Those of us who teach are constantly learning as we teach. A lightbulb went on in my head one day last year that changed my understanding of how men learn to dance social Tango.
I have come to see the development of a tangero's skill in three main phases. Today we’ll look at the first.
Phase 1: Tango "Childhood"
When he starts learning tango, I believe a man must focus on himself.
- He must learn how to master his own axis, or in non-tango terms, to acquire an excellent sense of balance. (How can he confidently lead the woman in his embrace if he’s wobbling all over the place?)
- He must master his tango walks, understanding especially what it means to walk with "intention", which is what we call our way of walking decisively. And he must understand when he and his partner are walking in Parallel System (i.e., man's left foot with woman's right, universally used in couple dances), and when they are walking in Crossed System (exclusive to Argentine Tango; there's no such thing as being on the wrong foot! You're just in the other system).
- He must develop a tango embrace that's comfortable for both him and his partner, and be able to adapt his embrace to women of all shapes and sizes.
- Even as a beginner, he must learn elementary musicality, because music in Tango is the common denominator between the man and the woman.
- He must learn how to pivot correctly, which means first understanding his natural Spiral and learning to dissociate his upper from his lower body. Unless he’s a seasoned golfer (or student of Pilates), this requires exercising a bit to increase the range of torsion in his upper body.
- He must learn how to navigate in the line of dance, without bumping into others.
- He must start to build a vocabulary of basic figures in addition to several walks (as I define them, 7 basic walks!).
- And as far as his lead goes, he must always know, feeling through the embrace, on which foot the woman has her weight, and pay attention to how all his movements affect the woman he’s embracing.
At this point, he deserves, if not a university degree, at least a carnation in his lapel! (A man will learn all these skills, albeit with just a small vocabulary of figures that I call "Roses" in your "Rose Vine Strategy", in just the first few modules of my Permission Seduction Tango Mastery SystemTM, the foundation of all my teaching.)
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Once our new tanguero has gotten competent enough at all the basic Phase 1 skills I’ve just listed, he can begin to explore his own creativity, a pleasure he can enjoy even if he started from zero, with no particular talent for dance!
This new relationship with his creative side can become intoxicating! That's one reason people get hooked on Tango and may humorously call themselves . . . (guess!)
Next week I’ll tell you what "hooked" tango lovers they call themselves (unless you tell me first), and we'll talk about “The False Phase 2” and “The True Phase 2” of Tango Man.