Technique

On your mark: Let your brilliance flow

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I know what sort of guys dance tango. The ones who can’t be bothered with small talk. The ones who tend to go directly to the heart of matters. The ones who can look at things from many angles.

Sometimes I feel you’re not letting loose.

Long ago, when I was an economist, I had a paper to write, and my friend, painter Keith Foskin, offered to cook me dinner. At some point he came to the computer and looked over my shoulder. After watching intently for several minutes he exclaimed “I can see your mind working!”

One of the pleasures of improvised tango is this witness. The revel can feel you thinking.

Not infrequently this leads to a “mistake” as she executes something you considered and discarded or aborted. But these movements are some of the most memorable for me. Many marks have stopped in their tracks to stare wide-eyed at me. “I only thought of that move — I didn’t lead it!”

“I can feel your thoughts.”

They are unconvinced. But it’s not mystical or anything. The mind and body are linked (hence we can eat, drive, dance, and so forth) and it’s likely that some muscles already move to prepare for whatever idea you are considering.

My father was a jet pilot and he told me “when you are flying a jet, you don’t actually move the joystick. You think about moving it. That’s enough.” If you can move a jet with your mind and a delicate hand, no surprise you can move a dancer who is touching you, her body ready and attentive to your intention.

So this is to say two things to marks:

  1. It takes less force than you can imagine to lead. 
  2. Let your mind wander:

What if I did this move to the left side instead of the right like I always do? What if I went into volcada here? 

We (I say this as a fellow mark) are almost never allowing our creative analytic tango minds free rein. We are stuck in the idea of control. We are attached to outcome.

But shouldn’t our goal –nay, our grail– be creative freedom? We can complain that sometimes we have to respect the limitations of the revel in hand. But I think we hold ourselves back more.

There are 48 sacadas. Every sacada can be decelerated to parada, which opens all sorts of possibilities. There are 8 ganchos available every time the revel is standing on one foot. (8 more if  you change her foot. 16 more of your own!) If you start with the tango lexicon‘s 24 distinct movement types, and make sure you know how to properly lead at least one of each, then start exhausting all the iterations. As you apply different dynamics of motion, you will access musical texture. Then you will start to develop ideas about how the movement changes with its context (what comes before and after). Go!

Revels – what can you do to help? You hold the sexy, stretchy, golden ribbon of joy that brings his creativity to life and light. Enjoy your muscles reaching down into the earth, up to the air, and out into your projection. Inhale and give him this moment so he is free to surprise you.

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