Saturday, 27 March 2010

Silent tango

The other day, I was watching a tango video from a blog. I can’t remember which one it was or who was dancing but one of the comments said something about watching the dance without the music as it was easier to see the connection between the dancers. This had never occurred to me before but I’ve tried it a few times and found it quite interesting, especially as it sometimes shows you when the follower is back leading or responding to the music without her leader. I’m sure all followers have been guilty of it at one time or another, in fact, I’ve realised that some of my better dances have been not to my favourite music but tangos I don’t know too well. It stops me waiting for a particular ‘twiddly bit’ that I know is coming and doing a particularly appropriate embellishment. It may fit well but I’m not hearing the music anew - I’m hearing it in my memory and responding to that.

Which leads nicely onto musicality which is suddenly a big hot tango topic. Earlier this week, I did a class where we focused on one song for an hour. We dissected it and then tried to separate out all the different parts and instruments. Then we took it in turns dancing to certain aspects – a really awkward exercise and quite chaotic. At one stage I looked around and all I could see were ‘unconnected’ couples everywhere – people listening so hard for particular bits that they had completely lost any connection with their partner. It was a really challenging class but useful.

Afterwards, I thought about how you could try that exercise but in reverse – maybe get couples to dance without any music at all; or to dance completely at odds with the melody/rhythm. It would certainly make each partner connect to the other and would highlight where the lead is going wrong and stop women anticipating the ‘twiddly bit’ and going straight into a giro because ‘8.5/10 leaders are going to do a giro to that part’. I’m not starting a silent revolution or anything but I think an exercise like that might help to shake people up a bit. I wonder who would want to try it with me?

[Aside: I told a friend about my idea later and she scoffed. ‘That sounds like dancing with a bad leader’, she said, ‘I get enough of those at a milonga!’ Maybe its not such a good idea.]


  1. People quite often dance better to live music because they can't use the autopilot.

    I think the exercise you describe was probably chaos just because it's difficult to do, and it's difficult to develop exercises that work for this. Following without the music does help for sorting out technical things I think. But following someone who's ignoring the music is just horrible, and yes, you can do that anywhere. I can point you out some partners if you want to try it ;)

  2. The music is the key to our connection. The music is why we dance. Without it, what inspires us to move together in harmony?

  3. MsH: Please don't! ;-)

    Jantango: Certainly music is the key but is it not the energy between a couple that sync them together? Otherwise, why do you sometimes get two musical dancers who each can dance very well - not gelling together? I'm curious.
    PS: - Thanks for all your previus comments as well :-)

  4. Just because someone seems to have the ability to dance musically doesn't mean they can dance with anyone. Tango is a conversation in which two listen to each another. If their energies are not balanced, nothing will help them dance together, and two never become one.

  5. I'm with Jan on this one. There is this talk of two becoming one, when I think it is really three becoming one. Two people and the music. Some people are just not in tune with each other, for whatever reason, even though they may be both musical and good dancers.
    Dancing without music is just an exercise, especially for tango as it is improvised and the music is so varied, unlike other dance forms where generally there is a distinct rhythm, like Salsa for example. How would you know how to really move without the music and what would be in your head to keep you moving forward?