23 January 2017

Spotlight on the essence

Once upon a time, there was a super famous couple who visited a European city to teach at a workshop weekend. During the Saturday night ball, they gave a totally magnificent performance that more or less left everybody in awe. After the show, the milonga continued as per usual. At some point, the DJ put on Troilo with Marino and the super famous couple went back on the floor together - not to perform this time, just to dance together. And then time just stopped a bit as they embraced each other in the ronda, he in his black suit and she in her red 1950s inspired dress. With one spot of light shining down on their jet black heads, the rest of the dancers a sizzling mess in the darkness, they quietly tuned in on each other and on the music, becoming the eye of the hurricane. Finally, she took one impossibly long, smooth, soft step together with him.
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It might have been the most meaningful step I’ve ever seen. I remember thinking that that moment was just perfect. In my mind, that moment is still there, like a photography of the essence of tango, reminding me to not lose sight of this essence as we’re constantly trying to learn more, constantly practicing to improve our dancing. But it also reminds me that pushing our limits can help us understand the essence. By learning more, we’ll know how to do less. By practicing the complex, we can master the basics - a soft, non-intrusive embrace, a body that’s strong but without tension, smooth walking, awareness of our axis, knowing the music well enough to understand when to walk and when to pause and when to be fast and when to be slow - all these things that make us capable of tuning into our partner without disturbance. Knowing we can do more if we want to, knowing that we’re not on the edge of our capacity might be just what will give us the confidence to find the essence in our dance: our own essence, and our partner’s essence - ultimately, each couple’s essence.

— Music: I don’t know if this was the exact Troilo tango that was played that night, but here’s “Torrente”, Aníbal Troilo’s orquesta with singer Alberto Marino, recorded 1944. It’s the perfect dramatic music to dance quietly. Click here to listen.