Sunday, May 1, 2016

Your tango signature is all over your body

Why forge your tango teacher's signature?  Movement signatures are being scientifically measured for each person's unique "Individual Motoric Signature," as reported in The Journal of the Royal Society.* Should we copy other dancers' unique movement signatures? It seems that many try to do exactly that.  Let's say that we could: What would be gained?   People sometimes say, "I wish I could dance just like him."  Really?

I knew of a Greek man who danced well, and women said that he had his own wonderfully unique style.  He decided to go up another level in his tango skill and took intensive lessons with a teacher known for being very opinionated about what was "true tango." Later, the obedient student danced very well, but he was a carbon copy of his teacher and his favorite dancers missed the uniqueness that he once had.  This (I say tongue-in-cheek) is forgery!

Mostly teachers are good at finding their students' strengths. By the time one is no longer awkward as a new dancer, one's unique movement signature, or somatic signature comes out clearly.  I once danced with a woman whom I hadn't seen for seven years. I couldn't quite place her until I danced with her. "Oh, yes," I told myself. "She's Christina." My "dancer recognition software" kicked in, and then I was reading her Individual Motoric Signature, her unique way of moving and embracing. The very word "signature" is an authentication test through movement.   Our written signature indeed can be copied, but our generalized movement signature has so many variables it cannot be copied easily--and it needn't be!  (Please read the research article.)

Future research, I believe, will change something that tango many dancers falsely believe about emulation of great dancers.  As we know more, we will never say "I want to dance just like her." We will want to dance with grace to reveal our own special movement signature.  Sure, we dancers indeed go through an awkwardness phase, but after that, our movement signature begins to emerge. This new research has a wonderful application to the theory that we all have our own unique signature.  So if that is true, the true task is to add grace to our individual signature.  In other words, don't even try to become at copy of your teacher or tango exemplar.  That would be a "forgery."

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Journal of the Royal Society

Photo credit:  Rachel Verdemar's tango tattoo by Marian Gabriela Johnson (with permission).

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