Have you ever noticed that with some people we dance “moves”, with others - “music”, and then also now and then we encounter people who dance “emotions”?
What does it all mean?
We are all very different in tango. One of my most favourite things ever about tango is how diverse we are. I know surgeons, artificial intelligence researchers, air traffic controllers, opera singers and recently met a historical precious stones expert, among countless other occupations. The beauty of tango lies in the ability to connect otherwise unconnectable, and bond us on many layers. We can connect through talking, through taking classes together, through enjoying the same kind of music, through joys of milonga or generosity of vals, through attending same milongas, through hanging out outside of tango environment, through similar clothing tastes etc. Many ways to connect and bond with each other.
But of course, we are still very different, and these differences can't be all smoothed out purely by the fact that we enjoy tango. We are even different in the amount of pleasure we receive from tango! Some are absolutely obsessed with it, and some have fun attending one milonga a month.
We all search for different things in tango.
What is it that draws you in into tango? Is it being able to move? Is it social environment? Is it music? Is it wanting to be the (most) able dancer who everyone looks up to? Are you trying to prove something (to yourself or others), or enjoying the moment? Are you searching for that special someone?
Answering the question on “What draws you in tango?” is important.
It can help you resolve some frustrations, and let's admit, we all have some. If you want to shine and wow others, then maybe you should focus on studying and practicing deeply and actively. If you want more socializing and closer friends, then possibly you should initiate non-tango connections with your tango friends, e.g. going for a drink or dinner every once in a while, or inviting them over to your home. If you goal is to find a life partner, then maybe you should start socializing more as well, meaning going to more social dancing events and being active, although personally I do find the idea of using tango as a dating service really strange and awkward.
So what about “movers”, “music-ers” and “feelers”in tango?
“Move dancers” focus on the thrill of movement, be in fast or slow. It's not necessarily a bad thing of course, and it can be absolutely amazing. At the same time, it can also feel disconnected and un-musical in some cases. I've been a “mover” for many years. It felt fun, and what I wanted from tango was to have fun. For movers, what matters most is the joy of being free in the body and the possibilities that their bodies/abilities of their partners have. Movers' approach to tango is rather pragmatic: is it fun or is it not enough fun, and how can I increase the amount of fun? Should I dance more? Should I dance with different people? Should I dance more often to D'Arienzo than to Fresedo? How does this sacada sequence work, exactly?
I dare say that the majority of dancers in tango are “movers”. Are you one?
“Music dancers” are much more focused on the music than the technicality or the amount of movement, and they are perfectly happy to make small steps without a single pivot, as long as it fits to the music. They are selective with their choice of music they dance to, and adjust their partner choice to what they hear playing. Their sense of music might be natural and something they don't even realise and never studied it, or might be based on a lot of listening and fascination with music. Someone who pauses or accelerates at exactly the right moment? “Music” dancers. They might feel a bit boring for “movers” if their repertoire is not expansive, but if “music-ers” continue developing and taking classes, they will soon be in high demand in milongas. Skilled “music” dancers are my favourite dancers because tango with them feels most closely connected to actual tango as I understand it.
“Feelers”, oh feelers. Elusive, connected, emotional. I remember one “feeler”, we danced at a marathon 2,5 years ago. Not the most advanced dancer in the event, but we danced 18 tandas. Non-stop. Why, how, what for? I can't tell you that. Time simply stopped, and I lost all track of tandas, all feeling of place and all sense of other people. Not the most socially responsible thing to do of course, but it was blissful.
“Feelers” connect to you, and you get a sense of sharing something of yourself with them. They make you feel safe and welcomed, and it can be an almost otherworldly experience. You might end up doing practically nothing special in your dance, and yet you get carried away. Even music and ronda sort of shift to the background, and all you feel is this embrace and some kind of flow of energy and emotions. Happens very seldom, and can be dangerous for dancers who are new to tango. These kind of experiences might lead to some people falling in love and suffering, afterwards, because the object of their affection has moved on “feeling” the next dancer. Blissful, but dangerous. Enjoy if you can but please do remember that this is tango, and they are a “feeler”. It's a beautiful moment that might not repeat again.
Like that “feeler” 2.5 years ago. When we danced again a year later, it was empty. Nothing special. I noticed lack of technique and musicality, simply because the feeling was not there. Maybe he was tired, or stressed, or the focus of his or my attention in the dance shifted.
Who do you want to be?
Who are you now? Independent of your level, you could be one of the three. Of course you can be a mix, too, and then it's special, truly special. A mix of all three is almost non-existent I'd say, at least I have never encountered that. But “mover”+”music-er” is common. Those are my favourites. When you come across a dancer like that, you dance with immense pleasure, but leave the dance floor saturated and happy. A “feeler” can leave you craving for more, and potentially also craving for more of her/him as a person as well.
I dare suggest, “music” dancers are the closest it gets to true tango. Be it classical tango or nuevo, or even non-tango music, they move with the music, and their creativity is driven by what they hear. But if you want to be the really really good dancer, try to combine moves with the music. That is a good recipe for being welcomed in all embraces, because it can offer something to everyone.
Be yourself, be unique, and bring that uniqueness into your dance. But please do find something that will help others to connect to you. After all, if you are an AI engineer, and your partner is a hospital nurse, you have three main things to bond you when you're embracing each other on the dance floor: music, moving together, and the feeling you create and share.
Enjoy your dance, because it is unique. Whatever you experience now, might never be repeated.
With love for tango,