If a man wants to become a good tango dancer, he has to become a follower. Many will say “of course, I’ve heard that learning to dance the follower’s step can help”, but I am not saying it the way you think.
Guys, it is not necessary for you to learn how to dance the female role to become a good dancer: my point here is that you have to be able to read the woman in your embrace and to follow the information you get from her.
I got inspired to write this post by a comment on Facebook. My post “Four ways to lead better” was shared more than 30 times, mostly from the people I don’t know personally. I thank you all for helping me spread my message.
The comment was bellow one of the shares. It was from Daniel, who said this:
“The leader monitors the speed and feel of each movement. One follower might need to be led a little earlier or later to move at the right time. He monitors her balance, her musical interpretation, her level of comfort in the embrace. It’s a complex feedback loop. He is constantly adjusting his lead to her response.”
It would be great if more guys could understand how tango works as Daniel does. I mean, I spend months giving lectures, showing exercises and speaking to my students. It is such an essential part of becoming a good dancer – I would even say – of becoming a good man.
In this article I am going to explain why and how a man should follow her if he wants to create an amazing experience out of the dance.
1. Following her emotion – When I first started dancing someone more experienced told me that the embrace is always defined by the woman. She decides how close it will be… but it goes far beyond that – she defines the emotion as well. I mean, if there is any part of tango where woman has to take the lead it is the emotion – in tango and in life.
Let’s be honest: men are not emotionless, but our society pays far less attention to cultivating their emotions. The Western culture, or maybe globally, is encouraging the woman to experience all her emotions, to express them and with that, to cultivate her emotional compass. This makes her emotionally more subtle and sensitive. Of course, many man are also sensitive, but we live in culture where they are discouraged to cultivate their emotions.
This makes women more suitable to be the leaders of the emotion. Men can express emotion, he can initiate closeness, passion, sensuality or even sexuality, but the last word is always hers. It is her heart that paints the colors on the emotional canvas of the couple.
Being so, a good male dancer knows how to follow her heart. He has to observe, feel and react to the vibrations it sends and express that in his dancing. There is no greater ecstasy for her, than feeling that he knows her heart; that he follows her emotion.
Depending on her state she might need more emotional dancing or maybe more physical. Maybe she needs wild and furious dancing or maybe passionate and slow – and this doesn’t always depend on the music. The ultimate music a man has to listen is the one created by her heart.
2. Following her timing – It’s about whom does the man dance for. If he dances for himself, he will never follow her timing. He will not wait until she finishes her movements. He will rush her into the next step even before she has finished the previous, even before she is ready to start a new one.
Many man are not even aware that they are doing this. They are so preoccupied with their own musicality and their own elegance, that they forget that they have a woman in their embrace. Ladies know these are the worst partners. If you are a male dancer, please check – are you focused on her? Do you wait for her to finish her movements? Do you rush her? Do you care about missing the beat more than losing her heart?
On the other hand, there are dancers who follow her timing. Those are the most wanted dancers, no matter if they are beginners or advanced.
I plan to write about how to become a dancer that is wanted on milongas or, how to get more dances? Subscribe not to miss it!
They monitor the speed and the feel of the movements. They predict how much energy she will need to complete it. There is no universal recipe of how much energy she needs. Every female dancer is different – some will need a lead little earlier, some can catch up with a late lead; some will need a lot of energy, some can feel a lead subtle as a summer breeze. When I dance with some of those who have highly sensitive reactions it feels like she can read my mind.
So guys, if you want to become a good leaders, follow her timing. Don’t allow yourself to rush her or to predict how she will react. The predictions are usually wrong – it is not in your brain, it is in her body.
3. Follow her musicality – Let me be honest with you, I am not a fan of dancing with a woman who likes to make a lot of adornos. I consider them bad dancers and usually I avoid them. It feels like you are having conversation with someone who talks too much, without actual reason, even if the woman do them right and in the right moment. But…
A good male dancer should feel her need to express herself and give her space to do so. Guys, it is not about what you want, this time it is about what she wants. I am not saying you should encourage her, just that you have to make her feel good about her dancing. Remember: your goal is to make her feel good and you will be awarded for this, trust me. If you know how to touch her this way, you will feel the emotion in the dance – it is like sun shining on the cold winter morning.
What exactly I am talking about? When a woman expresses her musicality this doesn’t mean that she is taking the lead, it is just using the space between your signals to interpret parts of the music. Sometimes it means that she will accent some parts of the music and sometimes she will add some extra steps before making the step you are leading her to.
To follow her musicality means that you have to feel what she does and sometimes even adapt the whole improvised choreography to match.
4. Following her movements – This is basic. No man can be a good dancer if he is not aware of the position of her feet. I know, for the beginners this seems like an impossible mission, but trust me, in time you will start feeling it. It is like you are able to find the light switch in your room even in complete darkness – you don’t have to see it to know that it’s there.
One of the old milongueros once said “you know where her feet are because you placed them there”, but it goes beyond that. You are not only ‘placing them’ there (physical action) but you are also observing her movement (mental action). This will prove to be a key skill for having a control of her balance. Without control of her balance you will never be able to get to the level of dancing apilado and dancing apilado is the ultimate way of connecting.
Dance in practica with closed eyes. Try to imagine where her feet is. I mean, literally, make a picture in your head. And, of course, give yourself time. This depends on the experience you have.
What stops people from getting better in following their partners? Well, mostly reasons that some consider out of the reach of the tango teacher. Some argue that those reasons are too personal, but, I would say, tango is personal as well. Tango faces us with our inner demons and weakness. Face them in tango and you are facing them in life. Become more caring partner in tango and you are becoming a better person in life as well.
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