Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Learning tango 2

Just a thought: there is a dance that's improvised to music, that many of us are familiar with from childhood, and certainly from our teens, by which time it IS social dance; that arm-waving, body-writhing, jumping dance of discos, clubs and parties everywhere.

Has anyone tried it to tango music? I have, but what I do is conditioned by what I've been taught to do to tango music. But it occurred to me that it would be interesting to see what people with no knowledge of tango music would improvise to it. & then it occurred to me that this might be a good way to introduce people to tango music. The activity is a familiar one, but the music is unfamiliar, so it would be necessary to listen to it, to find the beat, the compas, and then possibly feel the melodic flow of cadencia too, and respond to it perhaps with the torso and arms. In any case, to explore this new music with the body. A teacher who knows the music should be able to suggest, by body movements, what is going on in the music, and ways to respond to it. Learning directly with the body rather than through a verbal explanation might be a useful path for people who've never listened to the music and who want to dance to it. The dance itself, the embrace and ways of movement possible in the embrace would still need to be explored, of course. & this could be extended to vals and milonga: here's something different, try and work out for yourselves what is going on. What we find out for ourselves we usually know better than something that's explained to us.

If anyone's ever tried this, or tries it, I'd love to know if it works.


Anonymous said...

i was at a wedding once and i just couldn't stop myself from dancing properly anti-clocwise to the music .. it looked soooo oout of place but couldn't help it

Game Cat said...

Nice post - I agree that exploring the music with your body movements is a good way to understand the music and get comfortable with it.

There's already a lot we can get out of just walking in a circle to the music....pausing, stepping single/ double, short/ long steps, sharp/ light/ staccato, etc. Probably more appealing than waving various limbs akimbo.

Tangocommuter said...

Anonymous, a warning; tango gets you into bad habits!

Game Cat, yes, I'd agree that 'just walking in a circle to the music' is probably going to be lot more appealing than 'waving various limbs'- although not necessarily.

But then I remember my first tango lessons, which were... walking in a circle to the music. It all seemed very rigid, and I didn't find it immediately easy to relate it to the music, which surges and dies away, thumps rhythmically and then plays tricks with the compas. The improvised dance of clubs is at least familiar to a lot of people, and it does make you listen to the music and be creative about finding ways to relate to it. Waving limbs around isn't going to look like tango, but listening to the music and being creative in response to it will take you some way into the dance. I just wondered if it might be a more productive and fun way to start beginners lessons than walking in a circle. Which we need, as well, of course!

msHedgehog said...

Looking at it from the opposite direction - I've found that just dancing around by myself, including waving arms, wiggling, and playing air-instruments if it seems appropriate, is a good way to communicate what I hear in the music to a friend who finds tango music harder to make sense of. He then percieves it and can dance it back as actual tango.

Tangocommuter said...

That's fascinating, MsH, both that you've tried it and found that it works! As I thought, 'A teacher who knows the music should be able to suggest, by body movements, what is going on in the music'.

In a recent comment to my post on phrasing, Anon said 'feel the music (allow yourself to feel it): then you dance tango'. I like that phrase, '...allow yourself to feel it' and I think there should be more emphasis on 'feeling the music' because otherwise people simply might not know how to react to it, how to use the music itself.