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To dance Tango, trusting our balance we must. The closeness of the embrace makes it a sensitive space. Any change in the axis of one of the two partners affects the other! The power of our dance depends on the mastery of our equilibrium. And it might depend on more factors than a good axis.

The edge of frustration

Tango teaches us a great deal about balance in our body, but also in our mind. When not finding the feeling, the connection to the music, not getting the dances with the people we wish for, our frustration is on the edge.

Frustration is here to tell us something, to make us face our limitations, whether they are physical, emotional, or energetic. It tells us to take a step back. To find a way to come back to balance. To look at the big picture, and ask the right questions. What am I doing that places me in this uncomfortable situation over and over again? How can I take care of myself so that I remain in the happy zone instead of heading to the frustration zone?

We are often fast in discharging onto others. We accuse them to trigger our balance, to not be musical enough, to dance only with prettier and better dancers. At the same time, we are also fast in undermining ourselves, thinking that our weaknesses are giving a hard time to our partner. Those ego stories pop-up in our mind to distract us from simply trying our best, without judgement. We are not going out to dance, and even less to classes to evaluate the abilities of the dancers in the room. We do it because we love Tango, because it makes us want to give our best, regardless of what the other person has to offer or to neglect. This is not about give and take. It is about giving and receiving, about co-creation. 

Leader or follower?

The vocabulary is indeed misleading though. The words “leader” and “follower” clearly suggest that one gives command to another. However, the leader is not here to command. The leader is here to suggest and inspire. And to fulfil her/his mission, the leader has to be the one who is the strongest in her/his axis, who has the most interesting interpretation of the music and can communicate it in a clear, yet gentle way. The follower is the one who gets inspired and listens closely to the suggestions presented, to come up with her/his response, which is going to inspire back. The loop is started. From this perspective, both partners lead and follow simultaneously, regardless of their genders and which arm is going around the other dancer. 

In reality, “followers” often compensate for a lack of balance by leaning on the other. “Leaders” use heavy mechanical actions from the arms to make “big things” happen. The partners pull and push each other around, creating a dance style far from freedom and comfort. 

Freedom and comfort in our dance are honourable goals and here come some ideas to walk a steady development path.  

Train solo regularly

While communication is one of the most fascinating aspects of Tango, building balance in a solo practise is essential. It is the foundation for self-confidence regardless of the role we dance. The stronger our balance is in motion, the freer we can be in the couple.

Learn to know the music 

Many of us are slightly over trusty when it comes to our inner groove. The more we know the structure of tango music, the more we can explore the possibilities to express it in our dance, with pauses, dynamics, variations of rhythms etc.. The more interesting ideas we have, the more inspiring we are.

Learn the other role

Knowing to dance only one role in Tango is a little bit like learning only the questions, or only the answers. We need to understand the specific challenges and expectations our partners have to engage in a deep discussion. The more we understand each other the more we can co-create.

Try a workshop focusing on changing roles or take a beginner class in the other role you usually dance. 

Turn off the inner stories

All the “I am not good enough”, “I am out of rhythm”, “I don’t know well enough my steps”, are inner stories that keep us away from giving the best we have at a given moment, and from trusting the evolution process. We all start from somewhere, develop at our own pace. This is nothing we should be judged for by our partner and/or ourselves. The more we turn off those inner stories, the more present we are in the dance dialogue. 

Learning Tango helps us to develop as persons. To be both a leader and a follower. To listen and to suggest. To take care of ourselves at the same time we are taking care of our partner, of the music, and of everyone else moving around us. 

Doesn’t it sound like balance to you?

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