Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Those of us who dance serious tango know the feeling. The one you get when your torso and your feet don't actually move together. They are like two separate entities joined at the navel. In close embrace, feet don't tangle with your partner, two bodies move as one unit with four legs. It is pure bliss.

So last night, I had a conversation with someone (who shall remain nameless). We were talking about connection, the level of dance in our community etc. So far, so good. Until this individual pointed at a lead and indicated that he was one of the leads that didn't connect correctly. I mentioned that he didn't have a full enough torso connection, but that he was one of the few leads that was able to disassociate. And was told he had to or he'd "get in the follow's way". Um, yeah. That's the whole point. If you don't disassociate, you get in our way. And we get in your way. Our feet tangle, and we have to resort to strange methods to keep from getting stepped on.

The person I was talking to figured that with less connection to our torso, this lead would dance better. I wonder where the idea that disconnecting rather than disassociating is the answer. It might seem like the same thing, but it isn't. Personally, when my lead disconnects, I hunch my shoulders in an attempt to reconnect, throwing off everything. If I disconnect as well, I get stepped on, or lose my balance as I try to follow their body.

The lead starts with the chest. All the intention is from this connection. Our torso's should connect from the navel to the collar bone (more or less). There is this new "V" embrace, but the connection is still from the waist up. If you lose connection in a molineta, it breaks the rhythm. Disassociation will help to prevent the loss of connection. First your torso moves into the circle, then the legs follow.

This video from the Portland Tango Festival in October shows what I mean. Watch how little room there is between lead and follow. Murat and Michelle, Nick and Tara and Somer and Agape are amazing. (Nick dances with Murat part way through the video and Tara and Michelle dance together, just so you know who's who).

Once you've felt it, you can't go back. In the meantime, I try to explain how it works and hope more leads (and follows) figure it out.