Going to classes and practicing at home is very useful, but there is nothing as good as dancing more. I wrote my post “Practice less, dance more” for the guys, but this is even more applicable for the ladies. In fact, I learned that dancing more and dancing with good dancers is more than 50% of the learning process for female tango dancers.
Read this article to find out how dancing more will benefit you, especially if you are a female dancer. Please have in mind that I do not use leader/follower terminology on purpose, because I don’t think that female tango dancers are followers.
Check my post about leader/follower confusion
“If she comes here for a few months, she will ‘explode’ as a dancer,” he said after his dance with her.
I was DJ-ing a local milonga in a big city with a community of more than 300 active dancers. She was a guest… actually it was her first time in such a big milonga.
“Yes, what she needs is a lot of dancing with good dancers,” we agreed.
She was a tall blonde and her dancing was very good. She had this superpower of feeling the most subtle changes in the partner – something which makes the difference between good and perfect dancers. In my opinion it is not something you learn in tango classes, it is more like a character trait. The only thing she lacked was a good tango environment to develop in to a world class dancer. Unfortunately she lived in a small town where the tango community consisted of no more than 30 dancers and few schools, some of which were teaching tango as part of a larger curriculum which included salsa and standard dances.
So, why is dancing more important? And, why is dancing a lot more important in the development of female dancers than it is for male dancers? I have taught tango for more than five years and in this post I am sharing my experience.
This is what female dancers get from dancing more:
1. Facing their barriers – What I learned from my teaching experience is that tango faces people with themselves. It is like a mirror. It reveals to them what their real face is. It also gives them space where they can work to overcome their weak spots.
In my experience, the biggest problem ladies have in tango is exactly this. A huge part of learning tango for her is to overcome her inner fears and blockades. Learning ochos and giros is just the surface – the stuff that makes ladies a good dancer happens in their hearts.
They can never face their inner obstacles if they just come to classes or just practice women’s technique at home. For this, they have to get in the embrace of male dancers and ‘give up the control’ – let the man lead their movements.
Basically, this process is opening emotionally, becoming able to trust other people. It is impossible to have a good communication in tango without being open to the partner. Without that, tango is being reduced to two persons dancing parallel dances in a coordinated way. No emotion. No passion. No human warmth.
Some argue that this part of learning has nothing to do with tango and tango teachers, that it is part of individual development. I don’t agree. Tango teachers can help a lot, by guiding students how to use the dance in this direction – and the first advice should be: dance more!
Dancing more, causes her to face her weak points. This gives her reason and motivation to work on them and to improve.
2. Learning to adapt – When I wrote about the phases of development of the tango dancer I explained how male and female dancers have different paths because of the difference in their roles. The second phase of their development is much harder for ladies because men will develop their repertoire and they will use it all the time. Ladies, on the other hand, have to adapt to the repertoires of their partners.
This means ladies have to be more flexible in their style. I mean, they can refuse to be flexible, but this limits the number of partners – and this is a problem which male dancers don’t have.
On the other side, this gives ladies a bigger opportunity. Male can get stuck in the circle of their current repertoire for years, while ladies will develop. The only thing female dancers need is to be offered a variety of styles and repertoires and a variety of partners to dance with, and they will develop their dance.
I plan to write a separate post about the tango dancing styles. Subscribe to my mailing list not to miss it!
Dancing more with variety of dancers will help them to emotionally and mentally process different styles of communication and musicality. They will also develop better technique.
3. Gaining self-confidence – Remember the movie ‘The Scent of a Woman’? Frank (a blind man played by Al Pacino) asks a lady what she would say if he offered her to dance tango with him.
“Ah… I think I’d be a little afraid,” she answers.
“Of what?” asks Frank.
“Afraid of making a mistake.”
“There are no mistakes in the tango, not like life. It’s simple. That’s what makes the tango so great. If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, just tango on.”
It doesn’t feel good when you dance with a partner who says “I’m sorry” after each dance. No matter if it comes from a male or from a female dancer. I’ve danced with a very good dancers who were not aware how good they were, repeating from time to time “I’m sorry” for whatever mistake we did in the dance.
Sorry for what? There are no mistakes in tango – we are together in this and the mistakes we do are not mine or yours, they are ours.
The point I want to make is that the more experienced a dancer is, the more confidence in her dancing she gets. And the more confident she is, the better her dancing becomes.
There is one more benefit – confident women can lead their partners and define the tone of the tanda.
My point is that leader/follower terminology is misleading. It doesn’t give the right representation of reality. In the real world both the male and the female dancers are leading: the male the movements, the female the emotion of the dance. Only strong and confident women can give clear emotional leads.
I share my knowledge with the hope to help people learn more and learn better. I believe our tango world can be better if more people share what they know. Please help me in this mission by sharing this post with your friends on Facebook or other social networks.