About Leading and Following

About Leading and Following

Tango LegsI have always been a bit obsessed with the desire to be clear and to be understood. Maybe it was my upbringing in a bilingual household with an emphasis on reading and writing skills that imbued me with this desire. Whatever the origins, it is funny that now I teach, and am always seeking more clarity and ways to create understanding for my students.

For me language gets in the way of dance. How do we possibly describe what goes on in our bodies to another person? How it moves? And will your experience be anything like mine even if you can describe it to me?

And here is another example where this is true. In Spanish there are no words for lead / follow. What they do say is the man / the woman. And in teaching when they speak of the lead they use the word marcar which literally translates as to mark. For example: El hombre marca el boleo. Which translates literally as The man marks the boleo.

So where does this leave us?

For me, the American cultural implications of the words lead / follow aren’t enough to describe what these 2 roles are in the dance. I find that the word follow implies a passivity. Follow is defined by my online dictionary as – go or come after (a person or thing proceeding ahead); move or travel behind. I don’t think there is such passivity as is implied by the word when dancing tango. And the word lead reminds me of what you do to a horse on a lead.

Regardless of gender (see Queertango) and the role you choose to dance they each need to imbibe certain qualities and characteristics. Each role is important and Argentine Tango doesn’t exist without them. Some qualities without getting into describing movement, might be viewed the same as for any leadership role: assertive, open, creative, humble, just to name a few. And I have taken on the word compañera or companion to replace the word follower, for now. Honestly, the dictionary definition still doesn’t do the word justice! But how ironic that in looking for some pictures to post with this blog, I came across signs that say Follow ME, with the implication that the one with the sign is a leader. For those who have danced long enough know that these 2 words begin to change their meaning in the dance too. Often times we hear teachers say, The leader needs to follow the follower. Which will confuse any beginner.

I try experiments with my university class. I explain to them what I have posted here. I have found that semesters where I try to change the word for follow to something else or even raise the awareness, that the outcome tends to be different for the compañeras in the class. I don’t have any hard statistics on this but those compañeras seem to enjoy the dance and stay dancing through the club on campus or through my classes more so than in other semesters.

What are some words you might use to describe the roles of leading and following as you are understanding them in the dance?

 

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Milongas and Tedx and Fun – oh my!

It has been a very very busy few weeks and many of you know. Thanks to everyone who came Farewell Milonga 1to Rommel’s Farewell Milonga. What an amazing milonga event!

There were more than 80 people in attendance and so much food!!!! Thanks to Marisa and her helpers who did the lighting which made the space more “milonga-ish”, and Mark Napier for keeping us dancing and generously providing us with a salsa set and a “birthday style farewell dance” forFarewell Dance Rommel.

Rommel has been a huge part of my life for almost 8 years and when he moved to Phoenix about 5 years ago he began to find his tango. He is one of the most generous dancers I have ever met. A few of the community who ritually attended his weekly PRACTICaNDo basically learned how to dance thanks to him. Ladies, I know he will be missed and he is scheduled to return in March an even better dancer!!!

Once again thanks to the community for their attendance at the milonga, for those who traveled from Tucson and Sedona/Cottonwood to dance with us and for all of your generous Farewell Milonga 2support in the love of tango.

And from one event to the other, I participated in TedX on Sunday afternoon and in spite of a few technical glitches, and my nervousness I think it went well. Hopefully there will be a video out soon.

I am working on my calendar for the new year and will have classes and workshops for all levels starting in January – any special requests please send me an email.

Remember:

PRACTICanDo Tuesday night with a Tango Warm -Up Drills starting at 7:00pm. Don’t miss a chance to practice your tango… See you at SNAP.

and the Beginner’s Milonga is gaining a bit of momentum on Sunday nights – come join us in a casual atmosphere.Farewell Milonga 3

 

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Farewell Practica and Milonga for Rommel Oramas

Many have heard had that my partner, Rommel Oramas is heading out of town. He is off to pursue some life adventures including spending a little time training in Buenos Aires. He has been a very active participant in the tango community since his move here from Sedona 5 years ago. He always makes people feel welcome and with his generosity and patience made a point to dance with everyone. And it’s not just about dancing with everyone but dancing and listening to them. If I quote Rommel, “Tango is always a 2 way street if you want it to be. I meet someone at their level and in return we get the opportunity to improve our dance.”
You will have 2 opportunities to send him off. Please feel free to bring food or drink.

Tuesday November 6th  PRACTICanDo at SNAP will be Rommel’s last practicando and then I will continue it.
7pm – 8:30pm Technique and Paso class
8:30pm – 11:00pm PRACTICA
$15 class+ practica
$10 class
$10 practica
SNAP 4425 N Granite Reef Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Saturday November 10th Special Farewell Milonga
8:00pm – 1:00am
$10
Bring some food or drink and a chair (there is limited seating at Rhythmic Expression)
Rhythmic Expressions 617 S. McClintock Dr. Ste 3, Tempe, AZ

(Just north of University on the East side of McClintock. Look for McClintock Center)

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Los Abrazos – The Hugs

As I am feverishly preparing for my upcoming TEDx talk on November 11th. Who would have thought it could be so stressful to talk about Daniela & Sedona Brucesomething I do every day and have been doing for more than 10 years? How do you explain the magic and the transformative nature of Argentine Tango to someone who has no clue what tango is or maybe not even understand what dance is?

I have been going through the recesses of my mind digging up my own personal tango history. Recalling stories that have been told to me about how other people’s lives have changed for tango or because of tango. So many corporate jobs have been left, apartments have been bought in Buenos Aires, books written, loves lost and won, all because of tango.

So as I keep writing I came across an article about how hugging women can help lower their blood pressure and therefore possibly reduce their risk of heart disease. Women showed a higher response to hugging than men. The body is known to release oxytocin, known as the bonding hormone, and with hugging, cortisol (stress hormone) levels were reduced as well. And you know where this is going…..

No wonder so many of us get blissed out from dancing tango. All that hugging! In the study the hugging lasted only 20 seconds. What ecstasy that in tango we hug at least for 3 minutes!

Tyler and DanielaI look forward to lots of hugging this weekend at the Beginner’s Milonga on Sunday night 6:30pm hugging and connecting class! and 7:30pm social dancing.
Rhythmic Expressions 617 S. McClintock Dr. Ste 3, Tempe, AZ

(Just north of University on the East side of McClintock)

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So much tango again this week!

Saturday I am conducting 2 workshops. These will be the last for this year. I would love to hear what you would like for the New Year.

12 – 1:30pm is an Intermediate workshop around Dancing to Rhythmic Orchestras. Then at 1:30pm I will be doing a concept class on La Cruzada. I will cater this class to all levels. We will clean up technique and look at variations. $15 per class or $20 for both.
These Saturday workshops are at SNAP Scottsdale Neighborhood Arts Place 4425 N Granite Reef Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

PLEASE RSVP so that I can balance these classes.

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Saturday night Rommel and I will be teaching the class prior to the Masquerade T Milonga in Tucson.
https://www.facebook.com/events/208701122595968/  5200 E. Speedway Blvd in Tucson . See you at 8pm.

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Sunday Beginner’s Milonga
6:30 – 7:30pm Basics Class
7:30 – 9:30pm Beginner’s Milonga
$12 class + milonga
$6 milonga
$10 class
Rhythmic Expressions 617 S. McClintock Dr. Ste 3, Tempe, AZ (Just north of University on the East side of McClintock)

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Tuesday PRACTICaNdO

Rommel and I will be teaching class on Tuesday at SNAP.
7pm – 8:30pm Technique and Paso class
8:30pm – 11:00pm PRACTICA
$15 class+ practica
$10 class
$10 practica
SNAP 4425 N Granite Reef Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

 

 

 

 

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