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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Dancing the pause

The 'pause' in tango is a powerful moment - just as in conversation when room is given to contemplate what has been said, to interpret, then respond.  There's stillness, which is far from inert.

At times, the dance-floor can appear as a place of constant motion.  This is to be expected with milonga, largely so with vals, but tango often invites the pause.  If we hear changing dynamics in the music, then it follows that our dance should reflect that.  In between the changes in dynamics, there can be times when we slow down, suspend the bodies, and let the music talk to us more intimately.

Carlos Gavito: "tango isn't the dancing step but rather it's what's between one step and the next, where there's nothing, where the silences are, where the memory and the remembered things are." *

However, the pause is not easy.  Some women have said that they adore the pause. Others that they find it physically challenging.  For the men, the challenges are everywhere - physically, mentally and emotionally.  I can think of at least 4 elements needed to exploit the beauty of the pause:
  • Good balance and posture
  • Anticipation of the dynamic changes in the music - which presupposes a familiarity with the music
  • Patience - holding it until the last possible moment
  • Self-confidence - to slowly come to a pause and remain suspended for a time
The dance doesn't stop during the pauses - there is still a tiny musical movement of the body.  It is a moment when nothing else exists apart from your partner and the music.

Carlos Gavito: "if it's true that tango is a sad feeling that we dance, then that means that it's an emotion, not a movement" *

* Interview with Carlos Gavito  in La Milonga Argentina April edition, pages 8-10, with English translation.

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