It Takes Two

tango1So, I’m late with my blog post again.  But I have an excuse.

I spent most of today at Tango Boot Camp.

I love dancing, particularly recreational and partner dancing.  Fortunately, so does my DH (Darling Husband).  He’s the one who found out the University of Michigan has an Argentine Tango society.  They not only have lessons, but periodically they have two-day intensive courses.

And let me tell you, it’s pretty intense.  This is not the highly-formalized ballroom dance versions.  Oh, no.  This is the style that is danced for the fun and the flare and the heat of it.

Check in was at 11:00 and the class itself started at 11:15.  It was a big class with I’m guessing maybe 40 people.  More women than men, as usual at these things, so the DH was a precious resource, but I’m used to that.

We started off with the tango walk, which involves a very long, sinewy glide across the floor.  The most remarkable thing about it was how much the whole process of balance, of having your weight on only one foot at a time, and keeping in constant motion sounded like the tai chi form I’ve been doing for the past ten years.

At first it went pretty easily.  Got the forward walking, got the backward walking, did well on the following (which you learn to do by closing your eyes so you’re getting the motion purely by your partner’s weight shift, not visual cues).  Got the side-step.  Got the one-track (one of you walking directly in front of the other).  Got the two track (where you’re more or less walking side-by-side)  But then came the cross-step, which absolutely eluded me.  The teachers kept saying “And you get here, and there’s only one thing you can do.”  Except I kept finding a totally different thing that could be done, where as the right thing (which was crossing one foot in front of the other) which they kept insisting would feel totally natural, didn’t.  V. frustrating.

So that was the first two hours, and then we took a 15 minute break (yikes!), and came back and practiced for awhile and then got into pivots.

The tango pivot is a stunning move if you can pull it off that involves taking a long cross-step and rotating your hips and feet 180 degrees while keeping your upper body still.

Yeah, right.

Actually, I did pretty well there, because again, unexpectedly tai chi came to my rescue and I was able to relax enough to get my hips to do what they needed to, and make the weight shifts that make the pivots possible.  Mostly.  I freely admit by this time I was wearing a little thin.  Then came the kicker: the pivot?  It travels.  You can go backward, forward or sideways with it.

Yeah, right.

Obviously, there’s a great deal more practice needed here, but it was a lot of fun.  And when it works, it really works and you feel incredibly beautiful. I can feel that when I get it, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

So, I’m sitting here with my sore feet propped up, and looking forward to tomorrow.




It Takes Two — 2 Comments

  1. Serious envy here! I haven’t danced in over two years, between the fatigue and the neuropathy (worst point Morton’s Toe of the left foot, naturally.) I do American, and Tango is wonderful. Bolero and Rumba are big favorites of mine, although as I learn silver waltz and foxtrot, they’ve become more fun, too.

    Quickstep is my only international dance (well, Viennese waltz — I do the International better than American.) I chose dance for fun and exercise that I would like to do. And I WANT THEM BACK!

    You’ve given me another reason to get back to Tai Chi!

    Write more! Please!

  2. Well, day two I was less stiff than I had feared. Yesterday’s lessons had settled in fairly nicely and I was able to start integrating the pivots into the over all dance.

    At least until we had to start making those pivots into a grapevine, and then into a circle.

    Today we only got one 10 minute water break. Someone really must talk to these people.

    All in all though, it was a lot of fun. When it’s all working the dance feels daring and powerful. When it’s all working. It may be we start checking out the Tango society’s beginner classes.

    There is, BTW, a fantastic dance film just called TANGO. Maginficent stuff, and they do a dance of the disappeared that is absolutely chilling.