I’ve spent countless hours on learning new and familiar dance styles. Even while learning to layer chest drops on top of a shimmy on top of a grapevine while keeping rhythm with finger cymbals, I haven’t felt that the summit was so high as I do with partner dance. Its a very exciting and intriguing challenge.
My husband and I began tango lessons last month. As quickly as I can pick up new dance moves, I keep thinking to myself “this is hard!” I have never had to listen so intently. We’ve spent entire dances with our eyes closed so the follower can really tune in to the leader and the communication between leader and follower. We’ve practiced following or leading without touching. We switch roles to develop a greater understanding of the relationship and communication necessary for a coherent dance.
Partner dance with your life partner often means more than properly executed steps. It’s more intimate and challenging than freestyle dancing with each other, or even couple dancing that we do occasionally at weddings. Somehow it reflects how we interact with each other off the dance floor. If we can brush off mistakes on the dance floor, can we also forgive each other outside the studio? Are our expectations of each other as people and as partners as high as they are as a dance partner?
There’s added pressure when your movements are immediately felt and interpreted by your partner. Your successful execution of a step, cue or following a cue will aid or
hinder your partner’s movement. So in this way, partner dance is completely different from circle dancing, folk dancing, and obviously solo dancing. Tango is especially unique in that its improvisational, intimate, and a beautiful mix of strength and grace. Oh yeah, and it’s very sexy.
So I guess like any partnership, it’s going to take years to develop. We’ll soon learn the subtleties of the dance, such as having “space efficient feet” and taking long more “thirsty” steps. In the meantime, we’ll be propelled by the moments of absolute magic when you feel like you’re really dancing: time expands and you feel like you’re floating as you glide across the floor. Thoughts come to an end as pure joy seeps from the inside out.
Here are two examples of a true improvisational tango and a beautifully choreographed acrobatic tango: