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 …

The first is circular ochos. Although the principle is straightforward, there are quite a few technique elements that will take me some time to master. Practice is key, and the mop is surprisingly useful as an axis reference.

I realised that something emphasised to followers – to remain in front of the leader’s chest – is equally useful as a reference point for me when working with Ms Mop. If I think in terms of the embrace being a circle, and my job in a pivot being to signal the changing centre of that circle, then with the mop as a reference point I can very easily see where my chest needs to be facing.

I loved the group class Diego ran on having tango be a truly collaborative dance, but was unsure whether ceasing to lead anything at any point might confuse my fellow beginners. However, I realised a parada could prove a flexible tool. If I time it to when the music is lyrical, I can lead an ocho into a parada and then pause. At that point, am experienced follower will recognise she has the space to play. And if a beginner follower simply waits, then I can just use it as a pause before continuing to lead.

So that’s the second thing I’ve been practicing. So far, Ms Mop hasn’t taken advantage of the opportunity to do her own thing, but it’s giving me some really useful practice at pausing in a parada at an appropriate point in the music.

A very brief practice with Steph, for about two minutes before she headed out this morning, revealed that I have some work to do on the timing of the parada, but also that it definitely does work as an invitation to the follower to take the initiative.

I’ll be devoting my solo practice to working with my floppy-footed friend on the above for the next week or so.

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