Mar 082016
Photo Anna Neum Design Forge.

Photo Anna Neum Design Forge.

To Revel is to understand that there is more to give than obedience and more to receive than a tender and musical seduction.  To Revel is to recognize the power and pleasure you create. Your can make the connection more sublime, increase the pleasure of every movement and every stillness, and open space/time rifts inside of steps and beats.

Connection is neither passive nor static. It is constant adjustment of the embrace and skeleton, and corresponding activation of muscle chains in new positions. With every tiny movement of your Mark, everything in your body moves to sustain the connection in a new place. This is why we use the concept “arch of connection”. Two arcs meet at a point of connection. When the Mark moves his arc, the Revel moves and reactivates hers. The sensation of sublime connection is the experience that the point where the arcs connect is floating, carried by the two bodies, unperturbed by all this motion.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement.
And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets

This experience is often more than enough to sooth sorrow, elate, or even to fall in love, but Tango gives us more.

Both the Mark and the Revel can enrich the dance within the space of the arch. The arch can be decoratively embellished or adorned by independently moving the free leg without distracting from the structure of the arch. Another form of enrichment is sensation rather than decoration. By shifting the source of power in the muscle chain which supports the arch and softening the embrace around different strengths, we can intensify or change the characteristics of the connection without moving the point where the arcs meet.

Such rich connection is superlative. It is remarkable that indeed we also dance! In addition to providing sublime sensations, the arch also serves as a precise control system through which the Mark can tell the Revel exactly where, how, and when to move through intricate steps, geometric structures, and interactions. This control system is so precise, indeed, so visceral, that she sometimes does not feel that she even perceived or did anything at all. Her movement seems inevitable, natural. The pair of dancers become a four-legged animal, seeming to move without the need for conscious instructions. Yet, there is more.

This experience, when it is on, is a source of trust. In obvious ways, for the Revel, who steps trusting he will not trip her or crash her into something. And in much more interesting ways for the Mark. When he realizes (and he must allow himself to realize) that he can trust in her accuracy, and on her arc, he can then express himself freely.

To reveal more to herself and to her partner,  the Revel must abandon the safe ground of knowledge, prediction, sequences, familiar movements, and righteousness. Crucially she must abandon her surety that the best thing she can do is to pivot. Pivoting is how we try to be good girls doing the hard work… But if we abandon a claim on certainty, avoid arbitrary endings and stay open to the previous movement continuing to unfold, then we offer ourselves to divine creativity.

We create time, and we create different kinds and relations to time simultaneously.

The first way we participate in time is consequence. This is what makes tango unique as a dance form. The Revel’s movements are the consequence of the Mark. In this sense she is behind him in time. Voleos and pivots must reveal his power after he gives it, not before.

A pivot is preparation for the next direction.  In every step the base leg must be adjusted to lateral rotation relative to the next projection. When this adjustment is less than 180 degrees it’s just part of the constant adjustment of the position of the arch, so it doesn’t require power from the partner. Only when the pivot approaches or passes 180 degrees do we need an exchange of power between the partners’ bodies.  And the Revels must wait for this power!  If she makes a large pivot alone she breaks the connection. And because she has changed totally her direction in the dance, she has also established her own parameters for the next movement. Instead, her pivot must be a consequence of his intention for a change in direction.

The second way we participate in time (and simultaneously!) is by making the space for/before his creativity. By stretching into her first and second projections, she stretches the time and space of her step to give him more possibilities to create. The power to do this is the strength of her base leg’s muscle chain (the stability of her arc during her projection).

So… a way to understand this is that the base leg creates possibilities for the future, and the free leg reveals and traces what the Mark has just created a moment ago.

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photo by Vikas Narula, photo editing by TC

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 8 March 2016