One of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever had


I mentioned last time my plan to spend a little time learning to follow in order to help inform my lead. The question was: could I, within say 4-5 hours of private lessons, reach the point where I would get ‘aha!’ moments about my leading?

The initial idea was to devote a two-hour lesson with Maeve to following, then see whether we both felt I might hit that 4-5 hour deadline …

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A major realisation, and a bold plan

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Tuesday evenings are straight into the improver’s class, as that precedes the beginner’s one. After a warm-up dance, we started with outside walking and then moved onto the cross.

I hadn’t been happy with my lead of the cross. It felt sloppy, and followers often ended up in a kind of half-hearted one. But tonight it clicked into place, and the key was fairly obvious in retrospect …

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My six-month appraisal

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This week’s Tango Space theme is dissociation, and my week began as usual with the Monday beginner’s class followed by the improver’s one. The difference this week is that the 10-week cycle is starting again, so this time I’ve done everything in the beginner’s classes once before. I was hoping that would allow me to focus less on the ‘what’ and more on the ‘how’ …

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A ballet taster class, and a simple dissociation tip

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Glamorously attired in the bottom half of a Virgin Atlantic sleep suit and a loose-fitting Nike t-shirt, I looked entirely unlike any ballerino the world had ever seen. Me, one other bloke and about 15 women, waiting in a dance studio in a Kings Cross college for a one-hour ballet taster class to begin …

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A plan to move beyond my Minimal Comfort Zone

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My usual approach to Tango Space lessons does seem to do the trick: do beginner, Practica and improver classes on Monday; then the improver class on Tuesday (with the follow-on beginner class in reserve if I’m still struggling).

The two classes tend to take different approaches …

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The calesita … and variations


Back into group classes after my illness-enforced absence, and the theme was the calesita. A movement in which the follower pivots on one foot in the centre while the leader walks backwards around her.

In the beginner’s class, we did a sidestep entry, the calesita itself – and then the idea was for the leader to stop, but not stop the follower’s pivot. If all went to plan, her momentum would see her continue to pivot for about another 1/4 of a turn, by which time she should be facing the leader once more …

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Meet my new practice partner


Diego recommended her. She isn’t the most responsive of followers, but does have a few advantages. She has a very strong core and holds her axis well. Pivots very nicely on the spot. Doesn’t do anything I don’t lead. But most importantly of all, she’s always available.

She’s currently helping me practice a couple of key things …

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A breakthrough after an unplanned break


It’s been said that it can be a good idea to take a break from tango every now and then, to allow things to consolidate,. I could see sense in that, but the fixed cycle of the Tango Space classes complicated matters. I wanted to wait until I’d completed the full 12-week cycle, and then pick a week with a topic where I felt sufficiently comfortable to skip a week.

As things turned out, I didn’t get any say in the matter …

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A vague Americana, and an exploding brain

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The theme of this week’s Tango Space lessons is the Americana. A figure in which leader and follower end up walking side-by-side.

Even the beginner version had a lot to think about. Rebound forward on left foot while dissociating to the left. Then during the spring back, dissociate right while stepping back with the left foot, and keep opening to the right while taking a side step. Then one Americana step forward together, the leader taking a slightly shorter step, then re-associate right and keep the follower’s weight on her left foot so you can walk out …

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