Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tango Adolescence and Manhood (Part 2 of “The 3 Phases of Tango Man")

Last week we talked about the Phase 1 of a tanguero’s development, Tango Childhood, in which I said he must focus very much on himself because he has so many new skills to master!  
Once our new tanguero has gotten competent enough at all the basic Phase 1 skills (review last week's article here)and has them in his “muscle memory”, he can begin to explore his own creativity. He’s entering Phase 2, Tango Adolescence.
Often, by the time he’s had some positive experiences dancing in milongas, he starts getting hungry to learn many figures and ways to combine them. And then he can learn to deconstruct them and recombine them! This is indeed fascinating creative work. The possibilities are endless!
His new relationship with his creative side can become intoxicating. That's one reason people get hooked on Tango and may humorously call themselves "tango junkies". I think it's a very healthy “addiction”.  
But if his focus remains mainly on his own creative exploration, he gets stuck in what I'd call a "False Phase 2" - the “Puer aeternus” or “Peter Pan Syndrome” of Tango. 
At this point, I'd like to tap our enthusiastic intermediate level tanguero on the shoulder and remind him that "It takes two to tango".  
The “True Phase 2” is about mastering the woman's axis and understanding everything he can about her movements.  
He must now discipline himself to think less about himself and focus instead on the woman he’s embracing. He must master HER axis, in addition to his own. He must learn to recognize how everything he does with his torso or changes of weight affects her. And he must shift his thinking away from "what do I want to do?" to:

Sebastian Jimenez and Maria Ines Bogado 
  • "what do I want *my partner* to do?”, and
  • “what's the best way to invite her to do it, so it works for my improvisation, and so that she feels good doing it?".
Now, each movement the tanguero makes is in service of getting her to collaborate in his improvisation.
Paradoxically, this new focus of his supports, rather than restricts, the woman's autonomy! The more respectful control you have over the woman's axis ("respectful" meaning you never grip her so as to impede her free movement within your embrace), and the more control you have over the precise degree of pivot or length of step you're asking her to do, and the time she needs to complete that pivot or step, the more you allow her to move with precision, and with a greater sense of freedom!
So the woman, rather than struggling to dance well while being forced out of balance or being rushed to take a step, or guessing where you're asking her to go, will have the freedom to dance her best, autonomously, in balance, and in relation to you! And NOW, thanks to your shifted focus and your mastery of her axis, she can express herself toward you in her tango. 
Doing this can leapfrog you to the advanced Module 8 of my Permission Seduction™ Tango Learning System: "Master the art of the Dynamic Dialog!"  This is where tango can become more intimate, more provocative, and without a doubt more gratifying for both partners.

Men who dance with a focus on achieving clarity in leading the woman's dance* with a competent and respectful understanding of her axis are usually the favorite dancers of women at any milonga. (*But not her embellishments - more on this another time.)

This, to me, is what separates the men from the boys in tango! In the fulfillment of Phase 2, a Tango Adolescent becomes a Tango Man
Phase 3 (Optional) - Virtuosity
- - -
Having mastered Phase 2, and owning the skill of dancing to lead the woman with clarity and with care, he can focus on himself again, and develop his own individual artistry. He can learn many more figures and combinations of figures, as well as both learn and invent ways to deconstruct and creatively reconstruct figures as he navigates in a full milonga. He can develop his own embellishments and his "stolen steps", with which he can show off without disturbing what he's asking his partner to do. He can develop more sophisticated musicality, which is essential to taking his tango to a higher level of artistry, if that is where he wants to go. He can go as far as he wants to go with his tango expression, and even become a performer. The learning possibilities are endless and accessible to everyone.  
Claudio Villagra and Romina Levin
I consider Phase 3 - Developing Virtuosity - completely optional, because a tanguero can dance all his life continually maturing and enriching his Phase 2: his basic expression and his musicality, and his communication with the woman in his embrace. It takes only a mastery of Phase 1 plus Phase 2 skills, for a man to become a tanguero that women eagerly await at every milonga!

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