Argentine tango is an ideal dance for couples because both follower and leader have to co-operate in order to make the dance work. In other partner dance classes, such as Modern Jive or Salsa the leader can ‘muscle’ the follower into position if the follower is deemed to be following ‘incorrectly’. In Argentine tango couples dance classes this will not work (or at least shouldn’t be allowed to 🙂 ) especially if you wish to learn to dance the Argentine tango well.
Argentine tango is a partner dance, i.e. it requires two dancers to work together, with each dancer being allowed by the other to perform their respective roles as successfully as possible. There is no fixed choreographic sequences to learn (although individual tango figures do have their own step sequences) because Argentine tango is an improvisational dance where the leader creates a structure to the dance, within which the follower can express themselves with the way they follow, and decorate their part of the dance.
So in couples dance classes for Argentine tango we must learn to co-operate and by this I mean the following:-
- The leader must ‘invite’ the follower to step in the direction required, but not pull, push or otherwise force the follower into position. This requires a clear lead, and sometimes patience. As a leader grows in confidence they should also develop the skill of having a ‘Plan B’ for when the follower just doesn’t accept the invitation. These skills will be learned in your couples dance classes for Argentine tango 🙂
- The follower should learn to tune in to a leader and trust the lead without sabotaging the structure the leader is trying to create. This is one of the most difficult skills a follower needs to develop and partner dance classes are the ideal environment to learn. Followers cannot improve this skill except by dancing with many leaders (both good and bad, so that you can learn the difference).
- Leaders should give time for followers to express themselves with decorative movements, so leaders need to learn to avoid the need to be constantly stepping to the main musical beat. Leaders should learn to be generous with their pauses to allow followers to contribute to the dance in their own way.
- Conversely, followers should not abuse the time given by the leader for the expressive decoration. When a leader starts looking at his watch, tutting and shaking his head, it’s time for the dance to move on 🙂
So should only couples attend partner dance classes?
Not at all! Single people are always welcome to Argentine tango dance classes, and roughly speaking numbers are usually about even at most venues. Of course since it takes two to tango, people still need to partner up during the class and practice session, but participants are encouraged to dance with different partners (for the reasons supplied above) even if the arrived with or without their very own partner.