What are your biggest challenges are in Tango? What do you try to focus on the most when you are dancing?
Here are the most popular answers I got from friends and students:
Connecting with the follower was at the very top of the focus-list for every single one of the leaders I talked to.
“Establish a good 1on1 dialogue”
“Not competing with my partner, but working together to create a dream(…)”
“A connection beyond the limits of words and vocabulary”
On the dancefloor:
Leaders(thinking): “This is AWESOME!!!”
Opening of the embrace….taaaam, taam, tam
(Does any of this sound familiar..?)
Just, when you thought, you’ve got it..!
You thought, you created an amazing dance for HER, you expected her to feel swept off her feet and yet you open your embrace to half smilling follower with a look of pity on her face.
You are frustrated with yourself, with the followers, with milongas, with the dj, with the Tango Messias-who were supposed to change your Tango world…!
I know that you are now thinking ANOTHER female Tango teacher trying to tell me that she UNDERSTANDS…
I haven’t gone through awkward phases, like this:
Where you, leaders, feel awkward and basically feel like dorks, thinking that she probably hates your guts and wondering when this awful night is going to be finally over!
And I surely haven’t been in situations, with dudes saying:
“Alpha male don’t dance… they don’t need to!”
Nor did disgusting posts like this:
“I took a few ballet lessons when I was a kid before people calling me homo put me off it…” ever stopped me for dancing…
But I, like you, started leading from class #1, and I had no idea how to connect with the other person…
Just like you, I didn’t have the slightest idea, when to start, on this completely unknown music.
Plus I, too, hated traditional music, it didn’t speak to me. I felt like, my grandfather would be able to do a much better job than me!
I got the weird tips on “machismo” that all leaders get:
“ If you want to lead, you have to lead like a MAN!”,
“The follower is like a Queen, you create the path for your Queen to pass..!”
“WHAT DOES THAT EVEN SUPPOSED TO MEAN, MAN?!?!?!?”
And I got my share of:
“This is too tight…” “This is too loose…”
“No no no this too close” but now “This is too open…”
Her: “Oh! I just danced with X and he is just amazing at this! You should do this and this and this and blah blah blah”
Me: nodding (thinking: “ If you followed, things would have been so much better!!!”)
Her: “blah, blah, blah…I am only trying to help…”
Me: nodding (thinking: “NEVER dancing with you again…!”)
here it comes….the EYE-ROLL:
HOW DO WE GET OUT OF THIS TANGO HELL!?!
A few amazing tips for you leaders, that will get wonderful followers lining up to dance with you– before you even change into a Tango God!
4 things before we start:
- Confidence Vs Arrogance: Women, absolutely, positively HATE the latter! I know you are not arrogant and you are only trying to boost your confidence, BUT don’t over do it..! Also no bio presentation between dances.
- Women, also, hate passive-aggressive, secretly bitter old maids, as much as you do! No bitching between dances, unless it’s for jokes…hah
- Get to know your music. Then you can be the one all followers are talking about, when saying: “He is a beautiful leader! He doesn’t do intricate sequences, but he is very musical.”
- Women like surprises, ONLY if they are good ones! Watch it with those new moves you picked up.
So here go:
MUSICALITY– Its NOT all about the beat!
- Choose 4-5 rhythmical songs, the more you have the better. Give yourself enjoyable options, keeping in mind that the faster the song the more difficult this is going to be.
A few examples:
- Start by actively listening. Do NOT dance. Do NOT think of any moves. ONLY listen to the songs, trying to identify the parts with a solid, strong beat( chang, chang, chang) and the melodic parts.
- Choose one song that you like more, and each time the rhythmical part comes up, you just march–a pure, gym- like march. When the melody comes up you STOP completely, waiting for the beat to start again. Absolutely, NO TANGO yet!
- After you repeat the previous step so many times, you could actually sing the song to us, change the march to Tango-y shift of weight on the rhythmical parts and pause on the melodic parts.
- When you feel ready, do forward steps on the rhythmical parts and side steps on the melodic parts.
*NOTE#1*: how different the forward steps feel compared to the side steps?
*NOTE#2*: What do you need to do to change pace and direction?
- When you start feeling super- duper comfortable with this, change things around. Do side steps on the rhythm and forward on the melody. And then start playing, more and more with it, splitting the rhythmical part between forward steps and shifts of weight and similarly work on the melody.
The idea here is to start from the music and not from the steps..!
Get into it with a child’s mind!
Children won’t stop to think: “Oh! Where is the “1” so I can start dancing”
NOOOO! They just start dancing, moving around, having fun with it.
Here, leaders, things will get a bit more difficult but also FUN…
- Choose a sequence, you feel super comfortable with. A sequence you have done so many times, you can’t even bare to hear the name of it, any more.
Back ochos and sandwich, Box step… whatever, it doesn’t matter. It has to be something you can do even with your eyes closed.
- Change the way you get into it.
For example: Back ochos and sandwich.
Usually you get into back ochos from a side step, try to replace that with maybe a forward or back step.
Or: You can actually replace the back ochos with something else like, forward ochos.
Get creative. Have fun, try different ideas, different options. There is no follower with you at this phase, so you shouldn’t limit yourself in any way.
- Every sequence, you come up with, is a “new” sequence. After exploring the different entrances, do each one of them following the dance- line. See what works on the dance- floor.
Dance as if you have a partner. Every move you create, should be created with the maximum precision and accuracy.
- After you repeat this exercise a gazillion times– you are almost hating yourself by now– go back to the initial sequence and change the way of exit.
For example: Back ochos and sandwich.
Usually the follower passes over and we close with forward ochos.
You can instead, exit with back ochos, or with forward steps for her–back steps for you–or with an ocho- cortado…
- Put it on it the dance floor
- Match the different entrances with the different exits. How many options do you have?
A lot, REALLY a lot!
The more you work on it the more options you will be coming up with. And all great surprises for the followers!
SEQUENCE IMPROVISATION ON THE MUSIC
Leaders, it is time to put the two together..!
- Pick the simplest of your sequences, and adjust it to the rhythmical and the melodic part of the music. It will take a few reps and you would have to follow different paths to see what fits best.
There is not really right and wrong here! So…
Make each part of the sequence fit the melody and the rhythm, NOTHING MORE.
- Put it again on the dancefloor. After you practice, with the music and going around, with your ghost- lady– no complaints from this one…haha– make your space smaller. Every time, you feel ready, you make the space even smaller. See how it affects your sequence.
*NOTE*: Get really creative with this… Maybe get chairs in your space pretending there are other couples in your way, making the space smaller and more crowded!
- Do the same for all the sequences you came up with!
First, you try to figure out how they fit to the rhythmical and the melodic parts of the music.
And afterwards, you work on the different dancefloors.
After, you’ve gone through this, with a couple of sequences, you will start noticing, that some things work better on the beat and others work better on the melody. You will find yourself, remembering how the song goes. You will KNOW, that right after this melodic part, we have another melodic part followed by the rhythmic part. What does that mean?
You will be able to hit that first strong beat of that rhythmic part right to the bone! No hesitation, no second thoughts, you will just go for it!
There many other ways you can explore the music and combine it with improvisation. Try this one and leave me a message with your thoughts.
Stay tuned, as much much more material is coming. Don’t skip any steps of this process.
Aaaaand don’t forget to have fun!