I am often asked by women and men about them. How to do them? When to do them? What to do as an adornment.
In a recent conversation with my partner, Rommel Oramas, he asked me to look it up in the dictionary. My lovely ipad dictionary came up with 2 definitions.
Adornment: noun – the action of decorating yourself with something colorful or interesting.
This was the definition that Rommel particularly liked and what he liked about it was the decorating yourself part.
I think with many things in tango we often get caught up with what we see from the outside, watching from the milonga sidelines or watching youtube or a demo during a festival. This ominous triad: the music, the couple, and those who are peering at you whether you know it or not. And because we are viewing from the outside we might think that adornments are fundamental, necessary, obligatory when we dance. Because we are watching from the outside and they look cool or maybe not so cool but either way as we travel on our tango journey adornments are something we are anxious to add to our dance.
I tell my students that learning adornos is like a special purse: filled with things we like, don’t like, need, don’t need, may need, and most importantly things we may have borrowed from someone else or have been guided to buy. It is fun to hunt for adornos at festivals and youtube, to save them and then bring them out when no one is watching to try out solo, in your kitchen (or living room or bathroom!), hoping that you will have the opportunity to perform it perfectly at the next musical opportunity.
So coming to my point – the adornos have to be true to you; an extension of yourself. They are additions to your collaboration with your partner. Sometimes the lead will give the follower space and will support and follow her adornos. Sometimes the lead will initiate the adornos. Sometimes the follow or the lead will steal them! However they happen, I like the idea that I am decorating myself: I am adding colors to my conversation in the dance. The music dictates, the collaboration allows it, and I use the adornos as extensions of my tango center. Whether they come out as silky circles, or rhythmic skittley tappings, or caresses to myself, my partner, or the floor. I have borrowed them and continue to explore them in the dance. But I remember to do them for me and as part of my communication with my partner.