The emergence of my half-speed dance – one step every two beats – has been my single biggest breakthrough in tango. It’s given my dance a distinctive feel, and given me much-needed time to decide how best to interpret what I’m hearing, and to focus on technique to a far greater degree than I find possible at a faster speed.
I’m pretty sure a lot of the miradas I’ve received from new followers have been as a result of seeing that slow-motion dance, and either liking it from a previous experience with another leader, or simply liking the look of it …
Catching the end of Tuesday’s intermediate class, which was a lovely-looking sequence with two suspensions, I did initially think that I might have lost something in the process.
I see these as different to pauses. My definition of each would be this: a pause is stable, all the weight on one foot, able to remain there as long as desired; a suspension is dynamic, a transfer of weight already beginning. It can be slow, but it has to be inevitable.
There’s a lovely feel to suspensions, because of the sense of anticipation. The move is … coming … coming … now!
My first thought on watching the suspensions was that I’d had to sacrifice in to my slower dance – but then realised that’s not actually the case.
I don’t do the same kind of suspension I used to. For example, when dancing at normal speed, one step per beat, something I used to do quite a lot was a forward step into a side-step, where there was collection between the two but no actual stop. We ‘fell’ into the side-step. Actually falling into it would be uncomfortable, of course, but the feeling of doing so in a smooth, swooping fashion feels great.
But I realised my slow-speed dance still has suspensions. Indeed, it often has more of them. A slow step, for example, where the projection can be slowly moving … slowly moving … then accelerate into the transfer of weight. In slow walking, every step can be a suspension. (Technically, that’s also true of faster walking, but you feel it in slow steps.)
Rebounds, too, are suspensions by definition, and a slow one can definitely have that feel. The three-point rebound turn I do has that, and so does the tight circular walk I do when I pivot the follower before the step with the right foot.
A slow ocho toward the end of a pivot likewise. Something I do quite a lot is a single-beat step in one direction in the ocho, and a two-beat one in the other; there’s a suspension between the two.
There is, though, something special about the feeling of acceleration you get with a suspension into a faster movement. So whether or not I take anything directly from Thursday’s version of this week’s sequence, I will be looking for ways to incorporate that into my dance.