and be taken on this journey, a woman needs to trust her partner – trust that he will lead absolutely clearly, giving her the time she needs to respond; trust that she will be physically secure; trust that he is dancing for her, and not for himself; and trust that he is truly listening to the music.

Ladies, once you really listen to the music, you will be less likely to be surprised by any lead or timing, because it will “feel right”, and you will be more likely to respond in a way that will enhance the dance.  

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