The road of tango
It was after a few good years of studying and trying to grasp the concept of tango that I came to… let’s call it The Revelation: tango is what happens between 2 steps. It’s not a new idea. The great Carlos Gavito says it: “The secret of tango is in this moment of improvisation that happens between step and step. It is to make the impossible thing possible: to dance silence.” But as always, with any kind of new concept in your life, you need to really experience it in order to understand it completely.
And the process does not end with a revelation. Actually, it merely begins with one. Until then there’s a lot of work, research, tests, successes, failures, almost quittings etc. All of these build a foundation so that you can understand the revelation.
I remembered this Revelation a while ago, while watching a ronda and its participants. It seemed that almost everyone was in a hurry, they were trying to catch the next step and they looked more like participants in a marathon, rather than a milonga. And this went on, regardless of the speed or the story of the song. I suddenly felt the need to make the music play very slowly in an infantile attempt to make them slow down. Just like you can make a video play very very slowly. You know? : )
This scene made me realize that, for me, these simple words – “tango happens between 2 steps” – have become very important. There’s an entire world in that movement that begins with one foot and ends with the other! Now imagine what Universe you can create with the hundreds of worlds that are the “in between steps” of a song, or a tanda… Can you imagine that? And we – the couple dancing – are the creators of that Universe. And it’s a different one every time.
How do we get there? Well… first of all stop! Just like when you are on a trip – if you want to see the view better, you have to stop, get out of the car, look around, breath in the air, take in the colors, listen to the sounds, open up to what the surroundings have to offer you! Just the same in tango – stop and listen to your heartbeat and the partners’, to the music, to the pulse of the ronda… take in the movement, the intention, the reaction and the action. It’s like Horacio Godoy said: “in order to own a movement, you have to practice it on a large scale and very slowly”.
So, learn when you are in class and when you are home – read about tango, about its world, its rules and social codes, listen to music (that makes a big difference!), observe your own movements… With all this you become part of its world.
Then practice a lot! In the practicas (and don’t be afraid to ask the teacher for feedback), at home, while taking a stroll in the park, or while shopping in the supermarket : ) And have fun with it! The mind and the body learn easier if you have fun with the process. I see a lot of people just dancing in the patterns that they already know, without minding any thoughts of progress.
And when you feel comfortable with moving through the music, in the movements, slowly and peacefully (that includes dancing milonga, too!), go to milongas and turn it around from being a marathon to being amazing Universe that it is!
There’s a lot to be done, don’t be fooled that it might be easy! Cause it’s not! But it’s beautiful : )