Almost perfect

2009 August 16
by Simba
Anyone care for a dance? by Stuck in Customs, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License by  Stuck in Customs

It was my first tanda in the milongas with her. In the break between two dances at the legendary milonga at Club Sunderland, I was chatting with la preciosa, who later became one of my dearest tango friends. She asked me if I knew who was dancing (the exhibition) that night, and I confirmed, that yes, of course I knew. It was the very reason I went there that night, in fact. I praised his elegance and skill (I had yet to see or meet his new partner). Yes, she sighed, he is almost perfect. I smiled. If someone would be close to perfect, it would be him.

I talked to her later about this remark, and how good it was, then she would say no, no, he is perfect. Still, I liked the idea. No tango dancer is really ‘perfect’. We all dance our own way. There is no official standard, luckily the tango in the Argentine tradition has remained rich in variation and ways of expression. Becoming perfect is unachievable, yet we never give up trying. Sometimes you will get touched by a gleam of light of perfection, and go after it. If you dare. But clearly, some get much closer to perfection than others.

Once at a guided tour of a castle, the guide told us about the marvelous floor in the dancing hall, and how much effort was put into making it so beautiful for the king that resided there. Yet – he said – the craftsmen put in a deliberate mistake. They knew the danger of hybris, and were in no position to make it ‘perfect’. Almost perfect, yes. Perfect, no.

And after taking lessons with this incredible dancer, the same humbleness with respect to the tango is very striking. No bragging, no easy solution. Simply extremely good teaching. He definitely transformed my dancing. To the better, that is ;-). Through his teaching and his dancing, he reveals great respect for the tango and for the milongueros. And for the women in tango.

Some dancers can get ‘too perfect’. Everything is right, still something is missing. Never miss a beat, always in balance, gancho here, boleo there, …two three four, finale and bow to the applause. An element of humanity missing, of emotion, opening up to one’s partner, lowering the armor, showing a little vulnerability. That is what moves me. So in this sense, almost perfect is much to prefer to ‘perfect’ if you understand what I mean. Which is why I loved her comment so much. Simple, yet profound. As is his tango.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. 2009 August 17

    This discussion always brings to mind the lyrics to the Stereophonics’ Just Looking.

    “do i want the perfect wife
    the word perfect ain’t quite right”

  2. 2009 August 17

    Dancers who strive for technical “perfection”do so at the expense of the connection because “perfection” is an ego judgment, and we cannot be connected while our ego is in charge. Perfection is not what happens after and eternity of practicing moves. It is what happens when two strangers meet and create magic.

  3. 2009 August 17

    @Limerick: Good one. Off to youtube to check it out, never heard it.

    @Johanna: Luckily, magic is not restricted to strangers 🙂 I don’t think great technical skill in itself stands in the way for good connection. If the technique is in place, it can be very liberating in the moment of dancing. It can also be used to create a barrier between you and your partner, and you have to choose which of it it will be. Methinks. Interesting that you bring in ego, because I am working on something that might turn into a post on that. We will see.

  4. 2009 August 17

    Perfection is when two become one and feel the music together. Feeling is missing from those technically perfect performances.

  5. 2009 August 18

    @Janis, I agree totally with the two into one thing, and when the feeling is missing, the performance becomes very dull, indeed.

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