Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating culture, idea, lifestyle, and philosophy. In many ways, tango is a metaphor of life. The pursuit of tango is the pursuit of connection, love, beauty, harmony and humanity, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. We are humanists. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation and compromise. If you share this conviction, please join the conversation and let your voice be heard, which is urgently needed and long overdue.

Together we can awaken the world.




January 27, 2011

Walk


The traditional tango pedagogy gives great emphasis on walk. In those days, tango masters spend extended length of time teaching walk before they start any figures. There are good reasons for that. First, tango is a walking dance. No other dance uses so many walking steps as tango does in the dance. Second, there is a correlation between walk and dance. Those who can walk well usually dance well. Those who do not dance well, their walk usually sucks. Third, walk is the simplest of all steps, yet it is the foundation upon which other more complicated steps evolve. If one cannot do the simplest step well, it is unlikely that he can do complicated steps well, and his problem usually can be traced back to walk. Finally, because walk is the simplest step, it can be effectively used in training other basic skills, such as embrace, posture, connection, communication and musicality. People new to tango cannot distribute their attention equally well to too many elements while learning complicated figures. They need to develop good embrace, posture, connection, communication and musicality before learning complicated stuffs, not after or at the same time. In order to train these basic skills, the exercise needs to be kept simple, and walk is a perfect way to achieve that.

The lack of the basic training in tango in North America is due in many ways to the insufficient walk training. American culture holds that learning must be fun and painless. Our schools have the most entertaining environment and least homework. Our teachers do not want to bore students with dull drills, and our pupils want to get fancy before they can walk, which they think they can already.

Nothing is farther from the truth. You look normal only till people see you trying to learn tango. In fact, everyone looks clumsy and funny in his/her first tango walk. That is because walking in close embrace is not something you often do. You are uncomfortable of leaning on a stranger. You feel awkward to walk backward. You do not step on the beat. Your leg does not reach back far enough. Your behind sticks up and knees bend too much. You bounce up and down like a grasshopper, or wobble side to side like a chimpanzee. Your body is not flexible enough for the twist needed when walking on the side of you partner. You break the connection with your partner, or drag him/her out of balance… Until you regain your comfortable zone in the embrace, you are not ready for the next step. That is why walk is so important. It is simple. It keeps you focused. In fact it is not just walk, it is about everything fundamental - posture, embrace, connection, musicality, balance, flexibility, communication, elegance, and harmony. (See Women's Walk in Tango.)



2 comments:

  1. Paul, so right and well said!
    I should print out this post and hand it to every one of our beginning students.
    Bravo!
    Besos,
    Cherie y Ruben

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thought I had learned how to walk when I was younger. Little did I know that I had to learn how to walk again to learn Tango. I was told about learning how to walk in Tango but did not realize just how important it is.

    ReplyDelete