Over the years I’ve gathered some metaphors for my students that I think are very helpful when learning to dance tango. Some of them I’ll share with you now!
-Tango is like painting. On day one you get yourself the basic material to work with… (for painting: a canvas, pencils and 4 colours… for tango: balance, 3 stepping directions, dissociation of the upper body and pivot…) and the rest of your life you’ll be busy to try and make something nice with that… But no matter how bad you are: it’s fun from day one!
-Riding a bike, you won’t be able to give a lot of attention to the police officers, traffic lights, children and other traffic on your way, unless you are first in balance yourself. In tango it’s just the same: if you are not in balance yourself, you won’t be sensitive to receive signals from your leader or follower and to react on it.
-Dancing tango is like a mirror. You can’t (learn to) dance without looking yourself deep in the eyes and you will notice the changes you’re going through.
-If you don’t want your partner to look like a tennis racket, you shouldn’t wave your arm around as if you are holding one.
-Leading is like being the director of an orchestra and giving signals to the first violist: You can give directions and suggest changes of tempo. But following is like being the violist: you might get directions and suggestions… but you’ll have to play your own instrument (body) and create your own sound.
-Tango is like slow cooking: it takes time to be good, but it will never be good without the right ingredients (e.g. the music, the embrace, floor craft and social do’s and don’ts, a refined system of leading and following) and a patient chef (you).
-Just as in real life, you have to make sure that potential partners like to hang out with you… If you are not a brilliant dancer, you better compensate somewhere, for example by being extra nice, smelling great, or being patient, funny or rich…
-To built a castle, you do not need much more then some basic elements like cement and stones. In tango it’s more or less the same. There are only a few basic moves for every individual dancer, such as stepping forward, backward and sidewards, changing the weight, dissociating and pivoting. With these elements the variations are infinite, you can make your dance as beautiful, simple or complicated as you wish.
-It’s more interesting to be able and make one step in 50 shades of grey then to make 50 steps in 1 shade of grey…
-On the dance floor you’ll have to be agile and to improvise, just as in real life. If life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans (John Lennon), then tango is what happens while your busy making other steps.
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