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Ignorantia juris non excusat

“Ignorantia juris non excusat” is Latin for “ignorance of the law excuses not/no one”. It’s a legal principle stating that you are liable for a law, even if you claim that don’t know about it. Ergo ignorance is not a valid defines or excuse for irresponsibility.  Wikipedia

Anyone who has been dancing tango regularly for more than a year should be familiar with the whole vocabulary of tango. There are only 25 elements in the tango lexicon. I’m not saying you need to learn every variation of every element, that’s entertainment for the next few years.

If you are a child, it’s fine not to know the law. If you are an adult, it is your responsibility. If you are beginner tango dancer, it’s totally fine not to know much about tango. When you are not a beginner anymore, it’s flat out irresponsible, and unattractive. I am watching people dancing with so much attitude, and so much ignorance.

I hear about Revels “refusing” to do certain moves that are part of the inheritance. I have danced with girls who don’t know much and give me attitude when their ignorance, automatisms, or lack of muscle control causes problems that I can’t solve with the male technique “overpower the woman”.

Maturity is about self-awareness and responsibility.

In addition to technique, Marks are responsible for social etiquette, calibrating their strength and force, traffic etiquette, musicality, AND improvisation.

The most rewarding of these is improvisation. People these days treat improvisation as optional. I observe dancers using mostly the same handful of sequences involving no more than 1/4 of the tango vocabulary. Generally marks claim that they are using their few sequences with a focus on musicality. But when I watch I usually see the same sequences done with the same musicality.

Repetitive marks disrespect the genre and our community. We need to respect our inheritance by keeping it alive. And we need to grow our community by challenging our partners to concentrate and to increase their knowledge and skills.

Revels need to be just as self-critical as marks. Do you hear yourself saying “I’m a good dancer when I have the right partner.” If you say this, you are a dancer who has no idea what you don’t know! That “right partner” is a strong man who is carrying you through the dance and covering for your mistakes so that you don’t have any idea where your limits are.

If you are actually a good Revel, you will know the tango vocabulary enough to know when you miss something and what you missed. You will also know when you hit some physical limitation of your own which then limits your partner’s freedom of expression.


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