by Peter Forret
Whenever I hear the postulate that everything in tango is either a step forward, a step backwards or a side step, I get a little irritated. I know what they mean, and it’s not that it is entirely wrong, it’s rather that it is incomplete, and it tends to send people off in a very step oriented direction. But I have written about that before.
Let me instead remind you of three quite different fundamentals in the tango, or maybe rather governing principles. It is a very important insight. Simple, yet profound.
Dancing the tango, you have three partners. And tango is about embrace, embrace and embrace. In order to dance well, you need to embrace them all:
Embrace your partner
It is all about the woman. No partner, no dancing. Respect your partner, take care of her and protect her, make it a pleasant experience for her. Listen to her, feel her presence, wishes and desires… In return, she will make you both beautiful.
Embrace the music
The movement has to come from the music. Without music we would just stand there, hugging each other. That can be nice, too, of course, but it wouldn’t be dancing. Listen to what the music tells you and find your inspiration there. Then embrace the music and dance.
Embrace the dance floor
We are not alone on the floor. We are dancing with the other couples on the floor as well. Respect their space, keep moving at a reasonable pace and avoid dangerous movements. (The KISS principle is apt here.) In return you will feel the energy of the floor. Sometimes people complain about dancers not socializing enough, but as I see it, sharing the floor is also socializing. Embrace your fellow dancers.
The Naveira-Salas model may help you to learn steps. Which can be useful. To learn to dance, you need to learn how to embrace your three partners.
PS: I am talking about social dancing here. For performance/stage dancing, I guess you could substitute dance floor with audience.