If you have either of these questions, I’m very happy because it means you are attracted to something about my leading and you want to participate.
The best next step is to take a private lesson with me. I promise you’ll get more out of it than spending the equivalent in group classes. I’ll give you enough technique corrections in one hour to occupy you for months of practice.
In lieu of that, I’m going to try to tell you what I look for in followers when I am dancing for pleasure. (I don’t dance for business in the milongas because I think professionals need to dance for their own pleasure in order to share their edge and power with the rest of the dancers in the milonga.)
Short answer: Please be willing to do voleos with your right leg, not just your left leg. Please if I am not leading anything just enjoy how beautiful you are and don’t try to go somewhere. Please don’t take three steps of giro every time I lead one step. Please be willing and able to step away from me taking care of your axis so I can do a leader’s sacada to your step. Please don’t dive frantically around me if I lead you to make a follower’s sacada into me. If you don’t know what is a sacada, please ask me to show you so that we can dance together!
- I am looking for your willingness to listen and feel. If you are going to do an ocho no matter what I lead, then it’s hard for me to be interested. When I dance I use the entire tango lexicon. If you’ve been dancing longer than 6 months you should be familiar with it too. I expect you to be open to experiencing something you hav never done before. (If I was a man I might be more interested in charming, snuggling, or seducing you, but I want to dance with you!)
- I need you to project, not step. Projecting is pointing your toe in the direction you perceive is next without moving your body/axis. To project requires that you flex your hips so you can hold your base where you are without allowing your projection to drag you off your bse. If you project at the beginning and end of every step, I can lead all sorts of things you haven’t followed before. If you dive immediately (or fall) into the next step, you are leading and I am chasing you around the dance floor. (If I were to try to hold you back, I would introduce so much tension in the embrace that it would then be impossible for me to clearly lead the next thing I want to do, so it defeats the purpose and damages up my leading technique.) I want you to forget about stepping and only think about projecting for as long as possible. If you do this, you will find that you set leaders free.
- I require followers to be responsible for connection and that they use both hands/arms. The most sublime timing in tango is the result of the leader moving his body and a connected follower moving her own body. Unfortunately we don’t get much of this. Mostly we get leaders tugging or pushing followers off their axis, which causes the follower to step slightly ahead of the leader. Also this type of leading denies the follower full use of her muscles to add lightness and a buttery feeling to the dance. I lead from my legs and core, keeping my arms as relaxed as possible (except for the very few moves that require momentary uses of tension). I want the follower using all ten fingerpads to perceive what’s up. She should also use the blade of her right hand below the pinky finger and her chest when possible. In some positions it’s not possible to connect with the left hand, in which case she needs to adjust her connection and awareness to the inside of her left arm.
- I don’t want you to pivot unless I lead it. When you pivot automatically you break the connection and impose an arbitrary direction. The pivot is part of your preparation for the next projection, once it’s been led. Unless I give you continuous pull or impulse to carry you through multiple steps, at the end of each step, just prolong your second projection and stretch your muscles, holding yourself in your new base without changing your orientation.
- I want you to be willing and able to hold yourself in a position while I reverse direction, change the embrace, release one or the other of us to make space for what’s next, move around you… Every lead is not a step, but if your embrace is tense or you are nervous and reactive, you will turn it into one. Keep your cool and keep your base!
Musicality would be nice. When I do lead you to transfer weight I lead you toward the note, but you’ll need to get there.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I’m always willing to work with people at the Synergy practicas, and at the start of Jewel Lab. You can also ask questions by email. The address is at bottom of the website.