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01 April, 2012

Tango- leader and follower


Tango being a partner's dance involves a leader (usually the man), and a follower (usually the lady). So, what does dancing tango mean for each of them?
For the man leading...

The leader's main responsibility is to listen to the music and plan steps according to the emotions the music stirs in him. As tango maestros put it: "Music goes in my ears, is filtered through my heart, and comes out through my feet". It is said that when talking, unspoken body signs are at least as important as what is actually being said. In tango, communication goes 100% through one's body. The leader will therefore engage into a warm 'conversation' (using figures) with his partner. His environment is constantly changing: other couples are moving, music is accelerating, his partner did not understand his latest step, and so on. So, he needs to constantly adapt. 
He has to be decisive, innovative, clear, and all this while being gentle and inspirational. 
To the lady following...
Her role is far from being easier than his: she needs to listen carefully and understand the steps planned by the leader. For this to happen, she needs to be quick to respond, fully concentrated, and to trust her leader completely - or 'surrender' as some put it. She also needs to be 'light' (without trying to second guess what the leader is up to). But that is not all: if she barely executes the steps without interpreting them, it will soon become a bit dull. Thus, she needs to put all her heart and creativity, bring her own personality to the table and fuel the conversation, inspire her partner and contribute to the dialogue. So that, if a step is lead twice, the outcome never looks the same. As tango maestros put it, "The woman is not just a follower, she is to whom the tango is dedicated".
How does she do that? Adornments ("adornos" in Spanish - these little movements used to embellish the lady's dance) are amongst the most important part of the follower's arsenal to express herself. They need to be precise, quick, in tune with the music and the lead, without getting in the way of what the leader has planned.

While both roles appear very different, they share one thing in common: respect. Respect of oneself, of one's partner and of the dance floor. That means to forgive these parts of the tango 'conversation' that don't feel right, and show consideration to the other couples dancing around. That also includes showing respect to the music.  When all these ingredients are put together, it creates an exhilarating feeling of freedom and togetherness.