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.]