Aside from a single tanda with Steph a month ago, it’s been seven weeks since I last danced. Worse than that, I haven’t done much solo practice either – which is unusual for me.
I realised it’s because I just haven’t felt motivated without the reward of dance. Usually, I do regular solo practice, then get to feel the difference it has made within the next two or three days. With no milongas, it felt like all work and no payoff …
That’s especially true now that optimistic talk of an early antibody test has so far come to nothing, and all the signs are that the lockdown is likely to last for months. It’s currently looking doubtful whether we’ll have any milongas until some point into next year. It’s a depressing thought.
But with Steph fully recovered, it was at least a chance for a video private with actual dance.
We started by dancing to a couple of songs before the lesson as a warm-up. Steph is normally an extremely active follower. I’ll lead something, and she’ll treat that as a proposal, which she might accept, modify – or respond with what might politely be called a counter-proposal.
That makes for really fun dancing, but is less helpful when I’m practicing, so I had to ask her to Just Follow – something she can do very well, but doesn’t come naturally to her.
We ended the warm-up by dancing a milonga. Steph asked me to include some double-time. I told her I couldn’t lead it. She was having none of this and back-led some, then I tried it. It did actually work, though how much of that was because she was expecting it, I’m not sure.
In the lesson, we worked on the Americana, resuming my approach of taking things I theoretically know how to do, and learning to do them properly. In this case, however, even my theoretical knowledge was sketchy.
The good news was that the first part of the lead is very similar to the ocho cortado, only instead of blocking the pivot, you complete it. The bad news was … well, everything else, really!
I felt very, very rusty. I wasn’t dissociating enough. I was leading with my arms. I wasn’t allowing the embrace to slide in the pivot. I was turning my head with my body. My right hand was, for some reason beyond understanding, sliding upwards to more of a diagonal position. You name it, I was (or wasn’t) doing it.
But by the end of the lesson, Steph said the feeling was there. I still have a lot of work to do, but I know what I need to work on. Some of it I can do as solo exercises; for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I can persuade Steph to act as my crash test dummy.
Fede and Julia gave me two solo technique exercises to do, both designed to improve my dissociation, and one geared to making it more instinctive. I also have an exercise they gave me last time to improve my balance. So I have much work to do!
I am, though, much more fortunate than many, in having a life-partner who dances. We’re not remotely well-matched in terms of level, of course, and we also have very different musical tastes! It’s additionally very hard for Steph to resist the temptation to try to teach me, a phenomenon which is probably the leading cause of divorce in the tango community … All of which explains the fact that we normally dance only about once a month.
But right now, I’m what she’s got! So there will, I hope, be some dancing to serve as the payoff for the work. We shall see …