When we dare to put a foot wrong

I am so very lucky – I get the occasional dance with a formula one dancer.

This is only because I pay for their time – they are teachers.

And not just ordinary teachers – but passionate, talented professionals with over 10 years of teaching experience, a truly  intimate knowledge of the tango world, a huge sensitivity to the music and thousands upon thousands of accumulated kilometres on the dance floor.

I am also so very, very fortunate because I get to practise and work with some people who – like me – just love to learn.

And for me the most exciting, memorable joyous things in that learning experience are about the interpretation of the music and taking risks together. I love it when she pauses unexpectedly – when she holds me back just by her presence and her immersion in the music.

I curse myself when I sense it too late – and I rush her. I thought of one response and she felt something else -and I was just too slow – I blew it and now she is going to play safe for a while. Damn it! I just wasn’t good enough. I held her back from the edge. I caged her.

Safe is boring. Correct is not good enough. For both of us.

My focus is on learning, learning, learning so that when she feels something I can react fast enough and run with her. Tango is of course based on walking, but dancing with a woman who expresses the music surely requires a different mental agility and physical speed – like some kind of futuristic martial art where energies and balance points spiral without friction between us.

Where she can hang over the edge and look down that precipice of failure and yet feel totally, totally safe.


I need to be  so fast and so seamless that she honestly feels I was always with her – even though I am in reality breathless – heart racing – feeling so happy to support her as she just flows wherever the music takes her.

Tango is an improvised dance – there are so few rules and whatever rules there are can be broken if you have the technique to stay within them.

It’s our choice – lean out over that edge and look down – or just shuffle about.


One thought on “When we dare to put a foot wrong”

  1. difficult to add to that Nigel, except……

    Dancing with someone you know is as passionate about tango as oneself, is scary.

    Scary because one can sense all the possibilities of what could be danced, but holding back in case …. just in case …. its not allowed, or may be too exotic or …..too extreme. But when courage takes you running with the rhythm of the dance, and the rhythm of who one is dancing with, knowing that they too want to go to the edge and fall over, no matter what.. and the music holds both in its hands and the excitement at that last beat. the end… no, just the beginning!

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