My measure of the master tango teacher is someone who can identify the foundational elements of dance and communicate them in a way that is simultaneously profound and simple. And if you can work a sense of humour into the mix, you have what it takes for a transformational tango class. Ney and Jennifer have it.
Foundational element # 1. Tango is hugging - technically speaking: embracing. Get this right and you are on your way.
The difference, according to Ney and Jennifer, between a lover’s hug and an embrace, is what you do with your arm. If you extend it out to the side, you have a tango embrace. If it starts slipping down the back to never-never land (another technical term), then you have a lover’s hug.
Excercise #1. Man (lead) stands with hands by his sides. Woman (follow) saddles up and drapes a warm embrace over his shoulders. Ney is cheerleading in the background, "I want to see love! Make me believe!"
I haven't had this much fun since my hippy love-in days. I like this. Alot. Massage therapy for the soul.
Foundational element # 2. Apparently, it is the follow’s responsibility to complete the embrace, adapting to body shape and size, comfort level and dance style. The lead has to be clear, straight, solid well positioned, grounded, maintaining balance at all times and from this tower of stability the follow then has the freedom to embellish, dance, spin and basically play.
According to Ney, this a no-brainer in other parts of the world. But in North America, apparently, we are more about consensus, shared responsibility, mutuality, meet in the middle. North Americans do a 50-50; the follow makes the approach and then the lead accommodates by adjusting posture and completing the embrace. (Is this more about being non-committal or gender-confusion?).
Raised in the generation of the sensitive New-Age male, I personally am a little reticent to buy into the clear delineation of male-female roles. But there are two things to keep in mind. One, the lead and follow are not necessarily male-female (although typically so and true for me). Secondly, whether or not this translates well into relationships, it does make for better dancing. Tango doesn’t work without role differentiation, a clear delineation between lead and follow.
Excercise #2. For the rest of the lesson we continue with different exercises designed to reinforce this learning, e.g., walking around the room with the follow pulling down on the lead’s neck, forcing him to focus and expend some energy in maintaining a correct posture. More fun.
For me this is a sandbox for life-play, a practica for relationships. This is much more interesting than learning more steps. Simple but profound with a little humour worked in. I like it. Congratulations master tango teachers, Ney and Jennifer.
For more tango interludes, go to www.traumatotango.com/blog.html