Tango: my life as a not-so-good leader

And you thought that YOU were the worst dancer in the world ?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Ground Zero 

I went to the CITA desk and asked for a taxi-dancer (taxi-mujer, in this case) for four classes where I did not want to see all the nice teaching ruined by an american partner (typically a fat, unskilled, assertive lady who came to Buenos-Aires and booked an advanced class because her neighbour in Fifth Avenue, NYC, did so last year and she felt jealous). Well, no, the real reason is I felt unsure about my own abilities for these classes ( three intermediates and even one advanced) and thought I would probably need an helpful partner.

Each day I got a different girl, but basically they were all very similar:

A flexible body, making effortless hips/shoulders twists,
Axis and independent balance, never using me as a support,
Instant reaction time for following (whatever I may lead) and adjusting (to my changing the abrazo, or making larger steps…),
Never anticipating anything,
During giros, stepping on the beat and with evenly sized steps.

While in the classes I liked very much these partners, because for the first time I could concentrate on my own mistakes. Also they were patient and supportive. Yet they were clearly not outstanding, they were just flawless. Neither elegant like Lorena nor playful like Alejandra (Arrue).
And now I’m wondering why all the followers can’t be like this. All the aforementioned qualities are nothing special after all, and should be the standard requirements of the random follower, the “ground zero” of tango skills for any woman who has been taking A.T. classes for one year. Yet, out of my nine usual partners (and who have from one to ten years of experience in A.T), four would fail the first item, and six would fail the second.

posted by Pablo  # 3:18 AM
Pablo. You are absolutely right that this is something we should think about. Why is it that one-year damcing followers are not as perfect as you would love them to be? I guess it would be worth thinking about one thing first: how do these ladies learn the technique, the dancing? (and question #2 of course: why are they not learning technique as good as they can? are there other things they bring to and take from tango?)
I would prefer having teachers only who try to make the best dancers any of their students can be instead of trying to make a living or even more than that. But I know that not all (just a tiny fraction) is in it for the dance per se.
I first read this post after following for about six months, and took it very seriously. I was determined that by a year I would be able to do all these things. Unfortunately, at 11 months, I still struggle with every single one. I'm just more aware now than ever before of exactly how I'm a part of things not working. And it seems that if one aspect is going well, another is not. Now that I know how to position my feet to keep better balance, all my good leads complain that I'm stiff, which has never (to my knowledge) been a problem before.

Yet when asked how long I have been dancing, people are always surprised that it's so little time. I've been continually complimented on being light, smooth, aware of the music, even on having good posture. If anyone knows the secrets of how these taxi dancers learned such perfect technique, possibly had that "ground zero" after only a year, I would love to have it shared with me.
Hey you still have one month! Just kidding...

Being now a little more familiar with Bs-As taxi-girls, I'd say most of them aren't girls next door. They're overall dancers. With their background in Modern jazz, or Belly dancing, or whatever, they quickly become nice followers, without even needing too much dedication to A.T
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