Posts Tagged: invitations to dance

Invitations, Proposals, Esperar y Seguir

As I am here in Berlin also waiting for invitations and making proposals, I thought of leading. Invitations, Proposals, Esperar y Seguir are they all the makings of a great leader? I thought about how the role of the leader has had so many explanations on how it is supposed to be or how it is supposed to happen. (I apologize in advance for using the terms he and she or her and him only to make my writing easy and fluid, not to discredit any leading and following done by the other gender.)

And ironically I was at milonga in Wuppertal recently (prior to coming to Berlin) and they were showing a BBC 4 documentary, La Confiteria Ideal: The Tango Salon (of which I am unable to view on youtube here in Germany – but you might be able to see it in the US, not sure. You can let me know!)

But anyway the point is that Javier Rodriguez (famous tango dancer) says in the video something to the effect – that he really has 2 options as a leader: esperar y seguir. “To wait and to follow”. However, I’d like to comment on the verb esperar, which yes, means to wait, but can also mean to hope and to expect. So this waiting implies an activity as opposed to a waiting in passivity. I think of this in body posturing as well. I see sometimes in my students that when I say, “wait for her”, their body posture changes from forwardly present and seemingly active in appearance (I see this posture as being forward) to passive and checked out energetically, sometimes seen as the posture shifted towards the heels. I try to make this distinction by saying that it’s an active moment of waiting, not a “check out, have a cocktail and a cigarette, moment”. (ok, not the most appropriate image for certain audiences, but I hope you get my point.)

A possibly more useful word would be to say that the lead is listening to his follow and waiting for her and by doing this the follower can often inspire the leader to lead something different or unexpected. Very exciting! And of course the leader needs to be ready for this, which goes back to the embrace. Through the embrace the possibilities will always be dictated: where the waiting with anticipation is, the listening, the following.

I know that Fernanda y Guillermo who now have a school in Boston enjoy using the terms “propose and dispose”, which I interpreted as meaning exactly what we are discussing: an opportunity is given and the opportunity is interpreted!

I have found however, that sometimes the leader has learned a pattern without understanding this concept fully and so the follower might be left in the unknown, guessing or not moving at all. I experience this often at a parada or a stop. The leader has stopped me and expects me to read his mind because he has blocked all other options through his embrace. Where is the invitation? l get the waiting, usually, but then what? The waiting Javier is talking about is usually preceded with an idea for the follower, the lead, the marca, the invitation. So the leader has to be clear in all aspects of his embrace, lead, and intention as to what he might want from his follower. And then he accompanies her, follows through with her, dancing with her!

If I open the door for you the path for you to enter is clear. The same in tango. Is your door half open? did you step in front of the path or abandon the path once you created it?

PS Just to clarify – my context for the use of the word proposal: put forward (an idea or plan) for consideration or discussion by others.

PS2 – sorry no pictures this time.

 

 

 

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Cabaceo – People are talking, I mean nodding, winking, etc….

I promised I would bring back some of my experience from the Women’s Retreat where I commented a week back about the class I was going to teach that centered on the pelvis and its function in alignment in tango.

Well, the Women’s Retreat was a wonderful way for me to connect with other women in tango. There were varied levels of experience in tango amongst us. There were some great conversations and insights into our shared interest of leading and following. I was delighted that a few older women commented on their excitement about the younger generation interest in tango. “Who is going to carry on when we’re gone?” I remember hearing this from some older students of mine as well.

I was inspired by sharing conversations with one lovely Hannah from the Portland area – an articulate brilliant young woman exploring and finding her way in tango. I was impressed by so many things she had to share but particularly by her interest in keeping the “cabaceo” alive and kicking. In her community – she says that people know already that she uses the cabaceo and she encourages her students to use it.

What is the “cabaceo”? There are many writings on this art of asking someone to dance but in a nutshell it is a word that comes from  Spanish or specifically castellano (Argentine Spanish) cabeza which means head. The cabaceo is the invitation to dance: a lock of the eyes, a simple subtle nod of the head, and typically from a distance. It is an invitation that no one else needs to know about. It is an invitation that can also be rejected without embarrassment, ideally. This means, for example, if someone catches my eye from across the dance floor and I choose not to dance with him then I do not lock eyes with them or nod my head in agreement. That leader may then move on looking for his next follower without “losing face”, so to speak.

Some of us use it strongly in our communities others not as much. But it seemed that there was a general consensus that the cabaceo works and is good for tango. The leader or a follower can ask for a dance through the use of the cabaceo and also be rejected from a dance by not acknowledging it. It was also remarked that the rejection needs to not necessarily be taken so personally. Someone mentioned that if you are “cabaceoing” someone all night and they have not caught your eye – then maybe they are trying to tell you something. This is sometimes hard to accept especially in smaller communities where everyone tends to know each other. I think the cabaceo works well in all circumstances actually.  We also spoke about cabaceoing another follower to dance with. This dynamic doesn’t seem to have been worked out completely yet… but I think in communities where followers know that other followers are leading the cabaceo works the same.

Upon my return from the retreat and back to the classroom for the final days of classes at ASU I was struck by 1 of my more enthusiastic beginners’ interest in discussing the cabaceo and how he had spent time researching it online. He too has decided that the cabaceo is worth keeping and using and was encouraging the rest of the class to try it out.

SO I think the cabaceo is still alive and well even in Tempe, AZ. I know many members of the community enjoy using it and you’ll be seeing more of my students trying it out!

How’s your cabaceo?

 

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