Friday, July 4, 2014

Wasted time: Musicality Classes for Followers?

A continuing dialogue on the concept of leading and following . . .

If you are a "follower" you may be wasting your money on musicality classes. However, if you are a dual-listener (listening to the leading of La Música's voice and your partner's body), then musicality classes make sense!

"I am following the music.
Listen to the music first, to me second."
I have had women say that it doesn't make sense to take musicality classes "because a woman has to listen to what the man hears in the music." Yes, I can understand why a "follower" would say that because that is what she hears in the word "leader" and what is specifically said by some teachers! However, if
the English-speaking community will start paying attention to how great couples dance, we all could easily dispense with "lead-and-follow" and start paying attention to what is truly making tango so magical.

Both in the traditional roles--el rol masculino and rol feminino, both are listeners--but still very much different. Those with their left hand up; however, are the listener-GUIDES, and those with their right hand up, are the dual-LISTENERS because of needing to especially follow the Archetypal Leader (the music) and with their partner's interpretation of the leader. The Yang energy (male) as I understand it as a musician is the tone, and the Yin energy (female) is the silence between tones. Without both of these energies staying in their own lane music and dancing is not possible.

Yin & Yang (explained in tango better than in the martial arts):
The rol masculino is poorly translated as "leader" in English for tango. The only leader I know of is the music.  However, this does not lessen the extremely different roles of Yin and Yang in tango (guide & listener).  For example, as the listener-guide, I move forward, and the my female partner goes forward with me on, let's say, the downbeat, but her role then is to collect her feet together on the upbeat.  She owns this pause as Yin, not me as Yang! Then from there I am free to go in basically five different directions.  If she does not "own" her own space/time, then she pulls or hints at where/when she thinks I am going next.  When done right, from being in her role, I end up having a better chance of making movements in a new way because she has created the space I needed to do something new and different.  If she pulls me to the next step, then she is Yang (the male energy) and I am now Yin.  This interchange can be as slow 10 x per minute in a tango, around 50 x per minute in a vals, or 120 times per minute in a milonga lisa.  To someone who has never danced tango, what a couple is doing appears to be magic.  And that perception is 100% correct.  It is magic!  Absolutely wonderful magic, one hundred times more magical than merely watching it happen.

So listening is different in each role, but nonetheless, listening. I step forward with clear intention (a tone), she hears why I stepped forward because the music said so! She creates a silence in her body posture, a pause, a rest that allows yet another intention from me as we both listen to the music. 90% of the possibilities will come from listening to the music. No matter if we are so-called "leaders" or "followers," not to know musicality is to be ignorant of the 90% of what is going to happen next! Musicality is the key to better dancing equally for both roles.

In dialogues with tango dancers of both roles talking about their desire to listen more to the music. Musicality classes are helping them, they say. Also, more and more people want to listen to their partner no matter what their role is. So it is time that English-speaking community comes together to consider other terms than "lead/follow" for the magic of movement of tandem dance in tango. Each community has voices, speaking out loud, wondering if the terminology of "leading" and "following" do more harm than help to students of the dance. Let's just say we will never abandon English-speaking tradition, and "lead/follow" is here to stay.

Just let's humor ourselves and talk about this subject as if we were from another planet, and we were observing this wonderful thing called tango. Maybe the aliens would notice a few things.  Aliens  might notice, for example, a three part process as we begin to form up to dance at the behest of the true leader, La Música. The inhabitants of earth who dance tango:
  • Earthlings follow the music's voice and form up on the dance floor, and both listen and follow the music. 
  • Earthlings follow their partners' body language. AND each time a new partner changes, often extremely different dancing behaviors ensue no matter both from the listerning-guide or the dual-listener, male or female. 
  • Earthlings follow the rules of respective roles one as a listening-GUIDE and the other as a dual-LISTENER, including respect for tango's "vocabulary" of movement, and floorcraft rules.
Avoid being "Weak and Broken Link" in tango's chain of listeners!
Musical elements of Europe, South America and Africa listened to each other and tango was born and grew up in Argentina.  The community of dancers throughout time and even presently listen and create rules of movement, which are called "tango."  Some dancers dedicate themselves to follow the music, and they begin teaching and codifying what the community has created together.  The students follow the teacher as best they can, but also create interesting (and sometimes not so interesting) interpretations of what started by listening to the music.  Now it is my turn as a dancer:  Am I now going to lead someone now and break all the golden-chain-of-listening that has gone before me?  :-)   Why would I want to be the weak and broken link in such a magical chain of listeners by proclaiming myself a "leader"?  Dear God in heaven!

I will leave leading up to la Música.  I am a listener-guide.  Nothing more or less than that.

Photo credit (place found)

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