Once More With Feeling

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I’ll start with something obvious – people don’t dance the same way.  I’ve had multiple partners (this is one of those things that makes perfect sense in a dance context but just kind of sounds wrong) so I speak from a little bit of experience here.  Some of it is physical differences – height and such.  Skill level makes a difference as well but that gets into finer points like lead/follow and connection.  And one of the problems of changing partners as often as I have is that even if you are doing the same steps, it can feel like a completely different dance.

I’ve done Argentine Tango with four other instructors over the course of my dance life at the Famous Franchise.  The dance is something special and there are characteristics that make it unique – even different than a normal ballroom Tango.  And, when I’ve done it at Showcases, I’ve generally received good marks so I’m not a rank amateur when it comes to this dance.  For sure I don’t have it all down and there are always things that can improved on but I have a certain level of experience and a generally good idea of what it should feel like.

And, right now, there just isn’t anything there with JoNY.  I’ve always said that the thing that excites me about dancing is when it gets to a point where it is almost effortless.  And, to get there, it is almost like the two people become one whole dance unit.  And that gets into connection and lead/follow and things where maybe you don’t consciously realize it but you can feel each other and it is something like a continuous feedback loop.  Action leads to a reaction which flows into another and so on.

In some dances, like Viennese Waltz, it is a ball of energy that you are passing back and forth which keeps momentum going and keeps the dance flowing.  Argentine Tango doesn’t need that but, I’d probably say that the connection is more important.  Ideally, the hold is closer and so there isn’t a lot of room for error in the lead/follow.  If someone doesn’t feel what you are trying to do, then I suspect it be easier to run into each other because you are relatively close together.  And, at higher levels, the Argentine Tango can basically be nothing but improv so it really requires a strong connection so you can feel the messages that are being sent.

To be fair, we are both learning the steps in the choreography which puts this squarely in the initial and awkward use phase.  Which sucks in general but is so much worse in a dance like Argentine Tango that requires a strong connection.  When you are just focusing on where the feet go (both people) and not paying any attention to anything else, it just makes the dance flat and 2D rather than the 3D it should be.  It would be one thing if I’d never done any Argentine Tango before so I wouldn’t know any different.  But I have and I know what it feels like when you aren’t so concerned about mastering the choreography.  I know I should just let the process work and focus on learning my steps but I’m greedy.  I want it all and I want it now.  Just have to keep telling myself it takes time.

Our initial lesson was rough for reasons I can’t explain.  In some parts, it felt like she was speaking an alien language.  I couldn’t understand the points she was trying to make so I kept stopping to look at the video to try and figure it out myself.  I’m at a point where I can sort of tell the difference between a lady following what I’m doing and one who is just doing her part no matter what I do.  Again, I should be working on the feet but I want the whole package so it ticks me off a bit when this happens.  If you are doing that, then I’m not leading and I want to know how to lead so tell me what I should be doing.

We had a second lesson with OwnerGuy after and we wanted to do the Argentine Tango for him just to get some quick pointers.  I wasn’t feeling the greatest about it but, after struggling through a lesson, we just ran through the whole thing twice for him with just a few minor glitches.  There are things he needed to fix – like my frame in parts where I felt we had expanded too far away from each other.  I kind of have to try to block out my past experiences.  Comparing JoNY know to finished product with other instructors isn’t fair.  I know I need to just let the process work and see that we can develop and strengthen our connection over time.  BUT I WANT IT ALL AND I WANT IT NOW!

I was going to do this at Showstoppers and that would have been fun but, before Showstoppers was even a thing, I had to plan for a dinner.  I was trying to avoid Snow Ball which is typically on a Wednesday in the first week of December so we picked a Thursday in the second week of December.  Turns out that the studio decided to roll Snow Ball and Showstoppers into the same even and it was scheduled for a Thursday in the second week of December.  I just realized that last night which means I’ll miss it and we won’t debut our Tango until Showcase in May.

OwnerGuy also started me in on some Silver 3 Rumba.  I can’t remember the step but there’s a lot of syncopation and rocks in it.  We start with a classic half a box with a side step where we get into a double hand hold.  Then, there are two sets of syncopated rocks which was a combination of weight changes and steps (really just putting a foot back and then bringing it forward and putting the other one back).  It ends with a second position break to a cross over and then we flair to face each other.  From there, I give her an underarm turn while I rock in place.  I bring her back with more rocks.  She’s got the complicated part with the turns and spirals.  At the end, I pick her up and we do the front half of a box.  OwnerGuy decided to insert that at the start of our amalgamation so we practiced the transition from that new step into our amalgamation and also the loop from the last step back into this new step.  Really turned out to be easier than I thought.

I know I mentioned group class in my tags but now I realize it was just a basic Fox Trot group and there isn’t much to talk about.  So I’ll just end this here.

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