Slow down

The mantra from my partners used to be "wait . . . wait . . . wait" - now it's "slow . . . slow down . . ." It's hard to say if that's an improvement or just a new variation on an old problem.

One of my partners last week worked with me for a tanda on this, advising me to stop trying to be on the music for the time being, but actually try to be a little behind it. Behind? Behind the music? Isn't that bad? But I tried it despite my scepticism.

It took effort and practice to keep myself from rushing to be on the music - esepcially during molinetes when it's "my job" to keep myself on the music. When I did manage to wait, to get "behind" the beat, I realized why he had suggested it. While I waited for the music - he actually got the opportunity to lead me to the music - instead of me getting there on my own. I was so excited by that development I started rushing again - so we had to start over. Every turn, every sacada - "slow . . . slow . . ." Wait to be led.

The challenge of slowing down and waiting is trusting - trusting my leader, trusting myself to be responsive. Slowing down makes me listen more carefully - to the music, to my partner. Hopefully I'll be able remember this lesson as I dance with other partners.


William Christopher Serve said...

Very Nice Post!

tangogeoff said...

Or...if the leader leads every centimetre of the dance, while providing room for the follower to overlay their musical expression on the shared dance, then this problem doesn't exist.

Interpretation by the follower just gets in the way.

Of course followers are often taught to 'step on the beat', 'behind the beat' etc by teachers. It's hardly the students' fault but it takes years (or learning to lead) to realise their way past this.

Anonymous said...

still unsure on this whole issue...I see many ladies that don't know how to keep a QQS timing and rush the music, especially during giros, if that is what is being "led" for lack of better words.

If it's a stylistic matter of foot and body arriving together (on top of the beat) versus foot strike first (more traditional approach) and body arrival slightly after...then that's another story altoghether...bastet

Anonymous said...

Well, as a follower, I was taught to wait and follow your leader. Not all leaders go along with the music. I have had to ask one of my leaders to pick it up a little bit as he was soooo slow and keeping me on one leg too long I was getting cramp. I am really not sure what part of the music he was inspired by! In spite of all of that, one still needs to follow the leader. Once he gets going, and if he is in time, yes, then you can add your own element or interpretation to it as long as it follows his lead.
You are just going to have to let go on this one in order to be a good follower. If you can't follow or don't like his lead, find someone else to dance with.

The Unknown Tango Theologian said...

Mari -- a future blog I am planning addresses this: "There are two types of men in the world: Men who hear the music and men who a "free" in their interpretation. Once you figure that out you follow the men who don't follow the music and you follow the music WITH the men who do. I don't recall you having this "problem" of dancing to the music. :-) However, even musically inclined women can over-interpret the next move. But it has nothing to do with waiting. Is the next step a whole note,half note, quarter note triplet, an eighth or sixteenth note? If a woman gives me these posibilities, she is in many ways leading the dance, and I am magically dancing in ways that are new and fresh. BTW, There are two types of women in the world too: Women who wait to have the music "translated" for them, and women who are "translating" the music with her partner.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the school of thought you have with "does the man lead the timing" for every single thing (which I have had some teachers advocate) or "there's a few things with a default timing" (like molinetes, and I've had teachers that advocate this as well) thing that remains the same is that a follow needs to know what timing is, slows or quicks and how to carry them out properly and not rush a lead for a QQ timing of a step (especially in a turn).

If you actually know where your feet need to be during a phrase of music during a turn if a slow or a quick is being led, I have always advocated that a persons personal philosophy as to led or "default" is moot.

To further my case, my main teacher taught by "default" timing unless something else more specific is being led with the torso and so I had to learn exactly how much spacing to give the beats for both slows and quicks. A few months down the road, I took a lesson with a leader who was of the other school of thought (Leader specifically leads all timing). We did turns. The subject never came up, it was moot, because I understand timing.
- bastet

happyseaurchin said...

the unknown tango theologian

you have done well
to collect such sensitive readers :)