How to dance like a man?
I doubt that there is a tango dancer who do not asks himself how the partners feel him? The next question is usually how to dance more like a man? What is that makes a dance manly?
Tango is created in early 20th century Buenos Aires, which had a strong machist culture. Of course, I am not saying that we should recreate the same relations, but part of the magic of tango is in the polarity of the mans and womans role – and we should preserve the best what tango brings from its history.
In this post I am going to share with you some of my insights on what makes a male dancer more masculine and what makes her feel his energy better. Please have in mind that those questions do not have a definite answer: I am sharing here some of the tips I give to my students, based on mine and the experiences of other good dancers.
We entered the big room. For me this was the unpleasant part. Not that I hate to meet old friends, it just to me feels awkward to go around with a smile and saying hello to everyone – and I usually do not. I say hello to the first ones I meet and I sit with them, just to avoid the hesitation should I approach everyone, there are 100 people I know in this room. I say hallo to others later, as the night unfolds.
– Show me the good dancers, she said.
It was her first big international event. She was my student and I wanted her to enjoy as much as possible. So, I started:
– Dance with this one. He is from France, girls love him… This one also, a German, he and his wife are both very very good… Look that one there, he is Italian, I don’t know how his embrace feels, but looks so elegant and with perfect musicality…
– What about that guy there?, she interrupted me.
– I don’t know. I see him often on these events, but to be honest… hm… he seems to me like too feminized, I don’t like that in his dance, I said with a smile.
I did not finished this sentence yet, and miradas were already exchanged and cabeceo made. They were dancing.
When they finished he accompanied her to our table, said hello to me and left. I looked at her with a question-face.
– Wow, that was very very good dancing. And very very manly dancing as well. Maybe he is a bit feminine, but when he dances, he is not at all, she said excited.
I don’t know what exactly he does during the dance, but in this post I am going to give you some tips from my experience, tips that helped some of my students as well. So here is how to dance like a man:
1. Be confident – Know where you go and what you do. When a woman dances she gives herself to her partner. She has to feel that he knows exactly what he is doing and that his embrace for her is a safe zone.
The masculine energy in tango, and often in life as well, is about protecting and initiating.
It is not only what – it is how. He has to demonstrate a clear purpose, but also to show that he knows how he is going to get her there.
When a man knows how to lead, women don’t ask where.
I have no idea where this popular social meme comes from, but it is completely applicable to tango as well.
There is nothing worse for a woman in tango than someone who is not so sure what he wants her to do. In order to experience true tango ecstasy she has to somehow forget about her body, the movements, the music, the environment; and to feel everything as a part of one symphony. Everything has to be perfectly coordinated. If you, as her man do not give her that – she will be constantly reminded of the reality and imperfections it contains.
But how do you achieve that? There are many ways. Just to give you the idea I will quote the martial arts wisdom of, whom else than, Bruce Lee himself:
I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times.
2. Take responsibility – Gentlemen open doors and hold the coats of their significant others. Men do everything to get things out of their ladies way. Lets be honest – there is no woman who would resist a man who makes her feel like a princess. Tango is no exception.
The man takes a role of creating the movements, to lead the body of his partner. As we know, rights and responsibilities always go together. In order to allow him to lead her body, the woman has to feel that the man is taking the responsibility for everything that is going on.
One old milonguero once said that if a woman makes a mistake, he will follow her and make mistake as well. If at the end of the dance she is not aware that she made mistakes, she will fell that it was her perfect dance. A reward will come for that milonguero in form of an embrace full with emotional charge.
After the dance I sometimes see the face of my partner in a gesture that says “I am sorry”. In fact I-am-sorry face is more suitable for the man in tango, because he should take the responsibility for what is going on. And yet, we see it more often on ladies face.
But to dance like a man is not to say I am sorry many times. It is to change what you do and not to get yourself in situation to have to apologize. Adapt to the partner, give her what she needs to dance good. Make her feel like that was the best dance in her life.
3. Be grounded, be the center – There are many ways to have a perfect connection with someone, but the best ones are achieved when you have physical and emotional connection in the same time. This means that partners connect not only on emotional level, which is non-material way; but also on a physical level, which happens in the material world. Yes I am talking again about apilado.
The man has to show that he is reliable in the physical way as well – he has to show enough balance and skill to control his own axis, but hers as well. What? How?
What is one of the most important characteristics of tango is that the dancers are grounded. This specially applies for the man, since he is the drive of the movement. But, because of the influence of the professionals who have experience with other dancers which are not danced in grounded way, tango is changing – it becomes less grounded. Those professionals are usually former ballet dancers, competition dancers or gymnasts – and they introduce to tango elements which are not part of its genuine nature.
Tango is Tango… if you try to made it better you are doing something else… (like ball room European tango), said Ruben Terbalca.
Not being grounded results with feminine energy. In a metaphorical way speaking, in tango the male aspect is the rock and the female is the wind. The man should be the one that caries the woman trough the air, who makes her body move around.
The masculine energy comes from being the physical center of the couple. No wonder that in most of the giros woman circles around the man, not vice versa.
Since he is the rock, when she loses her balance, he is the one who should get her back, or, in apilado, to make her feel safe.
How do you achieve such balanced state? I will give you a hint – its not about how you control your own balance, it is about how you manipulate yours and hers axis.*
*(I plan to write a special post about the secrets of the balance – be sure to subscribe to my Newsletter not to miss it)
4. Be a gentleman – If you want to be a man, be a gentleman. Your job is to make her feel comfortable. As I said above, she has to feel your embrace as a safe zone.
I am very sorry to see how many nice talented ladies give up dancing because some guys without manners takes advantage of the fact that the woman during the dance puts herself in a very vulnerable position. Some of them know how to deal with it, but, unfortunately, many find that giving up tango is the better option.
Show respect. Make cabeceo. Be polite. Give her space to brake the embrace after the song finishes. If you have to speak, tell her something relaxing. Smile.
Of course, there are many ways to make people feel relaxed and safe. It does not matter what will you use, just make it happen.
And most important – make her lead the emotion. Her heart will tell you in a subtle way where is the limit of the intimacy, do not try to force her. You can initiate emotion, for sure, but do not try to take the lead. Always give her that feeling that she is having the lead.
And of course, be aware – what happens on the dancefloor stays on the dancefloor. It can become something more, and it sometimes happens, but don’t think that if she shows passion during the dance, you will finish in the bedroom. Tango is a game of seduction, but it is just a game.
Check out how the tango is a game of seduction in this post
Featured image credit: photo by Sergio Scandiuzzi ©