A personal checklist, and actitude

Mini checklist.jpg

I’ve mentioned before Iona Italia writing something that really resonated with me, written as advice for giving feedback to a practice partner …

Most of the critiques you’ll have of your partner will be things he or she already knows: think of them not as instructions but as mantras. For the body to understand, we may need to repeat the guidelines many many times. 

That’s absolutely true for me. Take a busy milonga, unfamiliar music or a practica where I’m working on a new figure, and it’s very easy to neglect the basics. So I’ve created a little 3×2-inch checklist that will live inside one of my tango shoes, so I can issue myself a reminder each time I put them on.

It’s a very personal one. The things I’m most likely to forget or neglect when my head is full of other stuff, like navigating.

Point 4 isn’t a ‘rule,’ just something I’ve found works really well. I want a reliable way to signal to my partner that I’m about to move, and to be 100% sure her weight is where I want it. I’ve been using a deep breath, and found that a good signal, but an even more reliable one is a single weight change one beat before moving.

Points 7 and 8 are essentially different ways of saying the same thing, and I could have written ‘maintain the frame’ or some other wording also, but point 7 is a very practical way for me to think about it and point 8 an extra reminder of a crucial point.

Point 10 is because it’s easy for me to slip into just walking! So a reminder to inject some variety.


Pablo from Tango Space invented the word ‘actitude.’

A combination of Acting (pretend you’re super confident in your dancing) and Attitude (dance as if you are).

Thinking about why I wasn’t using dramatic pauses/suspensions, I realised it was actually feeling inhibited – that I wasn’t yet good enough. That it would look faintly ridiculous for a beginner to apparently think he’s Sebastián Achaval.

So I think actitude is the answer here!

Someone in a tango Facebook group responded to my comment that I wouldn’t be cabaceoing random experienced followers yet by suggesting that I should just take a deep breath and go for it. So maybe actitude should be my motto du jour …

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