A tale of two cities, tango edition

I wrote last month that I was feeling like I’m on a roll now. Things that once would have felt complicated now quickly feel straightforward; things I would once have had to think about now feel obvious; I’m able to think about how I want the follower to move, rather than my own steps; and finding exits to new things is now instinctive …

That was exciting when it first started happening, and remains exciting now. I’ve had a few privates and (fixed-partner) group lessons since then, and what is every bit as amazing is that I’ve been able to resist the temptation to blog each one individually.

I’m still very much taking my building-block approach, so I’m not attempting to memorise and employ everything done in the lessons, but rather to consciously extract principles where I can – and where I can’t, to trust that experiencing new types of movement will help my subconscious to figure out what’s possible.

In times when opportunities for lessons, practice and dance are limited, I’ve also found that watching dance videos helps my understanding too. Sometimes I’ll see something, watch it a few times in slow-motion, and a light bulb switches on!

I also continue to be amazed how many really simple movements remain to be discovered. For example, watching one dance, I saw a kind of sideways volcada:

  • From a front-ocho position …
  • The leader leans out and back, the follower leaning on them

This immediately proved easy to do. A more experienced dancer friend gave me a few tips, and I figured a couple more things on my own. The keys seem to be:

  • Use a slight lifting sensation to signal to the follower to stay put
  • Ensure thigh contact from the start, so the follower feels confident to lean
  • Step out with my back foot for support, so there is no way to lose balance

Within a few attempts, it was really simple, and like the forward volcada I use, that swooping feeling is great.

A semi-private with Winston and Silvia introduced me to a new type of gancho. It was their idea, not mine, and I wasn’t convinced I was going to pull together all the technique elements to make this one work, but I did quickly get a rough working version. I was subsequently able to incorporate it into dance, and to switch easily between the two variations they showed.

It’s not something I intend to make a standard part of my vocabulary when I’m finally again able to dance with strangers – I’m mindful of that ‘Men Who Gancho‘ comment from Steph and friends – but I do have follower friends who like them. Again, though, the bigger deal to me was the speed with which I got a working version of something new.

Of course, right now this is a tale of two tango cities: the best of times in where I feel I’m at with my dance, and the worst of times in the opportunities to do so …

Someone should write a depressing tango song about it.

Image: Shutterstock

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