Nancy Learns the Tango

And other forays and jaunts—on and off the dance floor

Month: February, 2012

Beginner’s Mind

I am happy to report that I have graduated from beginner to…advanced beginner!  And with advancement comes a new reality.  It is time to commit.  Or not.  Gone are the happy, sexy days of blissful, stepping-on-my-partner’s-feet ignorance.  Oh sure, I still step on feet, but now I do it with good posture.

Throughout these first experiences,  I have tried to maintain the openness of “beginners mind.”  I’d like to know though, is there  “advanced beginner’s mind?”

From knowing nothing about the Argentine tango a few months ago, I can now say with confidence that I know next to nothing.

With a small repertoire of the basics: salidas, cruzada’s, ochos, ocho cortados, molinetes and sacadas there is no turning back.  I am officially having fun.

What next?  Continue dance classes, go to the practicas.  Dust off my shoes and confidence and brave another milonga.  How do I continue to learn when not in dance class?

My teachers suggest that we practice at home.  Alone.  I should be able to do ochos (pivoting forwards and backwards on one foot) without holding on to someone or something.  They implore us to listen to tango music a lot.  Even at work.  Especially at work.  Find the two count in milonga.  Find the one-two-three in the vals.  My teacher Dante says that there is nothing sexier than a woman’s walk.  “Ladies, we invite you to walk.”

So, at home, in dance shoes, asking my dog to step aside, turning up the Francisco Canaro,  I can practice my steps and walk as sexy as I please.  I can pretend that I am a great dancer.

Sometimes it can take one.


Copyright © 2012  Nancy Green

Nancy Takes the Lead

The descriptions of dance lessons say that you do not need a partner to learn the tango.  Which is surprising since we all know that it takes two.  They also say to not let the lack of a partner stand in the way of learning.  Perfect.  I don’t have one and now luckily I don’t need one.

As it turns out, going it alone has its advantages.  Gone is any attachment to be or not to be with the partner you walked in the door with.  In class we rotate after every song.  At a milonga, couples dance a tanda.  A set of three to five songs.  And then move on.  The constant changing of partners has had its thrills and challenges.

In class, I danced with one man and felt transported right at the connection of the embrace.  Happy to be in his arms and excited to follow wherever he led.  We moved around the dance floor beautifully.  At one point, I missed his indication for a cruzada and stumbled.  He said: “Don’t worry, I’ve got you.”

And by contrast, my next partner mumbled something about ochos not being his favorite move.  Our dance was all apologies and blame. “You’ve led me into a cruzada, please help me out of it.”  “Well, I don’t know the women’s part.  You will have to figure that out for yourself.”

My last beginner class was all couples and one other single woman.  Not enough men to go around.  The uncoupled women’s lament. And the teacher did not rotate partners.  So I was paired with Sandra for the evening.

As this was her very first tango class and my third series of beginner classes, I decided make it challenging and take the lead.  Okay, so what did I know about leading?  My role is to initiate the steps and guide her into a walk.  It is my job to take care of her and not back her into another couple or into the wall.  I have to step into her space with enough intention in order for her to move out of the way.  I have to make her feel and not think.

And so how did all this tapping into male energy work out for me?

What I had on my hands for the evening was a giggling, hesitant, apologetic young woman stepping all over my suede shoes.

I really missed my feminine role as follower.  No apologies.

Copyright © 2012  Nancy Green