Tuesday 31 May 2011

The reasons, why I don‘t dance.

This might be a rather unusual blog-entry for a professional Tango teacher, but I guess you are by now accustomed to my personal weirdness, dear readers. 

The reason why I write this article, lies in the fact, that I just spend 8 evenings in a row sitting in Milongas and watching the dancers. On the last evening, one of the locals asked me, why he did not see me on the dancefloor for more than one or two Tandas. I explained to him: 

I do indeed not dance as much as others at Milongas, and the reasons for that vary. Basically, my non-dancing results from three different situations: 

I have been working all day: 
Most Milongas that I visit nowadays, take place in the context of a professional employment. So, on a day like that, I‘ve been getting up early, doing organisational stuff, maybe a workout, teaching for many hours and sometimes giving a performance. During our work, we have to stay focussed, be attentive, bond with people and cannot show show signs of tiredness. We love our work and want to give everything! This costs a lot of energy and at the end of a working day I am quite often physically and mentally exhausted. Too exhausted to relate to a dancer in the way I would want to relate in the embrace. I‘m sure, that many of you know that feeling and will thus not go to a lot of Milongas during the week. On your workdays, you prefer to stay at home with a good book or a movie, isn‘t it? But for us, the situation is reversed: Most Milongas take place on weekends, when the dancers can sleep long and are therefore well rested and energetic for a night out. Those are our customer-involved working days. (Not to forget the rest of the week, when we do the advertising, preparations, planning, travelling and other work-related stuff.) So please forgive me, if I am just too tired to get off my seat. Sitting, watching and chatting is fine for me. ;-) 

I am DJing: 
When I am DJing, I concentrate on the dancefloor. I will be watching the dancers, try to make out their mood, feel what they might want to dance to... I basically do the job, for which I am paid. I will maybe dance a Tanda or two, if I feel, that everything is going smoothly, but that‘s it. As a DJ, it's my pleasure to make YOU dance! :-)

So, these were answers enough for the Tanguero, who asked me that question on a full travelling, teaching, performing day, when I was also DJing at the Milonga in question. But there is another factor... 

I only dance, when I really want to dance: 
There are luckily still Milongas, that we attend for the fun of dancing and/or meeting friends. And even then, I might not be dancing as much as others. Why? Let me put it bluntly: Although being a professional teacher and depending on contracts, I will not do „social-engineering“ by dancing with potential customers or organisers. I will not either dance out of boredom, nor out of a general „urge to move“ with everyone, to no matter what music. I‘m funny in that way: When I dance with a man (or a woman), I do it for the pleasure of the embrace and I will connect very deeply with the person in question and the music. I can only do this, if the music and mood are right, if the dancefloor is well-organised, if I am awake and in an acceptable physical shape and if the other person shares my general ideas of Tango. I will rather dance with the beginner, who embraces me nicely and simply walks to the beat, than the „Maestro“ who wants to impress me with his athletic moves or complex steps. Feeling is more important to me than looks. And even amongst Salón or Milonguero dancers there are quite a few, who look nice to dance with, who move elegantly, but do not „feel“ nice! They will not connect properly, they will not communicate their ideas, they will expect me to dance memorised patterns, they are stiff and do not dissociate... It's about the quality of the dance. Am I fastidious? Maybe... But am I demanding too much? I don‘t know.... As I said: just walking to the music and holding one another gently in the arms is a great experience. I do not ask for more. 

But I won‘t accept less!


tangocherie said...

Oh yes, you are so right--and I so agree with you.

I am similarly in the same position here in BsAs. Sometimes someone will say, "You don't dance that much, do you?" They just don't understand the act of enjoying, the watching, the listening, the being there in the milonga. And then when the time and the music are right, that's when I get the most out of dancing.

Like you, I am working in the tango all day, every day, and at night I hope to relax and enjoy myself in the milonga. Ruben and I never "tarjetear," running around dancing with prospective students and making business contacts.

We are there to take pleasure in the tango, not to work.

Thank you for this excellent post!


cassiel said...

I like your post but in my opinion you have to mention the ambigous situation of a female tango teacher too. No one (or only a few tangueros) dares to share eye contact with you inviting you for a tanda (at least that is the situation for me).

Maybe that's an additional difficulty for you getting a nice tanda.



Melina Sedo said...

Thanks, dear Cherie!

As for my ambigous situation, dear Cassiel. I do not COMPLAIN about dancing too little. I describe a free choice I make, when I'm at a Milonga.
I used to complain about not being invited often enough, but this situation changed, when I got more self-confident and self-conscious.. Nowadays, I usually get the dances, that I want to have - and sit, when I do not want to dance! :-)

Have a good night!

Sutasu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sutasu said...

If I don't dance at milonga, it's usually when the music doesn't suit the mood I'm into. The music is what we dance, not just what we dance to, after all. And sometimes I could prefer to listen to favorite tanda rather than risk ruining the sensation with, for example, an unknown partner. And it's perfectly Ok, I believe :)

Tango Therapist said...

This is a frank discussion of what price one may pay to be a teacher. Students who get the notion they would like to become teachers should consider your words as the wisdom of experience. "The Tango Lesson" by Sally Potter has some quotes in the DVD version from philosopher Martin Buber and it is a main theme of the movie: When work becomes play and play becomes work.

Terpsichoral said...

In my own blog, I've been involved in a long discussion (in the comments section) about why I choose only to dance with people when I feel it will not be a pleasure for me to do so. At least some students/beginners/less experienced dancers believe that it is the duty of the better followers to accept dances from beginners in order to help them to dance better. I really disagree with this idea and would welcome your feedback on it. You can find the discussion at http://tangoaddiction.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/bohemian-beginners/

Melina Sedo said...

Hi TerpsichoraL.
I just posted a long comment on your blog.
Have a nice day, M.