Sunday, July 6, 2008

It's supposed to be fun...

Ohhhh, Right. Tango is supposed to be fun. I'm agonizing, and too in my head.

I consistently miss crosses that aren't lead. I know it is the only thing I am supposed to anticipate, but I consistently miss them. I just am not thinking that way about it in the middle of a dance. Oh wait, hey...why is he looking at me like that? oh right, he stepped outside of me, step, step.... ahhhh.... damn, I missed that cross. That's why he's looking at me like that.

And you know what?, who cares? (besides me. and I agonize over it.)


Debbi said...

How can you miss something that is not led? I am of the school that the cross is led, not anticipated. And to be honest, someone very smart once said to me, even if the leader expects you to cross and does not lead it, he unintentionally leads is as his focus should be on his follower crossing.
Don't beat yourself up over not following an unled cross, ask your leader instead why his focus was not on you.

Psyche said...

I absolutely agree - everything is led. Everything.

That having been said...

In my first few months of tango, the cross was one of my biggest headaches. Not in class - that was fine. The guys led it, I followed it, no problem. But for some reason, at the milongas, I missed it and missed it and missed it. Then one day, it was there, no more missing.

I realise now that the problem was not usually that it wasn't being led (although sometimes that is the case, boo, bad teachers with their basic eight) but rather that it was being led so subtly, in such a tiny way, that my inexperienced body wasn't reading it. I had the exact same problem with the double-time in the giro - I'd learnt it in single time, so I stepped it in single time, and for a long time couldn't tell when a guy wanted single time and when he wanted the double time. Both things are so common that with most followers it takes only the teeniest tiniest lead to produce them. But for a new dancer, that's death! And the guys can't understand why their usual lead isn't producing the usual results.

After a while the common patterns sink into your body so that it takes very little from the man to lead them. This isn't the same thing as them not being led, it just feels like that to begin with. It's just like the way our natural speech is peppered with contractions and elisions, understood by us, but not so easily by someone who's new to the language. I haven't been speaking Spanish too long, so I struggle when it's spoken at a normal speed. I need each syllable to be pronounced. I especially struggle to recognise descansar, though I know the word perfectly well. But the d sounds different in Spanish, and the s is aspirated and barely there, so although I know both are being pronounced, both *are* there, I just can't hear them the way a native Spanish speaker can, because my ear doesn't yet have the patterns ingrained.

Mtnhighmama said...

Thank you for this, Psyche. I've had this problem with experienced dancers as well as new ones, so it helps to have it framed as a subtle movement. That it is just natural to them. That makes sense, and actually gives me hope that with time and experience, it will become subtle and natural to me as well.

Psyche said...

I'm sure it will, and very soon.

In an ideal world, all leaders would adapt their lead to the follower's 'ear', the way we speak more clearly with foreigners. Well, some of us do. I didn't really realise how much you need to modify your language for non-native speakers until I was plunged into Spanish and struggled for myself! I hope I'm more considerate now.

You know, I think the cross is a really hard thing to lead, too. Certainly when I started learning to lead it was the one thing that I consistently cocked up. Boleos, no problem. The cross - terrible. I think it's actually really complex in its subtlety, and I'm kind of surprised it's one of the first things we try to teach beginners.

Anonymous said...

Add my voice to the chorus: everything is led.

The more relaxed and focused on your partner you become, the less problem you'll have sensing even the subtlest leads.