I am getting frustrated – or maybe I am just puzzled, or surprised. Perhaps it’s just my own hopelessly inexperienced Tango …. but I am finding it hard to find followers to dance with who care not so much about following, but more about dancing.
I understand that there is a level of experience when if I give a follower time she will take that time to embellish, to decorate. And enjoy it.
I used to think that this was enough – that this was the indication of a tango followers competence and confidence, and my own progress past a pure beginner leader – precisely because I listened and gave her that time and opportunity. But it seems now to create an all too familiar set of minor gestures – normally with the feet – that while they can be lovely are somehow not enough.
They feel insubstantial to me. A frothy kind of addition that has little depth of emotion. and that I feel would be the same with any leader that she was dancing with.
Perhaps this just shows my own lack of ability and understanding, but I want a follower to really change the way I dance. I want her to slow me down, to spiral her back as she steps across me, perhaps to even change her weight – (shock horror – surely not!!) – provided she is clear in communicating the fact that she wants to change system, and it is not done frequently or with no meaning – why should she not be the one to indicate that? I would be pleased to follow such a lead. But I have never had the opportunity.
People use phrases to describe Tango like ‘two people dancing as one”. Yes, of course – a miracle of communication. But that one person should not be me – it should be us.
So often in talking to the talented and graceful women who dance Tango I can feel the mindset that the goal is “not to make mistakes”. That the perfect follow has picked up and delivered against everything that the leader wanted. She has never let him down.
But for me I would so prefer more mistakes – if they are caused by the fact that I missed the way that she wanted to change the way we are dancing to a particular piece of music. Mistakes because I am not used to so much creativity and I need to raise my own listening skills significantly. Mistakes because I am not used to feeling such a strong response and participation from a follower. Mistakes because the energy flows between us are strong and unique.
So I can feel what she is feeling, and learn how to bring her emotions as strongly into how we jointly interpret a piece of music as my own feelings.
Such mistakes would be so wonderful and so very enjoyable.