If Sherlock Holmes danced Tango…

Story | Opinion | Chrisa Assis | 1 Feb 2017 | 1 comments

So Tango dancers, can you answer this question in detail: What do you need to see in a dancer, that will make you choose them for your next tanda, as leader or follower?

This is how we usually answer this question:

  • I have no idea, I just try to dance with at least one different person in every milonga
  • Someone who will be a good match in terms of level, musicality etc
  • I look for a partner who will allow me to connect and express myself
  • Someone responding well to other partners with a comparable level/ experience/ skill to mine

What do you notice?
This is what I notice:

  1. All these answers are NOT detailed at all. On the contrary they are very general, except for the first one of course…haha…what does a “good match” or “responding well” mean?
  2. They are about YOU! By you, from you, for you, about YOU! NOT about the other person…

Attention to detail…another skill you should be building on
Do you ever find yourselves thinking or saying any of the following phrases:

  • She will say NO to ME, but she now dances with this______(beginner, old dude, dude-who-can’t-take-his-feet etc…fill in the gap)
  • He never asks me to dance and yet he dances with this______( beginner, old lady, short/tall/big/petite woman, someone-who-can’t-even-pivot etc…fill in the gap)
  • I don’t understand how women choose
  • Men! What do you expect? They only choose based on looks.

I am sorry to tell you but you are obviously missing something here!
Poor attention to detail, is what makes you fail in choosing the right partner for you, is what keeps you away for having a much better time in the milonga.
How would Sherlock Holmes choose a Tango partner
Sherlock Holmes was known not only for his cleverness and wit… but mostly for his a ability to pay great attention to detail. He could see and perceive things, other people would simply ignore..!

Important things you might be ignoring:

  1. Smiling
    Many people notice whether dancers are smiling during their dances, and that is very important in itself. BUT I am referring to whether they are smiling after the tanda.
    The tanda ends, they thank each other and they turn to walk away, THAT is the moment of TRUTH. Are they smiling?
    If they are, they most probably enjoyed the dance.
    If they sit at their table and they are still smiling they had an awesome time.
  2. At the end of a song
    What happens when the song ends?
    Almost all couples hold the pose in the end. They just stay in the embrace for a few more seconds because they can hear their Tango teacher saying: “HOLD IT!”. Then they joyful move away from each other, happy the got the pose at the end.
    BUT there are also some couples who are holding the pose because they are still in a trance. The song ends but they need some time to come back to the real world. They are just THERE, allowing themselves to BE in each others arms, defining a pure soulful connection, where individuality is almost lost behind the strong unity that emerges. Not only they had an awesome dance, BUT also they are not afraid to reach out to one another, to discover each other and to create something together.
  3. In between songs
    Are they making any attempt to connect. Obvious signs of them being an enjoyable person to dance with: smiling, chatting.
    Not so obvious signs:
    –staying relatively close to their partner–showing they are comfortable
    –if they are chatting and the next song starts, they wrap- up their conversation with ease and they start dancing a few seconds into the song– shows confidence
    –talking to other couples on the floor– showing that they are there to socialize as well, understanding this is a party.
    Instead of looking away, looking at the floor, fixing their dress, starting to dance immediately as the song starts–No-chit-chat-lets-get-to-business type of attitude
  4. Are they listening to each other
    In moments of “crisis”, how are they reacting as a couple?
    Lets see some possible scenarios here.
    For example:
    Say the leader following the beat, is going too fast for the follower, does the follower attempt to slow things down, using  technique/ embrace/ embellishments etc or just throws all responsibility on the leader?
    And if there is a suggestion for a the change of speed, how does the leader respond?
    Another example:
    Does the leader allow embellishments to the follower, or is there a constant need to control every second of the dance? Is the follower capable of finding the right moment to embellish or is there a need for a lead?
    How do they react to tension created in the body, do they use the embrace to help one another relax, or do they fight their way through the dance and then complain?
    Or, when something doesn’t work, do they just repeat it in the exact same way, or during their next attempt, do they listen more to the signals their partner is giving them–getting off balance, tensing up, struggling etc?
    Lastly, do they protect their partner from a collision, regardless of them being a leader or a follower?
  5. How they treat other couples on the dancefloor
    Aside from the obvious–avoiding collisions, not creating traffic, allowing the other couples some space, not picking up fights, apologizing if something happens etc–you want to check how they interact with the other couples.
    There is a difference, between sharing a dancefloor, where every couple occupies a spot, and dancing together.
    It is beautiful when couples are dancing together, feeding off each other in terms of sequencing, reacting to each others choices in musicality, spacing and shaping, maybe even teasing each other in the same way couples would do in a party.
  6. Dance connection
    Do they dance differently on different music, with different people?
    I am not simply referring to the different sequences one does on different music, I am talking about the energy that they put into the different dances acknowledging the difference in the music pieces. And also allowing themselves to know their partner in  Tango terms.
    Do they take advantage of an explosive movement their partner created even when they are more about short and sweet?
    Do they read their partner’s embellishments as opportunities, as suggestions or are they just embellishments to them?
    How do they react to their partner’s small mistakes, do they see them as a surprise that they can turn into a new step or as something they need to fix?
    Does their embrace look like an armor they put on before they start dancing, or is it something flexible, adjustable, personal but also responsive to their partner’s hold?
  7. A visceral dance
    Lastly, do they have moments when they JUST dance? Moments, when they Tango, like young children dance/ move/ act/ play– with no standards, no expectations, no goals or strategies, free from any limitations, boundaries and rules? Creating a visceral dance, from within, because they just can’t help it, they NEED to move?
    It might not be a dance that is technically perfect , musically accurate and with interesting intriguing sequences BUT it is a dance revealing the human need to connect, move and create something beautiful.

It is all in the details…
So if you want to choose more suitable partners and if you want to be chosen by more suitable partners, you need to pay attention to the details.
Express yourself more during your dances, the milonga is not a class, no one is judging you.
Listen to your partner and share responsibility.
Take a chance to interact with other couples.
Connect with your partner between dances.
Fall in your partner’s arms.
Feel the milonga is a party, not a practice session.
Allow yourself to be a child again.
Smile more…
Look for the people who do some or better yet all of the above. They might not be the BEST–technically–Tango dancers in the world, but they surely know how to have fun.


P.S: Men and women were not made to understand each other. What fun would that be? They were made to discover each other!
The game is on!


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Published: 1 Feb 2017 @ 21:26


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Yemi Olagunju commented:

“Fall in your partner’s arms” – love that. – Read
Comment | Yemi Olagunju | 13 Feb 2017
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